When does “alarmism” simply become “reality”?

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The last lesson in “On Tyranny” is to be as courageous as you can. Do you actually care enough about freedom that you would take risks? Do individuals actually care about freedom? Think that through. I think if enough of us take the little risks at the beginning, which aren’t really that significant, this will prevent us from having to take bigger risks down the line.

pub. 05/2017

Organizing and Mobilizing: People Power

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Regular citizens can only do so much to help the ACLU, primarily donate to the organization so its lawyers and other experts can work within the legal system to do what the rest of us can’t.

In the wake of the 2016 election, the ACLU saw the untapped passion of its many new members and took its record donations to a new project, a mobilization arm called People Power.

People Power is, at its core, a grassroots member-mobilization project. Through People Power, the ACLU will engage volunteers across the country to take action when Trump or his administration attempt to enact unconstitutional policies or trample on people’s constitutional rights. By mobilizing in defense of our civil liberties, volunteers will build local communities that affirm our American values of respect, equality, and solidarity.

seen 04/2017

If you’re still looking for the right movement or activist coordination group for you, and if you appreciate being part of something backed up by the history and expertise of the ACLU, take a look at People Power’s website and events map.

For more tips and resources, see the Resources lists, What to Do and What to Read.

Contacting Representatives: OurStates

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While we talk a lot about contacting our national representatives to fight big-name Trump and GOP appointments and policies, we shouldn’t forget the effect of bills coming through the states, everything from anti-trans bathroom bills to attempts to criminalize protest. I’ve tried to use my state legislature’s website for guidance on which Reps to call and when, but it seems simply not meant for that purpose.

Enter OurStates. OurStates can search by category and tell you exactly which bills on that subject are going through your state legislature right now. It’s new and still has relatively few categories; I expect we’ll see it expand over the coming weeks and months, so check back and keep making those calls!

For more tips and resources, see the Resources lists, What to Do and What to Read.

Everything that affects whether calling your Reps actually influences policy

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How seriously those messages are taken by Congress varies widely, chiefly because, when it comes to interacting with the public, there’s really no such thing as Congress per se. There are five hundred and thirty-five small businesses that together form the legislative arm of government, and their way of dealing with constituents can differ as much as their politics…

…For constituent activity to have more immediate effects on the actions of lawmakers, however, other conditions—most of them necessary, none of them necessarily sufficient—must apply. Broadly speaking, these include a huge quantity of people acting in concert, an unusually high pitch of passion, a specific countervailing vision, and consistent press coverage unfavorable to sitting politicians. Together, these can create the most potent condition of all: the possibility (or, at any rate, the fear) that the collective restiveness could jeopardize reëlection.

pub. 03/2017

What to do now, lawyer edition


In the essays that follow, the authors highlight current pressing issues related to this historical moment, their concerns about what may occur in key policy and legal areas, and their perspectives on how law students and lawyers can bring to bear their skills to protect hard fought gains, to help sustain organizations that are pivotal to the fights ahead, and to ensure that there is a pipeline of advocates who will be able to support communities and causes at risk under the Trump Administration.

pub. 02/2017

For more tips and resources, see the Resources lists, What to Do and What to Read.

Acts of resistance: Why and how to visit your congressperson


pub. 02/2017

The resistance group wall-of-us sends out weekly acts subscribers can commit to doing themselves. While my national representatives are largely in my corner*, one of this week’s wall-of-us actions describes the scenes large groups of constituents can make at town halls when faced with representatives who aren’t actually representing them. This tactic was one tool used effectively by the right-wing Tea Party movement before installing its own candidates in office, and the left should be able to do the same.

*Even if yours are in your corner too, calls and direct emails are still effective: Your representatives will be far more likely to confidently resist the other side’s agenda when they can say “Sorry, I received 50,000 calls from my constituents telling me to vote against this bill, and they’re the people I represent. I cannot negotiate on this one.”

For more tips and resources, see the Resources lists, What to Do and What to Read.