I’m doing a podcast. About politics. Surprised, right? 😉
I’m doing a podcast. About politics. Surprised, right? 😉
As you might expect (or know already, if we’re FB or Twitter friends), I have a lot of feelings about Tuesday’s election and its subsequent results. And maybe, eventually, I’ll be able to organize them coherently and present them in essay form.
For now, I’m trying to focus on concrete actions I and you can take to prepare ourselves for a long few years. Much of this will require getting in direct touch with our representatives in congress. Per this piece, by a former congressional staffer, the best way to do that is via phone.
Well, guess what. We all carry our phones with us 24/7. So if we have their numbers in our phones, we are already better prepared to engage our reps across congress in conversations about the issues that matter.
I’m starting with my own senators (Chuck Schumer and Kristin Gillibrand, both D-NY) and my House Rep (a republican who I have to look up again – see how much time I’d have saved if I’d whacked him into my phone the first time I called his office?) and the leadership of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. If you finish with those and want to keep going, think about adding regional DNC information as well.
So ask yourself, are you more likely to call your rep if you can just say, “Okay Google, dial Charles Schumer” and get a direct line to his office? Or if you have to go online, look up the number, and call from there?
If the answer is #1, and you want to help effect positive change in America, then take five minutes and put these numbers and more into your phone. Right now. Seriously. Cut and paste is your friend.
And remember, you can look up your reps and senators (links below), but think about looking up other reps and senators, as well. All of congress works for you. Your tax dollars contribute to all their salaries. You have a right to call and demand representation from any and all of them to address your rights and concerns, and you should do so.
Edit: Things are getting fun! A friend of mine has issued a #PhoneYourRep challenge to the internet! Once you’ve added your rep’s number to your phone, head to Dave’s Facebook and leave screenshot evidence – if we can get over 100 people to do it, he’ll be on the hook for a $500 donation to the Sierra Club (and given the person who’s in charge of their transition team, they’re gonna need it)!
Getting better at representative government AND saving the planet? Take part in this challenge and you’re basically a superhero. 😀
The following is adapted from a Facebook post I made earlier today, which friends wanted to share.
I meant to write about this sooner, but later is better than never. So here goes.
Last Thursday night I went and met Bernie Sanders at the Working Families Party gala. Well, okay, I stood up against the stage snapping pics and then shook his hand (along with a bunch of other people) as he left the stage. (Okay. I stood up against the stage like it 2000 and I was at a Placebo concert at Irving Plaza. Shhh. Moving on.)
What impressed me (aside from OMG BERNIE SHOOK MY HAND!!!!) was the level of support that the party had from both local politicians and from more mainstream Dems, including people like Chuck Schumer and Bill de Blasio. Nina Turner spoke, too, and there were also WFP city council types and state legislature types.
One of my big issues (yes, there are more than one, we all know that by now) with voting for Clinton, outside of the issues I take with her positions and her campaign, has been thinking of voting for Clinton as rewarding the DNC for their choice — and #sorrynotsorry, but there is no fucking way the DNC is getting my vote this year (and possibly any other year). Not in light of the way the primaries were run, the way the debates were gamed, the myriad of questions surrounding people purged from electoral roles, the behavior of their ex-Chairwoman and her subsequent reward of an “honorary” position, etc. Even if not doing *all those things* wouldn’t have meant a Sanders victory (and I would very strongly argue that a earlier and more frequent debates could have changed the Democrats’ primary landscape substantially), the fact that the Democrats did those things?
They don’t get my vote.
Well, going to the Working Families Party Gala the other night gave me a new perspective – a new way of framing the workings of our political system.
The WFP, in NYC at least, has a very strong presence and has been able to help get laws like the $15/hour minimum wage and NY Sick Leave laws passed. In many cases, these smaller parties end up having a major party “nominee” in their candidate box. As speakers stressed over and over (and btw, here’s a link to the speeches, if you’ve got two hours and will excuse that I missed the first few minutes of Senator Turner’s remarks), many of the ideas that ended up in the non-binding 2016 Democratic Platform have origins in the WFP’s party goals.
