+150 political scientists sent a warning to Congress…Democracy is on a deadline.

(Statement in Support of the Freedom to Vote Act)

  • Action #1: Call your senators! Every day.
  • How to program your phone for fast calls to your legislators!
  • Action #2: Write your reluctant senators an email/letter. (Yes, Dianne, we’re looking at you.) Pile it on!

In keeping with the racist origins of the filibuster, the only Senate bills that are currently still subject to it remain civil and voting rights bills like the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Meanwhile, without these federal-level restrictions, the GOP are busy eroding rights on a state level, using new voter restrictions, partisan election audits, and state-level efforts to sabotage future elections. And now they’re destroying the last line of defence – the courts. GOP legislators in 35 states proposed over 153 bills in 2021 to limit state courts’ power or independence or to make them more partisan. At least 19 have become law across 14 states. We’re running out of time.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is using Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as D-Day for democracy, a war against an opposition that’s already on our own shores, and even embedded within our own party. (His letter here.) Please, call your senators every day, especially those of us with reluctant ones, like Feinstein.

Action #1: Call your senators – updated message for use EVERY DAY!

Minimal script for SEN. FEINSTEIN:

I’m calling from [zip code] to ask Sen. [___] to support Senator Schumer’s plan to push through both S.4 – the “John Lewis Voting Rights Act” and S.2747 – the “Freedom to Vote Act,” nationwide minimum standards to protect the rights of voters by Jan. 17, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and to strengthen our democracy while we still have one. We’ve read that she may now be willing to support bypassing the filibuster rule to enact these bills. Please convey to the senator that her active and enthusiastic cooperation with such an effort is the basic minimum or we will be ASKING FOR HER RESIGNATION.

Minimal script for SEN. PADILLA:

I’m calling from [zip code] to thank Sen. [___] for supporting both S.4 – the “John Lewis Voting Rights Act” and S.2747 – the “Freedom to Vote Act,” the nationwide standards to protect the rights of voters and to strengthen our democracy. I also want to thank him for understanding the importance of these bills and being willing to flush the filibuster to make it happen and we expect that he’ll join Sen. Majority Leader Schumer’s push to change voting rules for voting rights on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Jan. 17th.

Contact:

  • Senator Feinsteinemail, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
  • and Senator Padilla: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (310) 231-4494, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 981-9369, SD (619) 239-3884
  • Who is my senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

PROGRAM YOUR PHONE! Make calling every day easy.

  • Organize your phone: We group all our congresspeople, state and local representatives together under “MOC” (Member of Congress). Not completely accurate, but convenient.
  • Is calling really effective? A question we often get – Yes. Try to get to talk to an actual person, not a machine. Busy signal? Skip down the list until someone picks up. Be clear. Be polite.
  • What about emailing? Several lawmakers, along with those who work for them, said in interviews …”A phone call from a constituent can, indeed, hold more weight than an email, and far outweighs a Facebook post or a tweet.”
  • Can I call legislators I’m mad at?: Only the ones you can vote for personally. Out-of-state calls will not be recorded, and can be used politically against us. Want to yell at legislators like Manchin or Sinema? Join a phone bank to inspire their own voters to call. (Opportunities here: https://indivisibleventura.org/2020/06/02/blm-protests-and-other-antiracist-things-to-do/)

Action #2: Keep writing Feinstein, but your friends and family in other states can cut and paste this for their reluctant senators. Pile it on!

Sample email/letter: You are welcome to use as much or little as you want. Speak from your heart. There’s a lot of good material here too.

If you have family and friends with these senators, please ask them to join you in daily calls and civil emails. See the latest tally here.

  • Senators who need encouragement: Angus King (ME), Michael F. Bennet (CO), Christorpher A. Coons, (DE), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Patrick J. Leahy (VT), Gary Peters (MI), Jack Reed (RI), Charles Schumer (NY), Jon Tester (MT), Raphael G. Warnock (CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
  • Senators who oppose changing the filibuster: Joe Manchin III (WV), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ)

Sample letter: Dear Senator Feinstein,

[We gathered at our county government center/I’ve called you/I’ve written you] to ask you to be brave. To publicly state that you’ll carve up the filibuster to enable the “Freedom to Vote Act.” To state that you’re willing to overthrow decorum of long practice for the far more urgent need of democracy itself.

I ask this because, despite Biden’s promise of returning us to normalcy, “these are not normal times, and perhaps the reality is that a normal approach to politics in profoundly abnormal times is a formula for political disaster.” In other countries, in other times, officials like yourself have looked at the tilting edifice of their government on the eve of disaster, and reassured themselves that tradition, inertia, and wishful thinking would continue to protect the status quo. It only took one fire for Germany. We had a near-coup insurrection, with a promise of more. Elie Mystal recently said, “A coup that isn`t punished is just practice.

