The Old World is Dying

Heather Cox Richardson      May 29, 2020

“The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters.”

America feels completely chaotic today. Protesters are marching in major cities, sometimes looting; police appear to be attacking them and the journalists covering the protests. Rather than calming the situation, the president has thrown gasoline on the fire, which escalated yesterday’s fight with Twitter. Trump launched a blistering verbal attack on China and announced that the United States is withdrawing from the World Health Organization in the midst of a deadly pandemic. Meanwhile, new information suggests that the Trump administration did, indeed, collude with Russia.

George Floyd is dead. So is Breonna Taylor. And so are more than 100,000 victims of a deadly pandemic.

The news is overwhelming. It is designed to be overwhelming.

This sort of chaos and confusion destabilizes society. In that confusion, as tempers run hot, people who are desperate for certainty return to old patterns and divide along traditional lines. Many are willing to accept a strong leader who promises to restore order, or simply are so distracted and discouraged they stop caring what their leaders do. They simply hunker down and try to survive.

As cities across the country erupted in protest last night over the murder of George Floyd and everything that deadly demonstration of white male dominance over another human’s life symbolized, Trump tweeted: “….These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

Twitter slapped a warning on the tweet, noting that it “violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence.” In response, the official White House twitter account retweeted what Trump had written… and Twitter slapped a warning on that, too. This is the first time Twitter has attached such a notice to any public figure’s tweets.

This afternoon, Trump appeared briefly in the Rose Garden not to address the protests, but to attack China and to announce he was withdrawing the U.S. from the WHO.

Trump accused China of a slew of misdeeds, including espionage and economic warfare, and called China an existential threat. He promised to ban certain Chinese nationals from the U.S., but identified no concrete measures he’s planning to take.

It seems Trump has decided his best bet for reelection is to use China as a foil. He is trying to blame China for America’s mounting coronavirus deaths, which is his excuse for withdrawing from the WHO, over which he insists China has “total control.” (This is false; the WHO has 194 member states, and until now, we were a leading partner in it.) He left without taking any questions.

Trump’s withdrawal from the WHO removes America from yet another international partnership. This horrified doctors and epidemiologists. Health researcher Dr. Atul Gawande called it a “disaster.” “I can’t imagine a worse thing to do in the midst of a pandemic and ongoing work to fight back TB, HIV, polio, and other health threats,” he tweeted. Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice agreed: “Unspeakably stupid and self-defeating.”

Defense technology journalist Kelsey D. Atherton made a different, and quite crucial, point. “[M]aybe the weirdest thing about the right’s strategy of quitting international institutions is they were built, expressly, to give the United States an outsized role in shaping and directing the post-1945 international order, but they can only do that so long as the US stays in.”

He’s right. Once again, Trump has led the US out of an international agreement that we used to dominate. Just two days ago, president of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass said that Trump’s foreign policy doctrine should be called the “Withdrawal Doctrine.” Trump has pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact designed to pressure China to meet international rules; the Paris climate accord; the 2015 Iran nuclear deal; the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, limiting nuclear weapons; UNESCO, the U.N.’s educational, scientific, and cultural agency; the Open Skies Treaty that allowed countries to fly over each other to monitor military movements. He pulled U.S. troops away from our former Kurdish allies in Syria, and has threatened to leave the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—NATO—that ties 30 North American and European countries into a military alliance.

Now he has withdrawn the US from the World Health Organization that combats global disease and pandemics.

The U.S. walking away from our former allies benefits other countries, notably Russia, which is keen to destabilize NATO alliances.

The Russia story, too, is back in the news, with Trump’s new Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe today releasing summaries of the phone calls between Michael Flynn—who was advising Trump on foreign policy—and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. What was released were not transcripts, although Senator Chuck Grassley, who released them, and much of the media that reported on them, all called them transcripts. These are summaries of the conversations. Occasionally they have quotations in them, but they are not the whole conversation.

