Saturday, August 15, 2020

Weekend Reading: The Get Ready to Fight For It Edition

Things sure do seem grim right now, don't they? Census cut short, Post Office being sabotaged, pandemic being disastrously mismanaged.... It is easy to feel discouraged. But I think we still have a chance to turn things around. The stakes are high and I do feel like we're running out of chances. It is not a time to be complacent, but it is also not a time to be despondent. There are still actions we can take that are pretty easy. We are not yet to the point where the only way to fight for our democracy is to take to the streets and risk arrest. We don't want to get to that point, and we only need to look at the news coming out of Belarus this week to remind ourselves of that.

So, here are some actions to take:

1. Complete your census survey! The time period for in person census taking has been reduced. The more of us who take the survey without requiring a visit from a census taker, the better. Complete your survey now and tell all your friends and family to do so, too. This is really important! Here is a short summary of why.

2. Make a plan for how you will vote, and make a back up plan. has links to the rules for every state. Read the rules for your state and figure out how you want to vote. 538 has also put together a nice guide to the voting rules in every state. Take a minute to look at the rules in your state and think about how you will vote.

I think the most important thing is to be sure you will vote. After that, you can think about strategy. There are advantages to in person early voting, if your state offers that. Some states do not allow counts of absentee ballots to start until election day. Here is a summary of the rules by state. There is a concern that if the vote on election day looks more in favor of Trump than the final vote, he will try to use that to sow confusion and contest the election. Therefore, if you live in a state that doesn't count absentee ballots until election day and does allow early in person voting, that is an option to consider. 

There are also concerns about the Post Office, given the straight-up sabotage that is underway. I will say more on how we can respond to that next. In terms of your voting strategy, you may want to hand deliver your absentee ballot to a drop box or the voting office in your location. This is the "Vote Like Miss Sylvia" option Jonathan Capehart wrote about.

3. Take action to protect the Post Office. Do this not just because the sabotage is an attempt to mess with the election, but because it is causing real problems for people who rely on the mail to get their prescriptions, particularly in rural places without a pharmacy nearby. Contact your representatives. If you are represented by Republicans, tell them you want them to provide the Post Office with the COVID relief funding that was in the bill that passed the House. If you are represented by Democrats, tell them you want House hearings on what is happening at the Post Office. Here is a script (in a long thread) from a political staffer who has been providing good scripts and ideas for how to pressure our elected officials since the Trump era started:

4. Build the wave. A close election is easier to monkey with, so let's make sure this isn't a close election. I had been writing postcards encouraging Florida voters to sign up for Vote by Mail, but I am no longer certain that is the best advice. So for now, I have switched to writing letters to encourage people to vote with Vote Forward. That's not to say that I don't think other people should keep writing postcards in support of voting by mail! I don't really know what the best strategy is and so I think we all just have to do what we think is best. I'll be back to postcards later, I am sure.  I was just intrigued by the Vote Forward idea of trying to reach unlikely voters to encourage them to vote, so I have decided to try it.

If you have money to donate to campaigns, consider donating. There are lots of different strategies out there for how best to spend your money. Pick the one that resonates with you. Two I like are Swing Left's "Super State" strategy and @Pinboard's approach of focusing on tough down ballot races in competitive Senate states.

I've also given directly to some Senate campaigns.

5. Help the people struggling right now. If you have money to spare, there are so many people who need help right now. Donate to your Food Bank or your local COVID response fund. Iowa just got hit with a devastating storm. The Cedar Rapids Community Foundation has a disaster relief fund you can donate to. 

6. Stay healthy. Keep distancing, wearing your mask, and being careful.

OK, let's move on to some "regular" links.

This essay on returning to school from Jen Coleman, a teacher in Alabama, is like a gut punch, but it is very, very good and you should read it.

Mark Joseph Stern's essay on the return of birtherism and its larger racist context is very good.

We really should get the world weaned off of fossil fuels. We'll be healthier for it.

I didn't know about the 1917 explosion in Halifax until we visited the city last summer. It was a tragedy that changed the city. I found this essay about what lessons it might provide for Beirut really interesting.

You probably saw all my tweets about that study people are pointing to to say neck gaiters are bad. Here is a nice article explaining why we didn't actually learn anything about neck gaiters from that study

I don't have a nice selection of things that made me smile this week. Perhaps that is why I feel so tired right now... I will try to do better next week.

At least this week's bunny post definitely made me smile!

Have a good weekend, everyone! I'm off to make sure I've done everything in my list of actions at the top. I hope you'll join me!


  1. Anonymous12:38 PM

    Every year Halifax sends a Christmas tree to Boston to say thank you. --accm

  2. Thank you for the list!!!

  3. Thank you for the list! I've done some already but this is really helpful to spot the things I've missed or forgotten to do.


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