Even now, GOP-controlled states are gerrymandering their way to a minority overthrow of both houses of Congress. And their incoming members will not be your congenial colleagues of times past, but a phalanx of extremists, nihilists and opportunists who owe their seat and their fealty to an authoritarian fanboy who despises democracy and the Constitution.

These are no longer normal times, Senator. Your fellow legislators are openly engaging in stochastic terrorism, urging people to greet vaccine workers with guns, and to “lightly threaten” opponents. GOP members are avoiding comment on Trump’s defense of chants to hang the vice president and Gosar is aping the “plausible deniability” gaslighting of White Supremacists with a taxpayer-funded snuff film. Their combined efforts have fueled a near doubling of violent threats against lawmakers and now, even non-partisan election officials and their families are being terrorized.

These are no longer normal times, Senator. Advisors of the former president openly distain democracy. Retired general Michael Flynn would have us kneel to the sword of his chosen religion. Steve Bannon, a reportedly self-described Leninist and fan of the white supremacist fantasy novelThe Camp of the Saints,” has promised that a second Trump presidency will bring thousands of “shock troops” to attack the federal government from within and destroy “the administrative state,” an anti-government euphemism that also includes multiracial democracy. It would then be rebuilt according to his reactionary, revanchist, neofascist, and racist authoritarian vision,” starting with the decapitation of Trump’s enemies. As for the judiciary branch, the Supreme Court and the larger federal judiciary has largely been captured by right-wing Christian theocrats through the Federalist Society.

These are no longer normal times, Senator. Thanks to the bombardment of the Big Lie by FOX owner Rupert Murdoch, perhaps in retaliation for being forced to give up his Australian citizenship to build his US media empire, 21 million Americans, nearly 1 in 10, now believe in fascist ideals – the use of violence as opposed to the ballot box – to restore Trump to the presidency. “To an extent that many people still don’t recognize, Fox News is a grinding, daily cesspool of white grievance, mistrust of deep-state government, and a belief that liberals are literally trying to destroy the country out of sheer malice.” Last month, a man in Idaho asked when he could start killing Democrats. “When do we get to use the guns?” he said as the audience applauded. “How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?”

These are no longer normal times, Senator. Republicans, keepers of the racist Big Lie of the Confederacy’s “Lost Cause,” understand the 1984 reference “Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” Therefore, Critical Race Theory was deliberately misdefined by a GOP operative and now angry White parents want to strip textbooks and lesson plans of racial content, and are threatening teachers and school officials. QAnon members and extremists are radicalizing school boards, and already, two Virginia school board members stated that books banned by the their board should be burned.

These are no longer normal times, Senator. We are alarmed by the assumption of “business as usual” by Democratic leaders in the face of these existential threats. We’re alarmed that leaders like you would let essential voting rights bills die in the Senate for the sake of the filibuster. You are incorrectly assuming that we volunteers can somehow out-organize every voter suppression law, overwrite every false FOX story, and emerge unscathed from every terrifying encounter. We’re alarmed that you assume that there will be another chance.

The GOP, and their coterie of religious extremists, oligarchs, and hate groups, roar for the power and corruption of an authoritarian regime. They will wait until the time McConnell kills the filibuster upon his next return to majority leadership, whereupon your historic legacy – legislation for the rights of women, gun safety, and environmental protections – will be washed away with one toxic bill after another. If Trump is reelected in 2024, a similar fate may await the independence of Congress itself.

What will you be remembered for, Senator Feinstein? That you diligently followed protocols of years past as our glorious anomaly – the world’s longest surviving democracy – slipped away, silently like Hungary’s or with a percussion of gunfire? Or that you stepped up at this critical moment in history and fought back for the freedom of the majority of Americans to make their voices heard? Join in to remove the filibuster for voting rights and pass both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Please, Senator Feinstein. Be brave, or we will be asking for your resignation, and looking for a replacement who is.

Contact: Senator Feinsteinemail

Information on the Freedom to Vote Act and resources

The Freedom to Vote Act (S.2747) has replaced the “For the People Act” in the Senate. This bill, which is backed by Stacey Abrams of Fair Fight, makes Election Day a holiday, ends gerrymandering, combats the anti-voting laws working their way through state legislatures, requires states to allow 15 days of early voting (including 2 weekends), massively expands voting access through automatic voter registration and Election Day registration, increase election security by creating a national standard for voter verified paper ballots, implement a national voter ID standard with reasonable alternatives like utility bills or bank statements, requires voting machines be made in the United States, protect nonpartisan election officials from partisan interference, shines a light on dark money, and makes it harder for billionaires and special interests to buy elections. It’s a good start and and Manchin’s reputation, and the future of the filibuster, is also on the line.

  • (Brennan Center) Pass the Freedom to Vote Act – Analysis
  • (msnbc) The Freedom to Vote Act is Democrats’ final chance to save voting rights
  • (from DemCast) Quick Read:

Where we are…

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