Meet the Press

Part of our mission of “protect, preserve, and resist” includes raising our voices in these dangerous times to help preserve the institutions most vital to a democratic society. That includes a free and independent press. Already hollowed out by declining circulation, corporate mergers, and the struggle to find an Internet-Age business model, the mainstream press has now been targeted by an unprecedented campaign of delegitimization from the highest political office in the land.

Locally that includes The Lowell Sun.

And as we support the press, we also rely on them to get the word out on our efforts and activities, such as our town hall-style event with Representative Niki Tsongas. So we hope this article by Sun Correspondent Brendan Lewis, ‘All we can do is fight back,’ will be the start of a beautiful symbiotic relationship.

LITTLETON — Cheers and applause filled the packed Littleton High auditorium after River Reilly spoke of what he worries about.

The 10-year-old Townsend boy, who has relatives in Iran, said he won’t be able to see them if the president’s proposed immigration restrictions take effect.

“Based on the ban by Donald Trump, I wouldn’t be able to see them anymore, which is really sad for me. I wouldn’t want that to happen,” said River, who attended the forum with his father, Michael. “And I just want it to change.”

U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, who led the forum Saturday, told the boy it helps to remember that there are many others just like him, living with the same fears.

This powerful moment was one of many that won’t soon be forgotten by the roughly 700 event participants.

If those who read this story or watched the video on the Sun‘s website got even a taste of the day’s emotional roller coaster of speakers, they’ll have come away with increased awareness of how the Trump travel ban and other policies have already impacted local lives, and generally not for the better.

We can argue matters of policy until the Internet crashes under the weight of our rhetoric, but sometimes putting a human face on an issue is all it takes to bring it into perspective. No matter whether you are a Democrat, Independent, or Republican, how can you not feel for a child who fears that he may never see his grandparents again?

That’s something good journalism does well, part of the reason autocratic regimes throughout history have viewed a free and independent press as their enemy, and why we need our media outlets to cut through all the muck of irrelevance surrounding the diamonds of genuine importance.

Of course we realize the press isn’t perfect. One problem is that, in a rush to meet deadlines and get a story out while it’s still relevant, there are sometimes unavoidable errors or omissions. Or sometimes, when an interview is conducted amid the noise of a boisterous event, details can be misheard.

So in the interest of promoting good journalism, we offer The Sun some corrections to one particular section in an otherwise spot-on accurate article:

Saturday’s town hall-style talk was organized by the local “Indivisible” chapter, which was specifically formed to launch the event and bring in Tsongas.

The local woman who started planning the event, Deborah Santoro, said the group focuses on three main principles: defensive, congressional and advocacy.

But actually…

  • The event was co-organized and co-sponsored by not one but five recently-formed organizations: Indivisible Groton Area, Indivisible Westford, Indivisible Acton, Indivisible Harvard, and Indivisible Littleton;
  • Indivisible groups aren’t chapters of a larger organization, but are instead independently-formed and independently-run local entities;
  • The Indivisible groups weren’t specifically formed to launch this event, but to promote many forms of dialogue, advocacy, and action for at least four to eight years, or as long as we are needed; and
  • “Defensive congressional advocacy” is a single thing, the focus of the Indivisible Guide, based on the tactics put to such great effect by the Tea Party movement.

Otherwise, spot-on.

We look forward to working with The Sun in the years to come, telling important stories that need to be told, and defending First Amendment rights against the encroaching darkness.

Video: Congresswoman Niki Tsongas Town Hall Style Meeting of 2/25/17

One of IGA’s early actions of legislative advocacy was a call for members to phone the office of Representative Niki Tsongas [D-MA-3rd] to request a Town Hall style meeting during the legislative recess to address issues of concern to our community and how the Congresswoman might best represent our interests in Congress.

To our delight, Representative Tsongas not only agreed, but four of our fellow Indivisible groups in the district stepped forward to co-sponsor and co-organize the meeting. Indivisible Westford, Indivisible Littleton, Indivisible Acton, and Indivisible Harvard joined Indivisible Groton Area in planning this meeting, coordinating with Representative Tsongas’s office, getting the word out, and upsizing the venue to accommodate around 700 local residents who were able to attend.

Thanks to all of the volunteers who handled logistics at Littleton High School and generous donations of singles, fives, and tens from attendees that allowed us to pay for the venue. Although our Facebook Live was spotty at times, a full uncut video of the event is available here.

The next legislative recess is scheduled for April, and we are already making plans. Stay tuned!

Join Our Meeting with Niki Tsongas

By popular demand, this Saturday’s Town Meeting style discussion with Congresswoman Niki Tsongas has been moved to Littleton High School, a larger venue that will accommodate even more members from the sponsoring groups: Indivisible Groton Area, Indivisible Westford, Indivisible Littleton, Indivisible Harvard, and Indivisible Acton.

Please make a note of the new location!

Littleton High School is located at 56 King Street, Littleton, MA 01460. The event will take place from 2:00 to 3:30 PM.

Although this event is not an official Town Hall, the Indivisible Guide website has suggestions for questions we might want to ask. The Congresswoman is particularly interested in personal stories that illustrate the impacts of the Administration’s policies.

Register online at Eventbrite. The event is free but a voluntary donation is suggested so we can cover the cost of the venue. See you there!

IGA on Social Media

The IGA website is now live, and our dedicated volunteers have established a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you were unable to secure a ticket for our town hall style meeting with US Representative Niki Tsongas [D-MA-3rd] this Saturday (25 February), the meeting will be broadcast over Facebook Live and Instagram Live Stream.

Weekly Action Items

Congratulations to the New England Patriots for showing us that even the most unlikely victories are possible for those who don’t get flustered, don’t give up, and just keep pushing down the field.

