Where on earth has your Member of Congress gone?
February 13, 2017 8:37 AM   Subscribe

In the past three months, the newly energized American left has been taking the advice to contact their local members of Congress with great gusto. Between phone campaigns that tie up phone lines and fill up voicemails, postcard campaigns, and most recently several Republican members of Congress who are outright refusing to hold town hall or public meetings, many angry constituents are meeting with a slightly unexpected problem. Elected officials who bravely claim to the media that the angry callers are paid provocateurs appear to have decided that actually facing local crowds is too intimidating. Consequently, the Indivisible Guide (previously) has published a helpful guide on what to do if your members of Congress appear to have gone into hiding rather than meet with you.
posted by sciatrix (91 comments total) 69 users marked this as a favorite

 
Elected officials who bravely claim to the media that the angry callers are paid provocateurs ...

Wait ... I can get paid to do this? I've been doing it for free, but would've gladly paid for the privilege.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:45 AM on February 13 [32 favorites]


Ah, I remember when the tea party wad the paid astroturfing campaign. The more things change...
posted by Going To Maine at 8:50 AM on February 13 [9 favorites]


Perhaps that's why they think the current bunch of callers are fake. "We paid the tea-partiers to do this, so of course the other side is doing the same. It can't possibly be because the electorate is genuinely upset about anything we're doing."
posted by wabbittwax at 8:52 AM on February 13 [47 favorites]


We worry so much about the state of math and science in schools. We fight so hard to protect the arts in school. And it turns out, we should have been fighting to make sure kids learn basic civics. People don't even know what they have a right to demand from their government anymore.

(Yes, the bigger picture takeaway is: we can't sacrifice any subject to emphasize another. But holy shit. Civics, you guys.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:02 AM on February 13 [32 favorites]


Coming from Massachusetts, I'm really spoiled in this regard. My Congressman (Seth Moulton) just held a terrific town hall about the ACA last weekend, and of course Warren and Markey are leading the charge against the current administration's shenanigans. In some ways, I feel like I'm fairly neutered, since the staffers I talk to when I call on issues are always saying, "Thank you for your call, this is the position of the Senator/Congressperson already."
posted by xingcat at 9:02 AM on February 13 [12 favorites]


Elected officials who bravely claim to the media that the angry callers are paid provocateurs.

I assumed that they were just being calculated cynics, but then I watched Jason Chaffetz actually say it, and you could tell, on some level, that he really believed it. It's hard to understand what, exactly, results in someone being so utterly morally defective.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:05 AM on February 13 [14 favorites]


Do they actually think we're paid protesters? I've been assuming that they know we're not, but they're claiming that because they don't want to admit that their constituents are angry.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:06 AM on February 13 [9 favorites]


My Congressman (Nadler) is probably the most active anti-Trump presence in the House.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:07 AM on February 13 [7 favorites]


Perhaps that's why they think the current bunch of callers are fake. "We paid the tea-partiers to do this, so of course the other side is doing the same. It can't possibly be because the electorate is genuinely upset about anything we're doing."

If you don't think members of the tea party were genuinely upset, I have some bad news for you about the 2010 midterms.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:08 AM on February 13 [25 favorites]


It's hard to understand what, exactly, results in someone being so utterly morally defective.

Being elected to public office in a country where money=speech and corporations are defined as people probably has a lot to do with it.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:08 AM on February 13 [11 favorites]


Has anyone suggested who might have the deep pockets necessary to pay all these people?
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 9:09 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


SOROS! It's always Soros, isn't it?
posted by wabbittwax at 9:09 AM on February 13 [8 favorites]


Has anyone suggested who might have the deep pockets necessary to pay all these people?
Why, yes, they have! We're supposedly being paid by George Soros. Sadly, I have yet to see my check.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:10 AM on February 13 [9 favorites]


Has anyone suggested who might have the deep pockets necessary to pay all these people?

George Soros, according to coworkers I have had the necessity to have small talk with.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:10 AM on February 13 [6 favorites]


Do they actually think we're paid protesters?

