Monday, September 28, 2020

Defend the Vote: Defend the Election

A knee-jerk protest won’t stop a Trump power grab. It’s going to take several clear, do-able strategies that together enable us to win.
George Lakey September 10, 2020

Embed from Getty Images

How would you like a strategy that does all of the following?

Enables you and your friends to act close to home.

Gives you some “wins” on the way to the big goal of defeating a power grab.

Is easy to explain to your friends.

Allows any number of people to participate because it will all add up.

Reduces the risk of violent confrontations.

Can be calibrated to the amount of risk of arrest that you can handle.

Can be done in-person in a way that keeps the pandemic at bay.

Targets a set of people who especially have a personal stake in the elective process.

Takes on the politically powerful who are hesitating to commit, pressuring them to do the right thing.

Draws on the strengths that already exist in our political system.

Puts us on the offensive instead of merely protesting.

Invites the 30 percent of Trump supporters polled who fear that Trump won’t obey the law and leave if he loses the election.

Doesn’t add to the polarization that already has our country in overload.

Maximizes the number of people who participate in the movement.

Doesn’t have to be the only strategy being carried out in order to be successful.

OK, here’s the idea: Go to people who hold elective political power near you, in your town, county, city, state. Urge them to “Join us in demanding every vote be counted.”
Mass direct action might be the only way to stop Trump from stealing the election

Wait for them to join our demand, then issue a press release telling how they did so. Wait in their office, in the corridor outside, on the sidewalk, at their place of worship, at their child’s school, at their home, at a meeting where they plan to speak. Share the results with — a new website founded by Daniel Hunter, me and others that offers a unity-building pledge, strategy development and training. We’ll publicize the actions and keep track of the “wins.”

Don’t assume that Democratic office-holders already agree. Some might be ready to compromise. Insist they find ways to beat their own drum louder.

You have options. Your team can be there 24/7. You can barge in and refuse to leave. You can sing, dance and bring your brass band. You can bring your children and your aged relatives. You can sell crafts and goodies to eat. You can rotate kinds of people who do the action: one day youths, then workers, then religious leaders, then elders, then Rotarians.

You’re not protesting. Protest may make sense when someone does something wrong and you know that, if you protest, they’ll change and fix it. Trump will not change his mind because we protest! Actually, he’ll double down.

The way to meet a possible disaster with strength and confidence is to have a plan.

Instead of protesting something the elected official is doing wrong, you’re insisting they do something right. Something that is as American as the flag. If they refuse, they’re the ones trying to justify an impossible position. Instead of complaining, moaning or otherwise creating the drama of exasperation, all you need to do is insist (boldly, nonviolently, firmly) that they do the right thing, the fair thing. (If you’re OK to put it this way, “the American thing.”) Your tone is full expectation that they’ll figure out sooner or later that it’s wise for their future as politicians to say yes.

Notice this is not about opinions on Trump’s politics — pro-Trump politicians can agree that every vote should be counted, that the election should be concluded fairly.

Notice also that this strategy need not wait until November, though it can be highly effective if started then. Hardy Merriman, author of the new handbook “Hold the Line: A Guide to Defending Democracy,” points out that starting to implement it early might get media attention — especially the more dramatic tactics — and encourage others to do likewise.

It’s a big country. As the strategy spreads in October, it could influence the DNA of the mass November upsurge that happens if Trump makes a power grab. That would be good because this strategy minimizes violent attack on us. After all, who would invade the office of a town council member to beat us up? Yet, were that to actually happen, the positive value of a beating would be maximized. As Merriman says, “The messaging, tone, levels of organization — all of that may be noticed by the wider movement.”

The thinking behind this approach

This is not the only strategy needed. Others can also be used, even simultaneously. Hopefully those strategies will also be clear, coherent, with specific objectives. This proposal has the following strategic objectives:

1. To maximize participation, throughout the country. Anti-coup research suggests it helps to have size — participation “beyond the choir.” A recent example is the participation by small-town America in this spring’s Black Lives Matter movement, generating responses even by NASCAR and the National Football League! Obviously, having a target that is geographically within reach of nearly everyone is an easy way to maximize participation.

2. To step aside from the polarized Trump mania, which will only increase in the fall, with its accompanying violence. We like safety not only to maximize participation but also for its own sake: Haven’t we had enough injury and death in this country in 2020?

