Our biweekly lists lay out notable issues in the news and tell you what you can do about them.
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So excited to be back on our biweekly schedule! :) Hope that you are your families are staying safe and well.
This list covers the weather in Texas and how it's connected to climate change, reproductive justice-related happenings, and the Invest in Our New York Act proposing new taxes on the ultra-wealthy. We break it all down for you and provide easy, concrete ways for you to get involved below.
Before you dive in — remember to take a breath every so often, and to take care of yourselves. (Pandemic burnout is real.) We're with you; stay strong.
Peace & power,
WHAT WENT DOWN
These outages, as well as infrastructural weaknesses that fail to protect homes from frigid weather, have catalyzed an alarming humanitarian crisis. Over the course of the week, citizens were left without heat, safe drinking water, and use of most utilities. Not to mention, homeless individuals, communities in poverty, and incarcerated individuals have experienced living conditions that threaten survival. According to the Washington Post, the storm’s reported death toll is about 30 - keep in mind, no statistics are absolute at this point.
As far as government response to this crisis goes, state authorities are actively coordinating with an array of commissions to assuage concerns about water quality, establish statewide warming centers, and restore a power grid deeply inflicted by weather damage. Federally, President Biden approved a Major Disaster Declaration for 77 counties on February 20 after having declared a state of emergency days before. Local governments and tribal communities in these areas will receive supplemental economic support. And while Texas Senator Ted Cruz fled to Mexico with his family to vacation, leaders like Cruz’s 2018 Senate opponent Beto O’Rourke and NY’s Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez raised funds and volunteer coalitions to address the emergency.
Moving into the week of the 22nd, conditions (both weather-related and within the power grid) are expected to greatly improve. However, the economic, humanitarian, and infrastructural impacts of this crisis are certainly indelible. We’re not powerless in mitigating them, though.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
As we know, the Earth’s climate has been continuously warming, and patterns have been scientifically confirmed in America since at least the 1950s. Global warming is arguably the most daunting existential threat humanity has faced. Research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that if sweeping, bold action is not taken to shift energy production, within a decade, there will be no way to reverse this crisis and its impacts: rising sea levels, extreme weather like snowstorms, hurricanes, and droughts alike, worsened air quality, and the extinction of numerous species.
Not-so-coincidentally, it was Texas’ - and America’s - heavy reliance on natural gases that both created their crisis and prevented a swift response to it. Coal mining and oil drilling as a means of producing energy contribute thousands of tons of carbon emissions, among other dangerous substances, to the atmosphere annually. And when freezing temperatures froze over infrastructure that sustained this natural gas production in Texas, millions lost power. Incoming generations will be left to fend for themselves in environmental conditions that simply fail to sustain life if changes are not immediately made to environmental policy.
President Biden’s platform to confront climate change is extensive. He has proposed a plan to achieve a clean-energy economy with net-zero emissions by 2050, conserve at least 30% of American lands and waters with animals at risk of extinction, and prompt shifts to electric cars and renewable energy use by airlines. On his first day in office, Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Accord and cut off permits for the development of the Keystone XL Pipeline, a vast intracontinental oil conduit. He has also appointed the first Climate Envoy and promised to monitor the environmental responsibility of corporations and the government bureaucracy. The administration has been particularly focused on the connection between green energy and the economy, and hopes to create new jobs while addressing the climate crisis. They have also promised to give 40% of the benefits that come from government investment in clean energy to communities of color—this is an important first step, as Black, Indigenous and Latinx communities have bore the brunt of pollution, pipelines, and hazardous waste. However, a lot of Trump-era policy could take years to undo.
Amidst these ostensibly decisive plans, concerns about Republican resistance to his policies and activism from more progressive climate voices indicate that Biden’s plan may not suffice. Proposals like the Green New Deal that explicitly and expansively prioritize economic justice in tandem with climate appeal to many young people, but a call to balance feasibility and policy change continues to plague leaders in Washington.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Also related to reproductive justice comes a new act, the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, introduced by Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, Congresswoman Alma Adams, Senator Cory Booker, and associates of the Black Maternal Health Caucus. This act will:
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
The Invest in Our New York Act aims for a more progressive tax. The authors of the act propose new and higher income tax brackets starting at $300,000 per year for individuals, and $450,000 for married people. Furthermore, the Act would create new brackets to those who earn more than $300,000/$450,000 and an even higher bracket for those who earn between $10 million and $100 million. This means that over 95% of New Yorkers will not see a change in their income tax. Even for the few that will, the effect would be manageable.
Many wealthy people earn most of their money from capital gains, as opposed to the average person who earns most of their income from working jobs. The federal capital gains tax at this time provides for a relatively low rate. That tax rate may or may not change. That is why the Act would add a New York state capital gains tax. This tax would generate $7 billion per year for New York. Many wealthy people also receive money through large amounts of inherited wealth, and they don’t get sufficiently taxed on it. That’s why the Act provides for an Heirs’ Tax to tax inheritance. Most New Yorkers would not be affected by this tax.
The act would also introduce other kinds of taxes applying to wealthy New Yorkers. In total, these new taxes would raise at least $50 billion per year and possibly more.
Raising taxes is always unpopular. And the risk that wealthy New Yorkers, particularly foreigners, will leave New York State so they no longer have to pay state taxes does exist. Yet these are extraordinary times, times that have affected New York State with the worst pandemic in a century. Increased taxation for the rich is essential and it is fair. Something must be done.
You can learn more here.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
This list was written by Sabrina Thaler, Mia Reiland, Ananya Gera, and Sarah Germana and edited by Sonia Chajet Wides and Kate Griem.
We know that it's been a while; we hope that you are your families are staying safe and well. We are back and will be back on our biweekly schedule! We're excited to be here with you.
This list has a lot of heavy political info — mostly impeachment & various forms of COVID-19 relief. We break it all down for you and provide easy, concrete ways for you to get involved below.