The national Indivisible movement is calling on members of affiliate groups to carry out a number of actions during the week ahead.

One potential win would be blocking the confirmation of Betsy DeVos to the position of Secretary of Education.

IGA as a group holds no opinion on specific education policies, although we take note that DeVos is strongly opposed by educators and school administrators, who we consider to be our most trusted experts in such matters.

Our primary opposition comes from DeVos’ lack of experience in public education, school funding, higher education financial aid programs, and the enforcement of civil rights, among other necessary areas of policy. Her inarticulate confirmation hearing statements did nothing to persuade us that her nomination is due to merit and qualifications, rather than the hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign donations she and her family have made.

We oppose DeVos because her confirmation would weaken an agency that’s vitally important to our children’s futures, and confirm that the levers of power within a Trump administration are for sale to the highest bidder.

Two brave Republicans so far have stepped forward to oppose DeVos’s confirmation, with only one more needed for the block. If you have friends or relatives who share a state with a potentially-wavering Republican senator, this would be the time to urge them to make a call to that senator’s office.

Your weekly dispatch:

  1. Don’t Let the Senate Rubber Stamp Trump’s Unfit Cabinet Picks: The Senate will try to confirm several of Trump’s Cabinet picks THIS WEEK. A confirmation vote is scheduled for Betsy DeVos (Education), with additional votes possible for Jeff Sessions (Justice), Tom Price (Health and Human Services), and Steve Mnuchin (Treasury). For reasons ranging from incompetence to well-documented racism, each is unfit to lead any of these agencies. It’s not too late to stop them. Keep visiting your two Senators’ offices to tell them to oppose these nominees!

    Monday, Feb. 6, 2017:
    Procedural votes on nominees are expected on Monday. Continue to ask your Senators to withhold consent on everything until the Muslim ban is lifted.Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017:  
    The confirmation vote for Betsy DeVos will likely happen Tuesday. Two Republicans have announced their opposition—which means we only need to sway one more Republican Senator to stop DeVos from becoming the least qualified Secretary of Education in history. You can stop this confirmation from happening. YOUR Senator could be the one to sink DeVos.Call your Senators and tell them to vote NO on Betsy Devos for Secretary of Education.Remainder of the Week: Possible Action on Several Nominees
    After the Senate considers Betsy DeVos, it will quickly try to confirm the remaining nominees. It is unclear when these votes will happen, but more confirmation votes could begin as early as Wednesday.Jeff Sessions: Sen. Jeff Sessions has a decades-long history of opposing civil rights legislation. He was rejected for a judgeship by the Senate in 1986 for being too racist, and between his attacks on civil rights and his strong anti-immigration stance, he’s just as unfit to be Attorney General today.Call your Senators and tell them to vote NO on Jeff Sessions for Attorney General.

    Tom Price: Rep. Tom Price is a zealous opponent of Obamacare, and his financial conflicts of interest continue to raise doubts about his ethics and judgment.Call your Senators and tell them to vote NO on Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

    Scott Pruitt: Putting Scott Pruitt—who places private profits ahead of the public good—in charge of the EPA is like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse. Unfortunately, in this case the hens are America’s health and the environment.

    Call your Senators and tell them to vote NO on Scott Pruitt for EPA Director.

    Steve Mnuchin: Predatory lender Steve Mnuchin is also under fire for failing to disclose millions of dollars in assets and his role as director of an investment fund incorporated in the Cayman Islands.

    Call your Senators and tell them to vote NO on Steve Mnuchin for Secretary of the Treasury.

  2. Keep standing against the Muslim and refugee ban. Last week, a federal judge—appointed by Republican President G.W. Bush—issued a temporary nationwide injunction on Trump’s illegal and unconstitutional Muslim ban. While this is great news, it is only a temporary halt to the Muslim ban, which Trump continues to fight in court. This isn’t the time for Congress to sit on the sidelines; Congress needs to use its power to defund and rescind the ban.Ask your Senators to continue to withhold consent on all Senate business, and filibuster any legislation until this discriminatory, unconstitutional ban is revoked and justice is restored.Ask your Representative to cosponsor H.R.724, the Statue of Liberty Values (SOLVE) Act, legislation that would rescind and defund Trump’s Muslim ban. We’ve got scripts for these conversations (along with a recording of last week’s emergency planning call) available here.
  3. Tell your Senator “Stop Gorsuch, Don’t Nuke the Senate”: Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. But this isn’t Donald Trump’s vacancy to fill. Early last year, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, a distinguished jurist, to fill this vacancy. Senate Republicans refused to hold hearings, let alone a vote, on Garland’s nomination.Now, they want Gorsuch to receive the consideration Merrick Garland didn’t. What’s more, if Gorsuch can’t get 60 votes, Donald Trump wants Republican leaders to deploy the “nuclear option” and do away with the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations. Going nuclear would destroy a critical check and balance in our democracy—we can’t let that happen.
    Call your Senators, tell them you oppose Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, and demand they oppose the “nuclear option.”
  4. Tell Congress to put national security over party politics: No Bannon on the National Security Council. President Trump’s decision to remove the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff (actual national security experts) from the National Security Council and instead give a permanent seat to Steve Bannon was an unprecedented politicization of what is supposed to be a nonpartisan body.Call your Senators and ask them to cosponsor S.291 to modify the requirements for membership in the NSC.

    Call your Representative and ask them to cosponsor H.R.804 to prevent political appointees from serving on the NSC.

Organizing Now

Indivisible Groton Area is just getting started. In the months and years ahead we will be bringing important issues to your attention, holding local discussions, and letting you know how to make your voice heard by our congressional delegations at the State House in Boston and at Congress in Washington, D.C.

If you live in Groton or surrounding towns in Massachusetts’ 3rd Congressional District, please join our Facebook group and help us protect, preserve, and resist.