3. To encourage tactics that include a range of risk while harmonizing for maximum impact.

4. To disperse the places where the actions can happen(office, outside, the office-holder’s home, religious place, golf course where they play, etc.) That reduces the chance of violence, which would confuse the message we’re sending.

5. To invite creativity and life affirmation, one of the American strengths that goes overlooked in too many earnest activist initiatives, and again changes the subject from the toxic shame-and-blame cloud that pollutes our political discourse.

6. To present as soon as possible to nervous Americans a strong, do-able strategy that gives them a vivid, clear sense of how they can make a difference if that moment comes. The way to meet a possible disaster with strength and confidence is to have a plan. Don’t worry that no plan is ever complete. When we have a plan, we can move into a challenging situation with the presence of mind needed to deal additionally with the unexpected.

And perhaps most importantly…

7. To exert maximum pressure on the political center that would rather not commit during chaotic polarization, to commit to fair play. We know, again from coup research, that the outcome of an attempted power grab is often decided by whether the center commits and, if so, which way it commits. This strategy is dedicated to influence this crucial variable.

Why say this proposal is only one strategy among several?

A broad struggle often needs more than one strategy. During the American Revolution, Bostonians were prepared for British invasion: “One if by land; two if by sea.” An analogous strategy to this proposal might be developed targeting the financial and economic elite, who have a vested interest in an outcome that promises stability so they can make money. We leave it to people in that world to develop a strategy for that.

This may be the big chance for activists to enter the wonderful world of strategy. Gamers, this is your moment!

While this strategy pointedly ignores Washington, D.C. — in favor of the many advantages that come with reaching this country’s somewhat decentralized political structure — a strategy also needs to be proposed for the federal level.

The advantages of getting strategy proposals out in September include anxiety-reduction, helping people “wrap their minds around” the practical needs for possible action, and stimulating other strategy-creation.

The worst thing that could happen would be for activists to continue in knee-jerk “protest mode” — therefore easily manipulated by Trump and even contributing toward a situation verging on civil war.

The election threat is nothing that can be handled by protest. Period. Therefore this may be the big chance for activists to enter the wonderful world of strategy. Gamers, this is your moment!

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Monday, September 14, 2020

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Biden Error !


Biden pick creates furor, underscoring bitterness over Obama immigration policy

BY RAFAEL BERNAL - 09/09/20 06:00 AM EDT 1,296


Dime con quién andas !




Immigration advocates are livid over the Biden transition team’s addition of Cecilia Muñoz, a former Obama administration official who was the public face of that administration’s immigration policy.

Muñoz, who once served as the head of former President Obama’s White House Domestic Policy Council, was named by the Biden campaign Friday as part of a group of eight new senior transition advisers.

The pick was quickly criticized by immigration reform advocates, a reaction that exhibited both ideological divides within the Democratic Party and a lingering resentment felt by many immigration advocates over the actions of the Obama administration, particularly in its first term.


“Huge mistake. Huge. Huge mistake. Worst part? We have no other option. I guess we gotta pick our opponent. That’s what it has come down to,” wrote Erika Andiola, an immigrant rights activist and advocacy director for The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.

Muñoz, a policy expert who cut her teeth at UnidosUS, then known as the National Council of La Raza, before joining the Obama administration, became a lightning rod for criticism of Obama’s immigration policy.

“If Biden wins, no one from the Obama administration should be allowed to touch the immigration policy portfolio,” said Pablo Manríquez, a former Democratic National Committee spokesman who’s been overtly critical of Obama on immigration.

“Cecilia Muñoz is the one person besides [Trump White House aide] Stephen Miller who has spent years of her public service dedicated to the smooth execution of mass deportation policy at the West Wing level,” said Manríquez.

The criticism reflects in part the view that Muñoz did not advocate enough for immigration rights during internal discussions in the Obama White House. Instead, advocates say she too often defended policies that led to the deportation of more than 2 million people.

“She was the person in the White House who shielded Obama from all the flak,” said Amy Maldonado, an immigration lawyer whose clients include minors in detention.


“The whole reason she was in that room was to give a perspective they weren’t hearing, and instead she covered for them,” added Maldonado.

The criticism comes as Biden continues to underperform with Latino voters, a fact that is alarming to many Democrats.

An NBC News-Marist poll released Tuesday found Biden trailing Trump among Latino voters in Florida, 50 percent to 46 percent. In 2016, by contrast, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton beat Trump among Florida Latinos by 25 points, according to exit polls. 