I don't know about them. But I firmly believe there are some paid organizers helping to create these opportunities and moments, and I think there's not a lot of great language around "I think some of these people are paid and the rest may have been influenced by those who were paid."
posted by corb at 9:11 AM on February 13 [5 favorites]


I mean, given that "George Soros" is the least subtle possible dogwhistle for "rich Jews" (or "an international conspiracy of Jewish bankers"), yes: it's always George Soros to these people.
posted by tocts at 9:12 AM on February 13 [37 favorites]


And I say this as someone who spent two years as a paid anti-war organizer, who was funded by a Soros grant. If you're not helping manipulate these moments, you're not doing your job.
posted by corb at 9:12 AM on February 13 [5 favorites]


There's a wide gulf between "Everyone in politics is getting paid to influence people" and "Protestors at local events were individually paid by someone to be there".
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:15 AM on February 13 [23 favorites]


I doubt they think all the callers, letter writers, shower-uppers at the town halls are paid. They probably do think there is a paid cadre of organizers/lobbyists/protesters keeping this thing rolling -- which was the Tea Party's model. There's no question left/progressive advocacy groups with paid staff are working to organize the response on their issues, and that's probably enough for eels like Chaffetz to make the charge.
posted by notyou at 9:15 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]


"We paid the tea-partiers to do this, so of course the other side is doing the same. It can't possibly be because the electorate is genuinely upset about anything we're doing."

It bears pointing out that this kind of behavior predates Trump's Mirror and is bigger than Trump. The modern Republican party is made up of people who are so used to faking concern about things and astroturfing their own support that they literally cannot conceive that the "other side" isn't doing it too.

Not for nothing do these people handwave away basic human decency as "virtue signaling".
posted by tocts at 9:15 AM on February 13 [36 favorites]


I wonder at what point am angry mob is going to tear someone apart and if we'll consider it a bad thing by then.
posted by Artw at 9:16 AM on February 13 [8 favorites]


On the one hand, it would be great if we paid some of our political organizers for the work they're doing (and it is work to organize everyone!). On the other hand, well, the accusation that these protesters from the Left are paid protesters is intended to carry the sting that if we weren't being paid to show up, we wouldn't bother--and, well, that's utterly untrue. Unpaid labor does, for better or worse, mark us as sincerely caring about the shit we are yelling about. And we do have sincerity, for all the good it does.

It's all a bit of a moot point because who the fuck is paying us? Even my one friend who is (successfully, apparently) making her name and career as an activist has a day job; admittedly, it's a day job at a transgender advocacy center, so it's also intimately tied to her activism work, but that's hardly paying her directly to show up or harry her legislators.
posted by sciatrix at 9:18 AM on February 13 [8 favorites]


Relatedly: On The Media has made a special protest edition of its "Breaking News Consumer's Handbook" (It looks generally askance at claims that protestors are paid to participate.)
posted by Going To Maine at 9:19 AM on February 13 [6 favorites]


I wonder at what point am angry mob is going to tear someone apart and if we'll consider it a bad thing by then.

constituents: [literally ripping fascist GOP congressman a new asshole]
fascist: [chuckling] fake
posted by Emily's Fist at 9:21 AM on February 13 [8 favorites]


In some ways, I feel like I'm fairly neutered, since the staffers I talk to when I call on issues are always saying, "Thank you for your call, this is the position of the Senator/Congressperson already."

I get that feeling, but I think it's important that even if your view and that of your elected official are in agreement that you call anyways. They need to hear support for a stance as much as opposition to a stance.
posted by nubs at 9:22 AM on February 13 [14 favorites]


No one ever explains how the logistics of paying tens of thousands of protesters is supposed work. How are they recruited? How do they get paid? How do they prove that they actually went to the protest? Do they get a 1099? Do they cover your mileage? What if you get arrested? Can you sue Soros or do you have to sign a waiver before you agree?
posted by octothorpe at 9:23 AM on February 13 [18 favorites]


But I firmly believe there are some paid organizers helping to create these opportunities and moments,
Honestly, I'm not really seeing it. There's definitely some involvement by organized labor, which makes sense, because the biggest issue in my state at the moment is a Wisconsin-style attack on public sector unions. But most of the stuff on the ground is actually pretty much all being organized by volunteers, to a degree that I haven't seen in seven years of local political activism.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:24 AM on February 13 [17 favorites]


Couple points here:

* The invocation of George Soros' name in this context seems to have an antisemitic over tone of Jew[ish person] financing opposition to the white power crowd.

* It's pretty rich that someone like Chaffetz, who takes a huge proportion of his campaign money from players outside his Congressional District, is complaining about "outside agitators", even though it is false.

* My experience from the election was that we had hundreds of volunteers and a very few paid canvassers in the final days of the campaign, whereas the Republican side paid people nearly $20/hr for nearly the whole time to push a radical right-wingers with a spitshine on his appalling forced birth and anti-LGBTQ positions and a campaign of lies against a wonderful progressive.

So infuriating to watch people flout accountability like this.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 9:27 AM on February 13 [18 favorites]


They probably do think there is a paid cadre of organizers/lobbyists/protesters keeping this thing rolling -- which was the Tea Party's model.

