Our attention has been riveted by national politics, but soon we'll be able to turn our attention to issues closer to home, where progressive activists can more easily make our voices heard.
As Amanda Litman, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Run for Something says: "A conversation about the future of the progressive movement that ignores state and local government is not a conversation about sustainable power."
Here in Massachusetts, we can support progressive candidates and legislation, and work with Act on Mass to make our state house more functional and democratic. This edition offers lots of ways you can help!
December 5, 2020
IN TOUCH WITH INDIVISIBLE
Volunteer Newsletter Editor Opportunities
It’s been two years and nine months since Denise Falbo first decided to volunteer her time and editorial skills to publish the Mass Action Newsletter and she has done outstanding work every week to consistently publish each Saturday! We are most thankful for her dedication, thoughtfulness, wise editor’s notes, and general excellence in publishing this newsletter.
Now Denise needs to step away from this role to make time for pursuing her many other interests. She has formally announced that the last edition of the newsletter she publishes will be on Saturday December 19, 2020. We will take 2 weeks off and the next publication is anticipated on Saturday, January 9, 2021.
This newsletter is a group effort by Indivisibles like you who contribute articles along with our progressive partners. Volunteers make the newsletter happen every week and we are seeking a team of volunteer editors! If you can contribute to this valued resource and are interested in this exciting and rewarding role, please email email@example.com.
We're also looking for writers, photographers, and graphic artists, to help amplify the efforts of Indivisibles! So if you'd like to volunteer your skills to advance the progressive movement here in Massachusetts, please get in touch. We are looking forward to connecting with you!
Submitted by Deb Paul, Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition Coordinating Board
Advocacy Day for Priority State Legislation
If the state legislature doesn’t act this month, critical bills that Indivisibles have fought for for years, such as the Safe Communities Act and climate legislation, and new legislation needed to protect workers, families, and our communities during the pandemic will fail to pass.
UU Mass Action and Mass Peace Action are organizing a virtual advocacy day for constituents to lobby their state representatives to support several important bills that need action at the State House now as well as proposed rules changes to allow greater transparency in the new legislative session that begins in January.
We hope you’ll join us and other progressive groups to urge our legislators to act! RSVP here by Sunday Dec. 6 so that organizers will have time to set up meetings with legislators. You can also attend a planning meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 7 P.M. to learn more about the bills, discuss logistics, and get any questions answered. Sign up for the planning meeting here.
For the new year, the IMC Book Club will be discussing Caste, the acclaimed new book about the unspoken caste system that has shaped America, by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson on Wednesday, January 27 at 7:30 P.M. RSVP here.
Can’t make the book club meeting? Share your thoughts in the book club or racial justice channels on our Slack. If you’re not already a member of our Slack workspace, you can sign up here.
Submitted by Amanda Graff, Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition
Indivisibles Voted to Endorse Transparency is Power
As of Thursday night the members of Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition (IMC) voted to endorse the Act on Mass Transparency is Power initiative. Here’s what motivated them.
Do you ever wonder why the MA legislature has not been able to pass popular and progressive legislation despite having a Democratic supermajority in the House and Senate? This is why.
Currently the MA legislature is one of the least transparent and ineffective ones in the country. With a Democratic supermajority in the State House and Senate they still can’t pass important legislation which has been waiting too long already. We can’t see how our state representatives vote in committee, so even when a bill has a supermajority of co-sponsors it can be stuck in committees for years and then die. Changes in the House rules would make it clearer what is happening and how our representatives are working for us, or not. The House is broken, and here are ways to begin fixing it. And since the House approves its rules at the start of the two year session, these changes need to happen in January, 2021.
As you may know, Act On Mass and other groups are resuming the fight to make the State House work for everyone with some common sense rule changes, to break the log jam and get valuable legislation passed.
The campaign has three simple goals:
Require more open votes in committees (so we can know who votes for which bills),
Decrease the number of representatives needed to require a roll-call vote, from 16 to 8,
Make bills public for 72 hours before voting, to allow time for proper review.
These simple rule changes alone would make the work of the House more transparent and accountable to the people. Learn more about this initiative and how to take action using the IMC Toolkit for the Act on Mass Transparency initiative here.
