157 weeks down, 66 weeks to the presidential election.
The AoC Checklist features clear, well-researched actions for Americans who value democracy, equality, voting, and respect. To stay engaged through challenging times, we practice gratitude, self-care, and celebration.
I value democracy.
With respect and collaboration, we work to create a nation that welcomes all people, expands freedoms, and upholds the Constitution.
▢ Action 1: Engage your elected officials during the August Congressional recess.
Many Members of Congress will be visiting constituencies during the August recess. Encourage them to hold town hall meetings as well.
Call: On Monday, your one House rep and two senators’ local offices (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m a constituent from [ZIP]. Can you tell me when [NAME] is holding town hall meetings in [TOWN] during the August recess?
— If no meetings planned, add: It’s important for [NAME] to meet with their constituents. Can you let me know when they plan to hold the next town hall?
— If meetings planned: Thank you! I plan to be there.
▢ Action 2: Demand tougher federal election security measures. [h/t Verified Voting]
Call: Your two Senators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling because foreign governments are threatening the integrity of America’s elections, yet Senate Majority Leader McConnell won’t allow a vote on crucial election security legislation. I am asking [NAME] to cosponsor S. 2053, the Secure America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act (which already passed the House as H.R. 2722), and insist that Majority Leader McConnell bring the bill to a vote.
Bonus: Donate to Verified Voting here.
▢ Action 3: Advocate for public, transparent election funding. [h/t Fair Elections NY]
Call: Your two state legislators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m part of a bipartisan majority that wants big money out of politics. I would like [MY STATE] to follow New York’s lead in requiring publicly financed elections. Can I count on [NAME] to advocate for a transparent independent commission to explore the public financing of elections?
▢ Action 4: Ask election officials to update vulnerable software.
Call: Or write your state’s election official (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m a resident of [STATE], and I want to know whether our voting machines use Windows 7, which is outdated and dangerously vulnerable to hacking.
— If yes, I urge you to update the machines to use more secure software.
— If no, thank you for your hard work to ensure election security.
I value equality.
Support the dignity of your rainbow of neighbors from every religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, age, and ability.
▢ Action 5: Advocate for your LGBTQ+ neighbors’ health by Aug. 13. [h/t Human Rights Campaign]
Tell the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) what you think of the administration’s proposal to remove nondiscrimination protections for gender identity from the Affordable Care Act regulations.
Submit a comment: On the Federal Register using these tips: 1) Introduce yourself, 2) State why you oppose the proposal based on your values, and, if applicable, 3) Share a personal story about about how you or a loved one are impacted by gender-based discrimination in health care. Review this article to personalize the points below. To be counted, comments must be unique and individual, not scripted.
- Up to 1.4 million transgender adults and 150,000 transgender teens ages 13 to 17 in the U.S. would be affected by the rule change, according to research by UCLA.
- Studies have shown that 56% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual patients and 70% of transgender patients have experienced discrimination from a healthcare provider, including refusal of care, harsh language, and physical roughness.
- Denial or delay of treatment can have long-term health impacts and even result in death.
▢ Action 6: End corporate investment in private prisons/concentration camps. [h/t MomsRising]
Write: The CEOs of Barclays and PNC Banks.
Script: I’m a [citizen and/or Barclays and/or PNC customer] concerned about continued investment in detention giants CoreCivic and GEO Group, companies that have documented histories of human rights abuses. [Share your personal reasons for opposing mass incarceration and/or concentration camps.] I urge you to join SunTrust, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase in cutting financial ties to these harmful enterprises. Thank you.
Barclay’s: Jes Staley, CEO, Barclays Bank PLC, 1 Churchill Place, London, E14 5HP [Note: international postage required]
PNC: William Demchak, CEO, PNC Bank, 300 Fifth Ave.,Tower at PNC Plaza, PIttsburgh, PA 15222-2401
▢ Action 7: Advocate for your hungry neighbors by Sept. 23. [h/t Food Research Action Center]
Tell the Department of Agriculture your views on the administration’s proposed new limits on who can receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan (SNAP) benefits that are contrary to recent legislation.
Submit a comment: On the Federal Register, using these tips: 1. Introduce yourself, 2. State why you oppose the rule change based on your values, and, if applicable, 3. Share experiences with SNAP or hunger. Review this article and/or cite SNAP strengths to personalize the points below. To be counted, comments must be unique and individual, not scripted.