Even so, they were bad enough. They show Flynn taking a weirdly weak position considering he knew the Russians had attacked the election. Rather than making demands, Flynn reassured Kislyak that the Trump team would roll back sanctions and retaliation for Russian interference in the 2016 election, established that Trump and Putin would talk immediately upon Trump taking office, and talked about a secure video link between the two leaders.

Asha Rangappa, a former FBI counterintelligence specialist, explained back in 2017 that Flynn’s lying to the FBI indicated just how bad the conversations were, and then explained just why they were so bad. For the U.S. to expel a diplomat is exceedingly rare and difficult, and usually results in a tit-for-tat expulsion of one of our diplomats. In both cases, the individuals usually are spies, which means that losing them is a big deal for our intelligence. For the Obama administration to expel 35 Russians in response to Russia’s attack on our 2016 election, along with imposing economic sanctions, was a microphone-dropping sign to Russia that we would not look the other way.

But Flynn assured Kislyak that they could expect a different response from the Trump administration, essentially telling Russia that, so far as the Trump team was concerned, the 2016 attack was okay. So the Russians did not retaliate as expected for the expulsion of their diplomats. But Trump could not get rid of the sanctions and instead, in July 2017, under great pressure, signed a bipartisan sanctions bill that had such strong support Congress could override his veto. In retaliation for the measure, Russia expelled 775 American diplomats, crippling our intelligence in that country.

And over all this looms Covid-19, which has killed more than 104,000 of us already. Infections are climbing again.

I started out tonight by noting that this chaotic onslaught of news is designed to divide Americans and make us fall back into old animosities in order either to get us to accept a strong leader or to exhaust us until we quit caring what happens. In either case American democracy is over.

But there is another possibility. Chaos does not have to destroy us. The leaders creating it are doing so precisely because they know they are not in control, and the same uncertainty they are trying to leverage can just as easily be used by their opponents. At this crazy, frightening, chaotic moment, it is possible to reach across old lines and create new alliances, to reemphasize that most Americans really do share the same values of economic fairness and equality before the law, and to rebuild a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

The old world is certainly dying, but the shape of the new world struggling to be born is not yet determined.

Notes:

Tweets: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/29/technology/trump-twitter-minneapolis-george-floyd.html

https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2020-05-29/after-contentious-week-trump-falls-short-when-he-meets-the-press

Gawande:

Atul Gawande @Atul_Gawande

Pulling out of WHO is a disaster for the lives and health of all people, including Americans. I can’t imagine a worse thing to do in the midst of a pandemic and ongoing work to fight back TB, HIV, polio, and other health threats. America First does not work for global disease.

STAT @statnews

BREAKING: Trump announces that U.S. is terminating its relationship with the World Health Organization. Story to come.

May 29th 2020

4,141 Retweets10,868 Likes

Rice:

Susan Rice @AmbassadorRice

Unspeakably stupid and self-defeating https://t.co/R3Fbiq5GeL

Atul Gawande @Atul_Gawande

Pulling out of WHO is a disaster for the lives and health of all people, including Americans. I can’t imagine a worse thing to do in the midst of a pandemic and ongoing work to fight back TB, HIV, polio, and other health threats. America First does not work for global disease. https://t.co/gxcoATZN7T

May 29th 2020

860 Retweets3,609 Likes

China: https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/29/politics/trump-china-announcement/index.html

Withdrawal doctrine: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/27/trumps-foreign-policy-doctrine-withdrawal-doctrine/

Russia and Europe: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/08/world/europe/unit-29155-russia-gru.html

Summaries: https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/29/politics/michael-flynn-declassified-documents/index.html

Russian expulsion: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/07/russia-expels-755-u-s-diplomats-in-retaliation-for-sanctions.html

https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/363060-missing-big-picture-in-flynn-plea-trump-team-crippled-american-diplomatic

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Republicans ARE Deplorable

May 28, 2020

Letters from an American

Heather Cox Richardson May 29

The coronavirus pandemic has ripped the remaining tatters of cover off this country’s racial inequality as black Americans are dying in much higher numbers than white Americans. Racial inequality is not new, but racial brutality has become more and more obvious in the past several years as cell phones have recorded the deaths of black Americans at the hands of authorities or white Americans who took it upon themselves to police their black neighbors.

