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On Congress’ first day in session, a small group of Virginians went to visit their Congressman to voice their displeasure with his efforts to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics. Facing outrage around the country, Republicans cave. The resistance gets its first win.
Ivonne Wallace Fuentes of Roanoke Indivisible remembers:
“On the very first day of the new Congress, Bob Goodlatte, my Representative, the person who wielded power in my name in Washington DC., had just proposed an amendment gutting the Office of Congressional Ethics. How was this fulfilling the promise of making government more transparent, more responsive, less corrupt? I registered Roanoke Indivisible with Indivisible’s new directory that very night and resolved to call Goodlatte’s office the next day.
I called. So many people were calling it was impossible to get through. Twelve of us decided to visit Goodlatte’s downtown Roanoke office. Facing overwhelming public outrage, a “blizzard” of calls to Congress, Goodlatte and his Republican colleagues tabled the ethics amendment. We visited Goodlatte’s office anyway, to deliver New Year’s cards and let him know we were here, watching, organizing, voting. We were completely surprised when we were refused entry into his district office and left to meet with his staff in an open lobby.
Heading out, three of us remembered another cardinal Indivisible rule: pics or it didn’t happen. We shot a video selfie and sent it to the Indivisible Guide team. Indivisible Guide volunteers had told us cable news might be interested in our video, but it wasn’t until my social media feeds began blowing up that I learned that our video was part of the lead story that night on The Rachel Maddow Show. I have since learned that many people found that video heartening and inspiring. The original Facebook video has been viewed and shared thousands of times, and a viewer sent me a pussy hat which I was proud to wear to the Women’s March on Washington.
But I am guided most by my mother’s reaction. She happened to tune into The Rachel Maddow Show that night and was completely surprised to see my face. My mother was reared in Guatemala, during a civil conflict which would ultimately claim a hundred thousand lives while creating one of the most repressive political climates in the world. Her first reaction, she told me later, was deep dread. Seeing a loved one on television for political activity was terrifying, first and only a cause to fear for their safety. But her second reaction was relief — “in this country,” she told me, “we can do this.”
Today, our group is over a thousand strong. We continue calling our Members of Congress and visiting Goodlatte’s office. His staff continues to deny us entry. We have organized civic events for the Roanoke community, including “Ask Me Anything” information sessions on the U.S. Constitution and on immigration. When Rep. Goodlatte’s office refused to schedule an open constituent forum, we organized two town halls for him. Hundreds gathered to speak to Mr. Goodlatte, though he has still refused to attend. He personally lobbied a city council member to keep the Staunton City Council from inviting him to attend a town hall.
Indivisible Chicago wanted to make an impact in the fight for voting rights. They started doing some digging on a problematic vote-suppressing national program. What they found made headlines--and it may one day unravel the program for good.
On October 23, a story broke in Mother Jones, ProPublica, and Think Progress that caused a big stir in voting rights circles. A group of citizens in Illinois had discovered some smoking-gun evidence that the problematic Interstate Crosscheck program had some major security issues—and that key people knew about them. That group was Indivisible Chicago.
The Interstate Voter Registration Data Crosscheck system is a data-sharing program that many states participate in. It has a record of producing false positives. If you share the same first name, last name, and birthdate as someone in another one of the participating states, you may be purged from the rolls incorrectly. The program is the brainchild of Kris Kobach, a Trump administration favorite notorious for pushing vote-suppressing policies.
Running this problematic program requires sending massive amounts of sensitive voter data from state to state, so strong security should be a top priority. But when Indivisible Chicago sent standard FOIA requests to state officials, they were shocked by what they received. They were sent the unredacted personal information of hundreds of voters. They were sent passwords that would have given them access vast caches of data. And perhaps most shockingly, they received emails showing officials discussing these issues: key people were aware the system was flawed and vulnerable to hacking.
For several months, the team had been pressuring their own state’s board of elections to remove the state from the Crosscheck program, going from office to office to build a coalition of elected officials—and becoming statewide experts in the process.
When tragedy in Charlottesville rocked the country, Indivisible groups came together with dozens of other progressive groups to stand against hate.
After a peaceful protest against white supremacy in Charlottesville ended with the murder of Heather Heyer, Indivisible groups mobilized with dozens of other progressive groups to stand against hate. Indivisible created a platform that made it easy to coordinate events quickly, and in less than 48 hours, 900 vigils were listed. In big cities and small towns, Indivisible members showed up to say: hate has no home here.
The events of that weekend were also a call to action, a reminder that standing Indivisible means working every day to recognize patterns of injustice, educate ourselves, and support leaders in our communities in the fight against racial injustice. Indivisible groups have participated in trainings and discussions, forged new partnerships, and are engaging every day in the challenging work of reimagining a national conversation.
First Virginia, then Alabama, Indivisible builds a blue wave.
This fall, Indivisible Project, our 501(c)(4), launched a Virginia electoral program with a five dedicated staff on the ground as well as national communications and organizing support. Indivisible groups, alongside partner organizations, used targeted voter contact tools to increase turnout across the state, making over 600,000 calls and sending nearly 34,000 text messages. In addition to keeping a Democrat in the Virginia governor’s mansion, Indivisible groups helped flip several House of Delegates seats from red to blue, and helped elect candidates who ran for previously uncontested seats or represent a more diverse and inclusive pool of candidates than in past cycles. Two first-time candidates who founded Indivisible groups in their communities were on the ballot today for the House of Delegates. Kimberly Anne Tucker ran a strong campaign in the 81st district. Wendy Gooditis ran in the 10th district - and Wendy won!
In Alabama, Indivisible Groups and community partners in the state made the impossible possible. A progressive victory for Doug Jones in deep-red Alabama, a state that voted for Donald Trump by a 28-point margin, was absolutely unthinkable inside the Beltway. This is exactly why Indivisible Project launched Indivisible435 - we're going to help local Indivisible groups compete in elections everywhere, and we're going to win in unexpected places.
Just as they did on Trumpcare, Indivisible groups have turned up over and over to stand with Dreamers and fight the GOP tax bill.
When the Trump administration began, many progressives feared that anti-immigrant measures and awful conservative economic policies would be sailing through Congress. Republicans controlled the House, the Senate and the Presidency.
Indivisible groups have fought them for every single inch.
They held all-night vigils and organized massive rallies. They paid memorable visits to their representatives’ offices, dressing as “Monopoly Men,” and giving them giant checks made out to “the 1%.” In one Day Of Action alone, Indivisible groups held 93 actions across 35 states.
After the grassroots outrage successfully killed Trumpcare, skeptics said there was no way resistance groups would be able to keep up that same momentum on such an arcane issue as taxes. Indivisible groups proved them wrong.
All year, Indivisible has staked out a position at the front lines of the fight for immigrant rights, pushing Democrats to use every tool they have to defend DACA side-by-side with immigration advocacy groups. Indivisible groups in the home states of key leaders have backed that up with actions, successfully getting Democrats to prioritize DACA in periodic funding fights, and then firming up Democrats when they were faced with a harmful compromise bill that leadership was hoping to advance. Since their inception, Indivisible groups around the country have been pitching in on fights for justice for immigrants in their own communities, helping families fight deportation orders and fighting local detention centers. On DACA, groups in red, blue and purple states are sending the message that they will keep fighting until everyone is #HereToStay.