Categories
Uncategorized

Kudos to Postcarders!!

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton.

Last year, Indivisible Northampton (IN) held a fundraising campaign. Donations from you, our members, and a matching grant from the national organization (that provides us with ongoing support and guidance) raised over $1,000. We have chosen to use a significant portion of these funds to support our on-going postcard campaigns. IN has purchased and provided postcards free of charge, and is able to offer some subsidies for postage to make broader participation possible.

Over the last few years, Indivisible Northampton volunteers have participated in postcard campaigns to diligently and effectively send postcards to voters in locations chosen to effect critical outcomes. We have provided information to help people register to vote, most recently Texas women, or to request mail-in ballots. We have supported constituents in numerous states to lobby their congresspeople for specific legislation. We have provided voters with information on the benefits of Democratic legislation, and we have lobbied hard for Democratic candidates.

Literally hundreds of you have written thousands of postcards (more than 45,000 from the Florence porch alone!) and informed, alerted, encouraged voters all over the US. You have endured cramped muscles from lengthy hand-written messages, invested heavily in US postcard stamps, and spent hours doing this volunteer work.

We send a big shout out of thanks and appreciation to all of you who make this work possible. Data collected by a wide range of organizations–from progressive groups (e.g.,Sister District, Reclaim Our Vote, Postcards to Swing States) to the State of Pennsylvania–have documented the positive impact of postcards, especially in getting out the vote. Organizations have also documented the impact of campaigns that have yielded significant constituent contact with their Congressperson on specific issues.

All this is to say….Indivisible Northampton is committed to providing access to postcarding campaigns that put this tactic to effective use! We are currently planning where we will next focus our work. With your help, our members and donors, we will maintain and expand the impact of our progressive postcarding!

Categories
Uncategorized

Make the Governor’s Records Public

By Larry Pareles

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton.

Secretary of State Bill Galvin supports a bill to have the governor’s office follow the public records law. “The idea that the most powerful position in the state and its records are not subject to public scrutiny is absurd,” he said. His bill would make the governor’s office documents open to the public for the first time. MA is the only state in the country that shields its governor’s records from public review. 

State Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) filed the bill on Galvin’s behalf. Sen. Eldridge has already championed other bills to greatly expand the public records law.

Senator Eldridge said: “Each and every day the governor’s office and all of his or her agencies are making critical decisions that have an impact on the lives of people across MA… Having access to the records of all the communication is critical to gaining insight into the rationale behind those decisions.”

MA state government makes fewer documents public than many states since the governor, the judiciary, and the legislature all claim they are exempt from the public records law. 

Gubenatorial candidate Attorney General Maura Healey supports having the governor’s office follow the public records law. Her spokesperson said: “AG Healey has long supported updating the public records law to cover the Governor’s Office in the interest of transparency and accountability.” 

Sen. Eldridge’s bills to expand the public records law (which would also include the Legislature) have gone nowhere until now. Now is a good time to pass this legislation. Maybe under a Democratic governor we will see some improvements in transparency in our state government. 

Categories
Uncategorized

What’s an activist to do….

It was such a relief to vote Trump out, and to anticipate a return to rational democracy. Recent Republican attacks on our voting rights, the bedrock of our democracy, and the harm that they would do, have us reeling. I try to understand their actions from their different political perspectives, but it’s hard to come up with a motivation beyond greed or outright cruelty.

And then the goal post keeps shifting. First we heard that S1 was a “must pass by the end of August!”. “Failure is not an option!” But here we are at the end of October and the negotiations
within the Democratic party–over bills for infrastructure as well as voting rights–appear fractious and interminable.

But here’s the thing–if your political perspective values most maintaining power, and believes that the way to prosperity is to preserve and enhance the wealthiest among us, who will then create opportunities for the rest of us, then your path forward is clear. Your job is to protect the wealthy and powerful and create the circumstances for their continued growth. This is the mantra of the Republican party, as measured by their actions.

A Democratic Senate caucus that includes Senators with views as disparate as Joe Manchin, say, and Bernie Sanders (just to choose a couple, think Sinema/Warren and Tester/Markey, etc.) does not have the luxury of unanimity. In the House, similarly, the Democratic caucus ranges from Rep. Jaime Raskin to Jason Crow, from AOC to Connor Lamb. Theirs are not easily reconciled perspectives, which translates into fiercely debated priorities and policies.

This is messy, at turns infuriating and terrifying for those of us watching, working and worrying. But this is, as we know, how democracy works. If the Democratic Party truly does embrace the broad diversity of The People and their priorities, it really can’t work any other way than through the differences, opinions and quarrels.

So….what do we do? How do we maintain our confidence and motivation? I believe that we hold firm to our belief in our goals; for me, that means that voting should be accessible to all, that all people in this country deserve safety, security and the means to a healthy and productive life. These are desirable and attainable goals! As Stacey Abrams says, “I am not optimistic or pessimistic, I am determined.”

Be kind to yourselves–do things you enjoy! Maybe it’s getting out in nature, time with friends, exercising, taking a break, indulging in a guilty pleasure or a good book, or your own source of solace. And be kind to each other. This is not a sprint; it’s a marathon!

— Marta Lev

Categories
Uncategorized

Thank You Leaders

by Seth Wilpan

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton.