Living in NYC and knowing what I do about my district, etc., I will likely be voting straight-ticket third party in November. HOWEVER. Up till Thursday night it hadn’t occurred to me that voting a straight third-party ticket could, potentially, include a vote for Clinton. And that, philosophically, I might be okay with that.
Whereas voters who vote Green or Libertarian won’t necessarily have a voice in the government after the election, Clinton will know how many of her votes came through local third parties, and even where she may not have success in major progressive domestic policies, at the local level I’ll know I’ve thrown my weight behind a third party that already has proven accomplishments where I live. As a party with deep roots in unions and activism, I can also be assured (to whatever degree one can trust politicians) that the party will advocate heavily for its agenda within the larger agenda, and that there are politicians at both the federal and the local level who consider this a party worth paying attention to. While I won’t know how I’m voting until close to November, after last Thursday’s gala I do know that anybody who shouts “a vote for a third party is a vote for Trump!” (or the reverse, as has happened once or twice in my conversations this election season) isn’t looking at the whole picture.
I would strongly encourage other people who want to vote 3rd party, who do not want to support the current Democratic Party, to consider strong local parties available near them.
At the very least, it’s a way of combining your voice with the voices of others in your area, pursuing a party whose goals more closely align with your personal viewpoint (because let’s face it: Dem, Repub, Green and Libertarian is still pretty damn broad as far as categorizing the political affiliations of +/-300M people), and ensuring that there will be a chorus of voices there to hold the politician at the top of the ballot accountable.
The things you love and hate about a place are flip sides of one another.
My dad tells me that the law has to be followed and faith had in it, and sometimes this goes against my instincts. You’ve seen my blog posts and the things I say on Twitter. You know how much I rail against institutional injustice.
Tonight I’ve been watching the Wendy Davis filibuster on #SB5. We’re now down to the last 28 minutes, and it’s been asked that something be reduced to writing – in “as big a font as possible.”
I’m in Twitter jail as I write this. I would (please, Twitter, please listen to me!) pay $5/month to know I wouldn’t go over my rate limit.
Politics are theatrical. In college, one of my drama classes was with a director, Kaz Braun, who had escaped the Communists. Later, I took an honors seminar with him; the topic was THEATRICALITY. I did a presentation on a segment of the Liz Taylor version of Cleopatra and played the segment of the film that dealt with her arrival in Rome. I talked about political theater and making an impression; Kaz gave me some positive feedback.
Watching Wendy Davis’ filibuster and the coordination of multiple roles between members of her (and opposing) parties, it’s fascinating to watch how the process of political theater is borne out. Sides debate one another, rules are obeyed…it’s like watching mathematicians try to keep track of parenthetical parts of equations.
I love how Van de Putte keeps coming up and being like, “So, like, parliamentary inquiry, can we talk about this other thing?” I don’t entirely get where she’s coming at it with her pulling up of women being recognized – so far, the body’s done nothing (that I’ve seen, in terms of points of order) that discriminates against recognizing women in terms of participation in parlimentary democracy. And the Gallery’s gone out of control again.
Texas has a fierce individualism that must speak to some part of my familial DNA; my brother and sister each made Austin their home, for periods of time. I can hear that individualism being screamed down from the Gallery in a building that I saw from 6th street and (is it called) Capitol st.(?)
The same ferocity of belief that I resent when it comes to religion and textbooks reflects in the passion of Sen. Davis and her supporters and the doggedness of their opponents. We love and hate the life’s flip sides.
We’re down to thirteen minutes, and the guy at the mic just said “we’ll suspend the roll call vote till we have order” – but they’re still calling the rolls! “We tried to do it,” said the president of the debate, because at this point we all know that the women of Texas and the members in the Gallery are going to keep screaming until they hit midnight, Austin Time.
What does he mean by “it”? We tried to hold the roll call? The vote? Table things? Stop the filibuster? Are the women in the gallery jubilant? Are they enraged? Where is Senator Davis in the video coverage? (After all those hours on her feet, I’d chip in to get her a back massage!)
The more time that goes on, the more happy and frantic the sounds from the Gallery seem to become. There’s an endless sea of men in suits with shirts and ties on the screen; all are shaking hands, all are civil. At one point —
I’m out of twitter jail!
