looking ahead

The first snow has come and gone. The second is on its way. The leftover Halloween candy has been banished from the house. And on Sunday, we had our extra hour of sleep. But the best part of the past week was the One Year to Win Weekend of Action on 11/2 and 11/3. Grassroots North Shore hosted a canvass from our office on Saturday and Shirley Horowitz hosted one from her house on Sunday. All across the state, activists were out knocking on doors and listening to voters' concerns. The statewide goal was to visit 50,000 houses. And according to Ben Wikler, "In fact, we knocked more Wisconsin doors this weekend then we did the entire year in 2015 or 2017! " The national polls show Democrats in great shape; the battleground states, including Wisconsin, not so much.

So, we cannot simply pat ourselves on the back and go back to sleep for the winter. In Wisconsin, we have FIVE elections in our 2020 future: February 18 (the nonpartisan primary election), April 7 (the nonpartisan election and presidential primary), May 12 (the special election to fill the 7th Congressional District seat), August 11 (the partisan primary), and finally November 3 (the partisan general election). The February 18 and April 7 elections will determine the make-up of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. We have a chance to achieve more balance by electing a progressive justice this year. If we do that AND if we elect another progressive justice in 2022, we can have a court that is less inclined to support whatever Walker, Fitzgerald, and Vos did! So it's vital that we plan now for robust voter outreach and Get Out the Vote operations this winter and spring. Mark your calendars now and plan to give the election effort a few hours of your time.

Although our plans are not yet set, we realize that outdoor activities like canvassing can be difficult in our inclement winters. So we have to think of other ways to reach prospective voters. Even though we may not need you to bundle up and knock doors, we will need you to call, text, and write postcards and emails instead. We will also need to use Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter, and any other social media platform our voters employ. And you can help with that effort too. Again, plan now to work hard in January, February, March and April. You don't have to do everything, but you do need to do something!

Another presidential primary debate is right around the corner ‐ on November 20. We have one debate watch party set up, at the home of Eric Taylor (6330 N. Lake Drive), in Whitefish Bay. Another is likely to be held in Mequon, at Ferrante's Restaurant. And we're working on a third in Shorewood. The Milwaukee County Dems are hosting one at Bounce Milwaukee (2801 S. 5th Ct., Milwaukee). By next week's newsletter I'll have links to event pages for full information. But again, mark your calendars now. The November 20 debate is the fifth of 12 scheduled by the Democratic National Committee and will run from 8pm - 10pm CST. So far, nine candidates have qualified: Biden, Warren, Sanders, Harris, Klobuchar, Buttigieg, Booker, Yang, and Steyer. Candidates will have until midnight on November 13 to make the cutoff.

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tricks and treats

Happy Halloween!

So I'm late with the newsletter again. But I have a solid excuse. I've been busy preparing for the big One Year to Win Weekend of Action canvasses happening on Saturday, November 2, and Sunday, November 3. I hope you'll sign up to help. Why? We need to start engaging potential voters, to find out what's on their minds and to inform them about the FOUR critical elections coming up in 2020. On Saturday, November 2, we're canvassing out of our Brown Deer office, 5600 W Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116. As we head into parts of Glendale, and perhaps parts of Brown Deer, we'll be handing out literature for Emily Siegrist, running for Assembly District 24, and Neal Plotkin, running for Senate District 8, as well as literature that helps people register to vote and to know what to bring with them to the polls in addition to the dates of the four upcoming elections. So sign up to help on Saturday, November 2, at 10am or Saturday, November 2, at 1pm. The weather is going to be on our side!

On Sunday, November 3, canvasses are leaving from Shirley Horowitz's house, 4845 Newhall St., Whitefish Bay. Canvassers will work in Whitefish Bay and the part of Glendale that lies east of I-94. Again, there are two shifts: 10am and 1pm. Please come spend a couple of hours engaging with voters. We're pretty sure you won't regret it when we win the all-important WI Supreme Court race and make inroads into GOP dominance of our state legislature. And of course when we put the Democratic nominee, whoever that might be, in the White House!

And on the impeachment front, we had a great event featuring Dr. Robert Kraig and Dr. Sheldon Wasserman, with a legal assist from Jeff Perzan, and excellent leadership of the debate from Kathleen Dunn, longtime host on Wisconsin Public Radio. Attendace at the debate was outstanding but a lot of Grassroots North Shore supporters could not be there. So we have a brief write-up from Shirley Horowitz and a video of the entire evening (produced by Dan Folkman and Charles Bensinger of the Wisconsin Video Hub).

