Category Archives: Blog

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.

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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.

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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 Vote.org.

Not sure if you’re registered to vote? Vote.org 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 

Step 7: What will we do with a drunken justice?

Margaret Atwood wrote that when she asked a male friend why men feel threatened by women, he answered, “They are afraid women will laugh at them.”

When she asked a group of women why they feel threatened by men, they said, “We’re afraid of being killed.”

Whatever the outcome of this morning’s vote, today will change history.

Last night, I cried, but this morning, on my birthday, I woke up 50 and full of rage.

For weeks, I’ve been putting my fury into grassroots organizing and releasing the steps from From Dictatorship to Democracy – a pamphlet based on forty years of non-violent methods of demonstration – written and printed by Professor Gene Sharp. Now in its fourth edition, the pamphlet has been translated into thirty-one languages. It was passed hand-to-hand as a photocopied pamphlet from Burma to Indonesia, Serbia and most recently Egypt, Tunisia and Syria, with dissent in China also reported. Surreptitiously handed out amongst youth uprisings the world over, this how-to guide played a role in successful uprisings across the globe.

Just 3.5% of us engaging in sustained non-violent action – that’s what this takes.

Steps 1-6 were on the list of formal actions, but today we move on to the nonviolent informal actions, the actions that might seem harmless, but are on the playlist of every successful nonviolent campaign.

This is where we laugh at them.

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– images courtesy of Marilyn Wood, a fellow activist and friend, taken during DC demonstrations on Thursday. Senator Elizabeth Warren was the only person who joined them in the streets. 300 people were arrested. Marilyn wrote to me: “It matters most that we fight back.”

Step 6: We will not yield

It’s the eve of the vote that may confirm Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Justice, and if the collective wave of rage and grief is about to pull you under, I’m here to ask you to hang in there. Not because I want to try to convince you that what seems inevitable won’t happen – but because our voices deserve to be heard.

In the words of Senator Maxine Waters, “I will not yield.”

Thirty years from now, I want to look be able to look back on this night and remember that I didn’t stay silent. Here are the calls I’m making, and if you want to join me, stop by and tell me what happened when you called.

Call these Senators tonight

Lisa Murkowski: 202-224-6665

to urge her to stay the course / VOTE NO on Kavanaugh

Susan Collins: 202-224-2523

to tell her she has just betrayed every survivor, and she can still VOTE NO on Kavanaugh

Jeff Flake: 202-224-4521

to remember the women in the elevator, and he can still VOTE NO on Kavanaugh

Joe Manchin: (202) 224-3954

to remind him that he can change his mind VOTE NO on Kavanaugh

Lindsey Graham: (202) 224-5972

to remind him that John McCain is watching

Joe Donnelly: (202) 224-4814

to ask him to VOTE NO on Kavanaugh (and grow a pair while he’s at it)

Then I’ll call my own senators, one Democrat (“thank you”) and one Republican (“Pennsylvania will vote you out”) and call it a night.

No, I will not yield.

 

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Why do I keep posting these steps? Because research shows that no government can survive if just 3.5% of the population maintains:

active

sustained

non-violent

participation.

 

There’s a playbook, and I’ve got a copy. Societies have passed it around the globe, and it works. Every time.

Call your Senators, then pour yourself a drink or order a pizza and come tell me about it.

We are here for each other.

 

 

Step 5: Call Your Senators: Republican Script

It’s time to mobilize. Need to Impeach is circulating a script for calling your Senator to oppose Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court Confirmation, but if you live in a swing state like I do, the script isn’t much help when you’re talking to a Republican Senate office.

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Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is among four Republican senators who seem the most likely to vote against Brett Kavanaugh. |Drew Angerer/Getty Images

 

Here’s what I plan to say when I call the Republican Senator in my state – and you can say when you call:

Lisa Murkowski: 202-224-6665
Susan Collins: 202-224-2523
Jeff Flake: 202-224-4521
Lindsey Graham: (202) 224-5972

I’m calling to urge Senator [insert Senator name] to vote NO on Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Brett Kavanaugh’s appearance on September 27 made it clear that he doesn’t have the temperament required of a Supreme Court Judge. As a voter in [your state], I found Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony to be convincing and credible, and I am in support of an FBI investigation.

However, whatever the results of the FBI investigation may be, I believe that Kavanaugh perjured himself yesterday. Regardless of whether you believe Dr. Blasey Ford, he has shown himself to be a liar with no regard for the process or the laws.

In addition, I’m deeply troubled by Mr. Kavanaugh’s positions on the protections afforded to people with pre-existing conditions guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act. He does not appear to be in favor of American Indian tribes’ rights, something that is important to me as a voter.

Not only this, Kavanaugh believes that sitting presidents should be exempt from criminal prosecution and investigation. If Senator [name] is in favor of this, as a concerned citizen, I will work to make sure that [he/she/they] will not serve another term as an elected official in my state.

Can I count on the Senator to vote NO against Brett Kavanaugh?

To make your call, click here to be connected with Need to Impeach, which offers a prompt that will connect you to your Senator’s office.

Is there anything you’d add to this script? Please leave it in the comments.

Step 5: Declarations of Indictment and Intention

While we’re at it, for all you 3.5 percenters, here’s Step 5 from the blueprint to impeach.

Eyes on the prize.

If this content speaks to you, please share.

Step5

 

 

Step 4: Signed Public Statements

To offset Trump Suck, I promised myself to keep looking for examples of the progress we’re making. By now, you’ve heard of Stacey Abrams, who won the Democratic primary for the Governor of Georgia in May. This video made me stand up and cheer:

Read TIME Magazine’s profile of Stacey Abrams here.

Step 4: Signed Public Statements

Step 4 of Gene Sharp’s blueprint for removing a dictator is listed as one of six formal actions that can be taken to oust a corrupt leader. In June, the CEOs of major companies like Google, Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, Chobani, and Cisco released a statement speaking out against the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy, which separates immigrant children from parents at the border. In addition, more than 100 Microsoft employees signed a letter pleading with the company to end its contract with ICE:

“We believe that Microsoft must take an ethical stand, and put children and families above profits,” stated the letter. “We request that Microsoft cancel its contracts with ICE, and with other clients who directly enable ICE. As the people who build the technologies that Microsoft profits from, we refuse to be complicit.” [read more]

History has shown that when institutions and organizations with power and agency make formal statements against a leader’s policies (among other nonviolent actions), this resulted in the overthrow of a government. And as consumers, we have the power to put pressure on companies to use their influence to keep the pressure on.

No matter what we’re led to believe by the Tweeter in Chief, we have the power.

If this message speaks to you, share it on Instagram or Facebook.