On Monday night, a Minneapolis police officer killed a handcuffed man, George Floyd, by kneeling on his neck for ten minutes as other officers either held him down or looked away. It took only five minutes for Floyd, who had initially begged “Please, please. I can’t breathe,” to stop moving. A passerby captured the murder on video, and it has been widely shared on social media.

Last night, in Minneapolis, and then Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, and Manhattan, protesters took to the streets. In Minnesota, the protests turned into riots and looting after police greeted the protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets. This morning, after two nights of violent protests, the U.S. Department of Justice said it would make a federal investigation into the killing a “top priority.” Tonight, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz (D) called in the state’s National Guard to keep the peace.

It didn’t work: as I write, it appears the Minneapolis precinct police department whose officers were involved in the murder is on fire. Police are reporting that 170 businesses in St. Paul have been damaged and dozens of fires have been set. Protests have spread to Phoenix, Arizona, and to Louisville, Kentucky, too, where 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was killed in her home on March 13 by plainclothes police executing a warrant for a man who lived in a different part of Louisville and had already been arrested.

Historically, political rioting in America is an attempt to call attention to a perceived injustice. In its aftermath, ordinary citizens decide whether or not the rioting was justified. Usually, they support social justice movements and shut down reactionary mobs.

When associated with a political riot, looting takes on a political meaning as well. If a population feels that the law is oppressing them—as it did for African Americans during slavery times, for example—they often break the law deliberately to illustrate their opposition to it (as African American abolitionists did in the years before the Civil War). There are always bad eggs in any mob scene, but in this case the larger story of the looting, after an event where an officer of the law murdered an unresisting man in full view of an audience, demonstrating his sense of untouchability, falls into a pretty well established historical pattern.

Crucially, white Americans are finally paying attention to the violence against the black community. I suspect the reason for this attention is that the current leadership of the Republican Party has gone so far toward consolidating power in favor of an oligarchy that ordinary white Americans are identifying with marginalized people. This is precisely what happened in the 1850s, when even desperately racist white Americans pushed back against the elite slave owners taking control of the American government because they recognized that they, too, could be sacrificed if leaders thought they stood in the way of the economic system that enriched a few.

Another story from last night illustrates exactly this point, showing the lengths to which Republican leaders are willing to go to achieve their legislative goals. In Pennsylvania, a member of the state legislature tested positive for Covid-19. He told his Republican colleagues, who engaged in appropriate quarantining and distancing, but neither they nor the Republican House Speaker, Mike Turzai, told the Democrats, who learned much later that one of their colleagues had tested positive for coronavirus from a reporter.

People outside the legislature learned of the situation last night, when Democratic Representative Brian Sims posted a passionate video on Twitter, angrily calling out his Republican colleagues for putting lives at risk. Sims revealed that he had recently donated a kidney to a patient dying of kidney failure, putting him at particularly high risk of contracting the coronavirus. His outrage that his Republican colleagues would keep such vital information from him and his Democratic colleagues, in order to make sure their goal of reopening the state did not falter, resonated. The idea that Republicans who, theoretically, were supposed to be working with Democrats for the good of Pennsylvanians, would deliberately endanger the life of a man who had secretly donated a kidney seemed the epitome of partisanship gone toxic.

More stories today illustrated that the Republicans are determined to cement their ideology into law no matter what voters want. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told judges over 65 that they should consider retiring to make sure Trump could fill their seats. “This is an historic opportunity. We’ve put over 200 federal judges on the bench. I think 1 in 5 federal judges are Trump appointees. … So if you’re a circuit judge in your mid-60s, late 60s, you can take senior status; now would be a good time to do that if you want to make sure the judiciary is right of center. This is a good time to do it,” Graham added.

Yesterday, Senate Democrats released a report examining how Republican leaders, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have packed the courts. Funded by millions of dollars of “dark money” contributions, they are “rolling back the clock on civil rights, consumer protections, and the rights of ordinary Americans, reliably putting a thumb on the scale in favor of corporate and Republican political interests.” The report notes that the House has passed more than 350 bills this session, nearly 90% of which are bi-partisan and popular, but that McConnell has refused to take them up, focusing instead on judicial confirmations. This “judicial capture” is designed to rewrite federal law “to favor the rich and powerful.”