Peace & power,
what went down:
If Trump is no longer in office, what would this conviction mean? Conviction after impeachment prevents that individual from ever holding public office again. (“The framers of the Constitution feared a president who would corrupt his office by sparing ‘no efforts or means whatever to get himself re-elected,’” said House Dems in their brief.) Given Donald Trump’s consistent disregard for the Constitution and our systems of government — and his insinuation that he would run again — that punishment is what many Democrats are after. Conviction aside, even the process of a trial sends a loud and clear message to the world.
On February 4, the House managers reached out to the former president’s legal team to ask if Trump would testify at his trial. His lawyers swiftly declined the offer. The Senate trial this week will be among the final milestones of the Trump presidency, and perhaps among the most momentous.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
The bill’s unusual journey through the legislature (going through the Senate before the House), which ordinarily approves a bill in the House before it goes to the Senate, was the result of a tactic called budget reconciliation. Democrats chose to use this strategy to avoid negotiating the gained the support of seventeen Republicans — normally, budget and revenue bills must pass with a supermajority (⅔), but budget reconciliation only needs a simple majority to pass in the Senate. The process has a 20-hour cap on filibusters, which was reached Friday morning. Now, the bill is in the House for budgetary tweaks. Since budget reconciliation does not require bipartisan support, there are strict guidelines as to how it can be used. More than 800 amendments to the package were drafted, which is why the package will not include Biden’s proposed $15 federal minimum wage. As the budget reconciliation process is only meant to be used for spending legislation, it is an appropriate avenue through which to pass the relief package. So, now we wait for the bill to be refined in the House, and we can expect the plan to be enacted in a couple of weeks.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Rent relief programs provide economic assistance to tenants or landlords to make up for unpaid rent. On his first day in office, President Biden extended a federal eviction moratorium through the end of March; a current moratorium in New York State will expire in the beginning of May. Eviction moratoriums save lives; public health experts have found that 10,700 Covid-related deaths have been linked to the expiration of federal eviction moratoriums over the summer.
Still, eviction moratoriums have holes. Landlords can choose not to renew a tenants’ lease, which has the same effect as an eviction, and evictions may be allowed for reasons other than nonpayment. Marginalized renters — including immigrants and non-English speakers, seniors without internet, and lowest-income tenants — may not know how to take advantage of the current protections. To qualify under the federal moratorium, renters must know to provide a signed copy of the CDC’s moratorium declaration. And while eviction moratoriums prevent actual evictions from taking place, they don’t stop landlords from starting eviction proceedings. Tenants who are unaware of their rights often respond to a notice of these proceedings by moving out far before they are required to.
In addition, eviction moratoriums alone arguably just push the ball down the road; once they end, millions of tenants who’ve lost a year of income due to COVID will be again vulnerable to eviction. Rent relief to address the billions of dollars of back rent owed by American tenants — estimates range up to $70 billion — is necessary.
Finally, COVID-19 didn’t create this country’s housing crisis. To qualify for most governmental assistance, tenants have to demonstrate that their ability to pay rent was affected by COVID (itself an added hurdle for undocumented people or those with difficulty getting their paperwork together). But millions were already struggling to attain and retain a stable and affordable living situation before the pandemic. Once this pandemic is over, our governments and communities will be tasked with a radical rethinking of how we distribute housing, property and resources.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
The grim future for local restaurants also provokes concern over the tension between small, local restaurants and corporate chains. Corporate restaurants have a much easier time sustaining economic crises because of the enormous capital they have from their corporate backers and the low wages which they pay their employees. By stimulating local restaurants, the restaurant industry can shift away from reliance on huge companies which have been working tirelessly to use this moment of weakness to accumulate more wealth.
Some good news on the matter is that on February 5th, the Restaurants Act of 2021 was reintroduced to Congress. While distinct from the last version, the Restaurants Act is a bipartisan effort to restabilize American local restaurants, indicating a strong chance of passing in the Senate.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
First, here’s a brief list of groups you can support, donate to, and volunteer at:
Death Care Support:
Content Warning: Focus on deceased bodies and Covid-19. No graphic descriptions or images.
As COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have spiked, so have the number of deaths. These deaths have caused a strain on the nation’s funeral homes, mortuaries, and morgues have the capacity to care for. This issue in and of itself is deeply uncomfortable to confront because of what it signifies about COVID response and the number of deaths we’re facing. That being said, a response to this crisis is necessary so that we can all be kept safe.
While this is scary and unsettling to experience, it is not the first mass casualty event the American death care system has faced. There are plans and support systems in place to deal with a larger number of bodies than the existing system can handle. Unfortunately, despite their advantages, some of these support systems have been misrepresented in the news.
One support system is the use of refrigerated trucks to care for bodies, which are a good example of disaster response in dealing with the dead. Another example is the use of places like Hart Island, a cemetery for unclaimed bodies, people who died and had no one to arrange their burial or cremation. It’s been used as a cemetery for over 150 years. Hart Island, and other cemeteries like it, have been getting more attention because there are more unclaimed dead bodies now due to Covid-19. Again, this is a normal response to large numbers of bodies. Everything is organized and bodies are not cast aside or forgotten. You can even go to https://www.hartisland.net/ to see some of the older burial records of the island.
Deathcare is not always pretty, or easy to think about. During the pandemic and before, much of the labor in the United States has been acquired unethically, through the exploitation of incarcerated people. While this issue should be dealt with, the deathcare system is not entirely responsible.
There are two important things to remember. First, while the Covid-19 pandemic is scary, there is no reason to fear the responses that help deal with its effects. Second, this pandemic has revealed many problems and shortcomings with the systems of our nation. Many levels of government have failed to meet communities’ and the nation’s needs. When the pandemic is over these problems won’t disappear. It’s our responsibility to fight for systems that will support all people.
This list was written by: Betty Kubovy-Weiss, Sonia Chajet Wides, Kate Griem, Miranda Licardo, Lily Seltz, Minna Bachman, and Leo Levine
Hi everyone! Happy Holidays and almost 2021!
