July Leah/Ezra Letter, the Monthly News Letter Of Indivisible
Welcome to the July Leah/Ezra Letter, the monthly news letter written by the two of us, the (married) co-founders/co-executive directors of Indivisible. Yes, really, we personally write this every month, and we personally go through your responses — so let’s continue the conversation!
Happy Friday, Indivisibles!
One note: it occurs to us that we keep on writing to you about pretty heavy stuff. Last month we were wrestling with Trump’s anti-immigrant border policies and the Democratic response. This month we’ve got some questions on strategies for saving American democracy. Not exactly a barrel of laughs. Sure saving democracy is deeply serious work, but it shouldn’t be boring or depressing. We actively have fun in this movement and we hope you’re finding joy in this too. So as always, feel free to reach out to us directly on Twitter to share pictures of pets, jokes, videos from fun local Indivisible actions, or even deep thoughts on policy if that’s your thing: @leahgreenb and @ezralevin.
Question of the month: What does saving democracy look like?
When we’ve polled Indivisible members about their top priority, the answer is loud and clear: we need to save democracy itself. American democracy is under threat, and we’ve got to win back power and make some big reforms to save it. Step one is taking the House, Senate, and Presidency in 2020 — that’s obvious. Step two is reforming American democracy — but what does that mean?
“Democracy” is a big issue. Earlier this year, the House passed the For the People Act, which includes a ton of great reforms like campaign finance, election security, and expanding voting rights. This was a great first step, and now we’re grappling with how to build on this. So we’d love to get your thoughts on some of the big ideas for rebuilding American democracy. Do you like them, do you hate them, do you have other priorities? Specifically, we want to zoom in on five big areas:
- Democratizing the Senate: Expanding the Senate by creating new states like D.C. and Puerto Rico, if their residents vote for statehood.
- Democratizing the House: Eliminating “safe” districts and ensuring spoiler candidates can’t throw elections.
- Democratizing the Courts: Expanding the Supreme Court and instituting reforms like term limits to depoliticize it.
- Democratizing Voting: Expanding the vote to big groups of Americans, like young people, immigrants, and incarcerated or formerly-incarcerated Americans.
- Democratizing Media: Breaking up the big media conglomerates and investing in independent local media.
These are big ideas! Democratic presidential candidates have staked out ground on some (but not all) of these. There are pros and cons to each of them, and we want to get your thoughts so we can help the Indivisible movement apply pressure in the right ways. So let us know your thoughts here. We’ll reflect back what we’re hearing from you and fellow Indivisibles next month, and your input will directly feed into our strategy for leading the national organization on these issues. Thanks for weighing in!
The Indivisible book manuscript is in!
Speaking of democracy…we turned in the manuscript to the publisher, Simon & Schuster! We Are Indivisible: A Blueprint for Democracy After Trump is now going through fact-checking and copyediting. We are so, so, so, so excited about the final version. It’s got stories from across the Indivisible movement. It’s got lessons for building local power, pressuring electeds, and building big blue waves. And it’s got a diagnosis of the problems facing democracy and some blue sky vision on how the Indivisible movement can be part of ushering in a pro-democracy, post-Trump Era.
As a reminder, we’re both writing this but we’re not taking a dime of the proceeds. 100% of our advance and any author royalties are going to Indivisible’s Save Democracy Fund to support all Indivisible’s pro-democracy work. This is a book for the Indivisible movement — not for us.
And on that note, we want this to be a New York Times bestseller! This is about recruiting more people to Indivisible. More books sold = more eyeballs = more activists to help save democracy. It’s math. So if you can, please pre-order the hardcover or ebook version here. We’re told by the publisher that all we need is 5,000 preorders to get safely get on that list and help the book catch fire. Also we welcome ideas for getting this out to more folks — hit us up on Twitter!
Reflecting back on last month’s question
Last month we asked you about Trump’s border bill, which gave a few extra billion to his deportation machine. As a reminder, this is the bill that passed through the House without any amendments (refresher here if you need it). We were — and are — really disappointed with how this went down, but we don’t want to belabor the disappointment. We’re not here to just complain — we’re here to talk about how we can regroup to fight the next fight.