Biden has slowly but surely distanced himself from Obama’s more aggressive immigration policies, and Maldonado said there was no question for her about backing Biden over Trump, even if Biden brought back all of the Obama-era policies.

“Between Trump and Biden there is no choice. Children literally die in detention under this administration,” she said.

Other voices defended the Obama administration, saying it changed in the second term.

“Immigration policy under the Obama-Biden administration was not a singular thing, it evolved over time for a lot of reasons,” said Tom Jawetz, vice president of immigration at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

“While there were some bumps in the road, they showed some growth,” said Jawetz.

Muñoz has both White House experience and immigration expertise, which makes her a natural fit for Biden’s team. In 2000, she won a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” for her work on immigration policy.

A former Capitol Hill staffer with deep knowledge of immigration deliberations during the Obama administration lauded Muñoz, saying “she was advocating for immigration reform and the president leaning in to immigration in a positive way.”

Muñoz remained publicly loyal to Obama when the then-president was referred to by some as the deporter in chief, something perceived by some in the immigration space as a betrayal.

“There were lots of moments when people thought she should resign in protest and she didn’t. She stuck with it and it earned her a lot of enemies on the pro-immigrant left,” said the former staffer.


But immigration advocates see Muñoz as a policy expert who will likely depend on the political leadership of Biden and his core team to mark a direction on immigration for the Democratic nominee.

“Cecilia Muñoz is one of several experienced advisors leading teams focused on establishing strong infrastructure for federal agencies dealing with domestic and economic policy. The transition team’s focus is ensuring there is a strong policy apparatus across government that can support the Biden-Harris Administration’s policies on day one,” said a Biden transition official.

Along with Muñoz’s appointment, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham(D) was announced as one of four co-chairs for the transition team, a hierarchical step above Muñoz.

Lujan Grisham led the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in the first two years of the Trump administration and was a vocal defender of immigrant rights and proponent of immigration reform.

Winning over Latino voters, in any event, is likely to come down to Biden himself.


Friday, September 11, 2020

Voting Power

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is non-partisan but deeply committed to moral politics and public policy. For years we’ve demanded nothing less than a reconstruction of society around the needs of the poor and dispossessed. To do this, we must bring the agenda of poor and low-income people front and center in this election cycle and beyond.

Join us on Monday, September 14th at 7pm ET / 4pm PT for a National Moral Monday Mass Assembly and Teach-In: Voting is Power Unleashed,* a massive online event bringing together poor and low-income people and allies who will learn about voter power, engagement, registration and protection and how to organize our communities to defend the vote. 

Poor and low-income people hold the power to change the political calculus across the nation. The attacks on voting rights, voter suppression and in-person voter intimidation will only escalate in the weeks to come. That’s why we need to pull the movement family together for this massive teach-in to spread the tools people need to defend our democracy. Leading civil rights attorneys Caitlin Swain and Sherrilyn Ifill from Forward Justice and NAACP Legal Defense Fund will lead a powerful session on what grassroots leaders need to know as we enter the voting season. Organizers will lead us through the urgent voter engagement programs of the Poor People's Campaign.

RSVP to Join Us for this Historic Event During a Critical Election Season

We will be joined by PPC coordinating committees in 43 states and other civic, religious and social justice organizations and cultural activists Erika Alexander, Mark Ruffalo, Jane Fonda, D.L. Hughley and Charlamagne tha God. In addition, presidential candidate Joe Biden has accepted our invitation to directly address our agenda and the priorities of poor and low-income people. President Trump was invited to join us, but has not responded.

Imperfect, fragile as it is, our democracy is worth fighting for. 

Forward together, not one step back!

Rev. Dr. William Barber and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis

Co-Chairs, Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

*This event will be fully closed-captioned and translated into ASL and Spanish. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Monday, September 7, 2020

UFW To Begin Boycott of Foster Farms

 On Monday, the United Farm Workers (UFW) held a virtual news conference —along with the Jakarta Movement Punjabi Sikh organization and Faith  in the Valley— pledging to boycott Foster Farms, the poultry processing plant in Livingston, California, after nine workers died from the novel coronavirus and 358 tested positive.

The Merced County Health Department had made several recommendations, including recommendations to conduct widespread testing, to Foster Farms during a survey back in June when the outbreak started.

According to the UFW, Foster Farms did not comprehensively follow many of the recommendations.