Their point had another illustration today, when we learned that Marc Short, Vice President Pence’s chief of staff, owns between $500,000 and $1.5 million worth of stocks in companies linked to the administration’s pandemic response, in apparent disregard for the law.

But it appears that ordinary Americans have had enough. CNN reported today that GOP operatives are afraid that Trump will both lose the White House and tank the Republican Senate majority in 2020, something borne out by Graham’s call for older judges to retire and be replaced by partisan Republicans while they know they can be.

Knowing that the economic crisis is hurting the president’s chances of reelection, the White House announced today that it will not release the usual economic forecast this summer. Those projections would show the skyrocketing unemployment and ballooning deficit shortly before the election.

Symbolically, it also appears that the anti-maskers are losing ground to those advocating mask wearing. While Trump still refuses to wear one, McConnell, and FNC personality Sean Hannity, among others, have called for wearing masks to help contain the coronavirus.

And finally, Trump’s executive order today attempting to clamp down on social media so that it will not fact-check his inaccurate tweets about the election seem designed not to change policy—legal analysts say it will not withstand legal challenges—but to continue to push the idea that there is a grand conspiracy against him and his supporters. A Washington D.C. District Judge appointed by Trump threw out a lawsuit against Twitter and Facebook today, that claimed they were biased against right-wing users.

Trump’s executive order will shore up his supporters’ sense of grievance, and add more fuel to the argument he seems to be preparing: that any election he loses must be “rigged.”

—-

Notes:

Pennsylvania: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/pennsylvania-house-democrats-andrew-lewis-keeping-covid-diagnosis-a-secret

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/28/politics/pennsylvania-lawmakers-coronavirus/index.html

Marc Short: https://www.npr.org/2020/05/28/860927054/pence-chief-of-staff-owns-stocks-that-could-conflict-with-coronavirus-response

Floyd: https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/26/opinions/minneapolis-george-floyd-video-a-horrific-rerun-alexander/index.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/28/minneapolis-protests-george-floyd-death/

https://www.ajc.com/news/breaking-violence-rocks-minneapolis-again-after-man-death-killed/3CC3VT0PRzbWFIBnIPodBK/

Judges: https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/499957-graham-urges-senior-judges-to-step-aside-ahead-of-november-election

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/senate-democrats-take-gop-court-packing-blistering-new-report-n1215901

https://www.democrats.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Courts%20Report%20-%20FINAL.pdf

GOP fears: https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/28/politics/republicans-trump-senate-2020-trouble/index.html

Masks: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/losing-the-mask-war

Breonna Taylor: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2020/05/29/breonna-taylor-protest-demand-change-councilwoman-says/5281004002/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/breonna-taylor-killed-by-police-kenneth-walker-911-call-released/

Looting and fires: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/breonna-taylor-killed-by-police-kenneth-walker-911-call-released/

Economic projection halted: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/28/white-house-coronavirus-economic-projections/

Social media e.o. https://talkingpointsmemo.com/fivepoints/what-to-make-of-trumps-executive-order-on-social-media

Phil Berger Tries to Score Political Points

Infectious disease expert: Phil Berger is wrong about reopening

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As you’ve probably heard by now, North Carolina Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger has been sticking to his irresponsible Trumpist position on reopening the state of late, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage. Berger, who has made a point of cynically pandering to the ill-informed, far right base by attacking Gov. Cooper at every opportunity, recently issued a statement demanding that Cooper open barbershops and beauty salons.

It has, of course, been common knowledge among people paying attention that Berger’s position is utterly indefensible. A spokseperson for the Democratic Party put it accurately this way last night:

“The coronavirus outbreak has taken more than 80,000 American lives and continues to spread across our country. The day Phil Berger earns a degree in medicine, science or public health is the day we’ll take his thoughts on this pandemic seriously.”