TAKE A LOOK AT THE VIDEO: To Impeach. . . or Not?

This was the question on the minds of over 140 people at the North Shore Presbyterian Church on October 13th. The debate did not produce an easy answer, but instead raised difficult questions that reflect the complexity of the current predicament in which we find ourselves.

Dr. Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action Wisconsin, argued for impeachment. His premise was that the nature of our democracy would suffer irretrievable harm because Congress could no longer be considered co-equal with the Executive Branch. In addition, whatever President is or would be in power could manipulate and interfere with free elections, thus always ensuring a victory. He called for a “purer” motivation than a political one – labeling it a constitutional necessity.

On the other side of the argument, Milwaukee County Board Supervisor Dr. Sheldon Wasserman made the case against impeaching the President. His reasons were admittedly political. Although he agreed that the President’s actions rose to the level required to impeach, he noted the dangers of a political backlash. With the Senate unlikely to act based on evidence provided, he felt that the best remedy to the dangers of the current Presidency lies in the upcoming election.

Long-time Wisconsin Public Radio host Kathleen Dunn provided thoughtful questions and helpful history, while Attorney Jeff Perzan explained context and points of law regarding impeachment, and also responded to questions. The audience had many questions, so Q&A lasted about half an hour.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the program was the total and sometimes brutal honesty of the two as they made their arguments. They relied on logic and evidence, but also expressed emotional hopes and fears based on personal experiences and historical examples. Both sides of the debate were well expressed and captured the attention of the listeners, forcing them to think and confront all possibilities. (Well done, Dr. Kraig and Dr. Wasserman!)

This debate was co-sponsored by Citizen Action Wisconsin, Grassroots North Shore, and Grassroots South Shore. A video, graciously taped and created by Daniel Folkman and Charles Bensinger of Wisconsin Video Hub, can be found at its site, or YouTube.
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Ready, Set, ACTION

Re Gerrymandering: We're making some progress with the state legislature. I just learned that Monday a fifth Republican has signed on to co-sponsor the two bills (AB303 and SB288) that would, if signed into law, create a non-partisan process for drawing new electoral district lines following the 2020 census. Rep. Mursau (R-Crivitz) says that he signed on because he had sent out a questionnaire to his constituents and 77% of those who returned it supported non-partisan redistricting!

Right now, the bills are bottled up in committees. More GOP support for them means we're getting some traction. Several counties and municipalities are planning to include non-binding resolutions on this issue on ballots, either for the April 7 election or the November 3 election. Milwaukee County is one of those. The County's Intergovernmental Relation Committee is holding a hearing on the matter this afternoon. Assuming it passes out of committee, the full board will hold a hearing on the issue soon. Stay tuned.

So the local progress is heart-warming. However, on Monday the US Supreme Court ruled that Michigan need not redraw its congressional district maps because of partisan gerrymandering as the trial court had mandated. SCOTUS was just building on its June decision that "federal courts can’t rein in politicians who draw political maps to entrench a partisan advantage" (Roll Call, 10/22, 2019). The Michigan ruling was, of course, expected, but the Washington Post had a really eye-opening article yesterday, An overlooked consequence of the Supreme Court’s gerrymandering rulings: Stricter abortion laws, that shows how GOP gerrymandering has led to many anti-abortion laws in states where the GOP retains control through partisan gerrymandering.

Wisconsin's case against gerrymandering has also been nullified by the same US Supreme Court ruling. And that's why it is going to be so crucial to win the Wisconsin Supreme Court election coming up on April 7, 2020, AND the next WI Supreme Court election in 2022. If progressives can win both contests, we will have a chance to litigate the gerrymandering case in state courts. And that's why I am going to urge you (again!) to participate in the work that needs to be done now and throughout the 2020 elections (all four of them). Please sign up to canvass on Saturday, November 2, and/or Sunday, November 3. Also helpful: signing up to call potential canvassers on Tuesday, October 29, from 11am - 1pm from our office (5600 W Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116).

