2017 ACTION PLANS

What’s Next?

Join our friends in Hays County at the LBJ’s Boot Scootin’ Birthday Fiesta on August 27th 3-6 pm. Hosted by the Hays County Democratic Party at Stone Hall in Texas Old Town, 1205 Roland Lane, Kyle, Texas. This annual fundriser features office holders and candidates, music, art, a live auction, food and a Texas-size good time!


Join us for a house party to meet Steven Kling, candidate for Texas Senate District 25 at the home of Lorraine Broll and David Goldfoot, 6104 Roxbury Lane, Austin 78739 on Saturday, September 9, 3-5 pm. Help us send Donna Campbell back to the ER!


Join Circle C Area Democrats at their fall fundraiser. Sunday, September 10, 2-5 pm at Mercury Hall, 615 Cardinal Lane, Austin 78704. Hear from Mayor Steve Adler and Congressman Lloyd Doggett and meet and greet Democratic elected officials and 2018 candidates. Get your ticket at this link:

 http://us11.campaign-archive1.com/?u=de10566acc23684a20e3a4389&id=de4cb9563f


Actions for the Week of August 21 from Indivisible Austin

To mobilize more people quickly at critical moments we need your help toraise funds for a texting tool. Your donation will be matched 1:1 by an anonymous donor if you give during August recess!

Your weekly Indivisible to-dos:

  1. Demand your members of Congress (MoCs) actually fight white supremacy. Did your MoC denounce Trump’s embrace of white supremacy? If so, what are they actually doing about it? We have a list of congressional asks for your MoCs.
  2. Stand up for DACAmented youth. Tell your MoCs to stand up for childhood arrivals and co-sponsor S.1615 and H.R. 3591 now using our explainer and script developed in partnership with United We Dream and the National Immigration Law Center. You can also read more about our work this week with United We Dream in Washington, D.C. and our co-executive directors’ civil disobedience arrest on our blog.
  3. Join Indivisible, Political Research Associates, and #Resist for an important Facebook Live on understanding and confronting white supremacy in light of Charlottesville. You can join right from our Facebook page tonight at 8:30PM ET.
  4. Hold an empty chair town hall. If your MoC is one of the many who isn’t holding a town hall this August, you can still get their attention with your own empty chair town hall. Watch this week’s August recess video for more.
  5. Catch An Inconvenient Sequel with a friend.  Use the code TRUTHTOPOWER for a buy one, get one free movie ticket from fandango.com.

Dear Indivisibles,

After the events of the past several days, in Charlottesville, Boston, and elsewhere, our responsibility to root out the evils of white supremacy has a renewed urgency. As Indivisibles, we must hold our elected officials accountable in fighting white supremacy in all its forms -- from Nazi protests to Confederate statues to white supremacist policies. We must also practice good allyship and act in support of the racial justice groups who lead this movement.

We must fight white supremacy head-on.  The openly violent acts motivated by racism and nationalism in Charlottesville were another example of the threat we face from white supremacist groups and their hateful ideology. We must confront white supremacy in all its sinister forms, and we’ve got ways to take action this weekend. You can also take a look at our new toolkit on how to stand indivisible against white supremacy on your home turf.

Tune in to Facebook Live Monday 8/21 at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT
This week’s Facebook live with Political Research Associates and #Resist will focus on understanding and confronting white supremacy in light of Charlottesville. Please tune in for this timely and important discussion.


Demand your MoCs actually fight white supremacy.
Congress is still out over August recess. But just because they’re out on vacation doesn’t mean they can sit on the sidelines while our nation faces a critical moment of truth. Did they condemn Donald Trump’s shameful comments in support of Nazis? Have they called for hearings into white supremacy? Have they demanded that Donald Trump fire ALL of the white nationalists that advise him in the White House? Have they committed to removing confederate statues from the halls of Congress? There should be no doubt where they stand. We have a new resource with 4 concrete congressional asks you can make to ensure your MoCs are standing against hate.

