Domestic (In)justice Activism Opportunities

  • THE MIDTERMS MINUTE (Primaries): Support Progressives in Connecticut and Vermont (and MN and WI) on 8/14

    MIDTERMS_MINUTE_IMAGE_FINAL.pngWelcome to The Midterms Minute: a look at the candidates and races that you need to know about, shout about and support to make sure we have a blue tsunami on November 6th. (Quick links at bottom of the page.)

    In our last two segments, we spotlighted the Minnesota and Wisconsin primaries which are both happening on August 14th. If you missed those segments, check out our previous episodes or visit Today, we’ll round out the August 14th primaries with spotlights on Connecticut and Vermont.

    AUGUST 14th: 

    CONNECTICUT (Reg. Deadlines - Primary: Online, mail, or in person by Thurs. Aug 9th / General: Oct. 30th)

    Governor: There is a competitive Democratic primary for governor in Connecticut. Businessman Ned Lamont is the state Working Families Party choice and is running on criminal justice reform and a $15 minimum wage. His opponent is currently mayor of Bridgeport, but previously went to jail for seven years after being convicted of extortion and bribery while in office. Lamont is polling neck-and-neck with the expected Republican nominee. Politico has called this a race to watch, because, as you may recall, governors elected this year will be involved in their states’ redistricting process following the 2020 Census.

    5th District: Connecticut’s 5th district is another race where Republicans have a chance in November. And so, the Democratic primary has been heated. But Jahana Hayes, the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, has grabbed national attention with her energy and inspiring life story. Unlike her opponent, she supports single-payer and has received endorsements that include the Working Families Party and AFL-CIO Connecticut. If she wins, she could become the first African American to represent the state. Connecticut’s Democratic Party establishment has expressed concern about her lack of political experience, but she was drafted to run and has a strong ally in Senator Chris Murphy.

    Important Dates: If you’re a Connecticut resident, your voter registration, whether online, mailed, or in-person, must be received by August 9th.

    VERMONT (Reg. Deadlines - Primary: Early voting has begun. Must be registered by Aug. 14th / General: Nov. 6th)

    Representative At Large: Turning now to Vermont, Democratic incumbent Representative Peter Welch is facing a primary challenge for his congressional seat, which is the only House seat Vermont has. A few months ago, it came to light that Welch received campaign contributions and bought and sold stock from the very companies lobbying for the prescription drug bill he championed. Thank goodness Vermonters have a choice. Doctor and veteran Daniel Freilich is running a campaign primarily focused on campaign finance reform and anti-corruption that also includes medicare for all, a green revolution, and other progressive policies.

    Governor: Also in Vermont, Republican Phill Scot, a first term and well-liked governor, is up for reelection. As we’ve already mentioned, governorships are critical this year. In the Democratic primary there are two front runners. Christine Hellquist is the former CEO of the successful Vermont Electricity Cooperative. She’s running on a progressive platform, touting her leadership experience in utilities, and her campaign is the first ever in Vermont to organize a union contract with campaign staff. If she won in November, she would also be the first openly transgender governor in the country. Environmentalist, James Ehlers, is the other primary front runner. He’s also running on progressive policies, although the self-proclaimed “provocateur” has some strange tweets about unions and abortion in his past. He says his views have evolved since then and the AFL-CIO has endorsed him. It’s also worth noting that a 13 year old - Ethan Sonneborn - is another legitimate candidate in this primary race. Though he likely won’t win, he’s taking his campaign very seriously with a message that is all about inspiring young people to get politically engaged. 

    U.S. Senate: And finally, Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, the most well-liked politician in the country, is facing two primary opponents. One is a self proclaimed “Clintonian” and “Obamacrat” who moved to Vermont after the 2016 presidential election with the specific goal of unseating Sanders. The other is a farmer running as an Independent with a focus on fighting climate change. He says he likes Bernie but is concerned that his focus is too national and that he’ll leave the office to run for president again in 2020.

    Important Dates: If you’re a Vermont resident, early voting has already begun and you must be registered by primary day, August 14th, to vote in the primaries.

    We want to emphasize registration cut off dates and absentee ballot request and submission dates are different for each state, sometimes even each county. We highly suggest reviewing your state’s information, and voter ID laws, at as soon as possible to ensure you will be able to vote in both the primary and general elections.

    So, if building the bluest of blue waves is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about supporting progressive candidates across the country via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.