Finally, I'd like to apologize for being a day late with this newsletter. There is so much activity happening at Grassroots North Shore right now that I just didn't have the time to get to everything yesterday. The high level of activity will be ongoing throughout next year. So, if you haven't yet gotten engaged with us or don't know what you want to do, just sign up to volunteer and a member of our leadership team will contact you to discuss what sorts of activities are most suitable for you. There are LOTS of things to do — from phonebanking and canvassing to writing postcards or supporting the work of the office. We're sure to find something useful for you to do. And we will need all the help we can get!

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If you want to win ...

...you have to canvass. This wisdom comes to us from Emily's List. And that organization knows whereof it speaks. To win progressives' races up and down the whole ballot, we are going to have to dig deep and work hard. But the good news is it only takes a few extra votes per ward! And that's where you come in.

Grassroots North Shore is helping to make Wisconsin a bluer shade of purple by participating in the One Year to Win Weekend of Action on Saturday, November 2, and Sunday, November 3. This is your first chance to help make a difference. We're canvassing from our Brown Deer office on November 2, either beginning at 10am or beginning at 1pm. And from Shirley Horowitz's house on November 3 beginning at 10am or beginning at 1pm. (Actually the days and times are somewhat flexible — contact Nancy Kaplan or Shirley Horowitz for ideas for an individualized schedule.)

Canvassing at this very early stage of the election cycle has two key goals:

  1. To improve the accuracy of the data available to us;
  2. To hear what's really on the minds of voters in our communities.

With better data, we'll know who to talk to about our candidates ahead of the election on February 18 (the nonpartisan primary), April 7 (the nonpartisan election and presidential primary), August 11 (the partisan primary), and November 3 (the big kahuna!). (Mark your calendars now, if you have not already.) And we'll have better intelligence on what really matters to the people of each community.

But let's suppose you can't canvass for one reason or another. At least you can help recruit others to canvass. We're holding phone banks at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116) on Tuesday, October 22, from 5:30-7:30pm and Wednesday, October 23, from 5:30-7:30pm. We're calling people who have volunteered in prior campaigns, not cold calls to strangers! And we could use your help.

And don't forget that the Democratic Presidential Debate is tonight beginning at 7pm. You can watch on CNN or at the New York Times website. Better yet, you can join fellow Dems and progressives at one of the three watch parties we are sponsoring or one the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County is sponsoring. Here are the details:

  • GRNS at Ferrante's Restaurant, 10404 North Port Washington Rd, Mequon — RSVP or just show up;
  • GRNS in Whitefish Bay, 4845 N Newhall St, WFB (Shirley Horowitz's house) — RSVP or just show up;
  • GRNS at Camp Bar, 4044 N Oakland Ave, Shorewood — RSVP or just show up;
  • DPMC at Bounce Milwaukee, 2801 S. 5th Ct. Milwaukee — just show up;

Finally, we want to reward Penzey's Spices and maybe even email Bill Penzey for buying almost $100,000 worth of ads on Facebook. It turns out that Penzey's ads were second only to the ads placed by the Grifter-in-Chief's re-election campaign. The gesture this company made was so extraordinary that both the New York Times and the Washington Post ran prominent stories about it. The ads advocate for impeaching our Crook-in-Chief. Go to Penzey's Facebook page and "like" and "follow" it. You may also feel moved to write a comment thanking Mr. Penzey. Then go to a Penzey's Store, buy some products, and ask the clerk to pass along a message thanking him and letting him know that Grassroots North Shore deeply appreciates the effort he and his company are making.

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We need a few (or more) good people

We're getting really busy now. We have several events and actions coming up in the next few weeks and we need your support!

First up: we're holding a forum on impeachment, a subject that has dominated the news of late. Originally scheduled as a debate about whether or not to impeach, current events have made us morph that into a discussion of the strategies and the politics in play. We'd love to have you join us — for what is bound to be a lively event — on Sunday, October 13 at North Shore Presbyterian Church (4048 N Bartlett Ave, Shorewood). Doors open at 4; the program begins at 4:20 and runs until 6:30. Our volunteers make delicious snacks, so please RSVP.

Next up are our Debate Watch Parties, three of them. Find the one that's right for you and RSVP so we know to expect you.

And now for the upcoming actions, all of which you can find on our website on the menu "GRNS Actions".

  • There's one more opportunity to take a small turf (8-10 houses) to do some deep canvassing before the weather turns nasty! We're hosting this effort on Saturday, October 12, from 2pm-4:30pm. Our goal is to listen to people who are likely to vote our way IF they vote. We are using the techniques of deep canvassing (techniques which rely on active listening) to find out what issues they really care about. The data will help progressive candidates in our area understand their potential voters better. So help us help them! RSVP.