We know we’ve been a little MIA. We apologize for that! We will be back on track with biweekly lists after the holidays and we can’t wait.
As we’ve said before, we are going to continue putting out lists and resources no matter who the president is. One of the benefits of having a Democratic president is that there’s more room for more specific debates about progressive policy, so we are having conversations on how we are going to navigate those discussions with our resources.
Another important thing to look into this week too is this Overview of the the stimulus battle right now.
With that being said, let’s get into it!
What Went Down
GA Senate Update:
The two races are currently EXTREMELY CLOSE, according to FiveThirtyEight!! As of Dec. 23, Republican Sen. David Perdue is leading Democrat Jon Ossoff by .4 percentage points, 48.8% to 48.4%, in the normal election; in the special election, Democrat Raphael Warnock is leading Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler by .5 percentage points, 48.8% to 48.3%.
Democrats are weaponizing Trump’s call for $2,000 stimulus checks on Tuesday night — throwing a wrench in weeks of drawn-out haggling in the Senate and a precariously reached compromise — to bash on GOP candidates in the race. In the final days before the Jan. 5th runoff, Trump has compromised Perdue and Loeffler’s ability to deliver much-needed relief to their constituents, presenting yet another reason that the Democrats might be the better choice for voters.
What can you do?
Phonebank, textbank, donate, repeat!!
Sign up for daily Ossoff volunteering here; sign up for daily Warnock volunteering here. Donate to Ossoff here; donate to Warnoff here.
Additionally, check out our last list to learn more about the candidates.
Holiday Giving: Here are just a few suggestions on wonderful places to direct money if you're looking to make some donations during the holiday season (or any time).
This list includes both non-profits and mutual aid groups. Mutual aid is a wonderful way to get involved in your community while offering financial support. Read more about what it is here and here.
Fair Fight: Fair Fight is an organization that was started by the incredible Stacey Abrams. its goal is to prevent voter suppression in Georgia and around the country. Voter suppression is an issue with a long history in the United States, and its effects can be devastating on marginalized communities (see more here). Especially right before the highly important Georgia Senate races, Fair Fight is a wonderful organization to support.
Openyrpurse: Openyrpurse is an Instagram account that shares crowdfunding efforts from marginalized people. They consistently post important fundraisers that need donations. Many of them are urgent, time-sensitive, and have no other source of funding besides the community. Check out the account at https://www.instagram.com/openyrpurse/.
For the Gworls: For the Gworls is a mutual aid group that helps Black trans people, one of the most marginalized groups in the country, pay for their rent and gender-affirming surgeries (if they'd like them). Black trans people are disproportionately affected by both poverty and hate crimes, especially Black trans women. For the Gworls plays a vital role in many people's lives.
Mutual Aid NYC: https://mutualaid.nyc/
Crown Heights Mutual Aid: https://crownheightsmutualaid.com/
The Southern Poverty Law Center: The Southern Poverty Law Center is a fantastic organization that deals with racism and prejudice. It has three main branches. Fighting Hate deals with keeping hate groups across the US under control and releasing information that keeps Americans updated about extremist groups. They offer super informative resources like their Hate Map as well as articles that explain major hate groups, and they also train law enforcement to deal with hate crimes in better ways. Teaching Tolerance, another part of their program, creates curriculum for teachers and schools to use across the country that teach diverse history and important lessons to students who may not be receiving that otherwise. Lastly, through Seeking Justice, the SPLC champions important civil rights law cases. They are a group that does very necessary work.
Website: splcenter.org; How to support them: Donations or publicity in your community (check website for more)
The American Civil Liberties Union: Commonly know as the ACLU, this organization does incredible work to protect the individual and collective civil rights of Americans through community outreach & organizing and providing law work on important civil rights cases. Since Trump's election, they've been at the forefront of the resistance and have been involved in numerous cases to help people affected by discriminatory legislation, as well as trying to stop that legislation itself.
Website: aclu.org; How to support them: Donations or visit aclu.org/action for more incredible ways to speak out.
Planned Parenthood: You saw this coming, didn't you? Now over 101 years old, Planned Parenthood has been a leader of women's health for years. They provide prenatal, pregnancy and sexual healthcare and resources to anyone and everyone. Particularly, they provide these services to low income women healthcare services. They also provide birth control and contraceptive resources, cancer screenings, and yes, abortions in most cases. All while maintaining a welcoming and confidential environment. They are an incredibly important organization in this country, and they're also under fire right now.
Website: plannedparenthood.org; How to support them: Donations, march on their behalf, call Congress to oppose defunding or through plannedparenthood.org/getinvolved
Make the Road NY: This is an incredible community-based organization that works to uplift low-income and Latinx communities through "multi-issue, multi-generational organizing," according to their website. They do legal work in helping make sure that the rights of immigrants are upheld and they also work with adult education, organizing and on-the-ground change making. They also protect students and Dreamers fiercely and are at the forefront of the immigration reform movement.
Website: maketheroadny.org; How to support them: Donations and visit maketheroadny.org/participate.php for more.
EMILY's List: EMILY's List is an organization that supports and encourages Democratic, pro-choice women to run for office. They (and we) believe that for government to do its best for America, it needs to represent our population and that if more women are elected to office, real change can be made. They fundraise for women candidates and train women to run for office, something we really do need. (Oh, and what does that acronym stand for? "Early Money Is Like Yeast"- it makes the dough rise.)
Website: emilyslist.org; How to support them: donate, attend trainings, sign their petitions and encourage others to run for office (or do so yourself!). For more, see emilyslist.org/pages/get-involved
NAACP's Legal Defense Fund: The LDF works on important civil rights cases and does pro-bono law work for people whose rights are being violated in situations where they are in a lesser position of power.
Website: www.naacpldf.org; How to support them: donate or take action (petitions!, etc.) through naacpldf.org/take-action.