Thank you for standing up for DACAmented youth. On DACA’s anniversary, Indivisible Little Rock and Central Arkansas accompanied a local advocate to a meeting at the Arkansas Attorney General’s office, where she read letters from DACAmented Arkansans. Indivisible Manteca stood tall outside Rep. Jeff Denham’s office. Indivisible Gainesville published a sharp op-ed about their MoC’s immigration record and Indivisible groups from Delaware helped get great headlines, too. Thanks to all the groups who stood side-by-side with  DACAmented Americans this week. You should continue to tell your MoCs to stand up for childhood arrivals and co-sponsor S.1615 and H.R. 3591 now using our explainer and script developed in partnership with United We Dream and the National Immigration Law Center.

You can read more about United We Dream’s events in Washington and Indivisible Co-Executive Directors’ civil disobedience arrest in support of DACAmented Americans on our blog. 

Hold your own empty chair town hall. August is the time when MoCs are supposed to be meeting with constituents so they can hear your needs and concerns. But less than a third of MoCs are holding town halls -- the traditionally most open forum for constituents to talk to their representatives. You can still get the attention of your MoC and the press by holding your own empty chair town hall. Watch this week’s August recess video for tips, and learn more in our resource, Missing MoCs Action Plan.

How to Write Letters to the Editor that Really Get Attention

Letters to the editor might not seem like the flashiest way to get your Member of Congress’s attention. But there’s something about a sharp letter to the editor in a hometown paper that can really get under the skin of the most powerful lawmaker.

In this resource, we will cover:

  • Why your MoC cares about letters to the editor
  • How to submit a letter to the editor
  • Some tricks to make sure your letter really leaves an impression with your MoC’s office

We’ll be focused on how to write letters that criticize or praise your MoC for a political position. That’s just one type of letter. Sometimes, a letter to the editor might be a smart way to respond to a negative news story. (Check with your group leadership before writing those.) Sometimes, Indivisiblers have had letters published that simply celebrate what a great new community they’ve found in their Indivisible group. (You can never have too many of those!)

WHY YOUR MOC CARES ABOUT LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The humble Letter to the Editor has stayed influential in politics even as social media platforms have come and (some) gone. Here are a couple reasons why.

  • You MoC will likely see your letter in the morning “clips.” Every morning, Members of Congress and their staffs start their day reading “the clips,” an email with links to all of the stories that mention the MoC by name. In most offices, these include Letters to the Editor, and a letter that’s about an MoC will definitely be noticed and discussed.
  • Newspaper editors see your letter, and your MoC cares what they think.  Editorial boards are important local institutions for your MoC. They interview and endorse candidates during campaign season, and their opinions carry lots of weight all through the year.
  • Seniors see your letter, and your MoC cares what they think. Seniors are seen as one of the big audiences for letters to the editor. They also vote in big numbers, something MoCs are also very aware of.

HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR LETTER

  1. Find your local newspaper's Letters to the Editor submission email on their website.
  2. Be sure to check that you are obeying your newspaper's word limit, sometimes as low as 150-200 words.
  3. Write your letter! See more below for our tips on how to make it compelling.
  4. Paste your letter into the body of your email.
  5. Note that many newspapers will require that letter writers submit contact information with their letter. Phone numbers won't be published. This is just to verify your identity.
  6. Submit to smaller local papers, not just the nearest big city paper. You’ll have a better chance of getting published. And, it maximizes that feeling that the whole district is paying attention!

WHAT MAKES A GOOD LETTER? THE BASICS.

  • Focus on one topic. If you have two, write a second letter.
  • Obey those word count limits. If your letter gets long, write a second letter.
  • Be clear and concise—you only have around 200 words or less to make your point.
  • Be yourself. You don’t need to talk like an academic or a policy expert. Remember, you’re a smart, passionate constituent who’s paying attention, one who other constituents might identify with—and that’s the most powerful thing you can be.

WHAT SHOULD GO INTO A LETTER TO THE EDITOR?

