2017 ACTION PLANS

What’s Next?

Actions for the Week of September 18 from Indivisible Austin

Calls to make this week

Call #1: Zombiecare 3.0

Trump and the Senate Republicans have been put on a tight deadline if they have any hope of passing TrumpCare. They’re making one last push on TrumpCare—a bill known as “Graham-Cassidy”—and it should be taken seriously to make sure we defeat TrumpCare for good.

Sample Script for Senators:

I want Senator [Cruz/Cornyn] to oppose Graham-Cassidy. The bill is just like other TrumpCare bills in that it destroys Medicaid by turning it into a capped system. This hurts children with disabilities, seniors, and even victims of natural disasters like Harvey and Irma. It also takes away funding to help people afford health insurance through the marketplace, and it punished states that did the right thing for their residents by expanding Medicaid.

Read more about Trumpcare 3.0

Call #2: DACA

There are several bills under consideration (the Washington Post has a good comparison), but the one that we and our friends in United We Dream and other advocacy groups support is the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act has bipartisan support and does the most to protect DREAMers. Continue calling your Senators and House representatives and insist on its passage.

Special Call to Action for constituents of Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-10) and Rep. John Carter (TX-31): McCaul and Carter are part of an informal working group in the House, focusing on DREAMers. It’s especially urgent to call these two reps!

Sample Script for Senators and House Representatives:

There are 138,440 DACA recipients in Texas alone, and each year they contribute $313,095,000 in State and local taxes. Donald Trump has betrayed our values and unraveled our promise to these young immigrants who grew up calling the United States home. Now it’s up to you to stand up to Trump’s hateful decision and secure the futures of DACA recipients with a legislative fix: The DREAM Act (S.1615 / H.R.3440).

Visit standup.indivisibleguide.com for more information on how to support immigrants in our communities.

Call #3: CHIP

Children’s Health Insurance Plan funding expires on Sept. 30, and the health insurance of more than 9 million CHIP kids is in jeopardy without immediate Congressional action. The Senate has made a bipartisan agreement to extend funding, and the House needs to get on board. This is a call your representative’s office will be happy to take! CHIP has always had broad bipartisan support.

Sample Script for Senators and House Representatives:

  • Thank you for voting in 2015 to reauthorize CHIP funding (all area reps voted for CHIP in 2015)
  • Please take action now to authorize a five-year funding extension for CHIP
  • CHIP helps keep 400,000 Texas kids healthy, and is very important for Texas now in the aftermath of Harvey

Read more about the Texas CHIP program and the impact of CHIP funding on the state budget

Call #4: Demand Texas Secretary of State Pablos Enforce High School Voter Registration Requirements

Under the Texas election code, high school principals are required to provide at least two opportunities for eligible students to register to vote every year. However, data from the 2016 election shows that too few high schools are providing their students with the opportunity to participate in the democratic process.

On September 5, 2017, our partners at the Texas Civil Rights Project delivered a letter to Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos demanding that he not only comply with the state law, but that he do so in a way that takes substantive steps to actually empower Texas high schools to get their students registered.

Read the full call-to-action on the TXLEGE Indivisible Website

Upcoming Events

Monday, Sept. 18

Tuesday, Sept. 19

Thursday, Sept. 21

  • 8 p.m.Texas Solidarity Singalong. In solidarity with singers across the nation, we sing songs of resistance in the Texas Capitol rotunda every Thursday evening.

Sunday, Sept. 24

Thursday, Sept. 28

  • 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.Indivisible Austin Women’s Coffee Meetup, NeWorlDeli, 4101 Guadalupe. This is intended as a safe space to get to know each other, network, discuss our activism activities, check in about how we’re holding up, and see if we can offer help, resources, and connections for our various resistance activities

Tuesday, Oct. 3

  • Various times: Deputy Voter Registrar Training. Travis County Tax Office, 5501 Airport Blvd. For further information or to schedule a group training, call (512) 854-9473.

View more events on our community calendar

View archives from previous weekly actions


Texas Democratic Party


We are proud to bring you several webinar opportunities to close out the month of September.

If you are a candidate or if you are supporting a candidate for the November elections or for local primaries, please check out these upcoming virtual candidate trainings:

Messaging: Tuesday 9/19 at 5:30
Digital: Thursday 9/21 at 5:30
Finance: Tuesday 9/26 at 5:30
Field: Thursday 9/28 at 5:30

Sign up here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1196487839306987265

Also, join Tariq Thowfeek and Manny Garcia on Wednesday, September 20th at 5:30 PM (CDT) for our next Texas Voices Webinar. On Wednesday, we will discuss the Republicans latest attempt to repeal ACA, Hispanic Heritage Month, DACA and more. The presentation will run for approximately 20 minutes and the remainder of the time will be allocated for Q/A.

Register by clicking the link here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1079353567064556289

Let's do this!

Andrew Turney
Deputy Director: Candidate Services
Texas Democratic Party
(512) 478-9800

Copyright © 2017 Texas Democratic Party, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you are an important member of the Texas Democratic Party.

Our mailing address is:

Texas Democratic Party

1106 Lavaca, Ste 100

Austin, TX 78704


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 2017