The idea that there could be paid consultancies on the left that would help activate the base! What bosh!
posted by Going To Maine at 9:29 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


> And I say this as someone who spent two years as a paid anti-war organizer, who was funded by a Soros grant. If you're not helping manipulate these moments, you're not doing your job.

In my experience (and man, I've heard this accusation a lot), "paid protesters" is not referring to people already working for social justice nonprofits who are doing their jobs as community organizers. They mean that the crowds of protesters are inflated by bodies-for-hire. Like, people who wouldn't otherwise necessarily bother to go to a protest, but are willing to show up and stand around and wave signs for money.
posted by desuetude at 9:33 AM on February 13 [30 favorites]


The invocation of George Soros' name in this context seems to have an antisemitic over tone of Jew[ish person] financing opposition to the white power crowd.

Soros has been invoked this way since God knows when; he's the right's mirror version of the Kochs, though my assumption is that his actual power is far less. That said, if you want to use that history of invoking his name to imply a history of anti-semitism being leveraged by the right, I wouldn't stop you...
posted by Going To Maine at 9:34 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Coming from Massachusetts, I'm really spoiled in this regard. My Congressman (Seth Moulton) just held a terrific town hall about the ACA last weekend, and of course Warren and Markey are leading the charge against the current administration's shenanigans.

I'm very spoiled with respect to my Congressman, who is by all accounts racing around like a madman advocating for his community, standing alongside local immigrant groups, spinning as much influence as he can with respect to state politics, giving the Texan Democratic Party a lift, and trying to support our city sheriff as she takes a very high-profile stand against a hostile state government.

I'm still keeping in touch with him and prodding him to do a couple of other things. For one thing, I'm cheerily trying to convince him to hold a town hall despite the fact that he ought to know damn well after over 20 years as our House Rep that Austin loves him and knows he listens. I'm doing that in part because a) I like the idea of giving him the warm and fuzzies that are likely to result as crowds of Austinites show up to cheer for him, as recently happened with the equally popular San Antonio congressman Joaquin Castro, but also b) because it's a great cudgel with which to shame other Austin Congressmen, all five of whom are hiding in terror at the moment from their constituents. (Mike McCaul hasn't showed up to a town hall in Austin since 2009, the bastard.)

I'm also consistently emailing and commenting on his social media to thank him for the more scary actions he's taking, so that he has clear supporters in his districts that are visible to other folks here and he has numbers to point to if Republican legislators try to claim he isn't listening to us. I'm doing similar things with my State Senator, and would be doing similar things with my (also almost certainly Democratic) State House rep if, uh, I could tell whether or not she was resigning in the wake of a scandal.

But yeah, I have one really good dude, but I'm not in your situation where it sounds like literally everyone you talk to is doing exactly what you would like. In that case... aw, hell, would you mind yelling at your reps or your party officials to help invest in states like mine? Our Texas Democratic Party is very clear that as far as they're concerned, they're on their own when it comes to support from the National Democratic Party. (That's actually a direct quote from the article.) And that is making our collective jobs a lot fucking harder down here in states like Texas, because the National party seems to have just outright rolled over and given up on us. I would love it if folks like you in blue states would talk to your reps and party officials about reaching out to liberals and supporting party members here, too, with an eye towards agitating to shake up the Democratic Party and commit to branches like ours which are actually doing some interesting things against a very unforgiving background.
posted by sciatrix at 9:34 AM on February 13 [24 favorites]


Wait, wait. Even if protesters are paid (and they're not), I thought Republicans were totally fine with money as speech?
posted by FJT at 9:35 AM on February 13 [25 favorites]


Even if protesters are paid (and they're not), I thought Republicans were totally fine with money as speech?

As Zoe Williams explained, when the left do it, it's hypocrisy. When the right do it, it's business as usual.
posted by acb at 9:41 AM on February 13 [8 favorites]


For them not against them.
posted by Splunge at 9:41 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]




Peter Roskam (IL-6) has decided to completely drop town hall meetings in favor of phone-in teleconferences. And I'm sure everyone (barring a few vetted sycophants) will be on mute the entire time.

They can't vote this spineless wimp out fast enough. We came close last cycle, hopefully we finish the job in 2018.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:53 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


[Comment removed; if you think there's more interesting discussion to be had in here focusing on legislators rather than the "paid protester" bullshit, that's totally fine but please just actively move in that direction with your participation rather than hectoring people for discussing stuff the wrong way etc.]
posted by cortex at 9:59 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


In that case... aw, hell, would you mind yelling at your reps or your party officials to help invest in states like mine?

Done. You (generic) can use my talking points if you want:

* Afraid that the DNC has not properly invested in Democratic candidates in traditionally "red" states.

