Category Archives: 3.5 %

Step 10: Newspapers and Journals

Before I move on to Step 10 in From Dictatorship to Democracy, a quick note of thanks to reader Audrey Ling for sharing my post I’m Part of the 3.5% with the Green County Democratic Party newsletter in Ohio. Audrey and others of you have written to me to share about the grassroots work you’re doing around the country. I’m about to head over to my local weekly postcard writing event, and if you’re looking for a way to help get out the vote on November 6, Postcards to Voters is a great resource. To date, 20,000+ volunteers in every state have written more than 3 million postcards to voters in over 100+ key, close elections.


Step 10: Newspapers and Journals

Step 10 in my ongoing project is one of the most critical steps in maintaining a healthy democracy, and in the Trump Administration, it’s been the most widely attacked. (Can you hear “fake news” without cringing?) Media shape how we interpret and observe political information, and because citizens play a crucial role in the political process in democracy, one our access to information is cut off, it impairs our ability to make educated political choices.

Two weeks ago, FRESH AIR’s Terry Gross interviewed Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Greg Miller about his coverage of the Trump Administration, and it the interview is absolutely chilling. For almost two years, President Trump has denied Russia interfered in our election in spite of the evidence presented by American intelligence agencies and journalists. Washington Post reporter Greg Miller has broken stories that have revealed new information to the public about that interference and about connections between the Trump campaign, and in this interview, he talks about receiving death threats and being trolled as a result of his commitment to report the truth.

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source: Author Of ‘The Apprentice’ Talks Of Getting Trolled And Sourcing Stories

What’s at Stake

For more than two weeks, the world has been watching the story of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. As I write, Turkish investigators wearing hazmat suits are searching the Saudi consul general’s residence in Istanbul. Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain papers that would have allowed him to marry his Turkish fiancée. The insider-turned-critic of the Saudi government has not been seen since. Turkish officials have told CNN that Khashoggi’s body was dismembered after he was killed in the consulate.

Jamal Khashoggi wrote this OpEd two weeks before his disappearance.

All the words I can think of to write today come up empty. If you want to do something, listen to the interview with WaPo Greg Miller about what he faces in this country, and consider writing a thank you letter to The Washington Post thanking them for their service. As Greg shared, they read their mail, and their commitment to keeping all of us informed about the truth is what keeps them doing what they’re doing.

Update: tonight, the Washington Post’s Global Opinions editor published what will be Jamal Khashoggi’s final published piece:

A note from Karen Attiah, Global Opinions editor

I received this column from Jamal Khashoggi’s translator and assistant the day after Jamal was reported missing in Istanbul. The Post held off publishing it because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together. Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post. This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world. A freedom he apparently gave his life for. I will be forever grateful he chose The Post as his final journalistic home one year ago and gave us the chance to work together.

Source: “Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression.”

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. – The First Amendment

song: 1st Amendment, The Most Perfect Album

Step 9: “Resisting plot is a political act”

When Lidia Yuknavitch spoke these words at her workshop last May, I scribbled them in my notebook and something broke loose. My entire life has resisted plot, and seeing my writing life in this context was more than pivotal – it’s become a daily mantra. (If you’re nodding your head, you know.) Art as an act of political resistance is the theme of Step 9, but first, a quick announcement:

melidleighIn November, I’ll be joining Lidia Yuknavitch as an online workshop leader for Epistemologies: Writing to Unmake and Remake Meaning. Over the past year, I’ve been a columnist and the curator of Corporeal Clamor, a curated series at Corporeal Writing. Part of the CW philosophy is “leading people into new and unknown territories from which they can make art,” and because I so love collaborating with other writers, this new role at Corporeal Writing sets my heart on fire.

Class begins November 4.

Over the past two years, the writers I’ve met through Corporeal Writing are part of a revolution. They’re publishing pieces like this one by my friend Marissa in Harper’s Bazaar, and last week, NPR featured artist Laura Gibson’s song “Domestication.” Laura was working on lyrics to the song when she took the “Exhausting Metaphor” workshop at Corporeal Writing a year ago. As an added bonus, Anya Pearson, who she met at the workshop, plays a character in the video.

This is what Lidia means when she calls Corporeal Writing “a creative process that values participant collaboration.” If this idea sets a fire inside of you and you’ve got something to say, come write with us.


Step 9: Leaflets, Pamphlets, and Books

Step 9 in the “blueprint” From Dictatorship to Democracy emphasizes the critical role of artists and intellectuals in making political and social change. Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Book of Joan was released just after T– entered the White House, and the post-apocalyptic nature of the work struck a chord with the public.

From the New York Times Book Review:

“Telling the truth with precision and rage and a visionary’s eye, using both realism and fabulism, is one way to break through the white noise of a consumerist culture that tries to commodify post-apocalyptic fiction, to render it safe.” – Jeff VanderMeer, A Brilliant, Incendiary Joan of Arc Story for a Ravaged Earth, The New York Times

Throughout history, times of political turmoil have been influenced by works of art. My project 3.5% was inspired by a pamphlet by Gene Sharp that has been passed around the globe since its release in 1993. Others on the list of transgressive game-changers:

The Republic – Plato

Liberty Leading the People – Eugène Delacroix

A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Wolfe

The Jungle – Upton Sinclair

1984 – George Orwell

Beloved – Toni Morrison

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

When Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

50 books that changed the world.

15 Banned Books

What’s on your list?

Share it in the comments.

Step 8: Girl, hold my earrings

Before I move on to Step 8, you’ve probably heard that today is the last day to register to vote in most states. A lot of people still haven’t. On Sunday, Taylor Swift’s Instagram post encouraging her 112 million followers to vote saw a flood of new registrations nationwide.

“We are up to 65,000 registrations in a single 24-hour period since T. Swift’s post,” said Kamari Guthrie, director of communications for

Not sure if you’re registered to vote? makes it easy. Pass the link around – send an email, post it on social media, or text your contacts with the link.

Once you fill in your address, here’s what you’ll see. It’s that easy.

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Step 8: Banners, Posters, and Displays

Step 8 in the blueprint for democracy does two important things: it sends a visible, often viral message and it strengthens the resolve of the 3.5%. That’s how this plan works: when one of us needs more coffee, there’s always someone waiting with refills.

“Girl, hold my earrings.”

– Statue of Liberty, Women’s March on Philadelphia, January 2018


photo credit: Leigh Hopkins


“Researchers used to say that no government can survive if just 5% of its population rose up against it, but what the research showed is that no single campaigns failed during the time period after they’d achieved the active sustained participation of just 3.5 percent of the population.” – Erica Chenoweth