- More than three million Americans, mainly working families with children, seniors, and individuals with disabilities, are likely to lose nutrition assistance under this proposal.
- The bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill preserved states’ ability to continue SNAP benefits for people who begin working, to allow time for savings and stability, a program adopted by 43 states.
- In families who would lose SNAP benefits, the children would then no longer receive free lunch and breakfast at school, impacting 265,000 children.
▢ Action 8: Tell the Senate Majority Leader to do his job. [h/t Indivisible KY]
Write: Sen. Mitch McConnell, 317 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Script: I value government that serves the people, and I’m upset that your obstructionist tactics as Majority Leader are destroying democracy and harming my neighbors. Nearly 200 pieces of legislation that have passed the House await Senate action, including H.R. 8, updating background checks for gun purchases and the Violence Against Women Act. I insist that you do your job: Organize the legislative calendar immediately to address the will of the people.
Bonus: Support democracy and unseat McConnell in 2020 by donating to support the campaign for Amy McGrath.
I value decency.
▢ Action 9: Advocate for the extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for people seeking sanctuary in America. [h/t CLINIC]
Call: Your two senators and one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling to express my support for extending Temporary Protected Status for Syrian nationals who have fled the violence and conflict in their homeland. America has an obligation to protect those who are unable to safely return to their country. I would like [NAME] to publicly advocate for an extension of TPS for Syria. Thank you.
▢ Action 10: Advocate for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for people seeking refuge in America. [h/t MomsRising]
Call: Your two senators (look up).
Script: Hello, I’m a constituent from [ZIP], calling to encourage the introduction of Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelan nationals seeking refuge in America. When a government commits human rights violations against its citizens and leads the country into political and economic crisis, we have a responsibility to offer a safe haven for those who need to escape. I would like [NAME] to support S.636 to grant Venezuela TPS during this humanitarian crisis. Thank you.
▢ Action 11: Support military families’ right to stay in America. [h/t AILA]
Write: Your two senators (look up).
Script: Hello, I’m a constituent from [ZIP] and I’d like to express my anger and disgust at the current administration’s plans to terminate the Parole in Place (PIP) program. Active and veteran military members risk their lives in the name of our country, and they and their families deserve to live without the fear of deportation. I strongly urge [NAME] to sign on to Sen. Duckworth’s letter demanding the DHS and DoD to uphold Parole in Place for the families of military personnel. Thank you.
▢ Action 12: Advocate for a fair and just court system for aspiring Americans. [h/t AILA]
Call: Or write your two senators and one House rep (look up).
Script: Hello. I’m from [ZIP], calling to express my support for an immigration court that operates independently from the Justice Department. Our current system encourages biased and rushed decision-making processes, undermining due process and judicial independence, and subverting the rights of aspiring Americans to a fair hearing. I would like [NAME] to join the American Bar Association, American Immigration Lawyers Association, Federal Bar Association, and National Association of Immigration Judges in demanding an independent immigration court. Thank you.
Deep breath innnnnnn… Deep breath ouuuuuuuut… Here comes the good stuff.
Acts of Gratitude
Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.
Thank Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) for launching an investigation into the alleged abuses of migrant children detained in Yuma, AZ. [Share why you appreciate action to oppose state-sponsored child abuse.]
DD: 2368 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515
FP: 237 Cannon HOB, Washington, DC 20515
Thank IL Gov. J.B. Pritzker for using state money to replace $2.4 million in federal health funding that includes restrictions on abortion referrals. [Share why you appreciate advocacy for reproductive freedom.]
Address: Office of the Governor, 207 State House, Springfield, IL 62706
Thank Larry Krasner, Philadelphia District Attorney, for asking the PA Supreme Court to declare capital punishment unconstitutional based on racial inequities of death row prisoners. [Share why you appreciate leaders who advocate for racial equality and a humane justice system.]
Address: Three South Penn Square, Philadelphia, PA 19107-3499
Thank Natasha Cloud, WNBA Washington Mystics guard, for hosting Thurgood Marshall Academy students, Moms Demand Action members, and local gun violence survivors after a Mystics game to discuss gun violence prevention in DC. [Share why you appreciate using a personal platform to advance community concerns.]
