12/12/16 12:25pm

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Since starting Action Trumps Hate I’ve thought a lot about the Electoral College. While I strongly believe that it is out of step with modern politics, on a practical level it has seemed so unlikely that the results of Nov. 8 will be undone by electors, that I’ve focused on more effective ways to direct our energy.

After the past week though, I’ve decided that we have to encourage electors to vote with their conscience in any way we can. The U.S. intelligence investigation into Russian hacking, the President-elect’s refusal to participate in intelligence briefings and the never ending tweetstorm, all of it is so outside the normal behavior of a president, that we should not let an opportunity to speak up pass us by because of some sort of allegiance to political decorum.

A friend emailed me this weekend to let me know about a project that a group of writers in Brooklyn started. They researched all the electors who are pledged to vote for Trump when the Electoral College votes are cast on Monday, Dec. 19, and then wrote personalized letters to anyone who seemed ambivalent about Trump, in hopes that this level of personal dedication and engagement could make a difference. I have their list, a sample letter, and some tips for how to go about writing an effective letter.

The hitch is that these letters must be sent by residents of the states these electors represent to be most effective. So, if you have friends or family who live in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas or Utah, write a letter and share it with them to send to their electors. Or just send this story along so they can spread the word.

Action: Contact electors pledged to Trump who may be having second thoughts.

Time commitment: An hour or two, more if you want.

Alternative: If you don’t have anyone to contact or feel this is a waste of time, check out National Popular Vote, an advocacy group that wants to replace the Electoral College with a national popular election. And, if you haven’t yet, join the Injustice Boycott. It’s an incredibly powerful movement against institutionalized racial inequality and police brutality.

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12/08/16 12:35pm

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“New York used to be the city that never sleeps,” Penny Arcade, downtown performance legend, begins Longing Lasts Longer, her latest one-woman show now at St. Ann’s Warehouse, “now it’s the city that can’t wake up.”

This is not another nostalgic ode to a lost New York, cobblestones and cast iron paved over by concrete, glass and steel. Longing Lasts Longer is a mix of memoir, stand-up comedy, and cultural critique that hooks you in with stories about Warhol superstar Brigid Berlin’s penchant for running around Max’s Kansas City with a needle full of speed, just waiting for a victim. Then, once she’s got your attention, Penny will casually drop truths like: “There is a gentrification that happens to neighborhoods and cities. But there is also a gentrification that happens to ideas.” (more…)

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11/22/16 12:00pm

I thought that I was going to talk to you about money and how we spend it this week, which seemed timely for Black Friday. The short answer on money is that if boycotting businesses that sell Trump merchandise or that supported his campaign feels right to you, please do so.

My research suggests that boycotts that affect many companies and entities at once tend not to be that effective, especially if they are not complemented by legal challenges (the Trump boycott is against his businesses, not his proposed political actions, remember). If you are passionate about this matter, write a letter or make a call. Zappos and Macy’s (which already stopped carrying Trump merchandise in response to remarks he made about Mexican immigrants, but still carries Ivanka’s products) have reputations for being willing to listen to customers. Also, boycott Black Friday and the commercialization of American culture and spend your money supporting organizations like the ALCU, the Arab American Association of New York, Black Lives Matter and the Southern Poverty Law Center, or on experiences with people you love, or at local small businesses.

And now, for the real action of the week.

After a good deal of reading, phone calls and a great reader tip, this week we’re going to focus on electing one more Democrat this year. I’ve also listed some resources on how to keep things civil over turkey and pie, and how to sign up for our #actiontrumpshate newsletter, at the bottom of this post.

Week 2: Elect Foster Campbell

Time commitment: It takes 10 minutes or less to donate to his campaign, an even $5 or $10 helps, or you can dig in and travel to Louisiana and knock on some doors if you have the time and inclination.