At ten past one, it seems the chamber is emptying out. In my best estimate of humanity, I imagine a series of cordial hand-shakings and casual invitations to barbecues and iced tea buffets.
The sound returns.
And at twenty minutes past the hour, or thereabouts, it looks like TX Republicans are filtering back into the chamber–
News outlets are reporting that Texas has passed SB5 (#sb5); it’s currently 12:22 am.
So yeah. You’ve got to give it to Texas.
Just not for the reasons I had hoped when I started writing this blog.
Updated, 8:42AM EST 6/26/13 – According to reports, the vote that took place after midnight was ruled invalid by Texas Governor Rick Perry some time after this blog was posted and I went to sleep. Glad to hear it.
Updated 9:18PM EST 6/26/13 – And now Texas Governor Rick Perry has called for a “special session” of the Texas Legislature for July 1st. Gotcha. :/
Just finished up a discussion with the ever-delightful Allie McNeil (@watergatesummer) over on her podcast/internet radio show, “The 99 Report.” Check it out if you have the time – I call in about 8 minutes into the broadcast and we chat for the full show.
There’s a brief technical mishap midway through, but we got things back up and running within a few minutes, so don’t let that put you off the rest of the show.
Take a listen – we discuss gun violence, Gabby Giffords and her new SuperPAC, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Breaking Bad, Columbine, my award-winning first play (1999’s POST), connections between art and violence, conversations on twitter and more.
It’s been a long week. Sunday night, the NYC Subway shut down in advance of Hurricane Sandy. Parts of New York City are getting back to normal, while other areas are still devastated. My electricity has been out since Monday night, but things could be worse. I have running water and my gas stove works. Since I work in midtown, getting supplies wasn’t too much of a hassle – although lines are longer than usual, everywhere.
Further downtown, things are worse. On Staten Island and in New Jersey, in parts of Queens and Brooklyn, things are worse. (Note from Sunday: The situation in certain affected communities is still not good, but efforts to get help to people in those areas seem to be getting more notice now.)
Sunday, October 28th, my roommate and I stocked up on supplies and prepared to be without the Subway. Monday morning, we went down to the water to look at the beginnings of the storm surge; the park was already closed off, and the pier that usually sits several feet out of the water already had waves at its edges.
As the weather got more intense on Monday night, we lost power and cell signals. My roommate and I stayed up until about midnight, reading aloud from Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf and drinking beer and wine. Earlier in the day I made vegetarian chili, just before the power went out I made my grandmother’s recipe for pizza. “At least pizza will keep for a couple days,” I thought. Work had already been cancelled for Tuesday, at that point. When the power blew, our frenzy of snacking came to an end: now the plan was to conserve the cold in the fridge in the hopes it would only take a day or two to come back on.
Tuesday morning I woke up before my roommate. No power, no internet. No hot water, though the cold still worked.
At this point in writing, the friend who’d taken me in Thursday night and I started chatting and I put this blog aside for a few days. I’d like to jump ahead, but instead I’ll pick up where I left off. The remainder of this blog is being written early Sunday morning.
I checked the windows: things didn’t look too badly flooded, but my phone wasn’t getting a signal. Without a battery-operated radio, there was just one thing to do: head outside and survey the damage in the neighborhood. I left my roommate a note saying I was going exploring, and headed outside with my cell phone and charger. I got to the corner and said good morning to a couple pedestrians; finally I ran into a man walking purposefully down the avenue and asked if he knew if anything was open.
“What kind of place are you looking for?” he asked.
“Just somewhere I can charge my phone,” I said.
He shook his head. “There’s no power below 30th street,” he said.
“Thanks,” I said. He continued on his way and I stood for a moment before deciding to head back upstairs. Once I got back to the apartment I asked my roommate if she’d like to come exploring with me, since we wouldn’t be able to communicate, or if she wanted to stay at home. She decided to stay in the apartment and I headed out.
