Welcome to the July 4th edition of the Leah/Ezra letter. As your regular reminder, this is our monthly message that is really personally written by the two of us, Ezra and Leah. If you’re just joining us, we’re the co-founders and co-executive directors of Indivisible (and we’re also married) -- hello!
Our goal with these monthly letters is to give you a sense of what we’re grappling with, get your input on the issues of the day, and reflect back what we’re hearing from the Indivisible movement. As always, if you want to reach out directly to us, you can find us on Twitter at @leahgreenb and @ezralevin. So with that, let’s get started with what we want to ask you about this month.
The question of the month: Trump, Democrats, & Immigration
This July 4th, we’re patriotically reflecting on the disgrace that is the Trump administration. Its horrors have been on full display these last few weeks. They are holding immigrants in concentration camps. They are separating children from parents. They’re piling kids and adults alike on top of each other in atrocious conditions without basic necessities like access to clean water. There is a crisis at the border, but it exists not because of a lack of money but instead as a direct result of choices this administration has made.
The question we’re hearing over and over again from Indivisibles is: how do we stop this?
That brings us to what happened last week in Congress. The Trump administration asked for billions of emergency dollars purportedly to address the crisis at the border, but in reality to fund their anti-immigrant hate machine. So this was a big opportunity to fight back. It was an opportunity to define an alternative vision for what America is really about. It was an opportunity to make use of the new Democratic House majority. But then three bad things happened.
Bad thing #1: With Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s support, Mitch McConnell passed a bill through the Senate to basically give Trump a blank check. More money for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), more money for detention, and no real checks on how it would be spent. It was so bad that our partners at the Defund Hate Coalition -- a leading coalition of immigrant rights advocates and allies -- declared that the bill was literally worse than nothing.
At this point, all hope was not lost! We flipped the House of Representative last year. That meant we had power. That meant we could say NO to Trump, and demand a better deal! Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t want to negotiate -- but too bad! Elections have consequences, and we built a big ol’ blue wave last year to flip the House. We were ready to fight this.
Bad thing #2: Then a group of conservative Democrats, organized by New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer and the ironically-named Problem Solvers Caucus, led an internal revolt demanding that the House pass the bad Senate bill, with no amendments. Yes, a group of Democrats demanded that Trump and his enforcement goons get a blank check.
Bad as this was, it was a relatively small group of House conservatives. And we knew that Speaker Pelosi was a master legislative tactician. So we could still win this. We just need to repel the conservative rebellion and pass a strong House bill.
Bad thing #3: And then the final bad thing happened: House Democratic leadership folded. Over the objection of leading immigrant rights advocates, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and progressive members of Congress, Speaker Pelosi put the terrible Senate bill up for vote with zero amendments. Nearly a hundred House Democrats refused to support the bill, and it passed with mostly Republican support.
Just to underline that point -- Pelosi led a mostly Republican coalition to pass Trump’s border bill. The New York Times reported this as a "striking defeat" of Pelosi, but it was really a striking defeat for all of us, most especially the immigrant families who will suffer as a result of this Democratic legislative forfeit.
It pains us to write all this. Indivisibles poured our hearts and souls into flipping the House last year. And we rallied behind Pelosi’s leadership in her bid to become Speaker. On a personal note, we were both staffers on Capitol Hill when Pelosi led the charge to pass the Affordable Care Act -- she was a real hero of ours. And we hoped that she would wield her power and fight back against Trump’s agenda. We’re still hoping.
Outside of House and Senate leadership, there are real national leaders stepping up in opposition to Trump. Julián Castro has led the Democratic presidential field in outlining a vision for what a pro-immigrant alternative to Trumpism could look like. In the House, members like Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Rep. Ayanna Pressley are staking out ground in opposition to Trump’s signature anti-immigrant policies.
We’re also already seeing grassroots pushback against those conservatives on the wrong side of this. Over the weekend, Rep. Josh Gottheimer -- the ringleader of the revolt -- faced a town hall full of constituents demanding answers. Indivisible NJ-05 was on hand, along with Make the Road New Jersey, to let him know how disappointed they were.