    Check on candidates endorsed by Justice Democrats | Brand New Congress | DSA | Latino Victory | Our Revolution

    Check your state registration deadlines and voter ID laws with

    For an easy way to donate to candidates, check out on your mobile browser.

    15 Ways to Help a Campaign Win Their Election” (Political Charge)

    August 14th Primaries:

    Connecticut (Reg. Deadlines - Primary: Online, mail, or in person by Thurs. Aug 9th / General: Oct. 30th)

    Governor (Dem. Primary) - Ned Lamont

    5th District (Dem. Primary) - Jahana Hayes (Heads up! Republicans are vying for this seat in November.)

    Heads up! General Nov. 6th - U.S House - 2nd District - One large county in District 2 pivoted for Trump in 2016. Incumbent Dem. Joe Courtney will run against Republican Dan Postemski in the general.

    Vermont (Reg. Deadlines - Primary: Early voting has begun. Must be registered by Aug. 14th / General: Nov. 6th)

    U.S. House (statewide Rep.) (Dem. Primary) - Daniel Freilich (Read about incumbent Pat Welch corruption)

    Governor - Christine Hallquist vs. James Ehlers vs. Ethan Sonneborn 

    U.S. Senate - Bernie Sanders 

    *Minnesota (Reg. Deadlines - Primaries: Online: July 24th, In person: Until August 14th / General: Oct. 9th) 

    *Read our MN spotlight*

    U.S. House - 5th District: Ilhan Omar 

    U.S. House - 8th District: Michelle Lee 

    U.S. Senate (Dem. Primary for Nov. Special Election) - Tina Smith 

    Governor (Dem. Primary) - Erin Murphy 

    *Wisconsin (Reg. Deadlines - Primary: Post-marked by July 25th, or in-person by Aug 10th / General: post-marked by Oct. 17th, in-person by Nov. 2nd)

    *Read our spotlight*

    U.S. House - 1st District: Randy Bryce vs. Cathy Myers

    Star Tribune Article on Bryce’s arrests & Bryce’s response 

    U.S. House - 4th District: Incumbent Gwen Moore will very likely win her primary.

    U.S. House - 7th District: Margaret Engebretson

    Governor: Tony Evers | Mike McCabe

    Heads Up! General Nov. 6th: U.S. Senate - Incumbent Tammy Baldwin is running for reelection in Nov. and facing $8.5 million in conservative money against her. 


    Posted July 24, 2018; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1198: All we have to fear is fear itself (Our Culture of Fear)


  • Tell Congress: Punitive Drug Policies Don’t Work. Harm-Reduction Does. via @DrugPolicyOrg

    Drug_Policy_Alliance_.pngThis month, in the midst of the chaos of yet another major east coast snowstorm, Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a memo “strongly encouraging” federal prosecutors to apply charges that bring the death penalty in certain drug cases, including “dealing in extremely large quantities of drugs.”

    As this is part of the Trump administration’s response to the opioid crisis, many, including myself, have wondered aloud if Sessions would advocate using capital punishment on pharmaceutical executives.

    The ACLU responded to Session’s memo by calling it absurd and unconstitutional, stating, “Drug trafficking is not an offense for which someone can receive the death penalty. The Supreme Court has repeatedly and consistently rejected the use of the death penalty in cases where there has been no murder by the convicted individual.”

    Beyond that, the organization Drug Policy Alliance has extensively detailed reports on why what are called “drug-induced homicide” laws are counterproductive and inhumane. At the peak of the War on Drugs in the 1980s, the federal government and many states passed these laws to punish people who provided drugs that led to accidental overdose deaths with sentences equivalent to those for manslaughter and murder. They were rarely used, but with the recent spike in overdose deaths, they have been revived by police and prosecutors. There was a 300 percent increase in these charges from 2011 to 2016.

    As with most drug laws, drug-induced homicide laws disproportionately affect the poor, people of color, and those with felony records who have a difficult time getting jobs. Not only that, but they can provide a disincentive to call for help when witnessing an overdose if that person has provided the drugs. And we’re not just talking about selling drugs to a stranger. Many have lost loved ones from an accidental overdose after sharing drugs with them and then lost their freedom, and sometimes children, because they were the ones who provided those drugs.

    The Drug Policy Alliance is encouraging people to respond to Session’s memo by writing and calling your members of congress. On their campaign page, which we’ve linked to in the show notes, they have provided a sample letter that you can send immediately to your members of congress. That letter can also double as a call script guide.

