Americans of Conscience Checklist
By Jen Hofmann
77 weeks down, 27 weeks to mid-term elections.
This checklist features clear, hype-free actions for Americans who value democracy, equality, voting, and decency. Additionally, we practice gratitude, self-care, and celebration to stay engaged.
I value democracy.
Action: Show up for your representatives’ town halls this week.
Call: Your 2 senators and 1 House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m a constituent from [ZIP], calling to see if [name] is planning to hold any town hall meetings during the April 30-May 4 recess.
- If no meeting planned: Can you let me know when s/he plans to meet with his/her constituents?
- If meetings planned: Thank you—I plan to be there.
Action: Advocate for quality nominees.
Call: Or email your 2 senators (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m a constituent from [ZIP] calling to ask [name] to choose only high-quality, ethical nominees to serve our country. Andrew Oldham, nominee to the Court of Appeals, supports restricting voting rights, women’s health care, and immigrants’ rights. Gina Haspel’s past human-rights violations should preclude her from serving in the CIA, much less as its director. EPA Director Scott Pruitt has proven a poor choice for his cavalier spending of taxpayer dollars. I ask that [name] to be discerning as each vote comes up in the Senate. Thank you.
I value equality.
Stand with your rainbow of neighbors from every religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, age, and ability. Out of many, we are one.
Action: Stand with your Muslim and Jewish neighbors.
Write: Your local police chief or sheriff.
Script: Dear [name], I’m a resident of [city] writing to advocate for my neighbors of different religions. Nationally, hate crimes against Muslims and Jews are on the rise. I’d like to know three things about our city’s police department: 1. whether we’re tracking data on hate-motivated incidents, 2. if we are training officers on how to identify hate crimes, and 3. how our law enforcement staff are proactively supporting these communities. Thank you for your service and time. I look forward to your response. Name and address
Bonus: Write a love note of support to your local mosque and/or temple.
Action: Stand with people whose livelihood depends on tips.
CA, AK, WA, OR, NV, MT, and MI have ended subminimum wage. Stand with New York City’s 400,000 tipped workers in support of fair wages.
Action: Stand with women to receive equal pay for equal work.
Write: Your 2 senators and 1 House rep (look up).
Script: Dear [name]. April 10th was Equal Pay Day, the average date it takes for women in America to make the same wage as a white male in a year (99 extra days!). It takes even longer for Black women, Native women, and Latina women to make the same level of pay. In fact, Latinas are the farthest behind. At only 54 cents on the dollar for the same work, their Equal Pay Day is Nov 1st. I am writing to ask you to co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 1869/S. 819) so that equal pay can be a reality for all. Thank you.
Action: Stand with non-violent offenders.
Call: Your 2 senators—red or blue (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] calling in support of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 1917). This bipartisan effort would reduce racial disparity in sentencing, decrease the expense of ineffective mandatory minimums, and increase judicial discretion in sentencing non-violent drug offenders. It also allocates funding for effective programs that reduce re-offending. Will [name] co-sponsor S. 1917? Will s/he urge the Senate Majority Leader to bring the bill to the floor for a vote?
Action: Stand with our Jewish neighbors.
Write: Your local school district (look up).
Script: Dear Board of Ed., I am a resident of [town] and concerned to read a recent study that found two thirds of millenials did not know what Auschwitz was. Almost a quarter said they had never heard about the Holocaust. It also found that those who were well informed were the least likely to hold anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi views. You can find the study at claimscon.org/study/. With hate crimes on the rise, I would like the board to evaluate our district’s Holocaust curriculum to educate and cultivate compassion in our children. Excellent lesson plans are available from holocaust-trc.org and fcit.usf.edu. Thank you for your attention on this issue. Name, address
I value secure, convenient voting and fair elections.
Democracy thrives when all citizens can freely elect those who represent their values.
Action: Advocate for transparency in political ads to limit Russian influence.
Call: Your 2 senators and 1 House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and concerned about Russia’s influence on our upcoming midterm elections. Robert Mueller has already indicted Russian companies which spent $100,000 on 3000 Facebook ads alone. I would like [name] to co-sponsor Honest Ads Act (S. 1989/H.R. 4077) to disarm foreign actors and bring advertising transparency into the digital age. Thank you.
Action: Stand with people of color and their right to vote.
Call: Or write your state’s election official (look up) and governor (especially IL).
Script: Hi. I’m a resident of [state], concerned about our participation in Crosscheck. This system flags people with common names like Juan Garcia, making it harder for them to vote. A study showed that 1 in 6 Latinos get on the flagged, 1 in 7 Asian Americans, and 1 in 9 African Americans. If you’re like me and want elections in [state] to be fair and unbiased, please stop participation in Crosscheck and switch to ERIC. Thanks.
Note: This action applies to teal and orange states on this map.
Action: Share the info below with people you know in Ohio.
