300,000 Marched. What’s Next?

Last Saturday, I was one of the 300,000 people who gathered in Grant Park to express our strong objection to the misogynistic, retrogressive, cold-hearted and just plain foolish policies of our fearless leader Donald Trump and all his Congressional and White House enablers. (Do none of those people possess any ethical principles? History will not treat them kindly.)

On my el ride into Chicago I was surrounded by NTDO friends and new acquaintances equipped with hand-made signs expressing their views on the Trump regime. As you might imagine, I found all of those folks to be especially intelligent and patriotic Americans. — I’m joking, but actually it is true.

We’d gotten a late start from Linden Street. We were still in Wilmette when the speeches in Grant Park began. Even so, as we walked from the subway stop down Jackson Blvd. to the park, the sidewalk filled with more sign carriers headed to the gathering. The sunny weather added to the upbeat mood that I think we all felt. There was a positive purpose to what we were doing.

We found a spot somewhere in the middle of Columbus Drive, blocks south of the rally’s stage. However, there was a large screen and loudspeaker set up in the distance so we were able to see and hear a bit of what was presented — when signage didn’t block the view or hovering helicopters didn’t drown out the sound. But really, the stage presentations were not why we were there. The speakers were saying inspiring things, but we were already inspired.

We knew we were part of an assemblage of 300,000 people, all joined in a common cause to turn things around for our nation. It was a visual statement made to our government’s leaders and to the world that was too big to be ignored. And we were just a fraction of what was going on across America. 

According to a report I read today, data from scholars at the Univ. of Denver and the Univ. of Connecticut estimated Saturday’s rallies across the U.S. involved as many as 2.5 million people. And as I stood in the middle of one of the largest crowds I’ve ever been a part of, I thought “If each of the thousands of women and men standing here would just spend a small amount of their time between now and next November (286 days from today) on the process of getting voters to the Mid-term polls, the impact would be tremendous.” And yes, I’m sure many of the people standing with me in Grant Park are already politically engaged. But I’ll bet a lot more could be.

If each of them influenced just five or ten or twenty people to vote for Democratic candidates in November, how different this Mid- term Election will be from the past Mid-term disasters of 2010 and 2014. Those elections and Democratic party inattention and voter apathy put Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell in control of our nation’s agenda and Bruce Rauner in his role playing Illinois’ Governor.

The hundreds of thousands of women who marched in rallies across the United States are a good omen that November 6, 2018 could be the date when our system as a democratic republic begins to actually function again. We can’t let ourselves forget what a government of checks and balances and compromises was like. The rallies have given me hope. But hope alone isn’t going to do the job.

With that in mind, throughout the coming election year, the NTD News will be offering suggested opportunities for your political engagement. Just below this commentary are the first of them.

Nels Howard
NTDO member since 1973

A valuable Wisconsin project – interested?

A week ago in Wisconsin there was a special election to fill a seat vacated by a Wisconsin Republican moving on to be Governor Walker’s Agriculture Secretary. In 2016 that district was won by Trump with a 59% vote. The departing Republican had previously won the seat with a 63% vote. A week ago, Democratic candidate Patty Schachtner defeated her Republican opponent by nine points! — Republicans are panicked. They should be.

This volunteer action is on Sunday, February 4 in Kenosha.

Just north of our Illinois border in blue collar Kenosha 7,500 Kenosha voters have been stripped off the voting rolls. There are also certainly several thousand more voters who have never-registered due to lack of information or interest. Because of laws Republicans put in place, all of these potential voters will now need an official voter I.D. before they can register – a subtle type of voter suppression. — Kenosha is in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s 1st District and this election Congressman Ryan is facing an opponent who just might beat him, Randy Bryce (see item farther down in the News).

In a nutshell, volunteers will be walking targeted Kenosha neighborhoods, asking door to door whether folks are registered to vote and whether they have a current WI driver’s license or state I.D. You will NOT be registering voters, but anyone you contact who says they don’t have an I.D. will get follow up phone calls from other volunteers to pave the way for them to get their I.D.s. Once folks access their proper voter I.D., they can easily register online OR on the day of an election, as WI has same day registration.

The project organizer, Nancy Bruski is working with Indivisible Evanston. They are arranging carpools or you can go on your own. Walk packs, data sheets and a script will be provided. Materials can be picked up at Nancy Bruski’s home, 1624 Ashland Ave., Evanston anytime between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, Feb.4. Kenosha is about 75 minutes from Evanston. Suggested canvassing times in Kenosha are between 1:00 – 5:00. Your materials should be returned at Nancy’s home at the end of your volunteer day so that no data sheets get lost in the shuffle. (If temperatures drop below 20 degrees, we might need to reschedule, so check your email. Otherwise, dress warmly!

It’s important that you register for the Feb. 4 date so walk packs can be assembled. Call or email Nancy with canvassing questions: 847-373-7755 (cell); nancybruski@gmail.com. For carpool questions: email indivisibleevanston@gmail.com. Also, let Nancy know if you need a ride or can drive others.

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Helping the Wisconsin project with your spreadsheet expertise:

A separate but related effort to the work of the Southern Wisconsin Voter ID Project is the plan to create future canvassing routes generated from the alphabetical list of Kenosha voters stripped off the rolls. This brief local activity will require rudimentary experience with spreadsheets, and/or general computer skills – and, of course, your availability. High School students could be among those qualified. To find out more about this volunteer effort, contact Jack Smyth, cell: 773-350-8269, email: jsmythjr@att.net.

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A Volunteer project with the Democratic Party of Evanston:

A message from the DPOE:

“The DPOE Political Committee is hard at work ahead of the Democratic Primary. But, before we jump into our get out the vote efforts, we need to do everything we can to register eligible Evanston residents to vote. With an aggressive, door-to-door voter registration campaign, we know we will defeat the Trump-Rauner agenda this fall. So, sign up to help us on the following days: Saturday, January 27 from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, February 3 from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday February 11 from 1:30 to 4 p.m., Sunday February18 from 1:30 to 4 p.m.

We will meet at the DPOE office (747 Custer Ave) at 1:30 p.m. and then go door-to-door in Evanston neighborhoods with the lowest percentage of registered voters.  If we’re going to win, we need your help now! So sign upgrab a clipboard and some voter registration forms, and let’s get to work!”

“P.S. If you aren’t able to go door-to-door, then please join us for one of our Monday evening phone banks! Our phone banks take place every Monday at 5 p.m. at the DPOE office (747 Custer Ave). If you can, please bring a cell phone, laptop, and any chargers you may need.”