International Rescue Commission: The IRC responds to humanitarian crises to help people who are in danger or peril. They helped 26 million people in 2016. Not only that, but they work to make sure America is a welcoming place for these refugees, and to ensure they can come here at all.
Website: rescue.org; How to support them: donations are incredibly helpful, though they do have a few other ways to help at rescue.org/how-to-help.
Close Rikers: Close Rikers is a New York City grassroots effort to close Rikers Island. Rikers Island is a prison in New York City that has been the culprit of horrifying treatment for a long time. Detaining one person at Rikers costs NYC taxpayers 247,000 per year. 89% of the Rikers population are Black and Latinx. In many of these cases, these prisoners are at Rikers for tiny "broken windows" crimes or their inability to pay bail. In many cases, they have not committed the crimes. Rikers is a system that contributes to the problem of mass incarceration in this country and Close Rikers is trying to shut it down.
Website: closerikers.org; How to support them: donate, join the campaign, tweet @NYCMayor and attend events. More at closerikers.org/take-action.
Wishing everyone a lovely holiday season. See you next year!
This list was written by Kate Griem & Sonia Chajet Wides
Hey Teen Resisters! Hope you are all staying healthy, safe & sane.
We're reeling a little bit in the wake of the election; after such a stressful buildup period and post-election day saga, we hope you've all taken a moment to breathe a sigh of relief (and celebrate — unprecedented youth voter turnout and historic LGBTQI+ firsts, to name just a couple of amazing things that happened!).
There's been a ton going on in the news, and, as always, we've broken down some of it below. Thank you all for bearing with us, whether you started using our resources in 2017 or yesterday. We are beyond proud of everything this community has accomplished, and we can't wait to keep the fight going in a new era — one where we can focus on pushing Democrats in power farther left, rather than just resisting far-right agendas. There is so much more to be done, and so much new momentum to do it.
Wishing everyone has a safe and restful Thanksgiving!!
Peace and power,
what went (And is Going) down
Another notable victory for the LGBTQI+ community was the election of Sarah McBride to the First State Senate District of Delaware; she will be the highest-ranking transgender elected official in the United States. She grew up in her district and has been involved in local, statewide, and national politics throughout her career, working for the Obama White House and Attorney General Beau Biden. Her platform supports the Affordable Care Act, reforming criminal justice, and expanding paid family and medical leave.
In Congress, Democrats Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones will become the first openly gay black men in Congress. Torres, who was born and raised in the Bronx, was the first openly gay elected official from the Bronx and the youngest elected official in New York City as a member of the New York City Council. He will represent Bronx’s 15th District in Congress. As a council member, Torres worked to close rent regulation loopholes, tackle the opioid epidemic, and end segregation and bullying in NYC schools. Mondaire Jones, who will represent New York’s 17th Congressional District (located in the Lower Hudson Valley) also claimed victory this election cycle. Like Torres, Jones was raised in his district and lived there most of his life. While attending Harvard Law School, Jones provided free representation for those unable to afford it in criminal proceedings. He continued this endeavor after graduation, receiving honors from the Legal Aid Society for his hundreds of hours of pro bono representation. His policies include support for Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, the right to abortion, the Equality Act, and immigration reform.
Georgia Senate Runoffs
Along with the presidency, the (currently majority-Republican) Senate was up for grabs in this year’s election. As of now, 48 Democrats and 50 Republicans have declared victory, meaning control of the Senate hinges on two run-off elections in Georgia — held because no candidate in either race got 50 percent of the vote (massive thanks to Stacey Abrams and everyone doing voter turnout work in Georgia!). The double run-off is rare, especially considering that the Warnock/Loeffler race was already a special election. If the Democrats win both seats, making the Senate breakdown 50-50, the tie-breaking vote would go to the Vice President (Kamala Harris), meaning Mitch McConnell would no longer be the Senate Majority Leader. Having a Democratic majority in the Senate would enable and/or massively speed up progressive legislative agendas
Loeffler, on the other hand, has a record of voting for Trump 100% of the time and is the wealthiest senator. In her year in office, she has made public her anti-abortion, border wall, and pro-gun views. In the November election, Warnock won 33% of the vote, while Loeffler got 26%. This is because many conservative voters (20%) wanted another Republican, Doug Collins, to get the seat. However, when forced to choose between Warnock and Loeffler, those other 765,378 people will probably vote for Loeffler. That’s where we come in! Warnock’s campaign is hosting virtual phonebanking every day until January 5th, 2021. You can sign up under “Call Georgia Voters” on the campaign’s website: https://warnockforgeorgia.com/upcoming-events/
Republican Refusals to Concede
It has been over two weeks since Election Day, and over ten days since major news networks officially declared Joe Biden the president-elect following Election Week. Yet Republicans across the country continue to have varying reactions to the results.
Let’s start with what Trump has done. Late on election night, Trump claimed victory, despite the fact that there were tens of millions of votes outstanding. As votes came in and it became clear that Biden was likely to get to 306 electoral college delegates, Trump insisted that the election was being stolen from him, tweeting that “they are finding Biden votes all over the place” — an especially ridiculous pronouncement given the vast importance that we knew early and mail-in voting would have in this election. Trump has continued to reiterate that the election was rigged, stolen, unfair, and much more, and had his team launch off a series of legally absurd, entirely unsuccessful lawsuits in efforts to flip the election's results in his favor.
Notably, in Michigan, an election canvassing board in Wayne County met on November 17 to certify the results of the election in the county. Wayne County, which includes Detroit, is largely Democratic and was a crucial piece of Biden’s win in Michigan. The board initially voted directly along party lines, 2-2, failing to certify the results. The two Republicans on the board, William Hartmann and Monica Palmer, were concerned about small and easily explainable discrepancies that would not have had an impact on the result of the election anyway, either in the county or the state. In fact, the mayor said that the discrepancies had to do with 357 out of the 250,000 votes cast in the city of Detroit. Hartmann and Palmer were supported by the Trump campaign, but hundreds of Michiganders joined the Zoom call of the election canvassing board and voiced their opinions. After this intense backlash, Hartmann and Palmer eventually gave in and voted to certify the results. This is but one example of the unordinary and extreme steps that some Republicans have been willing to take due to and to fuel their distrust of the results.