I walked up to Times Square, through the West Village and Chelsea. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but there were plenty of closed buildings and trees down along the way. It was a few blocks before I got my cell phone signal back. Everything was closed. Most stores had signs in their windows from Sunday night – closed from XX time because the subway was shutting down at seven. There were no traffic lights, but not much traffic (yet) either. Eventually I made it to the Marriott, where an upper-floor lounge had plenty of plugs and power – plus coffee. (The Starbucks downstairs was also, it seems, something of a post-hurricane Mecca for city-dwellers looking for a way to spend their time). I drank a coffee and charged my phone and called my parents and chatted with some of you on Twitter, and once I’d rested for a while, turned around and started back on my way home.
Tuesday night was quiet and dark. My roommate and I are both writers, so we set up our candles and projects and I got a bit further along in editing and rewriting Electalytics (by the way, once my mailing list gets 50 subscribers, I’ll be sending out a sneak preview of the first chapter of my novella project). Both of us had work in the morning. By the end of Tuesday, there were loose estimates of power coming back on.
Wednesday I went to work. I was the only one on my team who made it in. Limited bus service had resumed, but the bus stops were mobbed – this got marginally better as the week progressed and the subway slowly breathed back to its current (as of 5am) status of about 80% functionality. I came home Wednesday night and, with no power or internet to distract me, decided to wash my hair. This required boiling water on the stove, dumping it in the tub, and hoping I could finish boiling enough water to take a bath before it all cooled off. I joked to my roommate (over text – by now we’d gotten enough of a signal back in the apartment to be able to send and receive texts, though they were often delayed) that I was going all Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Wednedsay night was Halloween. Bloomberg had already cancelled/postponed the Halloween Parade, and with the power out my roommate and I decided to go for a walk before it got too dark out. We took a flashlight with us.
I don’t know about other New Yorkers, but for me, this was one of the first chances I’d had to experience the city in darkness – and as we walked, of course, it got darker. Pretty soon it was pitch black out, and we were glad to have the flashlight. Walking across downtown, it occurred to me: anybody – or anything (remember, it’s Halloween and my roommate and I are both writers) – could be hiding in the shadows. Once I said that out loud, our imaginations ran away with us and we beat a trail back to the city’s nearest main thoroughfare.
Cars were backed up from Houston to Cooper Square. Commuters were smushed into buses that weren’t moving anywhere (the featured photo from this blog entry was taken on this walk). The High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) restrictions hadn’t been put into place yet, so traffic was barely moving.
Walking back through our neighborhood, we found a cafe where the owners had set up a generator and had a full menu ready. It was an oasis of civilization. We ducked in, charged phones, had wine and split an order of bruschetta. Next, we wandered along to a cash-only place that had no power, but was still serving beer. We got to talking to the women who owned the place, and even got to watch part of the impromptu Halloween Parade that headed past – a thin line of costumed enthusiasts hanging on to a city tradition. Finally, we stopped at a bar across the street from the apartment and bought a bottle each of Corona before getting a stealth-upsold shot of Jameson apiece – “only,” as we found out once they were poured, nine bucks.
Thursday was when the frayed edges of the week started to unravel. I picked out the things that we needed to get out of the fridge and walked them into work, while my roommate made her second 100-block trek to work in as many days. I found a gym at lunchtime and had my first proper shower since Sunday night. Left work early to make my own (much shorter) hike home. But when I got here, the power still wasn’t on and the apartment was cold; by the time my roommate got home we agreed we’d strike out to stay with friends until things came back together – which was now looking like Saturday night.
Which brings us to Thursday night. We split a cab to Grand Central and parted ways, and I headed further uptown to stay with my old roommate (you may remember her, she was briefly on twitter as @mycoolroommate). I bought us a huge BBQ dinner, we stuffed our faces, and then we watched TV and hung out. Friday was full of silly movies – first NO STRINGS ATTACHED (which I have to say, I quite liked) and then TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL, which if you haven’t seen , you should make time for. Friday night we met up with another friend who’s a bartender, and she kept us in cocktails for the evening.
Saturday morning, the news came out via ConEd’s twitter feed that my network had been restored around 9 in the morning. I made my way home – the subway was already running straight through Manhattan to Brooklyn. I walked home from Union Square to survey the neighborhood, and spent most of yesterday alternating between cleaning up my apartment.
Now it’s Sunday. I woke up at three in the morning (technically four) after falling asleep early last night and spent the last couple hours writing this post and putting photos in the gallery below.