Register here for the IMC statewide call on December 15 at 7:00 P.M. when the Act on Mass Team are the keynote presenters. This is a Townhall on the Transparency is Power Campaign so join in, hear and/or share what your group’s efforts have been or will be to take action. Ask questions, share ideas, and make your plan to help bring greater transparency to the MA House!
Deb Paul on behalf of Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition Coordinating Board
MORNING COFFEE ACTIONS
Actions you can do while enjoying your morning cup!
Call Gov. Baker and Demand That He Sign Police Reform Bill
The MA Senate and House passed a consensus version of the police reform bills from the summer. The Senate passed it with a veto-proof majority, but the House fell 14 votes short of a veto-proof majority.
Call Gov. Charlie Baker at (617) 725-4005 between the hours of 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM and demand that he sign the bill.
Sign Up Now and Pick a Date to Phone Bank to Georgia
Sign up with People's Action to do deep camvas phone banks for Georgia. Multiple sessions are available between now and January 5. Each phone bank begins with a detailed training from organizers about deep canvassing and how to phonebank. Then they stay on Zoom with you in order to answer any questions you have in real time.
Add IMC to Your Holiday Gift List
The holiday season is upon us and this is when we make our holiday gift wish list. Please consider putting Indivisible Mass Coalition (IMC) on your gift wish list and have others help you give a gift to the statewide organization. IMC depends on your financial contributions to provide resources and support its members. We amplify Indivisibles' voices and most recently did so at the Protect the Results Rally in Boston. We’ve also incurred additional costs when updating and improving the IMC website and we continue to do so.
Join in with others in MA and take a few minutes today to donate to IMC and add this link to your gift wish list. Your contributions make a significant positive impact to this all volunteer statewide organization. Thank you and happy holidays!
Join a New IMC Facebook Project
You’re invited to join in and get involved with the Indivisible Mass Coalition (IMC) Facebook initiative! Much work has been done by IMC volunteers on many fronts including its Facebook (FB) page. We are grateful for Zayda Ortiz and Monica Burke, who started the Indivisible MA FB page from scratch many years ago.
Now, Indivisibles are invited to attend an IMC FB strategy meeting and get involved in contributing to this FB page. If you're interested in attending please use this link to select a time that's best for you and then send your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org so the meeting leader may reach you if needed. We look forward to seeing you!
Submitted by Jeanine Wood, Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition
Last Chance: Help Georgia Voters to Vote by Mail
This year, Swing Left Greater Boston hosts have helped volunteers send nearly 1.5 million vote by mail request forms. Our research shows that we reliably boost turnout with these mailings.
Haven't tried hosting before? You owe to yourself to try. This is your last chance to host a Vote-by-Mail letter writing event for the 2020 election season. Our experienced customer service team will make it easy.
Swing Left Greater Boston is excited to announce a new phone bank campaign working directly with the Forsyth County Democratic Committee calling low propensity likely Democratic voters to whom we have sent applications for absentee ballots.
Voter turnout will determine who wins the runoffs on January 5. People who apply for absentee/vote by mail ballots are significantly more likely to vote. Increasing Democratic voter turnout will play an important role in this crucial election. There is only a short period of time to call the 30,000+ voters we sent applications to, please join our phone bank. We will be using Open VPB, and leave messages. We have multiple phone banks through the week to choose from. We will provide training and a fact sheet to help you make these calls. If you are interested in hosting your own phone bank, please contact Steve Vogel: email@example.com, 617-820-2802.
We all helped elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, what they can accomplish will depend upon the outcome of the Georgia runoff races! Let’s dig down deep and enable them to move forward on the progressive priorities that we elected them to achieve.
Submitted by Stephen Vogel, Swing Left Greater Boston
Tell Baker to Sign the Police Reform Bill Now!
This week the MA House and Senate came to a consensus on police reform that combines some of each of their bills presented over the summer. The bill creates a POST Commission with fewer voices for real police accountability than in the original Senate bill (but still with real power), establishes a lot of new commissions that may or may not actually produce anything, creates new regulations on the use of force with various strengths (stronger on facial surveillance, on chokeholds), makes notable strides on juvenile justice (from expungement to school policing), bans racial profiling, and lacks meaningful reforms on qualified immunity. You can read more about the bill in this Progressive Mass analysis here.