* The Republican machine take over the legislatures and governorships of
state after state.

* The national Democratic party needs to aid Democrats in places like Texas and Arizona, so that we can more effectively enact beneficial progressive legislation both locally and nationally.

* Not bother to run Democratic candidates locally inhibits our ability to move forward with addressing climate change, eliminating systemic racism, enacting campaign finance reform, ensuring LGBTQ equality, and put into law the many progressive priorities that would make the lives of all Americans qualitatively better

* We must not cede local politics to Republicans; we must build from the bottom up.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 10:00 AM on February 13 [24 favorites]


I want every single elected representative worried we're going to drag them out of their homes.
posted by The Whelk at 10:01 AM on February 13 [53 favorites]


In that case... aw, hell, would you mind yelling at your reps or your party officials to help invest in states like mine?

Done. You (generic) can use my talking points if you want:

* Afraid that the DNC has not properly invested in Democratic candidates in traditionally "red" states.


Thanks for this idea! I have generally very proggy Congresspersons and was wondering how best to direct my efforts when I know they are already pushing for positions that I favor. Putting my efforts towards focusing the DNC on redder areas seems like a good use of my time.
posted by Existential Dread at 10:04 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]


I've been calling up my representatives to thank them for doing a good job on XYZ as a passive-aggressive reminder that I'm paying attention to them. As this is Minnesota, I'm pretty sure that the message gets through.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:04 AM on February 13 [14 favorites]


Wait, wait. Even if protesters are paid (and they're not), I thought Republicans were totally fine with money as speech?

The claim of 'paid protesters,' I think, makes more sense if you hear it as 'Americans support me and my policies and that is the only framing I'll accept.' Paid protesters are protesters not expressing their true feelings; and when you turn to the alleged financiers and find no one, there's simply more confirmation. If no one's actually paying for protesters, then surely no one opposes these policies. Further, arguing about how protesters aren't really paid and how paying/busing schemes don't hold up under scrutiny tends to let the frame of discourse shift to 'whether or not these protesters are genuine' rather than 'why does this representative not follow the whims of his constituents?'

Merely making the statement, without offering any evidence, that protests are faked has been a really effective tactic (for reasons that are open to debate) for shifting discussions. Which is why stuff like the Indivisible guide linked in the main post here are so important right now: a good antidote to Generic Representative making outlandish claims -- claims that will get press time because the press pays attention to elected officials -- is to attend events, or create your own events; publicize them, promote them to the press. Present a narrative, and refute Generic Representative's claims by drowning them out with your own truths.

But: while I think it's moot, strategically, to ask whether or not representatives genuinely believe that they're being inundated with paid protesters, I am personally fascinated by whether or not it's a genuine belief. Chaffetz? I cannot tell. And if he does believe it -- what does that mean for his legislative priorities? How does that inform his thinking? If he doesn't believe it -- and I'd bet that he doesn't -- then it's all a lot simpler but no less terrifying a prospect for democracy.
posted by cjelli at 10:07 AM on February 13 [7 favorites]


The congresspersons' perceptions may also be biased by how much non-local funding they received. Can't recall where I saw it but more of my local congressperson's funding for the last election was from non-local PACS and individuals than from local constituents. So given that non-locals are interested enough to fund, it would make a certain logic that non-locals would also be interested in showing up to protest as needed.
posted by beaning at 10:09 AM on February 13


would love it if folks like you in blue states would talk to your reps and party officials about reaching out to liberals and supporting party members here, too, with an eye towards agitating to shake up the Democratic Party and commit to branches like ours which are actually doing some interesting things against a very unforgiving background.

Even in blue states, it's not clear what dems are doing. I get invited to dozens of events every week, from protests to town halls to progressive organizing meetings but I can't remember the last time I got invited to something hosted by the democratic party. I have good access to my reps, but it's as my elected officials who happen to be democrats, not as bridges into the party. The Democratic Socialists of America have been way more active about recruiting around here than the Democrats have.

One of my closest friends is organizing constituents in the purplest of purple districts, NJ-11. They get hundreds of people at their congressman's offices every Friday, to the point where they've had to start staggering their visits over the course of the day so they don't cause fire safety hazards. As far as I know they've had no contact from the national democratic party.
posted by galaxy rise at 10:27 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Funny enough, this same accusation is leveled against Scientology protestors by the higher up Scientologists.
posted by Twain Device at 10:29 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


So, my congressperson is one of those republicans who has vanished from the face of the earth- we even have a hashtag for her, #WheresMimi. She tweets out this tone deaf stuff, never sets foot in her district, takes 85% of her donations from outside her district, and constantly votes for stuff that is directly against the interests of her constituency, which is the largest immigrant constituency in the nation represented by a republican.

