ACLU

“We’ve been out-organized.”

February 27, 2018

How our current tax laws prohibit the nation’s best leaders from fully confronting mass incarceration

[And other social/political issues.]

by, Shaun King

MEDIUM

“But let me make it even more personal for the world I operate in. At last count, we have over 70,000 black churches in America. It is the most consistent and influential institution in black communities from coast to coast, but the leaders of those churches, because of various tax laws, are not allowed to use their buildings or pulpits for explicit political endorsements. They can’t email it to you either. They can’t do it anywhere on church property or with church equipment. Even though those churches and those communities are ravaged by mass incarceration, they aren’t allowed to really get into the fight to inform people of what to do and who to vote for that will change the system. So, what we end up having are 2,400 District Attorneys in power, often fighting against the health and well-being of black communities, with 70,000+ pastors who cannot freely campaign for alternatives. I’m not even saying we should remove this prohibition — I just need you to know it’s there — and for black communities — this is problem is heightened — because the primary leaders in the community can’t get very specific about criminal justice reform.

It goes much deeper than that.

Because of tax laws governing charities, including almost every single civil rights organization you’ve ever heard of, including the NAACP, the Urban League, the ACLU, and others, those organizations are not allowed to endorse political candidates or use their resources in political campaigns of any kind. They can skirt around the issue. They can host forums with every candidate. And that stuff helps, but not enough. They can’t tell you which sheriff and jailer and DA is corrupt or violent or horrible. They can’t tell you who needs to be replaced and who you should replace them with.

The same is true for most fraternities and sororities — who have deep influence around the country. It even includes hardcore justice organizations that do amazing work — organizations that I love and respect — but would lose their non-profit status if they actually endorsed a political candidate.

So guess what they say when it comes time to vote?

“Go vote.”

That’s about it. If they say much more than that, it could truly jam them up legally. So all they can tell people, is “go vote.” That’s it.

Can I be frank?

“Go vote” is not enough. And the proof is the very system itself.

If “go vote” was enough, our 2,400 prosecutors would look and feel and act very differently.

If “go vote” was enough, Republicans would not control the House, Senate, Presidency, Supreme Court, and the majority of governorships and state legislatures right now.

“Go vote” is a not a political strategy. It’s hardly a slogan. Hell, it’s not even a good tweet. It lacks the specificity and nuance that people to know who to vote for and against. It lacks the detail needed to actually change the system.

So what happens is people go vote, normally down a single party line, often voting for complete strangers, often choosing random names from among Democrats, hoping they are great. Often, they aren’t. Some of the worst DA’s and judges in America are Democrats. Good people run against them, but the leaders people know and trust can’t tell you that. I can tell you 20 cities off the top of my head where this is the case right now.

What I am about to say pains me. I am not pointing at you. I am owning it.

We got where we are right now because we’ve been out-organized.

People who mean us great harm are in power right now because they have out-organized us.

Yes, they’ve often gerrymandered their way into success, but even that was them out-organizing us.”

Full article:

https://medium.com/@ShaunKing/how-our-current-tax-laws-prohibit-the-nations-best-leaders-from-fully-confronting-mass-d658b75d96e4

People Power

March 12, 2017

ACLU rallies tens of thousands of people across the US on Saturday, March 11th, to organize and #resist.


Washington Post

3.12.17

David Weigel

The ACLU is spending millions of dollars on a plunge into grass-roots politics — a “People Power” campaign. It’s the newest and largest development from a sprawling “resistance” movement that regularly moves faster than the Democratic Party’s leaders can think and isn’t waiting on politicians for cues.

People Power debuted this weekend in south Florida and, by the organization’s estimate, at thousands of weekend house parties nationwide. Everyone who showed up received a nine-point plan to turn blue America into a network of “freedom cities” by defying the president’s executive orders, his health-care agenda and his Justice Department. Anyone who missed it could click on PeoplePower.org, the latest catchall website to find actions that would get results.

The key to the effort: targeting Trump’s policies, rather than the man or his words. If 2016 taught Democrats anything, it’s that attacking Trump isn’t enough.

“We’ve seen this exponential growth in people becoming card-carrying members of the ACLU,” Romero (Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union) said in an interview after his speech. “They’re younger. They’re in every state around the country. The biggest danger was in not doing something like this, where people get apathetic and they fall asleep.”

There’s little apparent risk of that, and the biggest organizations on the left, broadly defined, are staffing up to give it direction. The Center for American Progress is planning a grass-roots conference for “rising” activist groups in California next month, and an ideas conference in Washington one month later. Super PACs such as American Priorities have become promotion machines for the Indivisible movement, which in just a few months has begun to organize some local chapters as official nonprofit groups.

…no organization is transforming as quickly or as boldly as the ACLU. Since the 2016 election, it has tripled its membership to more than 1.2 million and raised more than $80 million, with plans to add 100 staff members to a team of about 300.

[Full read: https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/aclu-is-spending-millions-on-grass-roots-resistance-campaign/2017/03/12/f0fe8158-05ed-11e7-ad5b-d22680e18d10_story.html?tid=sm_tw&utm_term=.27b591c1d7d6]

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