The positive elements in the final bill:
Expanded access to juvenile records expungement
Strengthened language around protecting students from profiling (with some unfortunate caveats, though)
Made school resource officers (SROs) optional for school districts
Banned racial profiling
Strengthened language around no-knock warrants (although loopholes still abound)
Banned facial surveillance technology (as opposed to just a moratorium)
The positive elements not in the final bill:
Strong limitations on qualified immunity doctrine (The bill only limits QI in case of decertified officer and creates a commission on QI.)
Requirement of a democratic process around municipal acquisition of military equipment
Investment of funds equivalent to savings on incarceration into workforce development and job training/opportunities
Strong representation from civil rights groups and impacted communities on the police standards and training commission
As is the case with most bills in the MA Legislature, it's a mix of solid progress due to the work of activists and legislative allies, missed opportunities, and a lot of commissions
The Senate, to their credit, had a veto-proof majority, but the House didn't. So that puts things in Governor Baker's hands. Baker has less than a week left to sign, veto, or send the bill back with amendments, and he might act even sooner.
Each of us needs to take action to call Charlie Baker today and demand that he sign the bill and then email him with the same demand. The call and email scripts are here for your convenience along with social media posting guidance!
We need to make sure that this bill gets signed ASAP! However, there's far more work to be done because new rules, regulations, and reforms, while helpful, cannot solve the problems in policing and incarceration in this country. We need to rethink what public safety means and move money away from policing and prisons and toward building thriving communities where everyone has the resources and opportunities they need and deserve.
Deb Paul on behalf of Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition Coordinating Board
Action Needed on the Roe Act
Recently, both the MA Senate (Amendment 801 by a vote of 33 – 7) and MA House (Amendment 759 by a vote of 108 – 49) brought forward several important parts of the ROE Act as part of the 2020 budget. The Senate version was stronger than the House version with language that affirmed reproductive rights in the Commonwealth. We are pleased that this is the language that the conference committee selected.
Good things in the amendment:
Affirmative language codifying the right to abortion
Access to abortion in the cases of fatal fetal anomalies after 24 weeks
Young people from age 16 may decide to seek abortion care
Good things not in the amendment:
Young people under age 16 must still seek permission from a parent or a court (despite the hardships/dangers of doing so)
Access for those without insurance or financial means
It is especially important to reach out to thank your legislators if they supported the ROE Act budget amendments. We know they are always hearing from anti-abortion constituents. Pro-choice people need to do more to make sure that our legislators know that we appreciate their support! This is especially true as we need them to be prepared to vote affirmatively again if the Governor tries to veto these important amendments. Just because these amendments passed with veto-proof majority does not mean legislators will vote the same if the Governor sends it back for revision and they are asked to vote again.
The next step will be at Governor Baker’s desk, which we are expecting to happen at the time of this writing and cannot report on any result. He will then have 10 days to sign the budget or send it back to the legislature with revisions. He may balk at this opportunity to stand with the majority of Massachusetts citizens who support reproductive rights, and your help is needed now more than ever! Here’s how:
Call Charlie Baker at (617) 725-4005 and demand that he sign this budget and support reproductive rights in MA or use this click to call link.
Email Governor Baker here to demand he sign this budget and support reproductive rights in MA or use this click to email link.
After you have done that, please be sure to sign up for this text bank on Monday, December 7, 5:30 - 7:30 P.M. or phone bank on Wednesday, December 9, 5:30 - 7:30 P.M.
Thank you! If the budget passes, we’ll have helped expand access to abortion in the Commonwealth, update archaic laws, and codify the right to abortion. Massachusetts could move forward while so many other states confront laws that would turn back the clocks to pre-1973. Onwards!
Submitted by Laurie Veninger, Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition Coordinating Board
Thoughts on "Defund the Police"
A few quotes from progressives on the controversial slogan, "Defund the Police."
Michael Harriot, senior writer at The Root, responding to criticism of "Defund the police" as a slogan:
"Maybe he’s right. Instead of radical phraseology, we should address police brutality, racism, and the inhumane treatment of Black people with an innocuous motto that even the most obstinate white person can agree on.
Perhaps something like #BlackLivesMatter.
Who’d argue with that?"
Briahna Joy Gray, former Press Secretary for the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign, on the importance of a positive vision for the future:
"This is why we have to keep saying “Medicare for all” and “cancel rent and mortgage payments” and “cancel medical debt” and “defund the police.” The first time we say it they call us crazy. But the public imagination expands each time we dare to say out loud: things can be better."