You're already generating tons of ideas for letters to the editor in the course of the other Indivisible work you do.

You'll notice that many good letters to the editor sound similar to the call scripts we send out: a couple of points, a statistic, and a personal note. Using a call script is a great way to get inspiration!

Here are some other things you can recycle:

  • Shared a story at an empty chair town hall? Turn it into a letter to the editor!
  • Wrote a postcard at a postcard party? Turn it into a letter to the editor!
  • Wrote a thank you note on a poster? Turn it into a letter to the editor!
  • Wrote a message to your MoC on Facebook? Turn it into a letter to the editor!

HERE ARE SOME WAYS TO REALLY GET UNDER YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS’S SKIN:

Many of us who worked for a Member of Congress remember this one time a Letter to the Editor really bugged our boss and they wouldn’t let it go. Here are some of the ways to write that letter!

1. QUESTION THEIR “BRAND.”

Go to the “Biography” page your MoC’s websites to see how they describe themselves. Then play on that.

  • “Congresswoman Sara prides herself on being an independent voice that’s above the fray in Washington. But so far this year, she’s been a rubber stamp across the board…”  
  • “Congresswoman Sara ran for office as a fiscally-responsible conservative. That’s why it’s ironic that she’s considering voting for this bill, which  ___.”

2. KNOW THEIR RECORD.

Search around on the “issue” pages of your MoC’s website to learn what they’ve said in the past on an issue.

  • “Congresswoman Sara has said that she would only vote for a bill that did ___. This bill does the exact opposite: it ___.”
  • “When Congresswoman Sara was running for office, she pledged to ____. Unfortunately, it looks like she’s going to be falling in lock-step with her party and voting to ____. “

3. CALL THEM OUT-OF-TOUCH WITH THE DISTRICT.

  • “Does Congresswoman Sara think that (residents) are all ____?  What she doesn't seem to realize is that we are also __.  Her decision to ____ was extremely out-of-touch.”
  • “Congresswoman Sara must be behind the times if she thinks people from ___ are still going to let their Representative in Congress say that ___ …”

4. SHOW THEM YOU HAVE A LONG MEMORY.

Talk about an issue that’s not in the headlines to show your MoC you’re still paying attention.

  • “This Fourth of July, I am still shocked remembering Congresswoman Sara’s un-American comments on the Muslim ban, and I’m disappointed she has never apologized.”
  • “Congress may not be in session, but families around the state are still holding their breath to see what will happen with ____ bill.”

5. PUT YOUR LETTER IN LOCAL TERMS… AND PUT YOUR MOC ON THE SPOT.  

  • “My family has always gone to ____ Hospital. I’m really concerned about what would happen to it under the new bill Congresswoman Sara is considering.”
  • “With this spring’s flooding, (Town) is already feeling the effects of extreme weather. It’s amazing that Congresswoman Sara still raises any doubts about the science behind climate change..”

6. DEFY STEREOTYPES.

Many papers have frequent letter-writers who are very liberal or very conservative. Those writers can be easy to brush off. So stress any ways that you’re different.

  • “While I may not always agree with Congresswoman Sara, I have always admired her commitment to making herself accessible to constituents all around the district. That’s why I’m so disappointed that___.”
  • “I’ve supported candidates from both parties in the past. But Congresswoman Sara has really lost my respect with her steady shift towards ___.”

HOW ABOUT SAYING “THANK YOU” TO YOUR MOC?

To write a memorable letter in praise of your MoC, try these exact same tricks, but in reverse.

You will make an MoC’s day and help keep them fighting the good fight if you thank them and reinforce their brand, speak knowledgeably about their record, or praise them for being tuned in to their district.

WHAT IF A LETTER ISN'T PRINTED?

If you're letter didn't get printed, don't sweat it! It's not personal. Newspapers and only take a few letters at a time and often get hundreds of submissions. They may have gone with other topics today, but they may still print a letter of yours next week. Your letter may have helped boost the signal on others’ letters even if it wasn't published, too. When editors see a lot of letters coming in on a particular topic, they are often more likely to print at least one on the topic.

