Protest sign reading WE WILL NOT BREAK.

Phones suck. Friends rock. And civic engagement is sustainable.

This started as a Facebook post and got to the point where I could no longer countenance posting it as a status, so hello WordPress my old friend!

So we got together with some friends last night to drink, celebrate each incoming update from the ACLU, and call our reps, and it was GREAT. (I’m starting to think I should put “helps organize community events basically as an excuse to drink with friends and make them listen to her opinions on stuff” on my business cards.) Here’s some things I learned:

1. The Washington legislature has a system in place that allows you to comment on EVERY SINGLE BILL and have your comments sent to your state senator and representatives. Here’s the how-to. H/T to Jeff Petersen for mentioning this one! So remember that anti-protesting bill I mentioned last week, SB 5009? Or that anti-trans bathroom bill, HB 1011? Here’s a way to register your disapproval of those without ever having to pick up a phone.

hb1000-comment-on-this-bill

Here’s another really good one to express your support for.

To the best I can tell, the Alaska state legislature (Alaska being my home state and the place many of my readers are coming from) does not have a similar system to allow comment. However! The AK legislature’s site does list what bills are currently before the Senate and House, and where they are in the legislative process — prefiled vs. in committee, etc — and appears to have tools that will let you track specific pieces of legislation. (Plus they’ve got subject tags so you can find other legislation related to issues that are important to you! Like Anchorage Democrat Rep. Claman’s pro-contraceptive coverage bill, or the House Joint Resolution to repeal Alaska’s same-sex marriage ban.)

Seriously, one of the conclusions I’m coming to is that at most levels of government, they desperately want you to be involved and informed. The systems aren’t necessarily intuitive, but the information is usually out there if you (or people you know — hello, I’m a dramaturg!) are willing to dig it up.

2. Writing scripts takes a lot of energy, but once you’ve got the basic format down it starts to get easier. I crib a lot from The 65 (previously the We’re His Problem Now spreadsheet), but I’m learning quickly that the more specificity you can get, especially as you get down to a more local level, the better. Also, this should not have come as a surprise, but if you are holding a script written for a Democratic representative and have to try and adapt it for a Republican representative while you’re on the phone, you’re gonna have a bad time. Or at least I am.

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A letter to the electors

Want to write your own letter to the electors? Visit asktheelectors.org.


Dear Electors,

My name is Anthea Carns from Anchorage, AK.

I am writing to ask that, on December 19th, you will not cast your vote for Donald Trump as President of the United States.

As electors, you’ve dedicated years of your time to the political process in our country, and you understand — better than most, I’m sure — the details of how our system works. You understand the great moral responsibility entrusted to our elected officials, and the care, caution, compassion, and thoughtfulness that governing requires.

I know that there is a strong feeling this election cycle that we should carry on as normal. Asking electors to change their pledged votes is pretty far outside our norms. But this has not been a normal election:

-In July 2016 Donald Trump called for hackers, Russian or otherwise, to infiltrate American institutions, as reported by multiple outlets including CNN and the Washington Post. At the time, even Gov. Mike Pence acknowledged that if the FBI determined that Russia had been attempting to influence our election, there would have to be “serious consequences.” Now the US intelligence community has agreed that Russia was behind hacking attempts on both parties — yet Mr. Trump continues to call this unprecedented subversion of our democracy “ridiculous” and refuses to take intelligence briefings on the subject.

-Since the results of the Nov. 8 general election, Mr. Trump has been staffing his cabinet with individuals who have no policy experience, but were major donors to his campaign. In many cases these individuals have actually stated that they wish to do away with the agency they are being appointed to lead.

-Despite long-standing tradition that presidents-elect divest themselves of their business interests while in office and place their assets in blind trusts to avoid even the appearance of conflicts of interest, Mr. Trump has merely handed his assets over to his children. He shows no intention of separating himself from his many businesses and has even stated that he will continue to be involved in enterprises like his reality TV show. Several Constitutional scholars have concluded that Mr. Trump’s dealings with entities like the Bank of China — a tenant in one of his buildings — put him in violation of the Emoluments Clause in Article I of the Constitution.

All these breaches of political norms, these casual dismissals of the foundations of democracy, have been seen before in other countries, and have always rightfully been causes for alarm. In this case, they speak to Mr. Trump’s profound lack of qualifications for the presidency. Even at the birth of our nation, our founders saw the potential for a candidate like Mr. Trump to reach the highest office in the land. In Federalist Paper No. 68, Alexander Hamilton wrote:

“Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? … The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.”

This is why the electoral college was established. This is why I am writing to you. You are the people “most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station” of President of the United States, and the people “most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”

I hope that you will carefully consider the moral and ethical consequences of this 2016 election. I hope that you will demand a complete briefing on any foreign interference that may have played a role in the campaign and the general election. And I hope that you will cast your Republican votes for a candidate who has the qualifications that you understand are necessary for such a high office.

Thank you for your time and consideration, I appreciate and respect the role you serve in our electoral process.

Sincerely,
Anthea Carns


Want to write your own letter to the electors? Visit asktheelectors.org.