“'Defund the police'” freaks people out because it actually addresses structural racism in a concrete way. Anything that addresses systemic racism or economic inequality beyond shallow symbolism and gestures will be met with resistance. No different from the fight to end segregation."
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The Indivisible mission is to fuel a progressive grassroots network of local groups to resist the Trump Agenda.
Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition is a consortium of leaders from more than 250 local Massachusetts Indivisible groups, working together to bring our groups together for events and to leverage our numbers to make our efforts more effective.
The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism
by Thomas Frank
Rarely does a work of history contain startling implications for the present, but in The People, No Thomas Frank pulls off that explosive effect by showing us that everything we think we know about populism is wrong. Today “populism” is seen as a frightening thing, a term pundits use to describe the racist philosophy of Donald Trump and European extremists. But this is a mistake.
The real story of populism is an account of enlightenment and liberation; it is the story of American democracy itself, of its ever-widening promise of a decent life for all. Taking us from the tumultuous 1890s, when the radical left-wing Populist Party—the biggest mass movement in American history—fought Gilded Age plutocrats to the reformers’ great triumphs under Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, Frank reminds us how much we owe to the populist ethos. Frank also shows that elitist groups have reliably detested populism, lashing out at working-class concerns. The anti-populist vituperations by the Washington centrists of today are only the latest expression.
Frank pummels the elites, revisits the movement’s provocative politics, and declares true populism to be the language of promise and optimism. The People, No is a ringing affirmation of a movement that, Frank shows us, is not the problem of our times, but the solution for what ails us.
The Half Has Never Been Told, Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism
by Edward E. Baptist
Edward Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told is the latest attempt to come to terms with slavery and its enduring legacies. As Baptist makes clear, his book is about “how slavery constantly grew, changed, and reshaped the modern world” (xxii); it reveals the violence, theft, and modernity of American slavery and what it meant for those who survived the rapid expansion of racial slavery during the first half of the nineteenth century.
Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State
by Megan Ming Francis
Free to download from Cambridge University Press.
Through a sweeping archival analysis of the NAACP's battle against lynching and mob violence from 1909 to 1923, this book examines how the NAACP raised public awareness, won over American presidents, and secured the support of Congress.
The New Jim Crow
by Michelle Alexander
“Two years after Obama’s election, Alexander put the entire criminal justice system on trial, exposing racial discrimination from lawmaking to policing to the denial of voting rights to ex-prisoners. This bestseller struck the spark that would eventually light the fire of Black Lives Matter.” —Ibram X. Kendi, The New York Times.
Fascism: A Warning
by Madeleine Albright
A personal and urgent examination of fascism in the twentieth century and how its legacy shapes today’s world, written by one of America’s most admired public servants, the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state. #1 New York Times Bestseller.
Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy
by Matt Stoller
A startling look at how concentrated financial power and consumerism transformed American politics, resulting in the emergence of populism and authoritarianism and the fall of the Democratic Party, while also providing the steps needed to create a new democracy.
Submitted by Matt Barron, Indivisible Williamsburg
In her new preface, Jane Mayer discusses the results of the most recent election and Donald Trump's victory, and how, despite much discussion to the contrary, this was a huge victory for the billionaires who have been pouring money in the American political system.
Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America
by Nancy MacLean
“[A] vibrant intellectual history of the radical right . . . [MacLean] has dug deep into her material—not just Buchanan’s voluminous, unsorted papers, but other archives, too—and she has made powerful and disturbing use of it all. . . . The behind-the-scenes days and works of Buchanan show how much deliberation and persistence—in the face of formidable opposition—underlie the anti-governing politics ascendant today. What we think of as dysfunction is the result of years of strategic effort.” —The Atlantic
"In Palaces for the People, Eric Klinenberg offers a new perspective on what people and places have to do with each other, by looking at the social side of our physical spaces." —New York Times
Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History
by Kurt Andersen
“The single most important explanation, and the fullest explanation, of how Donald Trump became president of the United States . . . nothing less than the most important book that I have read this year.”—Lawrence O’Donnell
How Democracies Die
by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt
Both authors are Professors of Government at Harvard University. Based on years of research into the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, the authors present a deep understanding of how and why democracies die; an alarming analysis of how democracy is being subverted today in the US and beyond; and a guide for maintaining and repairing a threatened democracy, for governments, political parties, and individuals.