    The Drug Policy Alliance advocates for the expansion of harm reduction services and effective treatment, including establishment of safe consumption services, drug checking, syringe access programs, 911 Good Samaritan laws and evidence-based drug education. The organization also advocates for the Marijuana Justice Act that would end federal marijuana prohibition, support racial justice, and help repair communities most devastated by the war on drugs. But, as you know, we need to take back the House and Senate this November if we ever hope to see that legislation passed. Head over to to learn more.

    So, if opposing failed policies and adopting the solutions that will save lives instead is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Telling Congress that Punitive Drug Policies Don’t Work. Harm-Reduction Does. via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.




    Tell Congress: Stand Against Harsh Drug Penalties via Drug Policy Alliance 

    Tip: Use the sample email as guidance for a call script. 


    An Overdose Death Is Not Murder: Why Drug-Induced Homicide Laws Are Counterproductive and Inhumane (Drug Policy Alliance)

    Experts React to Trump’s Plan to Escalate Drug War and Impose Death Penalty for Drug Offenses (Drug Policy Alliance)

    Read: Jeff Sessions’s memo asking federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty for drug traffickers (Vox)

    Legal pot business owners ponder the possibility of death row after Trump administration policy shift (NBC)

    Eleven countries studied, one inescapable conclusion – the drug laws don’t work (The Guardian, 2014)


    Posted March 27, 2018; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1174: Renewed and repackaged racism (Drug War)


  • #TakeCTRL: Stop ALPR Surveillance in Your Community with CCOPS Laws via @ACLU

    ACLU_Right_to_remain_private.pngAs if there weren’t enough reasons not to have a car, here’s one more.

    Automated License Plate Readers, or ALPRs, are high-speed, computer controlled camera systems that automatically collect all license plate numbers that come into view along with location, date and time data. These cameras are bolted on traffic lights, telephone polls, overpasses, and squad cars, in towns and cities across America. Think of it like browser cookies, but instead of your web history, ALPRs track your whereabouts as you live your life in your community using your license plate as an ID. Local law enforcement agencies then purchase this data from ALPR providers to use as they see fit.

    When ALPRs came on the scene, the civil liberty concerns were glaring. This was yet another surveillance technology with zero accountability or regulation disproportionately impacting communities of color and other unjustly targeted groups.

    To help communities fight back, two months before the 2016 presidential election, the ACLU formed the Community Control Over Police Surveillance, or CCOPS, coalition effort, providing guiding principles for local anti-surveillance legislation, as well as a C COPS model bill. In short, these principles and the model bill emphasize the right for the people and City Councils to be notified and engaged at every turn when it comes to proposed adoption of surveillance technology in their community. Nothing will be grandfathered in, every approval will be specific, every technology will be thoroughly reviewed at all angles, and the process must  be entirely transparent and well-informed.

    Then came Trump, and the necessity for cities to protect themselves at the local level became even more urgent with the pending implementation of his racist, deportation-heavy agenda. Not to mention the attacks on First Amendment rights as the people immediately began resisting.

    By the summer of 2017, cities like Seattle; Nashville; Somerville, Massachusetts; and Santa Clara County, California - yes, the home of Silicon Valley - had all passed CCOPS laws. As of that time, nineteen other cities had C COPS laws in the works with Maine and California working on passing statewide CCOPS measures.

    But it is more important than ever to keep the anti-surveillance movement alive.

    Last month, ICE announced that they have entered into a contract with an ALPR provider, giving them agency-wide access to a nationwide license plate recognition database and the ability to conduct real-time location tracking. ICE has claimed they will not collect or contribute any data to a national public or private database, but somehow that doesn’t make you feel any better, does it?

    The Verge reported that the contract is with Vigilant Solutions, the largest ALPR provider in the country. According to The Verge, Vigilant has collected data on 2 billion license plate photos by partnering with vehicle repossession agencies and local law enforcement agencies. The photos come tagged with a date, time and GPS coordinates of the sighting. They know where you have been, where you came from, and they can even find out if other vehicles are associated with your location trends. I don’t think I have to spell out for you what that means.

    Because Vigilant and other ALPR providers are private companies operating in the Wild West of mass surveillance technology culture, there are no regulations or oversight to reign them in. Contracting out this work makes it easy for ICE to violate civil liberties without having their hands directly dirtied.

