Category Archives: Current events

Political activism from the front seat

I was in a pretty anxious and upset place a year ago, all because of politics. I love this country and my fellow citizens, and I’m still very concerned about the State of the Union. But I’ve found that Doing Something helps ease that anxiety a skosh.

I haven’t been marching or running for office or anything like that. Instead, I’ve voted in every possible election (that’s not new; I love voting) and I’ve been making sure my elected representatives know exactly how I feel about the issues of the day. Now, I know that my calls aren’t doing a darn thing to change my their minds, because they’re all diametrically opposed to my beliefs (and also I don’t have piles of cash with which to lobby them, which is probably the more realistic reason they don’t care about my opinion).

The first time I placed a call to one of my elected representatives, I cried. I was so nervous, even though I had typed up exactly what I wanted to say. I muddled through it, though, and then I tried it again. And again and again and again, ad infinitum and beyond. It got a little easier every time. While I’m still typing and printing exactly what I want to say every week, I haven’t cried to a congressional staffer since that very first call.

So how do I know exactly what I want to say? Some more action-oriented people than myself have made that very easy:

  • I subscribed to Jen Hofmann’s Weekly Action Checklist last November. She compiles and emails a list actionable items every week. There’s generally a self-care aspect to some of the items, which is nice, and there are frequently suggestions for thanking people who are doing good work in the world. She also includes scripts to use if you’d like to call your congressional representatives.
  • Indivisible has a ton of resources available on just about every topic. Their call scripts are more in-depth than any others I’ve seen. They include suggestions for how to respond if the person on the other end of the line says anything other than “Thanks I’ll pass that along.” In my experience, that’s all they ever say. But it’s nice and optimistic of Indivisible to be prepared for discourse.
  • Wall-Of-Us is the easily digestible of the resources I use. They publish just four action items every week. That makes it seem really manageable.
  • I always edit the script a bit to put it in my own voice, but these three resources have consistently provided me with a good starting place.

    I placed that first call from my bedroom, and I’ve since found that I’m much less nervous about calling if I do it from my car. I’m sure there’s a psychological reason for that, but I don’t know what it is. So I print my action list early in the week and then stick it above the visor in the car, and I make one phone call every day. It’s usually while I’m sitting in the carpool line waiting to pick Pete up from school, but some days it’s from the parking lot of a doctors office or the soccer field. It’s always while I’m parked and waiting for a kid, because I can’t read and drive at the same time.

    A human person is still answering the phones at Congressman Mark Meadows’s office, but I haven’t spoken with anyone at the offices of either Sen. Richard Burr or Sen. Thom Tillis recently because they both have answering machines to field that sort of thing now. Tillis set his own message, but Burr had someone else do it and the way she says “or if you have a comment about the executive office” makes me laugh every time. It sounds like she’s definitely tired of hearing comments about the executive office.

    Anyway, I called them all today to let them know I’m not in favor of the tax bill they’re trying to pass. Here’s a script from Indivisible if you’d like to do that, too:

    “Hello! My name is [___] and I’m calling from [part of state]. I’m calling to let [Congressman / Senator __] know that I strongly oppose the tax bill. This tax bill is a scam that will give massive cuts to the wealthy, paid for by raising taxes on tens of millions of middle-class families.”

    In which Poppy reminds me to keep writing. Also: a menu plan.

    I have written exactly one post here at Butterscotch Sundae since inauguration day, which you might through the process of inference take to mean that I am one of those liberal “snowflakes”[ref]Sidebar: Who in the world would consider “snowflake” an insult? I thought admiration of a beautiful snowy vista was one thing we all actually agreed on.[/ref] who is very upset about the state of the world. To which I would say “Congratulations on your powers of deduction,” because that’s exactly why I haven’t been writing.

    What I have been doing is reading[ref]”The Hobbit” and “Lovecraft Country.” Working on “Born to Run.” May have abandoned “The Romanovs.”[/ref] and cooking a lot of things in the pressure cooker[ref]Not an Instant Pot but the same general idea.[/ref] and going to soccer tournaments[ref]They won 1 game and tied 2.[/ref] and watching movies[ref]”Moonlight,” “La La Land” and “Arrival” for our annual anniversary film-a-thon.[/ref] and folding laundry[ref]Always.[/ref]. So just like normal.

    Except for telephone calls.

    I’ve also been calling senators and other governmental offices. I hate talking on the phone, and here I am calling strangers every single day to talk about Cabinet appointees. I don’t know that my phone calls are going to make a difference, but I decided I couldn’t keep doing nothing at all.

    Poppy asked me this weekend why I haven’t been writing, and I told her it was because I don’t feel like I have anything important to say. “Well you should do it anyway,” she said, and she’s right. This blog is primarily for her and her brother, and if they want me to keep writing about chicken casseroles and science homework that’s what I’m going to do.

    So let’s do this. Let’s talk about something mundane. Like, for example, this week’s menu plan:

    Monday: Breakfast for dinner
    I made a bunch of hardboiled eggs for deviled eggs in the pressure cooker this weekend, and they were a thing of beauty. Now I’m going to try to figure out the right timing for a perfect soft-boiled egg. (I told you this was going to be mundane.)

    Tuesday: Ina’s Lemon Chicken
    The hardest thing about this recipe is finding boneless chicken breast with the skin still on. Fortunately, we have a great local butcher who will prep them that way for me. Which reminds me: I need to call them to place my chicken order.

    Wednesday: Spaghetti & meatballs

    Thursday: ???
    It’s Poppy’s choice night, but she hasn’t made a decision yet. Odds are it’ll involve cheese.

    Friday: Pizza

    Hungry for more? Check out the Menu Plan Monday linkup at OrgJunkie.

    Reactionary reactivism

    Poppy and her friends were emailing each other practically all night on Tuesday, first with hopeful messages and then increasingly with disbelief and fear. But eventually they came back to hope, because they figured it out before I did: We can get through this.

    I spent a good deal of yesterday crying or trying not to cry. Not because my side lost but because the future looked so angry and bleak and so dangerous for so many people, and because the kind, generous America in my head turned out to be an illusion. I felt betrayed, and I was scared. I read about what to do now and about how to talk to your kids about the election. I grieved with friends who have more to fear from this rising tide of anger.

    Then in the evening we went to a poetry reading and then out for drinks and dessert with good friends. And it helped me to remember that we are still ourselves. The world may not be turning the way we’d like right now, but we’re still here, and we can do everything we can to Make America Kind Again. So today I’m laughing at my sweet, summer child self (see: Area Liberal No Longer Recognizes Fanciful, Wildly Inaccurate Mental Picture Of Country He Lives In) and preparing for winter by looking for ways to help.

    I don’t know what the next four years holds. But I do know this: The only thing I can control is how I react to the situation.