Address: c/o Washington Mystics, Verizon Center, 3rd floor, 601 F Street, NW, Washington DC. 20004
Thank your Senators [except Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT)] for voting to re-authorize the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund. [Share why you appreciate continued support for victims of terrorism.]
Addresses: Look up.
Thank Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio for organizing volunteers to provide baby supplies, food, and personal items to immigrant families at bus stations as they travel through Ohio. [Share why you appreciate kindness and hospitality to all, especially people who are seeking asylum.]
Address: Rev. Joan Van Becelaere, Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio, P.O. Box 980, Worthington, OH 43085
Bonus: Donate to support this work.
Thank Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, for appointing the first election threats executive to advise the intelligence community about election security and for forming the Election Executive and Leadership Board. [Share why you appreciate actions by leaders to ensure fair, accurate elections in 2020.]
Address: Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Washington, DC 20511
Decent people everywhere are speaking up and working together. Just look. #GoodNews
- U.S. District judge rules that a lawsuit against the president, his company, and three of his children alleging multi-level marketing fraud may go forward.
- The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejects the administration’s request to deny bond hearings to people seeking asylum while the case moves through the courts.
- The Third Circuit Court of Appeals blocks the administration’s new rules exempting employers from the ACA requirement to provide birth control through employer-provided health insurance.
- Federal Magistrate judge recommends $14 million in damages be awarded to Tanya Gersh, the target of an antisemitic hate campaign.
- Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Park becomes the first national park to provide rough terrain-capable wheelchairs, enabling disabled visitors to enjoy the trails.
- AR: U.S. District judge blocks Arkansas’s new abortion restrictions, preventing the closure of the state’s only remaining abortion clinic.
- CA: Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledges and apologizes for the genocide of Native Americans on behalf of the state of California.
- CA: The state becomes the first to extend Medicaid coverage to low-income aspiring Americans up to age 25.
- IL: The state refuses Title X family planning funding while the administration’s gag rule, which bars clinics that refer patients for abortions from receiving federal funding, remains in place.
- MA: The state’s National Guard allows transgender troops to continue to serve despite the administration’s ban on transgender service members (National Guard forces in CA, CO, NM, NJ, NV, OR, and WA have done the same).
- NC: A federal judge approves a settlement allowing transgender people in the state to use the public bathrooms that best align with their gender identity.
- NH: The state ends its practice of billing incarcerated people and returning citizens for the cost of their incarceration.
- NH: A new law allows residents to choose a non-binary gender marker on their state-issued IDs starting in 2020.
- NY: Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs the Farmworkers’ Fair Labor Practices Act, granting farm workers unemployment and disability insurance, workers’ compensation, overtime pay, paid family leave, and collective bargaining rights.
- NY: Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs bill banning cat declawing.
- OR: Teenage activists Sam Adamson, Derek Evans, Hailey Hardcastle, and Lori Riddle successfully lobby for a state law that defines excused school absences to include mental health reasons in addition to physical illnesses.
- VA: Fourth Circuit Court strikes down a law criminalizing alcoholism in people experiencing homelessness within the state.
- VA: State Democratic Party leaders will boycott a special 400th anniversary legislative session if the president attends, in protest of his racist statements.
- Gov. Ricardo Rosselló of Puerto Rico resigns following several days of protests over corruption in his administration.
- Berkeley City Council proposes gender-neutral changes to city code.
- Nearly 100 kids in Flint, Michigan march as part of the National Day of Social Action to protest gun violence.
- The police department in Gretna, LA fires two officers for posting violent social media messages about a sitting congresswoman.
- Shelby County, TN officially commemorates civil rights activist and journalist Ida B. Wells’s birthday starting July 16, 2020.
- South Miami sues to block Florida’s sanctuary city ban.
- St. Paul and Ramsey County, MN plan a $250,000 legal defense fund for aspiring Americans facing deportation.
- Philadelphia and the Vera Institute of Justice outline a plan to provide aspiring Americans with lawyers.
- New York City jail admissions decline almost 50% since 2014.
- Marriott, Hilton, Choice Hotels, Best Western, Wyndham, Hyatt, IHG, and MGM Resorts state that they don’t want their hotels used to house people detained by ICE.
- Volkswagen announces plan to go carbon neutral globally by 2050.
- Univision releases data showing that Hispanic voter turnout nearly doubled between 2014 and 2018 in seven states.
- Serena Williams and Mark Cuban invest in Mahmee, a startup working to end the maternal mortality crisis affecting black women in the U.S.