The actions of Republicans are likely to bring long-term harm to the belief in the legitimacy of elections in our country. There are many across the country who sincerely doubt that Joe Biden is the rightful winner of the election, because that is the message they are getting from their leaders, the people they trust. In fact, protests and marches have sprung up across the country, advocating for a refusal to accept the results of the election. Most notably, a “March for Trump” rally took place in Washington D.C. on November 14th.
Trump’s refusal to concede has also meant that Biden’s transition team has not been able to begin the presidential transition process. The General Services Administration has yet to accept the election’s results; Biden has been denied access to federal agencies, transition funds, office space and classified information, and is unable to begin a key aspect of transition — government background checks on national security appointees — which could put American national security at risk. In addition, Trump’s toddler-like refusal to accept his loss has (unsurprisingly) harmed Biden’s ability to be prepared to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Only time will tell whether Republicans will finally consider which side of history they want to be on.
And, finally, in lieu of our puppy vid...
Hi! We'll make this quick. Just giving you some Election Day action to take. We already emphasized the importance of this day in our last list and in the Why of our Teens Elect campaign. Now it's up to all of us. Day-of phonebanking is really important to make sure people have the info they need.
Some great opportunities:
Regardless of the outcome of this election, we're proud to have worked with all of you these past few months and are proud of the young people around us for mobilizing so wonderfully. We will always be here with actions and updates for you, including tomorrow and in the coming weeks.
See you out there!
Peace & Power,
Hello everyone! Let's just get straight to the point.
THERE IS ONE WEEK UNTIL THE ELECTION.
We have the chance to get Donald Trump out of power forever and get Democrats elected across the country- something that is important for all these reasons and more, especially after the shameful confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court tonight. It’s hard to wrap our minds around this because of how long it’s been, how numb we are, and the sheer number of things going on. But we have been waiting for November 3, 2020 since November 9, 2016. So it’s all hands on deck.
Here are things to commit to doing in the next week:
THE BOTTOM LINE: We are in the home stretch. Especially, if you can’t yet vote, these are important & great ways to help out.
Some extra info...
EARLY VOTING STATS:
As of 12:42pm on October 26, ~61.3 million people have voted early — that figure includes ~40.8 million mail-in ballots and ~20.5 million in-person votes. In other words, voters have already cast 44.4% of the total votes counted in 2016, a number that has entirely shattered early voting records. (And the election is still a week away!!) In addition, in the states reporting, ~87 million voters have requested mail-in ballots, meaning over half of the ballots requested have yet to be returned.
According to that same analysis — by Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida — 49% of ballots cast have been by Democrats, while 28% have been by Republicans (in states that report party registration). Republicans maintain a few-point lead in in-person early voting, while Democrats are winning both in mail-in ballots returned and in outstanding mail-in ballots (ballots that were requested but haven’t yet been sent back in with a vote).
Last month, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that Trump led by 19 percentage points among people who intended to vote on Election Day, while Joe Biden had more than a 2-to-1 advantage (67 to 31 percent) among those who planned to vote before then. This year’s unprecedented early voting numbers likely reflect both the circumstances of the pandemic and that people are so eager to get out and get their voices heard. According to the Washington Post, in states where early ballots can be matched against a voter file, roughly 1 in 5 votes have come from someone who did not cast a ballot four years ago in the same state.
Understanding Swing States
What are swing states?
Swing states are the most competitive aspects of national elections. In swing states, both major parties have a roughly even chance of winning valuable Electoral College votes or seats in Congress, which can change the nation’s balance of power dramatically.
In 2016, Donald Trump was able to take important states like Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and many others to secure his victory. Swing states are key to winning a presidential election, so major candidates will often focus on them the most.
What are some important swing states in the presidential race?
Florida – 29 electoral votes
Florida is the biggest swing state and one of the most competitive every election. In 2016, Trump won the state by 1.2% with strong support from older people and groups like Cuban-Americans. Joe Biden, who’s leading in the polls, will have to draw votes from urban centers to win.
Pennsylvania – 20 electoral votes
Whoever takes Pennsylvania usually takes the whole election; Trump won the state by just 0.7% in 2016. Like Florida, Biden leads the polls, but Trump’s support in the conservative central regions can still help him. It may come down to swing counties like Luzerne and Northampton to decide the victor.
Arizona – 11 electoral votes
Arizona, which usually goes Republican, went for Trump last year by 3.5%. But Biden polls well with the state’s big Latino population, and if he can keep that lead up, it’ll be vital to a victory.
Also look for Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin as states expected to tip the balance.
What are some swing states in the senatorial races?
The Democrats need to gain only four seats (or three if Biden wins, because Kamala Harris will be the tiebreaker as the VP instead of Pence) to restore their Senate majority. Not every state is holding an election for Senator, but that doesn’t stop the ones this year from getting competitive. (SEE OUR TEENS ELECT LIST OF FEATURED CANDIDATES FOR MORE INFO ON KEY RACES!!)
Here are a few updates on states to watch:
Iowa isn’t the biggest state, but a Senate win is still important to both parties. Republican Senator Joni Ernst is racing against Democrat Theresa Greenfield for this seat.
North Carolina is an important state to win. Democrat Cal Cunningham is challenging incumbent Republican Thom Tillis. It’s going to be close, but whoever wins will help his party regain—or keep—their power in Congress.