We want to see this kind of urgency from top congressional leadership too. Over and over again, we see that the grassroots is ready to fight. They want impeachment. They want this administration held accountable. They want concentration camps closed. They want the hate defunded. They want to see their leaders step up to lead.
But why is this our question of the month? Why are we writing such a long update on a lost legislative battle over a hastily-passed funding bill?
Because there’s going to be a new opportunity to win on this very soon. There’s one real major congressional fight left this year -- the budget fight, which will come to a head this fall. Trump is once again going to demand billions for his anti-immigrant agenda. And the big question is whether or not congressional Democrats will resist Trump’s demands for more money to cage, separate, and deport immigrant families, and to deny migrants their legal right to seek asylum.
As you can tell from everything we wrote above, we’re not hiding our opinions on Trump’s xenophobic agenda. But the Indivisible movement isn’t just about us -- it’s about local leaders all over the country getting represented by their representatives. If you want Democrats to fight Trump on this, we want to help you do that, and we want to know what would be helpful.
So please let us know how you’re thinking about the issue here. We’ll be gearing up to weigh in on this in the coming weeks, and we want to know how Indivisibles think. So let’s keep the conversation going.
The Indivisible book...it’s almost done!
We know, we know. In the last letter we said that by the time of this letter, we’d be done with the book. Well, it turns out the one rule of writing this book is that every deadline gets pushed back repeatedly. But that said -- we are really really close! Our manuscript is due this coming Monday, so that should give you a good idea of our July 4th holiday plans.
We’re pretty jazzed about the final product. It’s got amazing Indivisible leaders. It’s got lessons about building power. It’s got the story of how democracy is under threat and what we need to do to fight back and fix our broken system. Also, it’s just fun. We hope you like it.
We’re probably a broken record on this, but just as a reminder: our goal is to get enough preorders to make it on the best sellers’ lists (which will help us grow the movement even more). So if you’ve got any friends or family who haven’t preordered the Kindle or hardcover version -- please ask them to do it here! Again, us two are writing this, but 100% of the author’s proceeds are going to Indivisible.
Follow up on last month’s question: Impeachment
Last month, we asked you about impeachment. The results were pretty darn striking. Fully 80% of Indivisible respondents are affirmatively in favor of impeachment. 12% are Maybe. And about 8% are No. These are pretty striking results -- and they made a splash. You might have seen coverage all over the news -- e.g., Morning Joe and The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.
But impeachment isn’t happening yet. And we learned this past month that Speaker Pelosi is actively preventing House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler from beginning proceedings. Pelosi is good at counting votes. She’s not going to back impeachment until enough House Democrats demand it. So the path to impeachment is simple: we need more House members publicly calling for it. The number has been inching up every few days -- and so far we’re at just over 80. But nearly 90 House Democrats haven’t gone on the record one way or another! Get a majority of the House Democratic Caucus on the record -- about 40 more -- and we could start to see some movement.
How do we do that? Well, constituents putting pressure on their own Representatives, and ideally getting some good earned media publicizing that pressure. Here’s an idea for a creative tactic to do that: earlier this month a star-studded cast performed the Mueller Report on stage. John Lithgow played a hilariously dark Donald Trump (you can watch it all online for free here). The folks who put it together also posted a fun open source toolkit for hosting your own performance of the play (here). If your Indivisible group puts together a performance, let us know!
That’s all for this month.
Please do let us know your thoughts on the coming fight over Trump’s immigration demands. We read your comments every month and do our best to respond. So let’s continue having this conversation across the Indivisible movement.
And thank you for reading our always-too-long monthly letter! We hope you’re enjoying the break today and reflecting a little in between fireworks on all the good you’ve done to help build a more perfect union.
Ezra and Leah
PS: We say this every time, but really feel free to reach out to us directly on Twitter -- @leahgreenb & @ezralevin. We accept positive and negative feedback, recipe ideas, pictures of your pets, and suggestions for getting preorders for the book (see how we snuck that in there again?). :)