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.
Aside: It’s interesting to note that Duke won 3% of the vote, or about 59,000 votes total. Now, that’s 60,000 Ku Klux Klan apologists too many. However, when Duke endorsed Trump the media treated it like he was doing so from a position of power. In fact, Duke is a con man who has not only worn Klan robes, but also donned a Nazi uniform to protest an appearance at Tulane University by Civil Rights attorney and activist William Kunstler. He has been accused of confidence schemes and outright theft by pretty much everyone he has ever done business with, including the Klan. The highest office he’s ever held has been State Representative in Louisiana. He won a race that had all sorts of special weird conditions attached, and received fewer than 9,000 votes total (though he did receive many more votes in his failed bid for U.S. Senate in 1990), serving only one term. He’s a racist charlatan who has convinced us that his opinion somehow matters. The next time you see him quoted, call or email the media outlet who chose to put him in front of readers or watchers and complain. He is not an authority on anything but white supremacy and David Duke.
Why should I care: This is heavy politics as usual stuff. Basically, if Campbell gets elected the Republicans will still have a majority of the seats in the Senate. However, on some issues it may be possible for the Democrats to pull moderate Republicans, like John McCain or Susan Collins of Maine, across the aisle to work together. Furthermore, this seat may be crucial come 2018, when the Democrats will be defending 23 seats, plus Bernie Sanders and Angus King, the two Independents who generally vote with and hang out with the Democrats. Many of those seats are in states that Trump unexpectedly won. It’s impossible to know what will happen between now and then, in so many ways, but if the Democrats tank in 2018, the Republicans would be far more likely to be able to stop a filibuster using cloture, which requires a super-majority of 60 senators. Who knows what aspect of our civil liberties might be under attack come 2018–we really do need every seat possible, if we’re going to work against terrible Trump (and Pence) policies from within the power structure.
John Kennedy, the Republican Campbell is running against, says in the ad above that he believes in love, but also thinks you should own a handgun just in case.
Know: Campbell is not the most liberal Democrat in the world. He has described himself as anti-abortion and opposes stricter gun control measures. He didn’t support Hillary Clinton and some members of the black community has not been impressed by his outreach. On the other hand, he supports the Affordable Care Act and a higher minimum wage, and has worked to expand access to affordable health care, child care and family leave in Louisiana. This is not burn-the-system-down, revolutionary territory, but it is a very important chance to work within the established system for a better outcome.
Action: I spoke with Eric Foglesong, Campbell’s campaign manager and listed the following ways that we can help, without being able to vote in Louisiana.
- Donate money to the campaign.
- Volunteer for their virtual phone bank system and call voters on behalf of the campaign. Use this form to sign up.
- Tell your friends and family in person or on social media about our last chance to elect another Democrat this year.
- Call the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at 202-224-2447 ask them to assist the Foster Campbell campaign. Their Republican counterparts at the National Republican Senatorial Committee are out in force supporting Kennedy.
- If you know anyone in Louisiana, remind them to vote on Dec. 10 and talk with them about the importance of this race.
- Finally, Foglesong said that anyone who wanted to travel to Louisiana to help the Foster Campbell campaign would be received “with a bit of welcoming Southern hospitality.” Contact them at email@example.com.
Resources: Thanksgiving may be tough this year, if there are strong political opinions that go beyond pumpkin versus pecan (#teampecan). Here are a few articles about how to keep things civil, and maybe even productive.
- I wrote this story about how to change minds, back before the election, which feels like 100 years ago, now.
- The New York Times asked psychologists and philosophers for advice on how to argue fairly, even in the face of strong disagreements.
- Here’s the Slate guide spending the holidays with your political opposites.
- Finally, you could just vow to talk only about food at dinner, and gather everyone to watch Miss Sharon Jones!, the excellent documentary about the beloved and sore missed soul singer.
Sign up for the #actiontrumpshate newsletter
We’ve created a stand alone newsletter so you can receive #actiontrumpshate separate from your Brooklyn Based subscription. That way anyone who wants to stand up for democracy, but who doesn’t live in Brooklyn, can get these weekly actions in their inbox. Please, share with friends around the country. Some editions will have a New York focus, but there will always be actions to take no matter where you live. There will be volunteer opportunities, profiles of important activists, reading assignments and more phone calls to make.