In the meantime, post the content of your letter on social media, tagging your MoC and your local newspapers.  

Ultimately, letters to the editor are a long game. Keep trying, and keep trying it with all the local and statewide papers. Your voice on these pages makes a difference.

Related Resources

Local OrganizingAugust Recess Toolkit

Group Leader ResourcesJuly Recess Action Plan

Local OrganizingHow to Form Local Partnerships (Part 1)

Group Leader ResourcesHas it really only been a few months?! Tips for making your schedule work for the long haul

Group Leader ResourcesDigital Communications Security


Report from the Texas Democratic Party’s Fair Shot Summit:

Over 250 individuals participated in the training the first weekend of April and learned how to organize in a non-election year. Check out the Texas Democratic Party’s Training Bookshelf, an online resource for political organizing. Training modules, webinar links, templates and forms are included for many topics such as Digital Oraganizing, Canvass for Community, outreach to various groups, Texas VAN guidance, voter registration etc.

Check out the website of our May speaker from Common Cause Texas, Jc Dufresne, here.

A Suggested Resistance Plan:

1)     Download the “Indivisible” document. Skim the philosophy. Carry out the actions which are listed above weekly.

2)     Every day, email your legislators. Check your voter registration card for who represents you. Bookmark their websites (Look at the heading above labelled Elected Officials. You can send an email from there). Calls are fine, but phones are busy; mailboxes are full.  My 7 daily emails go to: Governor, Lt. Governor, TX senator,  TX representative, US senators, US representative. Don’t bother with anyone who isn’t your legislator.

3)     Click the boxes asking to be on their mailing lists.

4)     Pick one topic each day for the US: cabinet picks, ACA, education, voter ID laws, etc. Write the same 3 or 4 sentences to each one. Do the same for the state reps.

5)     Don’t ramble, name call, curse. State your opinion. Say thanks.

6)     Visit your legislators’ local offices. Talk to their staffers. Be nice. State your message clearly.

7)     Go to your legislators’ town halls. State your opinions.

8)     Join local groups with like minds. They give you confidence, reassurance, energy to keep this up for the long haul. They will go with you to offices and town halls.

9)     Do these things. You’ll be rewarded with a good night’s sleep. 

Daily Action Alerts

Text the word “DAILY” to number 228466. Once you enter your zip code, Daily Action will send you a text each business day for an easy action step you can take.  You will be connected to your Senator’s voice mail. If the voicemail box is full, please send an email by clicking on the Elected Officials link above. You can select your Senator and easily send an email from the Senator’s contact page (See Elected Officials above).

Other 2017 action plans and helpful organizations and websites

Check out  the website Texas Legislature Online to follow bills in the 85th Legislative Session. Through this website, you can sign up to follow bills online, get information on committee members in both the Texas House and Senate, follow the calendars of each house.

Check out the state-focused nonprofit, the State Innovation Exchange (SiX), developed by progressives  in 2014 to counteract ALEC, the conservative nonprofit that produces pro-industry measures drafted by state legislatures and corporate lobbyists. You can sign up to receive emails describing what SiX is up to in the states.

Check out INDIVISIBLE: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda. An even more comprehensive guide than the one described  below in 1. It was developed by congressional staffers who describe the tactics the Tea Party used to affect Congress since 2010.

Check out the Center for Public Policy Priorities website and sign-up to receive a weekly email newsletter with action items. Ann Beeson, the Executive Director spoke at the January 9, 2017 meeting and described the organization’s focus on helping Texans become healthy, well-educated and financially secure.

Below is a list of many action groups in the Austin area. Check out their websites for more info about them.