So we're holding an empty chair town hall during District Work Week, and inviting her and her staff- no expectations they'll come, but the goal is to get the word out what kind of representative she is- and continue to get people engaged and educated in how to organize.

*Also*, I have somehow managed to get a regular appointment with the director of her district office. I show up, friendly and charming, and very slowly chip away at the giant suit of armor he wears so that he sees me as a person instead of an opponent. I've so far taken him from soulless automaton to someone who laughs at some of my jokes and admits a personal opinion or two. After a few months of this I'm hoping to actually have more influence.

Even in their silence, in their lies, in their urgent fundraising letters begging for money to battle the protesters (never constituents), you can see that they are starting to panic. And it's fun. It's fun to make them sweat. Democracy is fun. Go do it.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 10:29 AM on February 13 [71 favorites]


galaxy rise: in my neck of the woods, the Democratic Party is still lumbering, while the Young Democrats have set up a Resistance Committee with the aim of "organizing the organizers" in each of our local congressional districts.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 10:31 AM on February 13 [8 favorites]


Honestly the idea that these protests are organized by Soros at al is a corollary to the left's belief that the tea party was just an astroturfed movement. It wasn't. It was a mass political movement that, like many movements, had elite support but was primarily driven by indivuals volunteering their time and energy to enact political change. They did this by running for every little government bored they could find and getting primary challengers for reps that weren't far to the right enough. The Skocpol book on the tea party is pretty clear on this. This isn't a both sides do it complaint but if we are going to win we should do so by being right and being better.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:37 AM on February 13 [14 favorites]


BuddhaInABucket: galaxy rise: in my neck of the woods, the Democratic Party is still lumbering, while the Young Democrats have set up a Resistance Committee with the aim of "organizing the organizers" in each of our local congressional districts.

I went to the Young Dems kickoff meeting last week at Muldoon's and will try and go next month as well. After work meetings are much easier for me than the Tuesday's @ Mimi's. Were you there? If so, I'll try and say hi next time!
posted by Arbac at 10:45 AM on February 13


I get invited to dozens of events every week, from protests to town halls to progressive organizing meetings but I can't remember the last time I got invited to something hosted by the democratic party.

This is so weird to me, because the state Democratic party in my neck of the woods is up to its neck in this stuff, along with the state ACLU. And like I said, the state Democratic officials are also making extremely public (and fairly well publicized) sallies against both federal and state-level wrongdoing. (Re 'well-publicized', we're passing around papers from Houston and DFW and El Paso and San Antonio around on Facebook in my neck of the woods as well as the Austin-American Statesman and the good old Texas Tribune.) There are local papers in all the big cities covering this shit to cheers from their constituents, and the local officials are doing a good job spinning and framing the resistance to appeal to as many Texans as humanly possible. Including conservatives who maybe weren't lying about patriotism or supporting veterans.

The state party isn't doing a lot of direct funding and organizing this stuff, no, but that is as I understand it because they're very focused on planning strategies for the election itself (see here: that Tribune piece I just linked). On the other hand, local orgs like Annie's List are organizing everywhere, and those orgs might have a fig leaf piece of plausible deniability about not technically being arms of Democratic party organizing, but when e.g. Annie's List is committed to getting progressive, pro-choice women elected in the state of Texas it's not... really a stretch to associate the two groups.
posted by sciatrix at 10:45 AM on February 13 [5 favorites]


The number of constituents per U.S. Congressional Representative has gone up roughtly 20-fold over the country's history. If I had 800,000 people who wanted to talk to me, at least half of whom are pissed off, I confess I'd be hiding too.

I've heard the claim that we should reverse this trend by adding thousands more representatives but then I wonder if we'd start to run into the same problem at the other end of the scale, and a "mere" U.S. Congressman would no longer have enough individual importance to make his voice (and indirectly his constituents' voices) heard.

Right now it seems like we have "multiple choice poll questions", "letters and phone calls", and "conversational debates" in our citizen-lobbyist tool kit, but those are in decreasing order of "how reliably does this reflect the electorate's beliefs" and in increasing order of "how good is this form of communication at informing people or changing their minds". Pew and Gallup give semi-accurate estimates of very crude questions, and the bigwig who can actually schedule a long meeting with his Congressman has a great platform made useless by selection bias, and the "compromise" of interns tallying letters combines both failings.

Perhaps we could institute something like liquid democracy, maybe not as an official legal form of voting, but as at least a slightly-more-formalized-and-quantified form of punditry?