What: The state of Louisiana has a very curious way of electing senators. On general election day in November all of the candidates are on the ballot; this year there were 23 (including famous white supremacist, David Duke). If there’s no clear majority winner, and there usually isn’t, the two candidates who garner the most votes vie for the seat in another election, held on Dec. 10 this year. It’s called a jungle primary–American democracy is a many splendored thing. The top two finishers were John Kennedy (yes, really), a Republican, who won about 25% of the vote, and Foster Campbell a Democrat. who won about 18%. That means that the Democrats could pick up one more seat in the Senate come Dec. 10. (more…)

11/08/16 2:36pm

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Dear New York,

Sometimes you are so overwhelming. Sometimes you feel like the birthplace of impatience and self-importance. But the big moments? In blackouts and transit strikes, in hurricanes and blizzard and floods, and in a crazymaking, historic election that sends record numbers (we’re guessing) to the polls, where you have to wait in line and maybe even chat with your neighbor a bit? New York, then you’re the best.

Love,

Brooklyn Based

Thanks to Spencer Starnes for these images of voters in Crown Heights and Flatbush this morning.  (more…)

11/08/16 11:48am

Hillary Clinton may be the latest woman from New York to seek an office in the White House, but she is not the first. Shirley Chisholm and Geraldine Ferraro, both New Yorkers, made their own cracks in the political glass ceiling. As we head to the polls today, fingers crossed and nails bitten, some wearing white in suffragette solidarity, let’s take a moment to look back at the powerful women who came before Clinton.

Chisholm and Ferraro were as different as two Democrats from New York City could be. “As fierce of a progressive and critic of the system as Shirley Chisholm was, Geraldine Ferraro was a total apparatchik. She made her way up by being a machine pol,” Amy Schiller, a political commentator and CUNY doctoral student teaching a class on women in American politics at Brooklyn College this semester, told me in a phone call.

Shirley Chisholm, 1972 

In 1968 Chisholm became the first black woman elected to Congress. She was a progressive Brooklynite who championed expansion of social services, education, and immigrant rights and used that momentum to make a presidential run in 1972. She focused on housing as the key to confronting economic inequality and championed bills to expand childcare for families, for immigrant rights, quality education, free school lunches, and consumer protection. She was, as her brilliantly direct campaign put it, “Unbought and Unbossed.” (Her memoir and a documentary about her run for president both use the slogan as a title–consider watching the latter if the returns get to be too much tonight.)

As Smithsonian Magazine pointed out in an article from last spring, “She was one of only 19 Representatives willing to hold hearings on the Vietnam War. And she was a founding member of both the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Women’s Caucus.” She sounds like everything serious progressives want in a candidate. So why don’t we remember her? (more…)

11/04/16 1:14pm

My Facebook feed tends to display the same five stories framed in slightly different ways–the winner of the big game, the latest political outrage, Game of Thrones reactions, something Louis C.K. said, plus a few photos of babies and dogs. I scroll through it and take the temperature of my little slice of America each morning.

There are outliers though, and that’s the best thing about Facebook as a news aggregator, the weird stuff. I have friends in my feed who consistently post stories I haven’t seen yet and would not have seen otherwise, like this article from GOOD about how important pets can be to people who are homeless.


I called up a few experts, and also took an informal poll of friends to see if other minds out there were a-changing and if so, how and why.


It completely changed my mind. It reversed what I thought about homeless people with animals, and slightly widened lens through which I view the world. That’s unusual. I engage in just as much pleasurable confirmation bias as the next reader. It feels good to read something that states what I already think, but in a more organized way with quotes and a few facts I didn’t know. I was surprised by how nice it felt to change my mind about something, especially in a way that allowed for a more compassionate world view (the takeaway is that these relationships are mutually beneficial, yes, even for the animals).

Not long after I read that, a friend who is also an editor posted a link to this story, which embraces using “they” in place of “he or she” saying, “I’ve really come around to this.” That got me thinking, in the midst of a very contentious, polarizing election, about how we go about changing our own minds, and why it’s so hard to change how others think.

So I called up a few experts, and also took an informal poll of friends to see if other minds out there were a-changing and if so, how and why. (more…)

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11/03/16 12:17pm

How weary do you feel of the 2016 election? How drained were you before we even had to hear the name Anthony Weiner again? How many terrible political arguments have you gotten in, even with people who see the world similarly? How many friends and relatives have you blocked on Facebook?

It’s not pretty out there, folks.

A few good things have come out of this down and dirty season of bad hombres and nasty women though, so let’s revel in them for a moment, before we return to our obsessive social media surveillance. (more…)

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