Victory

On Saturday, MSNBC and other news networks declared Joe Biden the new president-elect. Hearing that news, I felt more joy than I have experienced in a long time. We had planned to go to a Protect the Vote demonstration in Northampton. We went and it turned into a celebration.

Watching the people in the street and listening to all the cars honking, brought to mind scenes of liberation from other countries and other times. 75 million Americans voted, defeating fascism, and defending democracy. That is an awesome accomplishment.

Because we live in a 24/7 news cycle, cable stations still need things to talk about. Besides continuing to chronicle the insane behavior of Trump and his Republican minions, the other topic of news is supposed divisions among different parts of the Democratic Party.

My wish is that we all take a deep breath, work in Georgia to create a Democratic Senate, and give Joe Biden a chance. Before we vehemently deride him as hopelessly moderate, let’s remember that Franklin D. Roosevelt was not inherently radical. If the Biden-Harris administration gives us a 21st century New Deal, shoring up and expanding the safety net, I will be really happy.

Here is a video of the celebration in Northampton.

Don’t Mourn, Organize

I did not get a good night’s sleep as I was watching the election returns. Most of the things I worked on did not come to fruition. Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell all retained their seats. It will be a stretch for the Democrats to gain control of the Senate. I do think Joe Biden will probably get elected but Trump may try to create havoc with multiple lawsuits. I am trying to see something positive in all this, but it is difficult.

This morning the phrase, “Don’t Mourn, Organize” was running through my head. This is what Joe Hill, an Industrial Workers of the World organizer wrote in a telegram to Bill Haywood, prior to being executed in Utah.

“Goodbye Bill: I die like a true rebel. Do not waste any time mourning — organize! It is a hundred miles from here to Wyoming. Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don’t want to be found dead in Utah.”

After Trump’s election in 2106, many new groups emerged to provide resistance to Trump. Swing Left, Indivisible and other groups need to stay active, even if Biden is elected. The only way to get change and move closer to a more equitable and just society is by grassroots organizing. Although I need some time to process what has happened, I  am planning to participate in a Count Every Vote demonstration in Northampton today at 5 pm. You can find a similar event where you live by clicking here.

Don’t Mourn, Organize.

Here is Pete Seeger singing about Joe Hill:

 

VOTE

VOTE.

Vote early if you still can.

There are only six days left so mailing your ballot is not a good idea.

If you have a ballot, don’t mail it.

Bring it to an early voting site, a drop box if your town has them, or your Election Board.

If you go to vote in person, bring identification

Bring a pen.

Wear a mask.

Be prepared for long lines.

Pack a lunch.

Bring a chair.

Bring your friends and family.

If you returned your ballot, see if you can check on its status.

In Massachusetts, you can use track my ballot ma.

Volunteer to help campaigns in swing states.

Make phone calls.

Text.

Help cure ballots.

Staff a voter protection hotline.

Vote like your life depends on it because it does.

Vote for Joe Biden and  Kamala Harris.

Take Back Our Democracy

VOTE.

 

 

 

 

 

Too Busy

I am too busy to write much. This week I will be making phone calls to various states  on four different days. North Carolina, Maine, Florida and for Joe Biden I called Pennsylvania. There are 20 days left until Election Day. I want to do as much as I can to make sure Donald Trump is defeated and we get a Democratic Senate.

Next week I might try to  make some calls for Jaime Harrison who, as of today, is only one point behind Lindsey Graham. If I believed that lizard people actually existed, I know that Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, and William Barr would be the epitome of that species.

In the midst  of all this pre-election work, we spent a lovely weekend with my  son and daughter-in-law who came for a visit. On Saturday we  took a very long hike in the Quabbin reservoir. It was beautiful.  I am so glad we got to be outside and experience New England Fall.

I am not sure I will have time for posting again until after the election. We will see. If you have early voting where you live, please Vote Now.

Fall

Tomorrow  will be the first day of October. We have been living with the pandemic for almost seven months. Time is moving both slowly and quickly. Looking back at my post, Goals, from the beginning of this year, I want today’s post to reflect some updates and changes.