It could be a big improvement if the "bundlers" who get face time with candidates were notable, not just for how much money they've collected to pay for campaign ads, but for how many voters they've collected who've essentially said "I don't care what ads you run, I'm going to listen to what this guy has to say about the issue he wants to discuss with you."
posted by roystgnr at 10:46 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


PROTESTR: like UBER, but for hiring protestors!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:48 AM on February 13 [6 favorites]


Being elected to public office in a country where money=speech and corporations are defined as people probably has a lot to do with it.

Well, I mean sure, but did do they have enough to send someone back in time to pay off Chaffetz's mom, to say, make him incapable of basic human decency? The money puts them in office, but these people are fundamentally broken spiritually to begin with.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:48 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Last I heard the Supreme Court classified money as speech so Congress critters should probably stfu and do their public appearances.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:20 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Even in blue states, making contact is useful. Warren, okay, her resolve needs no stiffening, but, say, Schumer? He needs to understand that his constituents do not care if he is "uncooperative," "partisan," whatever; they want him to oppose every Trump nominee and plan. Already his public statements have slid visibly to the left as he starts to take the temperature of the state. NYers need to keep that pressure up. Most Dem senators need to be reminded that it will cost them if they go along to get along.
posted by praemunire at 11:40 AM on February 13 [10 favorites]


On the whole paid protester canard, I think it is helpful to see when they call out the opposition as professional protesters it signals to their base. You aren't a constituent with a viable point of you. You are an elite operative and therefore entirely dismissible. When we hear it we think they are calling those of who who resist paid protesters. Their base hears only that we are the ignorable elite.
posted by dgran at 11:44 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


I am going to promote this because why not? soren_lorensen made awesome postcards to send approval and disapproval notes to your congresspeople. I made them DIY printer-friendly. If you're interested in printing your own you can find them here.
posted by INFJ at 11:53 AM on February 13 [17 favorites]


The entire Colorado front range Indivisible groups are in it for the long haul with Gardner (who's not up for re-election until 2020), and we've only just gotten on our feet with basic organization internally, much less across the dozens of different groups of constituents mobilizing to express our disapproval with his nonresponsiveness, his dismissal of us as paid, and his complete absence from public events. Colorado went blue in 2016, and the state's adding 100,000 people a year, most of whom are younger and more progressive. The writing's on the wall, and he's either too dumb to see it or thinks he can do whatever he wants for 3 years and then "moderate" his way to reelection in the last 12 months. Ain't gonna happen. We're just getting started.
posted by deludingmyself at 12:00 PM on February 13 [13 favorites]


I have asked this on Twitter and Facebook and some mefi thread and cannot get a REAL, not hypothetical, answer. Surely SOMEONE has been to a town hall meeting - did they verify that you were a constituent? My rep is practically a communist, but the district a few miles away is one of the most solidly red in the country.
posted by AFABulous at 12:24 PM on February 13


Surely SOMEONE has been to a town hall meeting - did they verify that you were a constituent?

I haven't (see above; unfriendly senator MIA), but I've read a few reports and talked to folks who have and no, they don't seem to. It's not in their best interest to do so. Unlike not verifying and lying, which plays to their base.
posted by deludingmyself at 12:31 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Republicans are going to have a nuanced approach to these turn-outs.

On the one hand, there are two pieces of political calculus that say "ignore." First is that nothing succeeds like success: they aren't getting liberal votes in 2018 no matter what, but they can sure lose conservative and moderate votes if Republicans are seen to back down from the fight in Washington. Second, liberal voters protest and moderate and conservative voters don't -- George Bush was re-elected in 2004 with a big pick-up in popular vote despite acting as if the 2002/2003 anti-war protests never happened. Nixon didn't ignore the 1969-1972 anti-war protests but he certainly didn't knuckle under to them, and he increased his vote between 1968 and 1972 by over 50% -- 31.8 million to 47.2 million on his way to a 49-state landslide. Etc.

On the other hand, we would maybe have President Clinton today if she hadn't ignored Trump's rallies in exurban and rural Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. A lot of people coming out in bad weather means SOMETHING and you sure as heck don't want to pretend it doesn't. Populism is a force to be reckoned with.

I think that the latter factor is powerful enough that liberals can make some hay with certain demands. Executive orders that keep out green-card holding Iraqi translators for the US Army -- not going to have a lot of support among Republican members of Congress. Laws that basically ban class actions for product liability aren't great when the victims come to your office or appear on TV for your opponent. If whatever replaces the PPACA doesn't include a pre-existing condition exclusion ban a lot of Republicans members of Congress will end up (back) as lobbyists. But ain't nothing going to keep Gorsuch from being confirmed, or Milo Yiannopolous from accepting campus invitations, etc., and the protests against those things are quite unserious.
posted by MattD at 12:47 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Surely SOMEONE has been to a town hall meeting - did they verify that you were a constituent?