“United Farm Workers has tried to work as a team with Foster Farms since the early days of the pandemic. Until fairly recently, we have tried to take a collaborative approach with the company as we felt this was the fastest way for us to help protect as many workers as possible,” said Elizabeth Strater, UFW’s Director of Alternative Organizing. “As time has gone on, and especially since late July, we have been increasingly disturbed to realize that the company was not going to meet us or the workers halfway.”

A vigil for the nine workers who died was held on Thursday night.

According to an August 26 order from Merced County Health Department telling Foster Farms to close its facilities for not complying to the previous recommendations, “of the approximate 2,600 workers at the Livingston facility, 13.7 percent of the workforce has received a positive test result based on worker self-reporting.” However, this figure does not represent the extent of the outbreak in the facility because Foster Farms did not conduct universal testing.

“There are hundreds of families now affected by sickness. There are at least nine families grieving the death of people they love. Still, Foster Farms is delaying the closure of the facility and we still have not been provided clear details by Foster on the testing performed to date,” Strater said.

Martha Vera’s husband was a trucker for Foster Farms for 27 years. A few days before he passed away from COVID-19 complications, he told Martha that people were infected onsite, and that they were still working at the plant.

“I just want to say that this company, they obviously don’t care about the workers they only care about the money. I have worked there for 26 years,” Vera said during the conference. “I hope that someone can tell Foster Farms that they need to take action. How many more workers need to die before they are able to finally take action to protect employees.”

José de Piña Tovar, who has been working at Foster Farms for 15 years, said he and his wife were infected while working in the plant back in June during the conference.

“Foster Farms should have a clean plant. They need to provide the necessary equipment to protect us. I suggest that everyone working in the plant needs to be tested. At least every eight days, to ensure that we are all safe from COVID-19,” said Piña Tovar, who is still recovering from the virus.

During the conference, UFW members pledged to support a boycott if Foster Farms continues failing to provide a safe workplace, which includes complying with the county order to close the entire Livingston facility, testing all workers (including cleaning crews) with public results and weekly testing once the facility reopens, providing paid leave while the plant is closed and “quarantine pay,” supplying hazard pay, and to provide PPE equipment to all employees.

The company released a statement saying in part that “the Central Valley in California, where many of Foster Farms’ facilities are located, has been especially hard-hit. Foster Farms is initiating a comprehensive testing program across all of its California facilities beginning on August 12, at its main Livingston plant. Foster Farms tested nearly 2,900 employees and found a COVID-19 prevalence of less than 1%. We are encouraged by these results but recognize there is even more to do and will begin additional testing and sanitation this week.”

County officials ordered the facility to close on August 27, but Foster Farms delayed its closure, asking workers to come back to work the next day. It closed its main plant on September 1, but other parts of Foster Farms are still open.


Diego Jesús Bartesaghi Mena is a 2020 Latino Rebels summer correspondent. A recent graduate of Columbia Journalism School, he is based in Newark, NJ and tweets from @bartesaghi_mena.




State of the Unions 2020

State of the Unions 2020: On Labor Day 2020, the state of American unions is strong; but an AFL-CIO official finds changing attitudes toward immigrants concerning.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Defend Public Schools

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Back-to-school season has been chaotic and confusing for students, parents, teachers and school staff everywhere. President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have refused to help with either national guidance or dedicated federal aid. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to negotiate resources after the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act relief package in May. So today, across the country, people are taking part in a day of action to #DemandSafeSchools. 

The House-passed COVID-19 relief bill, the HEROES Act, would fund what schools need to reopen safely and provide the necessary academic, social, emotional and mental health services for our kids. But Senate Republicans and the White House won’t negotiate, and the senators won’t call a vote. Their inaction will soon force deep cuts to essential services and cause a massive wave of layoffs that will affect every single community—yet they still have no plan.

We won’t sit back idly; we are going to make sure they know we are watching and we demand that they fund our schools, fund education and fund our future. And we need you to help make sure McConnell and Trump feel the heat. 

Please add your voice today. Host a small, socially distanced rally outside a school, join a car caravan, or organize your child’s class to post signs and pictures to social media, for example, calling on the Senate to act.

Check the map to see if there’s an event near you. 

If you can’t join one of these events, make sure you tweet with the hashtag #DemandSafeSchools. We need this to trend on Twitter.

You can also call the Senate and demand that they finally take up a COVID-19 relief bill to help schools and frontline workers.

Have a great day of action!

In unity,
Randi Weingarten
AFT president

AFT president