    Protecting your community and your most vulnerable neighbors, coworkers and friends must include stopping ALPRs, and therefore limiting the data available to Federal agencies like ICE. Go to for the CCOPS guiding principles and model bill. You can also contact the ACLU through the same page to get help passing a CCOPS law where you live.

    So, if defending civil liberties in your community and across the country is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about #TakeCTRL: Stop ALPR Surveillance in Your Community with CCOPS Laws via @ACLU via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.



    Go to ACLU's Community Control Over Police Surveillance (CCOPS) for guidance principles and a model bill for your community

    CCOPS Model Bill

    CCOPS Guiding Principles 

    Check out the #TakeCTRL hashtag for more actions and information


    Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs) (

    Exclusive: ICE is about to start tracking license plates across the US (The Verge)

    California: We Need Privacy When We Park Our Cars (

    ICE Accesses a Massive Amount of License Plate Data. Will California Take Action? (


    Posted January 26, 2018; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1161: Privacy, what is it good for? (Privacy Rights)


  • Thank Black Women with Actions Not Just Words


    In the wake of the Alabama Senate race heard round the world, there has been a lot of well-deserved and overdue thanks going out to black women. According to exit polls, black turnout surged and 98 percent of Alabama black women who cast ballots voted for Doug Jones, helping deliver a sound victory against Roy Moore.

    And while words of thanks are important, it’s time to turn those words into actions of support for a community that has been at the forefront of critical elections and movements throughout history.

    Activist and writer Brittney Packet wrote a widely shared article in The Cut that highlights organizations you can support to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to thanking black women. In it she writes…

    “Give because our power has been proven time and again — despite movements silencing us, funders forgetting us, and voter suppression restricting us. Give because Black women show up to save the country time and again.”

    Another article along these lines was published in The Little Rock Sun with the title “15 Ways to Thank Black Women for Carrying the Country on Their Backs.

    We encourage you to check out both articles which we’ve linked to in the show notes, but we also wanted to highlight a few of these authors’ suggestions on the show today.

    Black women are still underrepresented in politics. Higher Heights Leadership Fund seeks to elevate Black women’s voices to shape and advance progressive policies and to provide opportunities for these women to build their leadership skills. Check out their hashtag Black Women Lead campaign to help amplify and go to to learn more.

    Black voters in Alabama cast votes at a higher rate than white voters despite new strict voter ID laws and the closing of DMV offices in predominantly black parts of the state. The organization Woke Vote, a collaborative of grassroots organizers in the south, was part of that success. They heavily canvassed black neighborhoods to register voters and get out the vote for Jones. Go to to learn more.

    The all-black team at Stay Woke is working with Rock the Vote in Florida to restore the right to vote for those banned from voting due to a prior conviction. Because Florida has laws like that. Stay Woke is getting signatures for a petition to get an initiative on the ballot in 2018 that could restore 1.6 million Floridians ability to vote if passed. Floridians can sign petitions and volunteer and non-Floridians can donate petitions to be mailed and spread the word. The petition must be completed by February 1st. Go to to get involved.

    We’re only skimming the surface here, of course. We need to work on closing the wage gap, reproductive rights, fighting voter suppression laws, fighting for a living wage, helping to reverse the alarming mortality rate for black mothers, and reading black publications and following black activists on social media to understand the issues that are important to the black community.

    It’s the least we can do and the fact is all of society will benefit when we do.

    So, if thanking black women in a tangible way is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Thanking Black Women with Actions Not Just Words via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.



    Read: Black Women Kept Roy Moore Out of Office. Here’s How to Thank Them. (The Cut)

    Read: 15 Real Ways to Thank Black Women for Carrying the Country on Their Backs (The Little Rock Sun)

    Learn About: Higher Heights Leadership Fund 

    Learn About: Woke Vote

    Learn About: Stay Woke Florida Voting Initiative Petition (February 1st petition deadline!)

    Learn About: Color of Change PAC


    Black Turnout in Alabama Complicates Debate on Voting Laws (The New York Times)

    'Black Votes Matter': African-Americans Propel Jones To Alabama Win (NPR)

    White Women Thank Themselves for Thanking Black Women Today (Reductress)

    After Alabama: Say ‘Thank You’ to Black Women, and Mean It (LA Progressive)


    Posted January 5, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1156: Women of color get the job done (Racism and Elections)


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