Georgia is a traditionally red state, but it’s become more competitive in the modern age. Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler is defending her seat against three other major candidates: Democrat Raphael Warnock, Republican Doug Collins, and Democrat Matt Lieberman. The other Senate election has Republican incumbent David Perdue against Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. Georgia could potentially have two Democratic senators in office, something unheard of for a state in the Deep South.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: The actions we mention at the beginning of this list all correspond to swing states! Let's get cracking!
OTHER IMPORTANT INFO:
WILDFIRE RELIEF: The effects of climate change are seemingly endless, but wildfires plaguing the West Coast at unprecedented rates are perhaps its most prominent impact at the moment. The National Interagency Fire Center reported on October 23 that “unprecedented conditions in Colorado caused the East Troublesome Fire to burn more than 130,000 acres” the day prior. In all, the Center reports that 11 million acres nation-wide have been burned by 54 large fires so far this year. CNN reports that authorities are concerned that high winds and dry conditions will worsen the fires. President Trump, who has taken concrete action that will further the damaging impacts of climate change, has chalked up the wildfires to “poor forest management,” and refuses to acknowledge that global warming is the real motivator behind the fires (although, Politico reported on October 24 that Trump privately admitted there may have been a “50-50” causation).
The impacts of these fires have been devastating. Almost 500,000 Californians may lose power and residents are being told to plan for evacuation (NBC News). Thousands of Westerners have been forced to evacuate their homes due to the wildfires, leaving behind their lives and not knowing when they will return or what they will return to.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
END SARS: The movement to end police brutality in Nigeria has gained important traction in the United States in the past couple weeks. Usually, we like to give our own summaries of topics, but we think this one does a really good job.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
We'll see you soon. Good luck in your campaigning!
Peace & Power,
This list was written by Christopher Giang, Betty Kubovy-Weiss, Sonia Chajet Wides, and Kate Griem.
Hey Teen Resisters!
First, we are going to acknowledge the obvious: this week has been absolutely freaking insane. From the appalling yet on-brand revelation that Trump only paid $750 in income taxes in 2017 to a chaotic mess of a debate night to POTUS, FLOTUS, and Senate COVID-19 diagnoses (among others), headlines that might have stuck in the news for weeks have been replaced by another in hours. All with the election(!!!!) coming up in a month.
That said, it's vital that we take a moment to honor the passing of someone who was a superhero and role model to many of us: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, AKA the Notorious RBG. We ask that all of you take a moment to think about how different our lives and world would have been without her nation-shaping strength.
Peace & power,
what went down
After being appointed by Bill Clinton to the Supreme Court in 1993, she served a total of 27 years on the bench, making her the second woman and the first Jewish woman to sit on the highest court in the land. Although she has been criticized by liberals for her positions on a few issues—indigenous rights, for example—her decisions placed her, on the whole, at the Court’s far left. Especially towards the end of her tenure, her searing dissents (see Burwell v. Hobby Lobby) reinforced her position as a feminist rockstar.
RBG’s dying wish was that no one be appointed to fill her vacancy until a new president was installed. In blatant disrespect of her legacy, President Trump and Senate Republicans pledged just hours after her death to move forward in filling the seat.
GOP Republicans’ decision is especially heinous given how they acted after Justice Scalia’s death in February 2016. After Obama nominated a replacement in March 2016, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell refused to even hold a vote, allowing Trump to fill the vacancy with a conservative justice in 2017 instead. Obama wasn’t given the opportunity to fill the empty seat in March 2016 because it was “too close” to the election, yet it’s not too close for Trump to do it in September 2020? The hypocrisy painfully evident in this reasoning has done little to dissuade Senate Republicans from pushing forward regardless. (A note: 3 Senate Republicans, in addition to President Trump and FLOTUS Melania Trump, have recently been diagnosed with the coronavirus. This disruption could potentially slow or stall the confirmation process.)
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HONOR RBG'S LEGACY?
And, finally, in lieu of our puppy video, something to make you smile.
Big announcement today: We're mobilizing youth to call and text voters across the country in the last 7 weeks before election day.
Here's how to participate:
STEP 1: THE WHY
Need some convincing on why working on an election or two is a worthwhile way to spend time this year?
STEP 2: THE TEAM
Let's make this fun. Pick a few friends and form a team and commit to calling and texting voters together! You can make it as casual or not-casual as you'd like (from just doing it at the same time to Zooming with mute on while you call voters)-- you just have to commit to calling for a certain amount of time per week (seriously no commitment is too small).
STEP 3: THE CANDIDATES
You and your team can pick the candidate(s) you want to phonebank for: from Joe Biden & Kamala Harris all the way to your local city council election. To make things simple, we've created a curated TR list of some extra-special House and Senate races for you to choose from if you'd like. Our list includes bios and, of course, easy links to sign up to volunteer.
STEP 4: CALLING & LOGGING
Then, you call! Every time your team makes calls, fill out our short log so that we can keep track of the calls we collectively make and give your team credit when you make a lot of calls! We'll be posting the team that makes the most calls each week on social media, and will be sending out free Teens Resist stickers to teams periodically.
Teens Elect Main Organizers: Lily Seltz, Kate Griem, Sonia Chajet Wides, Delilah Shapiro
Teens Elect Writers: Hailey Dickinson, Tali Natter, Declan Gunn, Claire Hedberg, Elliot Granik
We've been on summer break for a little but we're back and have a really important topic to cover. As the summer nears an end, election season is upon us. We'll be unveiling a special project related to elections across the country very soon.
But it's essential that we address this before anything else. Voter suppression has been an issue in the United State since... forever, and it's been used to limit the votes of various groups that could threaten the powerful.
It's also an especially pertinent issue now. The pandemic and the role of the postal service in the election has left lots of room for voter suppression. Also, Trump knows that there is a lot of discontent with him, and he's scared! Any conversation about this year's elections would be incomplete without talking about voter suppression. So let's go!
When the United States began, only property-owning white males were allowed to vote. Over time, the wealth requirement was done away with. In 1869, the 15th Amendment was passed amid Reconstruction and after the Civil War. It granted every citizen the right to vote regardless of race.