Elections on May 8 include Issue 1 that forces the state to address gerrymandering. Share this link: https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/politics/2018/04/09/election-2018-what-ohio-issue-1-how-would-eliminate-gerrymandering/485802002/
Action: Register to vote in primaries and share registration deadlines.
I value showing respect for all people, no matter where they were born.
People who immigrate to the US make our country stronger and build our economy. As our neighbors and as fellow human beings, they are entitled to basic respect and compassion.
Action: Stand with activists who are speaking up for basic respect for immigrants.
Call: Or write your 2 senators and 1 House rep, red and blue (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m a constituent calling from [ZIP], and it has come to my attention that the Department of Homeland Security issued a work order to monitor the public activities of journalists, bloggers, and online media influencers. Although their motivation is unclear, ICE has already arrested several high-profile immigrant rights advocates. I would like [name] to be aware of this issue and be proactive in protecting the constitutional right to free speech and requesting that the DHS be transparent about the intent of this monitoring.
Note: As an online influencer, I would personally appreciate your advocacy on this issue. -jeh
Action: Stand with Dreamers under threat of deportation.
Call: Your 2 senators and 1 House rep, red and blue (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling because believe that kids brought here as children are Americans. The president promised not to target Dreamers, but we have started deporting them and tearing them from loving families. This is unacceptable. I want [name] to be proactive in offering young people a path to citizenship, to prevent deportation, and to bring a vote on the Dream Act (H.R. 3440/S. 1615). We must protect these valuable members of our communities. Thank you.
Action: Stand with families separated at the border.
Sign the petition: The ACLU seeks 50,000 signatures to oppose this practice.
Note: Opt out after signing if you don’t want follow-up emails.
Deep breath innnnnnn… Deep breath ouuuuuuuut…
Acts of Gratitude
Get some stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for gratitude mail. Ready?
Thank Azadeh Shahshahani for her work through Project South and advocacy for America’s detained immigrants. Your legal work, investigations, and writing are shedding light and helping liberate our neighbors. Thank you for your tenacious leadership. We stand with you.
Address: Project South, 9 Gammon Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30315
Bonus: Make a contribution to Project South.
Thank four Republican members of the Senate Judicial Committee for voting for the bill (S. 1735) that protects special investigations of the president. It must be difficult to do something your party finds threatening, so I especially appreciate your leadership. Thank you for your service to our democracy.
Chuck Grassley 721 Federal Building, 210 Walnut Street, Des Moines, IA 50309
Lindsey Graham 508 Hampton Street, Suite 202, Columbia, SC 29201
Jeff Flake 2200 East Camelback Road, Suite 120, Phoenix, AZ 85016
Thom Tillis 310 New Bern Avenue, Suite 122, Raleigh, NC 27601
Thank AG Jeff Sessions for not canceling legal-rights clinics for people detained in ICE facilities. I value treating immigrants with basic respect, and your decision is a step toward that goal. Years from now, our nation will be judged by its treatment of peaceful people seeking asylum in our country.
Address: U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20530-0001
Thank the writers and producers of Grey’s Anatomy for collaborating with Define American on a recent episode featuring a DACA recipient. I believe our country needs to give these young people a path to citizenship. Increasing visibility of their plight on your show helps further that goal. Thank you so much.
Address: Production Office, Los Feliz Tower – 4th Floor, 4151 Prospect Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90027
Thank President Macron for his passionate speech to Congress and our nation. Your words inspired us to continue to work for truth and democracy, for a healthy planet, and to commit to being a good neighbor in the global community. I appreciate your reminder of our countries’ shared values and what true leadership looks like. Merci beaucoup.
Address: His Excellency President Macron
Palais de l’Elysée
55, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
75008 Paris, France
Thank Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) for sending a cease and desist letter to ICE in response to a series of aggressive raids in NY. I am concerned about the lack of oversight on this agency, and its destructive effect on our communities. Thank you for using all available tools to hold them accountable.
Address: New York State State Capitol Building Albany, NY 12224
Thank Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) for signing into law three bipartisan gun control bills that protect the citizens of your state. I especially appreciate you supporting a compromise that respects the 2nd Amendment while making people safer. Thank you.
Address: 100 State Circle, Annapolis, Maryland, 21401-1925
Thank Sen.Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) for her continuing advocacy for free and fair elections for all American voters. I appreciate you publicly urging the Governor of Illinois to exit the flawed Crosscheck voter database system. Thank you for your leadership.
Address: 230 South Dearborn Street, Suite 3900, Chicago, IL 60604
Thank Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) for safeguarding elections through the bipartisan Secure Elections Act (S. 2261), and meeting with multiple Secretaries of State to get input on the bill. I appreciate your work to secure our election infrastructure, and your belief that accurate vote-counting is not a partisan issue.
Address: 1015 North Broadway Avenue, Suite 310, Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Thank Maura Healey (MA Attorney General) for her suit against FedLoan for converting a third of TEACH grants to interest-bearing loans. I appreciate your advocacy for learners, for teachers, and for our communities. Thank you.