- The Louvre in Paris removes the Sackler family name from its walls, becoming the first museum to distance itself from the family linked to the opioid crisis in the U.S.
- Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW of America strike a deal with the California Air Resources Board to produce fuel-efficient vehicles, combating recent federal climate policy rollbacks.
- McGill University in Canada drops team name that is offensive to indigenous people.
Groups and organizations
- The Anti-Defamation League creates a high school-level curriculum for teachers to educate students about the humanitarian crisis on our southern border.
- The New York Immigration Coalition provides printable, easy-to-understand tool kits in 14 languages explaining know-your-rights information for dealing with ICE.
- The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty follows up their successful inaugural #IAskForHelpBecause campaign to strike down panhandling bans with a second campaign.
- Presbyterian Peace Fellowship appoints Rev. Deanna Hollas as the first-ever Minister of Gun Violence Prevention; she will serve a network of over 800 Presbyterian gun violence-prevention advocates.
- 70 Catholics face arrest following a DC protest over the administration’s immigration policies.
- La Unión del Pueblo Entero receives the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for their rights work at the border.
- RAICES challenges new rule barring asylum eligibility for many people seeking asylum.
- Aspiring Americans find welcome and legal assistance at NYC synagogue’s legal clinic.
- ACLU files lawsuit on behalf of humanitarian activists targeted and surveilled by administration officials.
- Activists with Never Again Action and Movimiento Cosecha surround ICE headquarters, demanding the agency’s closure.
- Freedom for Immigrants creates an interactive map of U.S. detention centers and ICE field offices to help Americans understand what detention is and its impacts on our communities.
- Human Rights First and hundreds of organizations, experts, and officials call on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to disband the State Department’s “Commission on Unalienable Rights,” due to concerns that the commission will harm human rights efforts globally.
- Pueblos Sin Fronteras leader Irineo Mújica is cleared by the Mexican court of unsubstantiated charges of human smuggling for the second time.
News with heart
- U.S. citizen Francisco Erwin Galicia is released from ICE detention.
- Presidential candidates Bill de Blasio, Julián Castro, and Elizabeth Warren add their pronouns to their social media profiles in a signal of support for the LGBTQ+ community and to help normalize the practice.
- Dozens of authors, all formerly people seeking refuge or people who moved to the U.S., sign an open letter calling on Congress to put an end to the inhumane conditions on the southern border.
- Actor Lauren Ridloff, who is deaf herself, is cast as Makarri, Marvel’s first deaf superhero, in the upcoming film The Eternals.
- The Scullery restaurant in Greenville, NC donates a day’s profits to the American Immigration Council to counter the racist chants that broke out at a nearby rally.
- Refugee and immigrant rights attorney Melanie Nezer gives a TED Talk showing how citizens can hold their governments accountable for protecting the vulnerable.
- Dear Evan Hansen actor Ben Levi Ross connects fans in need with mental health professionals through social media.
- University student Liam Mcmulkin invents new British Sign Language signs for scientific terms and concepts.
- Depictions of “matter-of-fact” abortions have markedly increased in films and TV shows.
- Army veteran Joe Perricone walks and receives his diploma 76 years after missing his own high school graduation due to his WWII service.
- An asylum officer won’t enforce “immoral” asylum standards at the U.S.–Mexico border.
- Four-year-old Liv Bridges-Limon sells lemonade to raise money for “people who don’t have anything” after reading a children’s book about a family forced from their home.
- Neighbors in Hermitage, TN form a human chain to protect a man and his son from ICE.
- University of Rhode Island’s “shark camp” provides city teens with an opportunity to experience an ocean environment.
- School bus driver Curtis Jenkins creates an atmosphere of community, welcome, and belonging for the students on his bus.
- Henry Kim builds a mobility aid to help his goldfish stay afloat.
- See more good news at Women in the World, Small Victories, Good Black News, and What Went Right.
Help others speak up
Know someone who could use some good news and clear actions? Please share!
Post a tweet: There’s so much more to democracy than voting next year. Check out this week’s list of clear, simple, powerful ways to improve our democracy today from @AoCChecklist https://americansofconscience.com/7-28-2019/
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- Gratitude: Big thanks to JEB and the Production Team, our Social Media volunteers, Research Sous Chefs, and Team Captains. Thanks also to the amazing angel patrons whose support makes it all possible.