Still, it was nice to see further and powerful confirmation of this truth on the front page of a major newspaper in Berger’s neck of the woods. This is from the lead story in this morning;’s Winston-Salem Journal, which is entitled “Are we ready for more reopening? No, says Baptist Health expert.”:

An infectious disease expert with Wake Forest Baptist Health says we’ll likely have to wait a while longer to visit hair salons and gyms or dine-in at restaurants, given the state’s continued increase in COVID-19 cases.

Thursday, Dr. Christopher Ohl said he does not think North Carolina, and specifically Forsyth County, are ready to transition to Phase 2 of reopening — which would allow limited opening of gyms, indoor worship services, restaurants and bars, barbershops, hair salons and other businesses still closed under Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order.

“Going into Phase 1 was like putting your toe into the water,” Ohl said. “It’s not looking like we’re on the right path.”

The article continued:

According to the governor’s plan for reopening the state, the earliest North Carolina could enter Phase 2 would be May 22. While N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen has previously said the state could revert to the stricter stay-at-home guidelines, the governor is facing political pressure from Republicans in the General Assembly and on the Council of State as well as from protesters to fully reopen the state and restart the economy….

Ohl said he thinks the earliest the state could enter Phase 2 would be the end of May, and even then it would likely be a modified Phase 2, with outdoor dining and more outdoor activities, such as playgrounds, more likely to be allowed.

Berger is not an unintelligent man. And that’s what makes his cynicism so especially maddening. He’s got to know in his heart that Cooper and the experts like Dr. Ohl and HHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen are right and that they are, if anything, doing their best to push the envelope. Unfortunately, like the con man in the White House, he’s decided that he’d rather try to score political points than do everything possible to help save lives.

Indecent Assembly & School Vouchers

Libbie Griffin
May 15, 2020
I want to recommend a very important book to you. Gene R. Nichol has been the chair of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Law School for a number of years. He was at one time an opinion writer for the News & Observer. He’s very involved with Rev. William J. Barber’s Poor People’s campaign and, in the past, with the Moral Monday demonstrations.
Mr. Nichol has written a new book that is a catalog of all the rotten things the Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly have tried since 2010 when they became the majority for the first time since Reconstruction. The book is entitled Indecent AssemblyIt is the most important book about North Carolina politics that I’ve ever read!
The forward is written by Rev. Barber and Timothy Tyson. They end their essay with this:
“In roadside motels and on long drives home, Nichol penned eloquent, profound, and irrefutable newspaper columns that compelled North Carolina to face the far-right assault against our most vulnerable neighbors and against our most deeply held moral values – and the denigration of democracy necessary to pull it off. Nichol also offers a moral compass and a shining lighthouse for America’s journey, much as he has for many years in North Carolina. It was not just what Gene Nichol stood for, but where and how he stood for it. In a landscape luminous from the Appalachians to the Outer Banks, here stood a man to match the mountains and the sea. His transformative labors evoke James Baldwin’s dictum: ‘Not everything that is confronted can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is confronted.’”
Mr. Nichol begins his book with this statement about the North Carolina legislature in 2020:
“…but the North Carolina General Assembly remains, first to last, a Republican outfit – following in the same singular and destructive agenda it has pursued the last eight years. That agenda has inflicted damage on the people of North Carolina and directly threatens both their well-being and their children’s futures. It is that agenda, writ large, that will be the focus of this book.”
This book is a complete listing of the sins inflicted on the children and adults of our state including many acts overruled as unconstitutional by the courts. The book is fully annotated and every charge the author makes is supported in the notes.
If you need a reason to work hard in this year’s election, reading this book will give you many reasons. I strongly recommend that you invest $18 or less in a copy of this book, or download it to your Kindle for about $11 (click here for Amazon)
I was not able to find the book at the New Bern Books-a-Million recently  but it can be ordered online at Books-a-Million.
***
One of the subjects best explained by Mr. Nichol in his book is the use of “vouchers” to use tax money to pay for private schools, most of them affiliated with a church. He explains that students in private schools are not subjected to standardized tests of any kind. The schools are not required to teach the curriculum required by state law to be taught in all public schools.
When school vouchers were created initially the excuse was that the children of poor people deserved the same opportunity as those from more affluent families. In 2020 for a child to qualify for a voucher the family’s income must be less than $71,456. That’s bad, but what the Republicans in the legislature  are trying to do now is even worse! A few days ago I received this “Action Alert” from a group called Public Schools First:
STOP SB 711 NOW & Place a Moratorium on School Vouchers!
Senate Bill 711 was introduced on May 5, 2020 to further expand the number of students who can receive a school voucher. The bill ELIMINATES the existing eligibility requirements for students to attend private schools. Now, the bill simply states that “any student eligible to attend a NC public school under GS 115C-366 eligible to receive a school voucher. See the original requirements that will be repealed if this bill passed.
SB 711 also increases the amounts appropriated for 2020-21 through 2026-27 fiscal years and for the 2027-28 fiscal year and every fiscal years thereafter by an additional $2 million. Grand total would now be: “For the 2027-2028 fiscal year and each fiscal year thereafter, there is appropriated from General fund to the Reserve the sum of $146,840,000 to be used for the purposes set forth in this section.” (The original budget narrative can be viewed here.
ASK YOUR LEGISLATORS to VOTE NO on this bill. Tell them you do not support lifting eligibility requirements for school vouchers or spending more tax dollars for students to attend private schools that have no accountability for how they spent funds.
 Instead, ask your legislators for a MORATORIUM ON VOUCHERS! Read more of the bill summary here:
It appears obvious to me that Republican legislators want to defund public schools by making all our schools “private” which will remove educational standards and allow the teaching of conservative topics such as creationism.
Let’s make North Carolina blue!
Libbie Griffin
Dem candidate for NC Senate District 2
Carteret – Craven – Pamlico