Address: One Ashburton Place, Boston, MA 02108-1518
- Which group of people paid $328.2 billion in state and federal taxes in one year?
- Which US agency has been found to be inflating its assault statistics?
- Which group of Americans opposes a border wall at a rate of 90%?
Decent people everywhere are speaking up and working together. Just look.
- Alejandra Pablos will be released from ICE detention!
- ICE in Florida released young man from detention who has Down syndrome.
- A Canadian lawsuit seeks to hold the US responsible for its international asylum obligations.
- SPLC is suing DHS, ICE, and high-level federal officials for violating detained immigrants’ right to counsel in Southeast facilities.
- Kamala Harris becomes the 5th member of Congress to refuse corporate PAC donations.
- Orrin Hatch wrote an op-ed stating that firing Robert Mueller would be a “grave error.”
- Senate voted unanimously that senators may bring infants up to age 1 into the chamber.
- D.C. Federal District Court ruled that the administration must continue to renew DACA applications.
- 9th Circuit Court ruled that the DoJ cannot require local law enforcement to enforce immigration law in exchange for federal funding.
- 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that separation of powers prevents Sessions from withholding funding from cities whose police don’t enforce immigration law.
- In support of due process, SCOTUS voted against a law that allowed deportation of some immigrants, saying it was unconstitutionally vague.
- US Air Force becomes the 4th military branch to say transgender people pose no negative effect on cohesion.
- NJ becomes the 12th state to enact automatic voter registration.
- IN must set up more early-voting locations to improve voter access to polling places.
- MD updates its rules to disclose who purchases online political ads.
- 10 Florida kids sue their state for a climate recovery plan.
- NY will restore voting rights to people on parole.
- CA lawmakers seek to change standards for police use of lethal force.
- PA residents use creative strategies to close ICE detention facility.
- NJ approves a measure to extend in-state college financial aid to undocumented students.
- 100,000 CA teens have pre-registered to vote.
- CA Secretary of State launched a site to encourage teens’ civic engagement.
- TX Board of Education approves a statewide Mexican-American studies course.
- VA governor vetoed a bill that would have prohibited cities from deciding whether police must assist with immigration enforcement.
- Lawmakers hold non-profit organization accountable for discrimination and enforce equal pay for workers with disabilities.
- Time’s 100 Most Influential People List included seven Latinos, including Cardi B, Emma González, and Cristina Jiménez.
- NYC will provide temporary housing for displaced Puerto Rican families.
- Philadelphia’s justice reform efforts decrease incarceration, increase rehabilitation, and close the city’s huge, out-of-date jail.
- Montgomery AL’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice museum opens to highlight the abuses of white supremacy.
Groups and organizations
- Michael Bloomberg will donate $4.5 million to cover the Paris Climate Agreement.
- Immigrant youth are undeterred, making state-level progress in NJ and RI.
- MA ACLU challenges practice of separating married couples and families while pursuing lawful immigration status.
- Pediatricians make videos to stand with and support immigrant children.
- 70 Home Depot volunteers rebuild a homeless veteran’s childhood home.
- The New York Bar Foundation made a grant of $15,000 to support legal representation of asylum seekers and refugees.
News with heart
- These two lovebirds remind us that love wins.
- 13 semi drivers line up under a bridge to prevent a man from jumping.
- Young man stops a shooter then sets up a fundraiser for the four people killed.
- A former inmate creates a newspaper to help returning citizens with reintegration.
- Court-involved youth transform old prison into farm and housing for homeless veterans.
- Atlanta man’s “crazy idea” brings inner-city soccer to more kids.
- Mexican band, Los Tigres Del Norte, play music of hope at CA’s Folsom Prison.
- Deported veteran returns to become a US citizen, thanks to CA gov’s pardon.
- Justice Bader Ginsburg presides over a naturalization ceremony, and it is beautiful.
- The messy, cathartic process of using art for healing after Parkland.
- This former refugee is now the first Latina CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
- See more good news at Small Victories, Marla’s Good News, and What Went Right.
Spread the word
Know someone who could use some good news and clear actions? Please share!
Print the new flyer and share at in-person events: PDF download
(Thanks to volunteer Sue S. for its design!)
Tweet: Expressing gratitude is part of your complete, nutritious democracy. We thank 13 people in this week’s @AoCChecklist. Prepare to feel good! https://goo.gl/kS8rT6
Email and Facebook: Expressing gratitude is part of your complete, nutritious democracy! We thank 13 people in this week’s Americans of Conscience Checklist. Prepare to be feel good! https://goo.gl/kS8rT6
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- Stay inspired: Complete the Self-Care Worksheet.
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- Connect: If you have a question, correction, or action suggestion. With thanks!
- Nerd out: See archives of past AoC Checklists here and scroll down.
- Gratitude: Big thanks to the JEBitor, this week’s pinch-hitting Social Media Volunteers, the Research Sous Chefs teams, and to the angel patrons who make it possible.