Immediately following the ratification of the 15th Amendment, voter turnout of Black men in the South increased. However, as with many other policies, Southern states soon found ways to circumvent the 15th Amendment and prevent Black men from voting using voter suppression. These politicians wanted to stay in power and hang onto the pieces of the slavery system that they could. That meant preventing Black men from voting because they knew it would unseat them and legitimize a movement that threatened them.
Historical voter suppression tactics:
Spotlight on Gerrymandering:
Voter Suppression in 2020
While voter suppression has been an ongoing issue in the United States, it has been exacerbated by the current COVID-19 pandemic, as more people are unable to leave their homes and go to voting centers. According to CBS news, 70% of voters have expressed a desire to vote by mail in the upcoming November election. With a record number of voters now planning to use mail-in ballots, President Trump has (inaccurately) argued that it will lead to massive voter fraud. Earlier this month, Trump admitted to blocking additional funding for the United States Postal Service in order to complicate the process of voting by mail. Additional funding was requested by states in order to handle the expected increase in mail-in ballots. Lack of funding is already dramatically slowing down the United States Postal Service, indicating that many mail-in ballots may not arrive in time to be counted for the general election in November. It is being recommended that people send in their ballots as soon as possible to decrease the chance of their ballot being disregarded. Already in the 2020 primary election, 65,000 ballots weren’t considered because they arrived late by mail. This indicates how big a threat the suppression of the United States Postal Service really is. This intentional sabotage of the postal service not only threatens people’s right to vote, but it also slows down other services that people across the country rely on, such as receiving medication in the mail, something which is very common, especially in more rural communities and throughout the current pandemic.
In addition to a lack of funding, the current postmaster general, Louis Dejoy, who Trump appointed earlier this year, is a big Republican donor. Dejoy has introduced changes into the postal service, such as alterations in worker schedules and working hours, which significantly affect the swiftness of the postal service. Additionally, Dejoy reportedly enforced the removal of mailboxes and other mail equipment in order to delay postal service. Throughout all of this voting turmoil, uncertainty is growing on both sides of the issue, as people across the country are losing confidence that their ballot will be considered, and in the validity of those votes that are counted.
Equally as important are the devastating effects that these USPS delays are having on many Americans. The USPS is the largest employer of veterans, and its union has the most Black union-members of any union in the US. Many Americans are dependent on the USPS for medicine and other necessities, especially those who can't go outside due to the pandemic. Trump putting these people's lives at risk to rig an election in his favor is purely evil.
Articles to read for additional information:
Trump's USPS attacks are already undermining confidence in vote by mail
Can the Post Office Handle Election Mail? Why the Recession Could Actually Help
Saving the USPS:
- Super quick action: Text USPS to 50409 to send a letter to your reps (using Resistbot, one of our favorite tools).
- Urge your Senator to pass H.R. 8015, which the House just approved. It would halt Trump's changes to the USPS until after the election and increase the USPS' budget (read more here).
Phone number: 202-224-3121 (ask for your Senator)
Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I'm from _____. I'm calling to ask you to please support H.R. 8015, the Delivering for America Act, to help protect the USPS. During this pandemic, it is simply not safe for many Americans to vote in person and they must vote by absentee ballot instead. President Trump has admitted to trying to hurt the postal service in order to interfere with these absentee ballots. This blatant act of fascism is not only threatening voting rights, it's stopping Americans from receiving their postal service with important things like medication. We cannot let Trump's selfishness get in the way of the essential work of the USPS. Please vote for the bill when it comes to the floor, and co-sponsor it if you have not yet done so. Thank you."
- Sign this petition (there are also actions to take in the description!).
- Buy some stuff! Here is a link to the USPS Stamp Store, which has lots of cool collections. And here is a link to some literal USPS merch.
- Stay updated with Save The Post Office, a movement to do, well, just what the name says!
Fighting Voter Suppression:
- The incomparable Stacey Abrams and her organization Fair Fight are doing incredible work to end voter suppression. Please consider donating to them or volunteering nationally or in Georgia! Find all the links here.
- Volunteer with When We All Vote for some voter-registration-specific action
We'll see you soon!
Peace and Power,
Contributors to this list: Leo Levine, Miranda Licardo, Christopher Giang, Rivka Stasavage, Sonia Chajet Wides, Kate Griem
Hi everyone! We hope you're doing well and having a good summer. Usually in the summer we only do two lists, but we're planning on putting out resources more frequently this year. We also have some big plans for 2020 election action that we are going to be rolling out over the next few weeks and months. So please stay tuned!
We also wanted to say that for this summer, if you're not already subscribed to Resistbot, it's a great resource. Text RESIST to 50409-- you can send it texts that it turns into letters that get mailed to your reps.
Also: This amazing student-made website designed especially for students of color at competitive NYC high schools was shared with us recently. You can find their opportunities page here.
There's a lot going on and a lot of action to take. So let's get started!
Bills & Rules:
This week, the Movement for Black Lives released plans for a groundbreaking piece of legislation supported by Reps. Ayanna Pressley & Rashida Tlaib called The Breathe Act. The Breathe Act is a lengthy piece of legislation that aims to divest governmental funding from harmful carceral systems and put resources towards community-based solutions-- it also includes some other major pieces of policy related to environmental justice, immigration, and economic justice. The Breathe Act is long, so we have clarified its contents into a table that can be found at bit.ly/trbreathe. We would highly recommend at least skimming it to see what it contains. It's a pretty huge piece of legislation, and even having it be discussed in Congress would advance issues forward in our government (it's also a reason why the 2020 Congress elections matter so much). This is something we want to call your attention to right now, and we will continue to provide updates on it.
What You Can Do:
- Read through it! The full summary of The Breathe Act can be found here, and our breakdown of that summary can be found here (it was too long to put fully in the list).
- Watch the full press conference announcing it here.