 

A New Deal for a New Reality: Relief, Recovery, & Reform

The Issues Action Team has written a document proposing a New Deal for today’s new reality. It proposes progressive solutions to the big problems facing us in the United States. Here’s the opening paragraph:

In this new reality of a pandemic, where disinformation campaigns and political machinations are destroying our democracy, we are focusing the work of the Progressive Caucus of the NC Democratic Party (PCNCDP) to support a New Deal for a New Reality, to ensure that government spending is driven by the needs of the people instead of corporations and special interests. In the COVID-19 era, and beyond, we need Medicare for All to provide healthcare to all, whether employed, unemployed or underemployed. We need a Green New Deal to restructure our economy and to rebuild America and support our people. Our goal is to achieve racial, social and economic justice for the people of North Carolina and the country by fighting concentrations of economic and political power, and the laws and practices that enable them. We are modeling our efforts on the tenets of FDR’s New Deal and his targets of Relief, Recovery, and Reform. 

I urge you to take a look. There’s a four-page summary at the beginning, followed by specific action proposals in each area. Once the Executive Committee has approved this document, we will begin to offer it to candidates to help them understand the progressive solutions we need.

If you would like to print the document or download a PDF file of it, please click on the File menu item, then choose Download or Print.

Thanks to issues action team members Vicki Boyer, Kathy Kaufman, Diane Lemieux, Marguerite Most, Lee Nackman, Susan Siegel, and Tony Wikrent for their hard work on this document, and to Rebecca Cerese for contributing material on healthcare.

Originally posted on here.

Progressive Tweeting

Progressive Tweeting

by Vicki Boyer

Twitter. For some, it’s the latest, and best, method of communicating with friends. For others, it’s a cesspool worse than hell. The truth? It is what you make of it. How can we as progressives make the best use of twitter as a tool to share our message with North Carolina?

As you may know, conversations on twitter are grouped together in a #hashtag, and there are a few hashtags used for conversations about NC politics. #NCGA for the NC General Assembly. #NCPol for NC politics (Reporters follow this # to find out what is happening and I check it every day for news.). Each political party has a hashtag. Each party caucus in the state house and state senate has a hashtag. Your elected representatives all have twitter accounts. As do candidates.

Whenever the SHTF in NC politics, comments turn up on twitter. Usually under the #NCPol. And it frequently appears that conservatives dominate that conversation. Our point of view is not expressed. This is where you come in.

