Are you a Witch?

four women holding blue abortion rights signs with fists raised in the air
photo credit: @AFPandrew @AFPphoto

Don’t you love Halloween? The costumes. The adorable kids. The candy. (The day-after-Halloween candy sales.) The silliness.

I especially love all the witches. And by witch, I mean:

Woman

In

Total

Control of

Herself

Since June 24, there are a whole lot of witches out there. We’re marching, raising money, speaking out, knocking on doors, making noise and running for office. We’re also organizing.

When women, or members of any historically excluded community, take control of ourselves, big things happen.

And that’s what organizing is all about. Every organizing campaign is about more than winning. In the very process of organizing, we transform ourselves and our communities. We take control of our lives and our future. Ask any worker who has organized a union at their workplace. The change is not just about the legal ability to negotiate a raise or better hours. The victory is in the transformation of the workers and the workplace into one where workers have some control.

When I worked with women union members in Florida during an election campaign, it was immediately obvious which members had organized their union and which had inherited it. Many members at long-time-union workplaces already participate in campaigns and contract enforcement.

Workers who had organized their union felt the collective power because they had built it. They were the first to sign up for volunteer actions. Every single member in that unit joined the political action fund. They surpassed their goals for engaging their co-workers and friends in the campaign. They were in total control of themselves.

Organizing is bringing people together to build power. When we have power in our communities, we take control of the decisions that affect our lives.

Be a witch. 🧙‍♀️

A Culture of Violence

With guest co-author Sylvia Gordon (aka Mira’s mom)

Text of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution in black colonial script on a white background with a green border. A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

On December 14, 2012, Sylvia turned 71. Also on December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza made sure 28 people at Sandy Hook Elementary would never turn 71. Sixteen of them wouldn’t even turn 7.

If that memory is a shadow over Sylvia’s birthday, we can’t imagine the extreme trauma that families in Newtown feel every December 14. Or families in communities that are torn apart by preventable gun violence every day.

The murder of more children on someone else’s birthday in Uvalde TX moved us to tears. Again. Not only tears of sadness for the parents and children who will never celebrate another birthday, but tears of anger and frustration.

Why does this keep happening? The thing is, it’s not just Adam Lanza. Or Dylan Roof. Or Payton Gendron. Or Omar Mateen. It’s the hostage situation the extremists have put us in and our culture of violence.

Out-of-control lobbyists have taken us hostage, preventing legislatures from passing common sense reforms. Also, there is a huge, gaping, black hole of leadership on the pro-violence side of this issue. (Yes, we said “pro-violence.”)

We must free ourselves from our captors and pass some new laws. Universal background checks on all firearms transfers, even gifts. Mandatory firearms training and liability insurance. Safe storage off-site, staffed by a licensed attendant. A ban on assault weapons. A ban on ghost guns. No gun ownership before age 25. A ban on large ammo clips. A national registry of gun violations so someone whose gun has been taken away in New York can’t get a new one next door in Pennsylvania.

And here’s the big one: repeal the Second Amendment. We have a well regulated militia. When the framers wrote the Constitution, there was no common defense of the newly-established nation. Now, we have the best trained and equipped military force in the world. We trust the members of our armed services to keep us safe. Also, if you support the police, then support their calls for stricter gun regulation.

Even if our wish list was fulfilled, it wouldn’t be enough. If we don’t address our culture of violence, then white supremacists, extremists, and plain old angry white men will find other ways to take their anger out on innocent people. Where is the leadership from gun owners? From conservatives? From the NRA?

We don’t ask people of color to solve racism, so why are we asking people who don’t own guns to solve gun violence?

Gun owners and people opposed to common sense gun reforms must step up. Real leaders will send the message to their sister and brother Second Amendment advocates that frustration, anger and fear of change are not excuses for violence.

Being angry is ok.* Owning guns is ok. But not together. It is not ok to take out anger by spraying gunfire on innocent people.

We are waiting for the pro-gun crowd to prove to us that gun rights advocacy and hate don’t go hand in hand. Until conservatives and gun rights advocates start shutting down the replacement theorists, white supremacists and otherwise disaffected (mostly) white (mostly) men with guns, we will continue to call them pro-violence.

*Anger that’s not ok: white supremacy. Transphobia. Misogyny. Homophobia. You get our point.

I’m a Justin Amash fan.

There. I said it. I’m not voting for him, ever. However. . .

This Politico piece, by Tim Alberta, about Amash is very insightful. For anyone who is tempted to think that he’s on your side because he’s against Donald Trump, don’t. However, he has a lot of great things to say about partisanship and economic disaster recovery. The piece is also a flash reminder of how sexist our politics are.

Amash spends four paragraphs hitting the nail squarely on the head about the similarities and differences between Biden and Trump and Democrats and Republicans. He sounds an awful lot like left-wing activists who complain that there is no difference between the parties. His comments about purity are particularly striking:

“When you get on the wrong side of people on the left, a lot of it sounds like things I hear from people on the right.”

“What they don’t recognize is that [Trump]’s a creature of this system where everyone is hyperpartisan and hates each other and where they’re told repeatedly, ‘If you don’t vote for our party nominee, you are selling out your family, your friends, your country to these people who want to destroy it.’ And that’s what both sides are told.”

Don’t worry. I’ll do everything I can this year to #VoteBlueNoMatterWho. But it has to be said: the polarization is not just their fault. We have purity tests too.

The surprising part of the interview was Amash’s advocacy for handing out cash. He has (justified) harsh criticism for the tendency of relief plans to reward giant corporations and wealthy donors of both major parties. The surprising part for a libertarian was this:

“If they did something like, let’s just send everyone some money, direct cash payments, as I suggested, universal monthly cash relief, there’s only one constituency for that. That’s the entire public. And they’re not getting much out of that in terms of politics.”

What populist, progressive, capitalism-questioning, near-socialist doesn’t love that idea?? (He lost me a little later on, with the typical ultra-conservative disparagement of the role of the federal government and the UN.)

Finally, another significant part of the piece is less about Amash and more about the sexism in politics. He spends most of a long paragraph talking about how great he is. He starts six sentences with “I am [something great about Justin Amash.]” What would we say about a woman who started six sentences in one paragraph with “I” instead of “we?” And listed all kinds of ways she’s great? Spoiler alert: it wouldn’t be that she’s a great leader.

In a time when everything is us vs. them, I hardly expected to have so much in common with a libertarian, right-wing, Tea Party, Freedom Caucus true believer. But here we are.

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