So your responses to our questions were really interesting — and encouraging. Overwhelmingly, Indivisibles are strongly in favor of showing up in support of immigrant allies who are under constant attack by Trump. We want Democratic congressional leaders who don’t just swallow whatever tripe Trump flings our way. And we want Democratic presidential candidates who clearly define an alternative vision to Trump’s anti-immigrant hate. Here were the detailed results from the 1,231 respondents:
- 85% thought it was somewhat or very important for Democratic presidential candidates to offer a bold alternative Democratic vision for immigration policy.
- 86% were opposed or strongly opposed to passing Trump’s border bill unamended through the House.
- 87% say House and Senate Democrats should demand cuts in funding for Trump’s wall, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and concentration camps.
- 96% support pressuring your members of Congress, including Democrats, to stand up to Trump in opposition to his anti-immigrant agenda.
- 96% support strict guardrails to ensure Trump uses humanitarian funding for humanitarian purposes.
Gotta say, after suffering that defeat on Trump’s border bill, it was very encouraging for us to get these responses from Indivisibles all over the country. We see that folks want Democratic leaders to really fight on this — and that’s where we are too. So while we’re under no illusions that we’re going to win every battle, we’re building a powerful force to contend with hate coming from Trump. We’re gearing up for the last big congressional fight on immigration this year, which will come to a head in September. The Indivisible national team will keep you updated on how to pitch in.
Mueller and Impeachment
We know this post is already getting long, but we can’t help but share some thoughts on the news this week. Finally, Robert Mueller has testified before Congress. It’s been more than four months since Mueller submitted the report to Attorney General Barr, and nearly two months since Mueller’s press conference in May. But he finally testified.
Think about that — four months since Mueller finished his report, and he’s just now testifying before Congress. In his testimony, Mueller didn’t reveal new information, but the message he delivered was as clear as his written report: there is damning evidence that Donald Trump has committed impeachable crimes, and only the House of Representatives can (and must!) hold him accountable by beginning impeachment proceedings.
None of this is new, but it’s still damning. And if you’re like us, you’re pretty darn frustrated that House Democratic Leadership is dragging their feet. One piece that resonated with us is this one in HuffPost, Democrats Continue Search For The Smoking Gun They Already Have. Trump has committed crimes — impeachable crimes! This isn’t controversial among Democrats. But still, Speaker Pelosi is actively preventing the Judiciary Committee from moving forward on impeachment.
Why is this happening? The bottom line is that Pelosi knows how to count votes. There are 235 House Democrats. Of those, only 99 have come out for impeachment proceedings as of the time we’re writing this. This includes members in many deep blue districts, as well as several excellent members from flipped Republican districts like Katie Porter, Harley Rouda, Tom Malinowski, and Mike Levin.
But all combined, that’s still less than half of the House Democratic caucus. And even Democrats in many deep blue districts aren’t on the record yet. As we’re typing, there are still 34 members of the House Progressive Caucus who aren’t publicly calling for impeachment! If they’re not out fighting for this, other Democrats won’t get on board either.
None of this will change unless we demand our Representatives change it. Next week starts the month-long August recess, the longest break period of congress all year. Your representative will be back in town. Praise them if they’re leading on this. Or ask them to take a position if they haven’t already. We need more Democrats taking a stance or we will not win. We’ve got a big resource on this: impeach.indivisible.org. And you can find where your representative stands here.
Talk to you again soon
OK, that’s it for this month. Again, please do let us know your thoughts on big reform ideas for rebuilding American democracy here. And if you have any follow-ups, send us a tweet at @leahgreenb and @ezralevin!
Until next month and in solidarity,
Leah and Ezra
PS: Are you as jazzed as us about the second round of presidential debates next week? The whole Indivisible team will of course be watching, and just like last time there’ll be an Indivisible debate watching parties all over the country. Our team put together guides for this here if you want to host your own, or you can look up your nearest watch party here on our national event map.