- If you like what you see, the Movement for Black Lives is asking people sign on as community co-sponsors which would mean taking small actions and using a provided toolkit to talk with people in your community about The Breathe Act. If that's something that interests you, sign up here.
Emmett Till Act
Emmett Till was a 14-year old African-American boy who was lynched in 1955 after being accused of offending a local white woman in a grocery store. His death acted as a catalyst for the emerging civil rights movement, and H.R. 35 — an antilyching bill named in his honor — just passed the House of Representatives. The bill establishes a new criminal civil rights violation for lynching. Specifically, a person who conspires to commit certain civil rights offenses (e.g., a hate crime act) would be subject to criminal penalties.
Call your senators & tell them to vote yes:
Walking While Trans
The #WalkingWhileTrans ban, officially New York’s Loitering for the Purpose of Prostitution law, allows police to arrest individuals for conditions like ‘being in an area for a certain amont of time’ and ‘‘wearing provocative clothing.’ It also allows condoms found on someone to be used as evidence towards assumed prostitution, among other absurd qualifications. It has been disproportionately enforced against women, women of color and transgender women specifically. It’s essentially a Stop and Frisk 2.0 — an archaic mechanism that law enforcement uses to oppress marginalized communities via our legal system.
The majority of the New York State Senate has recently signed on to co-sponsor a bill to repeal the ban and Cuomo has signaled that he’d sign it, meaning it has a real chance of getting passed. To bring the bill to the top of your representatives’ priority lists and ensure that they vote to repeal:
New ICE Rule
As you've probably heard, there is a new ICE rule that says that international students who attend college or university in the US that is going to be continuing with remote-only learning in the fall have to either transfer to a school with in-person classes, or be deported from the United States. You can immediately sign this petition at this link. You can stay updated on efforts against this policy with WCL If/When/How's Instagram.
There's a new, really bad asylum rule. You can read more and sign a petition here. You can also submit a public comment, which slows down the government significantly. Here is a link to all the materials you need for creating one — instructions, tips, sample comments, etc — via @undocu_pdx
Say Their Names
Safiya Satchell: Safiya is a 33-year old Black woman who was beaten and tasered by a police officer named Jordy Yanes Martel. On January 14th, after Safiya argued with staff at a Miami strip club, and management ordered Martel to give her a warning for trespassing. Martel confronted her and blocked her from leaving, only to forcibly pull her from her car, restrain her by kneeling on her neck, and tase her several times in the stomach. Safiya, pregnant at the time, suffered many wounds to her arms, legs, and stomach from the assault.
On June 29th, five months after this incident, Martel was arrested and charged with four counts of battery and two counts of official misconduct. While this may be a victory for Safiya, it’s still not enough to end the brutality that affects countless other Black Americans.
Supreme Court Update (as of July 4)
*A number of important decisions have been put forth by the Supreme Court in the last few weeks. The four cases below involved reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ employment discrimination, and the rights of DACA recipients. Some justices strayed from the political beliefs of the presidents who selected them, reminding the American public that the Supreme Court is not as partisan as we may think.*
On June 15th, the Supreme Court released the majority and dissenting opinions for Bockstock v. Clayton County Georgia. This case was decided in conjunction with two similar cases, Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC as specified by Ballotpedia. All three cases dealt with the definition of the word “sex” as used in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This section prohibits employment discrimination. The Court ruled in a 6-3 majority that the word “sex” as used in Title VII includes sexual orientation and transgender status. The majority opinion was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee. This ruling not only established employment discrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community, but also set a precedent that includes sexual orientation and transgender status in cases of discrimination on the basis of sex.
The ruling in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California was announced on June 18th. The case was centered on the fact that the DHS’s attempt to end DACA did not follow proper procedure. This resulted in a 5-4 ruling in favor of the Regents of the University of California. The ruling determined that the attempt to end DACA could be legally reviewed by the Supreme Court and was in violation of the law. The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice Roberts, a Bush appointee. While this decision supports the continued existence of DACA, the DHS maintains power over the program.
The Supreme Court's ruling in June Medical Services v. Russo (previously known as June Medical Services v. Gee) was announced on June 29th. June Medical Services challenged a Louisiana law (Act 620) that required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their facility. While this case made its way to the Supreme Court, a similar case from Texas (Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt) was heard in 2016 wherein the Supreme Court declared a similar law unconstitutional. In a 5-4 ruling, Act 620 was also declared unconstitutional, following the precedent of the 2016 case. The majority opinion was written by Justice Breyer, a Clinton appointee. This decision enforced the precedent that extreme burden cannot be placed on a person’s right to choose. Because admitting privileges are difficult to get for abortion providers, a law requiring them places extreme burden on a person seeking an abortion. Chief Justice Roberts who was a dissenter in the 2016 case, respected the precedent set by the court and sided with the majority opinion.
On July 8th, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania that the Trump administration can allow employers to deny contraception coverage to female workers on religious or moral grounds under the Affordable Care Act. According to government estimates, as a consequence of the ruling, anywhere from 70,000 to 126,000 women could lose contraceptive coverage from their employers. In 2014, the Court addressed a similar case with Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and ruled similarly on the side of religious freedom. However, one of the “cardinal distinctions,” as Justice Ginsburg put it in her dissent, between Burwell and Little Sisters is that the former provided another option for coverage: if an employer claimed an exemption, the government or insurance company would pay. With Little Sisters, the Court struck that accommodation, agreeing with the religious right’s argument that it would make employers “complicit” in granting their employees contraceptive access. In summary, it’s a horrible ruling for women’s control over their own bodies, the separation of church and state, and the countless poor women of color who are disproportionately affected. Support Planned Parenthood and similar orgs in any way you can !!
Instead of a puppy video this week, we are recommending this channel, Nomadic Ambience, which has tons of gorgeous relaxing videos in a variety of locations-- seriously recommend watching to decompress and take a breath!
Peace & power,
These lists include featured organizations, scripts, numbers, news updates and inspirational activists.