Texas Progressive Action Network (a Southwest Austin group) - https://www.facebook.com/groups/txprogressiveactionnetwork/

Pantsuit Austin - https://www.facebook.com/Pantsuit-Nation-Austin-1233236256735205/

Austin Justice Coalition - https://www.facebook.com/austinjusticecoalition/

Code Blue - www.facebook.com/groups/1809731652643344/

Left Up to Us - https://www.facebook.com/leftuptous/?fref=ts

Common Grounds - https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=common%20ground%20for%20texans

Activate Austin - https://www.facebook.com/ActivateAustinTX/

Austin Democrats Moving Forward - https://www.facebook.com/groups/AustinDemocratsMovingForward/

Northwest Hills Pantsuit - https://www.facebook.com/Pantsuit-Nation-Austin-1233236256735205/

Activate Austin - https://www.facebook.com/ActivateAustinTX/

Austin Women’s Activism - https://www.facebook.com/groups/1209126665814114/

Better Together ATX - www.facebook.com/BetterTogetherATX/?fref=ts

Move On - https://www.facebook.com/moveon/

Austin Tejano Democrats - https://www.facebook.com/groups/8310263446/

Black Austin Democrats - https://www.facebook.com/blackaustindemocrats/

Women for Good Government - http://wggaustin.wixsite.com/wggaustinhttps://www.facebook.com/groups/621916757871227/

March On! Texas – marchontexas.com

TX21 Indivisible - https://tx21indivisible.us/

Indivisible Austin – www.indivisibleaustin.com

TX 25 Indivisible We Stand - https://www.facebook.com/tx25Indivisible/

Measure Austin - https://www.facebook.com/measureaustin/

Blue Mom Group - https://www.facebook.com/groups/ATXBlueMomGroup/

Travis County Asian American Democrats - https://www.facebook.com/AustinAsianDems/

Black Lives Matter Austin - https://www.facebook.com/BlackLivesMatterAustin/

Democratic Socialists of America Austin Chapter - http://dsaaustin.org/

Capital Area Progressive Democrats - http://capdaustintx.org/home/

Stonewall Democrats - http://www.stonewallaustin.org/

Our Revolution Austin - https://www.facebook.com/OurRevolutionAustin/

Fight for 15 Texas - https://www.facebook.com/Fightfor15TX/


More Ideas:

1.  Communicate to members of congress at every opportunity. Emily Ellsworth, a former Congressional staffer, recommends the following strategies when communicating with a member of Congress:  

   a. Tweeting and Facebook posts are largely ineffective. Better to write a letter to the district office, not an email or letter to DC. The most effective thing to do is to call at the district office.

   b. Show up at town hall meetings, preferably with a large group.

   c. If you run an advocacy group, invite local staffers to your events.

   d. Remember the staff run the ground game for Congress. Be kind but firm with them.

See Emily’s complete report here.  

2. Contact your representative about current issues important to youe.g. the appointment of Steve Bannon as Trump’s strategist or Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Check out “We’re His Problem Now” Calling Sheet for exactly what you can say. On the site, click the Weekly Call to Action tab for updates.



3. Become a Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrar so that you can register voters for future elections. Bruce Elfant, Travis County Tax Assessor and Voter Registrar, has offered frequent training sessions. Click here for information and volunteering.

4. Express your support for the ACA.  Paul Ryan is conducting a phone poll on the ACA (Obamacare). Call 202 225-3031 and press 2 to weigh in. After a brief recording about HR-3762, Ryan’s proposal to gut ACA, you can vote 1 to support the ACA.

5. Call the House Oversight Committee (202 225-5074) to support the call for a bipartisan revew of Trump’s financials and apparent conflicts of interest. Also, use the links in the section Elected Officials to write to your senators and representatives.

6. Find out who your precinct chair is and volunteer to help. If your precinct does not have a chair, volunteer to be one. It’s not hard!!


7Help identify potential Democratic candidates for 2018 and 2020. We need to do this now.

8Keep up with the state legislature and attend hearings. The Texas Tribune is a great source on legislative issues. 

9. Donate to the Travis County Democratic Party and volunteer with them.

10Volunteer at a nonprofit or public service organization.

11. Subscribe to the Washington Post or the New York Times to support the media.






© Circle C Area Democrats 2015