The biggest deviation from my stated plans in January is that I did not participate in the year long non- fiction writing group that the Pioneer Valley  Writers’ Workshop offers. I felt that I would be a fish out of water in a sea of memoirists with emotionally challenging life stories. My gut told me not to do it. I have not regretted my decision.

I did two rounds of Nerissa NIelds’ Writing It Up in the Garden. It was really helpful for finishing the fifth chapter of my book. The chapter focuses on the Angell family and its’ many academics. A particular focus is Constance McLaughlin Green, a Pulitzer Prize winning historian

In January, my goals included being part of an adult group number at the Skating Club of Amherst’s annual show. Of course Corona prevented the show from happening. I have only skated five times since March 11th and none of them were at the Mullins Ice Rink.

In January, I said finishing my book was imperative and would require keeping my schedule light. I have had mixed results with that endeavor. As October begins, I am still trying to finish the sixth chapter which deals with two  white middle class, middle aged women who were social justice activists in the 1950s and 60s.

Right now, I am writing about Sarah Patton Boyle, a faculty wife from Charlottesville Virginia who became an early white ally of Martin Luther King, Jr. Her attempts to dismantle  Jim Crow and help American society achieve racial equality have been  very inspiring to me as I have tried, since the murder of George Floyd, to become a more actively anti-racist person.

There are three months left to the year. I hope to finish this chapter, get my skating back to a pre-pandemic level and defeat Donald Trump. What are your plans and goals for the remainder of the year?

 

Phone Banking

As I mentioned last week, since April, I have been phone banking to Maine to defeat Susan Collins. Given Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last Friday, it is now more important than ever than we take back the Senate and diminish the pernicious impact of Mitch McConnell, who I consider to be the Devil.

Phone calls are one of the most effective ways we must communicate with voters. It is also one of the only safe ways to reach voters during the pandemic. If everyone reading this blog would commit to either 2 hours or 20 calls, you would all be part of reaching many voters.

You can go to https://joebiden.com/natcalls/ to make calls for Joe and Kamala. Last week I started doing this. My plan is to do it once a week until Nov. 3. If you are interested in the Senate, you can go to Ballotpedia,  pick a competitive race and start making calls for the Democratic candidate.

This week I am going to make calls for Mark Kelly in Arizona who is running to defeat Martha McSally in a special election. If Kelly wins, he could be seated as early as Nov. 30. This could provide a critical vote against lame-duck appointment of a reactionary Supreme Court Justice.

I am first vice-chair of the Amherst Democratic Town Committee and we are focusing on three states: Maine, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. North Carolina has a competitive Senate race where Cal Cunningham is running against Thom Tillis, the Republican. Pennsylvania does not have a Senate race but is critical for Biden to win in the electoral college.

The point is Do Something. Two Hours or 20 Calls. Make A Difference.

Twitter Success

Last Friday evening, I watched, virtually, a debate between the four candidates for U.S. Senate in Maine. Susan Collins is the incumbent who I have sworn to try to defeat. She pretends to be a moderate, but she is not. Every time Susan Collins could have made a difference she voted with Trump. Brett Kavanaugh, the tax cuts, impeachment; the list goes on and on.

The Democratic candidate is Sara Gideon who is the Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives. There are two independent candidates, Max Linn, and Lisa Savage.

Since April I have been making calls to Maine to help elect a Democrat and defeat Susan Collins. Maine has ranked choice voting, which I don’t totally understand, so people could rank one of the independents first and then Gideon second. I do understand voting your beliefs and I have done that in the past. I feel this election is too important to vote that way. If I lived in Maine, I would rank Sara Gideon first because I would not want to take any chance that Collins could get reelected.