Consider opening a twitter account so you can represent progressive goals and aspirations in this conversation. You don’t have to get involved in arguments with anyone, just state your preference and move on. The collection of our voices has meaning and can make a difference. When our elected officials can see support for their actions it acts as positive feedback in a more public manner than a privately sent letter of support. Newspapers, they say, are dying, and the Letter to the Editor will go with them. This is a method of having your say.

Yes, tweets are limited to 280 characters. But each of us learned to write sentences, we learned to write paragraphs, essays, even dissertations. So we can learn to express an idea in 280 spaces. In fact, it is amazing how creative some can be with a prompt and limited space!

So, give twitter a try. I can be available to help, if needed. In recent weeks, we have facilitated twitter connections between a number of Progressive Caucus members. We can help you connect with like-minded friends, too. Working together to share each other’s messages can enhance our progressive voice with just the push of a button! I’ll see you there! @vickitkd.

Letter to the Editor Tools

So, You Want To Write A Letter To The Editor?

Diane Lemieux

Pamlico Progressives Democratic Caucus

Your voice is needed to represent all of us who stand up for truth, integrity and the rule of law. Your public letter to the editor will balance the conversation and the perceptions of your community. If we do not speak up, conservatives are allowed to dominate the narrative and assume that everyone else thinks as they do. North Carolina is a swing state, and we need to speak up and speak out to influence public opinion and the vote.

Making the decision that your thoughts matter and need to be heard, and that you are willing to stand publicly behind them, is the first step. It will build your confidence to have a friend who is willing to proofread your letter and support you. Then you have to decide how to send it out, and where. There are supports for whatever level of experience or expertise you may have, and several methods available to accomplish this.

These links will help you to get ideas, use an outline to get started, and show how to write an  op-ed.

  • The M+R Fast LTE Tool starts by asking you to answer 10 questions, and then takes your answers and creates your letter for you. It also offers a yellow page directory of places to send it.
  • The Community Tool Box gives a bit of background, and also leads you through the parts of the letter using questions. It tells you why and when should you write a letter, and how to get it accepted.
  • Working America offers a strategic guide, logistics, step by step directions and provides an example.
  • America Walks explains the difference between a letter to the editor and an op-ed. and walks you through the steps.
  1. “Identify your reasons for writing an op-ed
  2. Target your audience
  3. Know the rules
  4. Consider your “ask”
  5. Start backwards
  6. Consider the opposition
  7. Create a strong opening “

Stand Up America offers a web based tool for certain issues, and they will even send it to your local newspapers for you. Tools like this example of what can be put on websites to help people write letters to their editors. You might want to like them on fb to hear about these opportunities when they come up.

The  ACLU has already written letters on a variety of topics on their website. You will be able to add your own comments as well. After filling out your name and address, they will  send the letters to your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives

RESISTBOT is one of the most versatile and best user friendly apps around to share your thoughts with your senators, your reps, and your local paper. You can use it on a computer or from your phone. Here are a couple of messages and options you’ll see on their site.

I’ll submit your letter to your local paper to get their attention!

I’m the only service that allows you to write a letter to your elected representatives, and submit it to your local newspaper at the same time. Send EDITOR to try it. Here’s what I’ve gotten published so far.

Be heard by your elected representatives

Contact your elected representatives and submit to a newspaper or share for more impact

congress Write or call your two Senators and Representative in the Congress
state Write to your Governor and/or state legislators
senate Write or call one or both of your U.S. Senators
house Write or call your representative in the U.S. House
gov Write or call your Governor
legislature Write or call all your state legislators
dnc Write to the Democratic National Committee
editor Submit your last letter as a letter to the editor to your local paper
share Make your last letter an open letter
petition Make your last letter a signable petition
sign Sign someone else’s petition
nearby See open letters from your district
image Download an image of your last letter
officials Print all your current officials and their phone numbers

 

Are you ready now to share your burning thoughts with a larger audience? We need your voice!  Begin wherever you are comfortable, line up a friend, and start writing!