Not if they're smart, they won't. They would love for non-constituents to come, because then eventually one of them is going to be "exposed", and that'll be all the proof their base needs for decades.

"These people are all paid outsiders!"
"No, we're actual--"
"BUT WHAT ABOUT STU GARDNER IN 2017 AT JASON CHAFFETZ'S TOWN HALL, HUH?"
posted by Etrigan at 12:48 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


> On the other hand, we would maybe have President Clinton today if she hadn't ignored Trump's rallies in exurban and rural Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

I can't speak to Michigan or Wisconsin, but I keep hearing this claim for Pennsylvania and I'm mystified by it. I live in Pennsylvania, and she was here A LOT. Not just in Philly and Pittsburgh, either.
posted by desuetude at 2:10 PM on February 13 [6 favorites]


the protests against those things are quite unserious.

Wrong. By consistently demonstrating that a significant part of the population opposes a particular action, you make it much more difficult for the lukewarm to assume that that action is basically acceptable (and thus, that a more extreme action is suddenly within the range of imaginable possibilities). There are Trump supporters who will never care. There are also people who voted for him, or who didn't vote, whose complacency can be eaten away at. But not if people just shrug and accept everything.

Also, to be blunt, for the significant portion of Trump voters who are basically boot-licking power-worshippers, every bit of pushback matters. The weaker and more acquiescent the left appears, the more emboldened they will become.
posted by praemunire at 2:18 PM on February 13 [16 favorites]


My state Democratic Party is generally a pretty cowardly lot who run and hide from all confrontation and can only occasionally find a couple of vertebrae among (most of) them, but this week they have very kindly sent out Facebook announcements of where our (Republican) senator and representative will be showing up in person in the near future. Both are during normal working hours, but I do hope they get a good loud enthusiastic turnout.
posted by dilettante at 2:39 PM on February 13 [5 favorites]


I can't speak to Michigan or Wisconsin, but I keep hearing this claim for Pennsylvania and I'm mystified by it.

Michigan too. Lots of campaigning here. Any Democrat who says they were begging for more Clinton effort in Michigan is lying, or was begging for her coat tails.
posted by Etrigan at 2:49 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Could someone theoretically propose a bill making it a requiement of the job that these elected officials have to do two public town hall meetings a year?
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 3:13 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Representative Katko R NY holds telephone town halls with a thousand people on the line. Worse is there is no set date or time- you have to register online and when he decides to have one you get a phone call. If you don't answer you've lost you turn.
He hasn't held an in person public meeting since 2014!
He says people just want drama and he has to represent all his constituents. Apparently that doesn't include the angry ones.
posted by SyraCarol at 3:22 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


I like the people on Twitter who are sending their reps invoices for the time they've spent protesting. The going rate is $100/hour.
posted by bendy at 3:46 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Representative Katko R NY holds telephone town halls with a thousand people on the line. Worse is there is no set date or time- you have to register online and when he decides to have one you get a phone call. If you don't answer you've lost you turn.

They're doing those in the heavily gerrymandered Michigan districts too. Except that the last few have had technical difficulties that resulted in a few people not being called.

You get one fucking guess who seem to have coincidentally ran foul of those technical difficulties.
posted by Etrigan at 3:50 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


I really want to know who people think Soros actually is other than being rich and Jewish, honestly.
posted by flatluigi at 3:57 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


By consistently demonstrating that a significant part of the population opposes a particular action, you make it much more difficult for the lukewarm to assume that that action is basically acceptable (and thus, that a more extreme action is suddenly within the range of imaginable possibilities).

Seconding this. We can't let them keep shifting the overton window.

Also, I think there is something to be said for showing visible support for targeted and vulnerable communities like with the travel ban or Milo Yiannopolous. I know it doesn't make up for all the bullshit going on, but we can at least keep saying "No, this is unacceptable and it must stop."
posted by ghost phoneme at 4:18 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


Speaking for myself, when a scary to me thing comes down the pike and people, my allies, stand up and shout "no!" before a proposed calamity can happen... I am heartened.

When I worry about a person I love and people who have never thought two ways about those issues stand up to protect my chosen family... I am heartened.

When I see the solidarity of so many people throwing their weight behind marginalized people, even or perhaps especially in small, attainable, human ways... I am heartened.

When I see a small symbol of solidarity on a stranger, I know that I am not alone in this fight and there is someone else out there quietly doing their best... and I am heartened.

When I see love in the choices of my fellow Americans, and in the choices of all the people worldwide standing up to fight fascism and tyranny, I am heartened.