After Friday’s debate, I tweeted the following:

Watching the Maine Senate debate. Max Linn is a trip. Susan Collins needs to go. Vote for Sara Gideon. #takebackthesenate #BlueWave

This is the Tweet Analytics on this tweet:

Impressions, 153,918 (times people saw this Tweet on Twitter)

Total engagements 4,592 (times people interacted with this Tweet)

Likes 1,935 (times people liked this Tweet)

Profile clicks 1,401 (number of clicks on your name, @handle, or profile photo)

Retweets 518 (times people retweeted this Tweet)

Hashtag clicks 425 (clicks on the hashtag(s) in this Tweet)

Detail expands 277 (times people viewed the details about this Tweet)

Replies 36

Because of the tweet I have gained about 11 new followers. I am currently at 149. I would love to get to 150. I have been tweeting since 2007 and none of my tweets have ever had this kind of impact. It was overwhelming and I still can’t believe it. Probably the hashtags generated the wide audience and response because many people across the country are interested in the Maine Senate race.

Memories

A few weeks ago, in my writing group, Nerissa, the group leader, read, as a prompt, a portion of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, where she talked about the execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, in 1953. Being a red diaper baby, I grew up believing that the couple killed could have just as easily been my parents. Of course, the Rosenbergs were innocent; for my parents and their friends there was no other truth.

March 6, 2020 was the fiftieth anniversary of a townhouse in Greenwich Village, New York City, blowing up, killing three members of the Weather Underground. I knew one of the people killed – Ted Gold. I grew up with him. He was the youngest son of one of my mother’s closest friends.

The chapter of my book on faculty wives that I am currently working is about activism in the 1950s and 60s. I focus on two women – Sarah Patton Boyle and Anne Bennett. Boyle was an early white supporter of civil rights in Virginia while Bennett worked to end the Vietnam War.

My mother was a part of this activist history. As a baby, I was wheeled to Ban the Bomb demonstrations. She was a member of Women Strike for Peace. In the chapter, I describe a demonstration in Washington, DC that WSP organized. It is very possible that my mother was there.

The arc of history from the Rosenbergs to the Weather Underground is, in a simple way, the story of the Old Left morphing into the New Left; a generational shift that I was a part of. I have often wondered what my politics would have been if I had grown up in a different household. In my house, noisy discussion about politics were an everyday occurrence. Most of my parent’s friends had also been in the Communist Party. Whenever they came over, it got even louder. Being on the left is probably in my DNA.

 

 

The Fierce Urgency of Now

Since the murder of George Floyd, I have been obsessed with exploring how I can more actively confront systemic racism. If you are not actively confronting racial injustice you become complicit.

Although I have been committed to civil rights all of my life, I have been questioning how strong that commitment is. In my comfortable life in Amherst, Massachusetts, how do I confront racism and combat it on a daily basis? The answer is I don’t.

On Sunday, I went to an inter-faith vigil on the Amherst common. Although it felt courageous; that was because of the pandemic and not because attending would threaten my physical safety.

The phrase, “the urgency of now,” which I knew was something Martin Luther King had said, has been rumbling around in my head this last week. Yesterday I googled it. Here is the full quote:

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”

I can never know what it feels like to be a black person, but I can learn how to be a white ally in their struggle for equality and racial justice. It is imperative that I start the learning process immediately.

 

Social Drinking

Can you be a social drinker? I recently read an article in The New York Times that would suggest the answer was no. The article itself was interesting and the comments were even more interesting. The vociferousness of the comments that defended drinking indicates that drinking in America has been normalized. The recent Atlantic article that asked why there is no anti-alcohol movement explored some of the reasons for that normalization. When I was at my writing retreat this fall, one of the other attendees was a woman who has recently stopped drinking and has a blog about it.

Prior to Prohibition, the temperance movement saw drinking as being both a moral and societal issue. They sought a civil response to the problems of drinking. Although prohibitionists counseled individuals to have the moral and individual strength to stop drinking, the movement sought to remove drinking from society through political and legislative means.

Since Prohibition, the liquor industry has been very successful in framing drinking and the serious issues it can cause as an individual disease. There have been some moments where the public health analysis of alcohol and the society-wide problems it causes, have been in ascendance. Both the movement to decrease drunk driving and the 1991 tax increase on alcohol had public health components.

Today the liquor industry is completely in control and health information detailing problems with liquor go nowhere. On television you see public service announcements on tobacco and vaping. There are none about drinking.

Here is a picture of a cirrhotic liver as one example of the damage excessive drinking can do to your body and health.

Cirrohotic Liver