In the morning email another plea to call my senators and contact the White House to egg them on to pass the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. After at least 20 years of obvious sabotage of voting rights by the Republican Party it takes a steady outcry from the public to motivate our elected officials to vigorously oppose them. That is a statement about the level of consciousness at which our existential situation is being considered. It goes without saying that it bespeaks a frighteningly low level of awareness, not to mention moral corruption.

It is evident, and has been empirically demonstrated, that at the national level neither elected officials nor government institutions are responsive to the will of the people. Why do we continue to fervently clamor for their support despite a history of, at best, tepid results?

I have to admit that I am susceptible to hopeful scenarios. Let’s say that the voting bills pass and they are able to forestall the most egregious assaults on voting rights. A substantial infrastructure bill passes and enough projects get off the ground to convince most people that their lot is improving. Anti-trust measures begin to reign in the ruthless power of corporations enabling  better working conditions and creating space for small businesses to thrive. If enough of these impacts are felt quickly enough, the Republicans, whose support is already faltering, may fail to gain control of even one of the chambers of Congress, which would allow the policies of the Biden administration to take root. That could lead to years of greenish prosperity and a long reign for the Democratic party while the Republican party goes through the process of recovering its sanity.

This scenario is, unfortunately, as fragile as it is hopeful. Every one of the elements would have to fall into place in order for it to become true. Not only that, but it does not take into account any of the possible external shocks that could throw things out of whack. How long before the extended drought in the west and the climatic disruptions of the Midwest cause food shortages and price increases? What if, as is not unlikely, pandemic conditions persist unrelentingly for years? The arsenal of weapons in the hands of Americans is a tinderbox on the verge of exploding into civil war. Cyber warriors have already demonstrated the capacity to wreak havoc.

On the one hand I feel that I must give all my effort to enable the hopeful scenario to prevail. On the other hand, I feel that I need to have a Plan B. Or is the need to have a plan B a matter of indulging, as Thomas Chatterton Williams recently put it, “…a certain intellectual and moral prestige in wallowing in our dissatisfaction…”.

There will always be a tension between the need to act and the need to strategize. What is constant is that we will always need each other; for the resistance, for mutual aid, for the never-ending work of human evolution.

So, regardless of the outcome of this particular struggle, I’m grateful to the leaders of our various organizations who do the hard work of keeping us focused, energized, and most of all, together.

Categories
Uncategorized

Sen. Manchin Proposes Changes to S1

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton.


From Slate, JUNE 16, 2021 4:04 PM: “Sen. Joe Manchin, who thus far has opposed Democrats’ big election reform bill, has finally made his counteroffer. On Wednesday, the West Virginian proposed a series of changes to the For the People Act that could win his vote.” The author, Richard L. Hasen, goes on to say that “Democrats should grab the deal, even though it is not perfect, is still unlikely to pass, and doesn’t yet address the greatest threat in upcoming elections: the danger of election subversion.”

I haven’t thought through whether I agree that “Democrats should grab the deal.” I do know this development will impact our actions to pass S1. Below are some details from Sen. Manchin’s proposal. If you care about the For the People Act, I suggest you click the link and read the entire article (it’s only 2 pages long):

DETAILS EXCERPTED FROM THE FULL ARTICLE:

“[Sen. Manchin’s proposal] includes a number of the most important voting rights and campaign finance priorities of the original bill, including a requirement of 15 days of early voting in federal elections, automatic voter registration, limits on partisan gerrymandering, and improved campaign finance disclosure. He’s also on board with extending campaign finance provisions to communications on the internet and to currently non-disclosing “dark money” groups, prohibiting false information about when, where, and how people vote, and an updated preclearance process….

Yes, Democrats should jump at the opportunity to pass such a bill, but it is also fair to acknowledge it is far from perfect. Many of the darlings in the For the People Act are not on Manchin’s list, such as felon re-enfranchisement, public financing of congressional elections, restructuring the often-deadlocked Federal Election Commission, and limiting state voter purges. Not only would the Manchin proposal continue to allow states to engage in voter purges, it also will require some form of voter identification for voting in federal elections, though in a more relaxed form than some of the strict rules some states have enacted. It also would weaken some of the standards for restoring preclearance under the John Lewis bill, making it harder to get a jurisdiction covered by the requirement and easier for a jurisdiction to get out from under its coverage….

Many of the items on the Democratic wish list not here are much less urgent than what is being offered and can be pursued another time….Although Manchin opposes eliminating the filibuster, as the Intercept reported on Wednesday, he recently told the “No Labels” group in a call that he might support filibuster reform, perhaps even lowering the threshold from 60 votes to a lower number of senators….

Ultimately, the biggest problem with the Manchin counteroffer is its failure to address the danger of election subversion—that Republicans are reworking state election laws to make it easier for partisan officials to miscount votes to alter election outcomes. A key provision of the For the People Act that works against election subversion is a requirement for all states to use paper ballots in all elections. Did Manchin leave that off the list because he was just listing highlights or because he opposes the provision? Or is it because West Virginia is one of the few states experimenting with internet voting?

They say, though, not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And Joe Manchin’s counteroffer is pretty, pretty good. At least it’s a start.”