And with every scrap of warmth powering my expanding heart, I can pound again the wrathful bellows of my sounding voice until these enemies of humanity tremble again at the threat of the crowd. Quail, ye mighty, at the strength of the meek assembled!
posted by sciatrix at 4:28 PM on February 13 [18 favorites]


My Congressman (Nadler) is probably the most active anti-Trump presence in the House.

Okay but mine is the funniest:

Ted Lieu‏ @tedlieu
Was charged $2.99 for coffee listed at $2.59. That's why I have trust issues. Oh, and the fact that @seanspicer at #WhiteHouse makes shit up
8:25 AM · Jan 23, 2017
posted by Room 641-A at 5:03 PM on February 13 [23 favorites]


My Congressman is doing a town hall on refugees and immigration next week, so he's definitely not in hiding. But he's a pretty vocal anti-Trump Democrat in a ridiculously blue district in Los Angeles (although there are always a few Trumpists commenting on his FB posts).
posted by thefoxgod at 5:08 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


So, this Exec. Order empowering police. It seems to me that it's a giant middle finger to Black Lives Matter. Or am I missing something.
posted by theora55 at 6:06 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


No, I think you're more or less seeing it for what it is.
posted by tocts at 6:29 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


Or am I missing something.

It's also a giant middle finger to hate crimes legislation.
posted by Etrigan at 6:31 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


I wonder at what point am angry mob is going to tear someone apart and if we'll consider it a bad thing by then.

I'll never understand Americans. One little British king raises their taxes in order to pay for a war waged in part to defend them and they can't revolt fast enough. Assemble a gang of jerkoff plutocrats and nutjobs who systematically enrich themselves whilst disenfranchising and persecuting large numbers of people and it's all wait slow down let's respect the process.
posted by um at 6:43 PM on February 13 [13 favorites]


Even better is our second amendment enthusiasts who will take to the streets and rooftops against perceived threats to the Constitution; as long as it's the second amendment that's threatened.

The Muslim Ban, which violates five different constitutional rights? ... eh ...
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:54 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Americans (as a voting bloc) think (perhaps delusionally) that they too can be one of these "jerkoff plutocrats and nutjobs who systematically enrich themselves".

Honestly, that's one of very few rational conclusions as seen from a 3rd party pov.
posted by porpoise at 6:57 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Porpoise: that observation's been around a good while. Witness the old (admittedly disputed) Steinbeck quote about Americans seeing themselves as "temporarily embarrassed millionaires" rather than an exploited proletariat.
posted by Archelaus at 11:05 PM on February 13


I want every single elected representative worried we're going to drag them out of their homes.

This, honestly, is the only way we will get the R congress to impeach. They are so jazzed about lowering corporate taxes, sticking it to "those people", and disenfranchisement that they are willing to accept a cabal of Russian moles! The only thing at this point that might motivate them is fearing for their lives.
posted by benzenedream at 11:15 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


We've 100 active people in our Indivisible group. None of us are being paid. And we're organized and are in this for the long haul.
posted by persona au gratin at 11:25 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Representative Katko R NY holds telephone town halls with a thousand people on the line. Worse is there is no set date or time- you have to register online and when he decides to have one you get a phone call. If you don't answer you've lost you turn.

Sounds like it may be more useful writing letters to the editor of their local newspapers.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:10 AM on February 14


That assumes that there is a local paper, and that anyone reads it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:30 AM on February 14


[The Tea Party] was a mass political movement that, like many movements, had elite support but was primarily driven by indivuals volunteering their time and energy to enact political change.

I'm sure that's true, but it ignores the real effect of organizations like Americans for Prosperity, whose annual spending is close to $90 million, and who were/are a major supporter of the Tea Party. Not to ignore the volunteers and their passion for political change, but "elite support" means huge resources and money that "left" organizations don't seem to have access to.
posted by sneebler at 8:16 AM on February 14 [8 favorites]


It was AFP's deep pockets that made it possible for all the Tea Partiers to do all the things they did instead of holding down actual jobs. Some of them figured out the game & turned it into their own little grift, taking in money from various sources & spending it back out on themselves instead of the movement.
posted by scalefree at 12:18 PM on February 14 [3 favorites]


See: Sarah Palin.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:00 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


[The Tea Party] was a mass political movement that, like many movements, had elite support but was primarily driven by indivuals volunteering their time and energy to enact political change.
THAT IS THE MOST OBVIOUS "ALTERNATIVE FACT" (LIE) OF THE PAST TEN YEARS. Well, next to "Donald Trump is a Billionaire".
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:14 PM on February 14


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