Ways to turn ‘helpless’ to hopefulness

12 mins read

PEG 12th Congressional District Newsletter 295Thursday, December 15, 2022 

It all began with a Black Lives Matter Sign

Kerry and Teresa Plank never thought of themselves as activists until their 16 year-old daughter asked them to carry a sign and attend a protest rally in downtown Chelsea following the death of George Floyd. Then their world changed. They became grassroots activists who took on misinformation and fear mongering candidates for Chelsea School Board.They recounted their story as guests of Chuck Newman on December 11, 2022. Their formula for success is an inspiring story and a replay is available here.

LINK

So how you do you as a parent ensure that your children’s education is not imperiled by untruths, negativity and more from people who are about personal gain, anything but public service. The Planks figured out how to organize other parents, educators and concerned citizens to create a slate of candidates who believed in democracy not conspiracy.

The Recipe for a Grassroots Success Story:

  • Engage potential volunteers asking for their social capital vs. financial capital.
  • Start early to identify good candidates.
  • Only select the number of candidates as there are open positions.
  • Make it fun for volunteers with frequent informal meetings at coffee shops or homes.
  • Have a good database of eligible voters to target.
  • Focus on getting out target voters, rather than persuading all voters.
  • Hold candidate meet and greets where the full slate of candidates attend.
  • Have volunteers reach out to friends, family and neighbors with hand addressed envelopes, personalized letters with messages of why they support the slate and of course, signing their names. This was probably the most effective they did.
  • Use BallotPower.org to make sure supporters who vote by mail have sent in their ballots and encourage those who haven’t.
  • Create weekly newsletters and a candidate voting piece with the views from the slate  

Rather than feeling a sense of helpless and anger with Truth Deniers, think about how you too can become a Truth Advocate. PEG will continue to share ways to turn helpless to hopefulness.

Things to Read, Watch, and Listen to

Who has the authority to run elections?

The case

On December 7, 2022, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Moore v Harper. At stake are some of the fundamentals of democracy in the United States, voting rights. A decision most likely will be released in June or July 2023, prior to the 2024 Presidential Election.

This Brennen Center article explains the evolution of the North Carolina case about the legality of gerrymandered congressional maps that violate that State’s Constitution. The argument is based on independent state legislature theory (ISLT) which gives all power to state legislatures to exclusively set the rules for federal elections. State courts would NOT be able to strike down any rules that the legislature sets, even if the rules conflict with the state constitution. Permitting this theory to go forward would give state legislatures enormous power over a range of issues, including partisan gerrymandering, early and mail-in voting rules, voter ID measures and felon disfranchisement and disrupt the balance of power between the three branches of government. A version of this theory was promoted by allies of former President Donald Trump during their attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Interestingly, the North Caro­lina General Assembly itself enacted the state consti­tu­tional provi­sions that prohibit extreme partisan gerry­man­der­ing and expressly author­ized state courts to review and remedy unlaw­ful congres­sional maps. In other words, the state courts just did what the legislature told them to do and the Republican legislature appealed to SCOTUS.

ACLU has a concise summary of the case.

Ramifications

If the SCOTUS decision backs this theory, state lawmakers would be able to adopt voter suppression legislation without any checks or balances from state courts or even a gubernatorial veto. In other words, the theory would upend key aspects of US elections.

The Guardian explains that this could put more than 200 provisions in state constitutions dealing with voting at risk, including the language that explicitly grants the right to vote and the ability to vote with a secret ballot, according to a report by RepresentUs, a government watchdog group. Delegations of authority would also be questionable, robbing elections commissions and secretaries of state of the power to make decisions, including in emergencies.

J Michael Luttig, a well-respected, retired conservative federal judge has stated that the ISLT doctrine is “antithetical to the Framers’ intent, and to the text, fundamental design, and architecture of the Constitution” and is a part of the “Republican blueprint to steal the 2024 election.” Luttig, recently signed on as co-counsel for litigants opposing the theory.

Why did the Court take the case?

Although the Court has not explained why it decided to take this case, in March when the Supreme Court denied emergency relief to the gerrymanderers, three justices — Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch — voiced support for the theory, as they had previously done in other dissenting opinions in 2020 elections cases. A fourth justice — Brett Kavanaugh — voted to leave the court-approved map in place for the 2022 elections, but he said that he saw “serious arguments” on both sides.

Post argument analysis

Even after more than three hours of arguments, the Verdict explains that the arguments didn’t generate a clear consensus among analysts about how a majority of the Court is likely to rule.  Many commentators are suggesting that there appears to be a majority (Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson and quite possibly Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett) who, because of powerful originalist and precedent-based arguments, reject the basic premise of ISLT. However, the final decision might provide some compromise.

The articles in the Verdict and CNN provide excellent analyses and take-aways.

Summary

Experts warn that embracing this theory would be undemocratic and dramatically refashion US election law and upend the separation of powers at the heart of American government.

Rust Belt or Climate Paradise?

A former Ann Arborite moved out West with his family for “better weather,” but after a harrowing time trying to keep hazardous air out of their home and lungs, they made their escape back to Michigan. And they are not alone. While this is great for Michigan and the surrounding “Rust Belt” states to bolster the economy and tax base, it is certainly troubling as a reflection of how unsustainable our climate reality is. In spite of scientistic research and efforts to mitigate the misinformation from climate deniers and legislators, this remains an uphill battle that gets steeper and steeper. 

According to MLive, “Michigan looks increasingly attractive in a country where wildfires turn million-dollar mansions to ash in California, intensifying hurricanes sink homes along Florida’s coasts, and cities like Las Vegas and Phoenix face the alarming reality the Colorado River will no longer sustain them. This state’s two peninsulas, meanwhile, have ample freshwater – the Great Lakes contain 90% of North America’s supply, lower temperatures, and vast swaths of undeveloped land.”

Academics and scientists who were interviewed believe the state is a climate haven that has the capacity to develop infrastructure for growing populations, while avoiding the worst outcomes of climate change. “The whole world is going to want to come here or take our water. We cannot let that happen. But what we can do is have a strategic plan for population growth and management of our natural resources,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in October. Stay tuned!

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A special thanks to our newsletter contributors: Ellen Halter, Leslie McGraw, Leslie Kamil, Lisa Kamil, Richard Gaeth, Bette Cotzin, Bernie Banet, Linda Bennett, Kayla Conrad, Fred Clark, Sonya Lewis, and Chuck Newman for their contributions and help preparing our newsletters. PEG is a (somewhat) non-partisan volunteer organization whose mission is to assure that our government will treat all Americans with equality and acceptance. PEG’s work is primarily done by recruiting, educating and nurturing supporters for worthy organizations, actions and events that reflect our beliefs.  To subscribe to this free weekly newsletter, go to our sign up form by clicking here.

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