  • You also have a chance to support the push for nonpartisan redistricting. Bills have been introduced in the Assembly (AB303) and the Senate (SB288) to create a more transparent, fair and nonpartisan process for creating the next set of electoral maps in 2021. BUT the bills are stuck in committees whose Republican chairs have not scheduled hearings or votes on them. We're writing postcards to them to urge them to get the bills advanced to the floor of their respective chambers and to the governor for his signature. You can help. RSVP.

  • Phone Bank with us to recruit volunteers. Grassroots North Shore is participating in a One Year to Win Weekend of Action on Nov. 2-3. But to be successful, we need to recruit a lot of volunteers to knock on doors. The canvass on those days will have two goals: 1) to fill in data on registered voters for which there is non-existant or incomplete information; and 2) to make sure Democrats and potential left-leaning voters know that we care about what they think. You can be part of the effort to call past volunteers during our two phone banks on Tuesday, October 22, and Wednesday, October 23. All you have to do is bring your cell phone. We'll provide the phone lists of previous canvassers.

  • Finally, there is the One Year to Win Weekend of Action itself. We'll be sending people out to canvass from our office (5600 W Brown Deer Road, Suite 116) on Saturday, November 2, at 10am and at 1pm. On Sunday, November 3, canvasses will start from Shirley Horowitz's house (4845 N Newhall St, Whitefish Bay, WI 53217) at 10am and 1pm. Sign up for the shift that makes the most sense for you.

We would not ask you to participate in these actions if we did not think winning the next elections — up and down the ballot on nonpartisan and partisan races alike — weren't important. For example, if we can win the race for WI Supreme Court Justice on April 7, 2020, we will have a Supreme Court that consists of four conservative justices and three liberal ones. In 2022, one of those conservative jurists will be up for re-election. If we win in 2020 and then again in 2022, we can turn the Supreme Court in WI around. Nothing could be more important to the direction of our state. And that goes for ALL the races we will want to back next year. Your willingness to step up and work for change will make the difference. I hope we can count on you to give a little of your time and energy. That's the only way we'll win.

As for what's happening at the national level, we have a fraudster and a crook in the White House who is so lacking in the steady and thoughtful qualities we need as a country that it is hard to watch the news or read a newspaper. I won't spend any more of your time rehashing the obvious. See the New York Times online, the Washington Post online, Vox and a whole host of other good and reliable sources.

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Do you crane your neck?

If you have a bunch of questions about the process involved in impeaching and/or removing a president from office, the Washington Post has you covered in their article What you need to know about the impeachment inquiry into Trump. As this process unfolds — at breakneck speed it seems — Grassroots North Shore also has you covered with its fortuitously scheduled forum on impeachment, Sunday, October 13, at the North Shore Presbyterian Church (4048 N. Bartlett, Shorewood) Doors will open at 4 and the forum will begin at 4:20. Originally couched as a debate on whether to impeach the current occupant of the White House, or not, the discussion will center on the next set of questions:

  • Should the process be short and focus only on Ukraine? Or, should it include obstruction of justice, obstruction of congress, and many other misdeeds?

  • Should not only Trump but also Barr and Pompeo be included in the impeachment inquiry?

  • Should this process be our focus at all since a lot of the Democratic leadership thinks we will be unable to make Trump pay the price?

You may have your own questions and suggestions. So come prepared for a lively discussion. And as usual, we ask that you RSVP.

And while we're on the subject, I want to call your attention to the way Rachel Maddow framed the allegations in her show last might. A writer on Daily Kos has a good bullet list of the main points. But if you have the time, you might want to watch the full clip from the show. The gist is this: to wrap your mind around the whole tale, and cease craning you neck to see, you just need to know that the whole goal, in Rachel's analysis, is to end the sanctions on Russia. Thus, undermining the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia meddled in our 2016 elections AND ensuring that Ukraine and Russia end their war (presumably on Russia's terms) will result in lifting all the sanctions the US and our allies have placed on Russia in the last five years! (The most recent set of sanctions resulted from election meddling and the earlier set resulted from Russia's annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine.)

Meanwhile, 2020 is coming up fast. And in case you didn't know, Wisconsin has FOUR elections scheduled for the year;

  • Feb 18, the nonpartisan primary election;

  • April 7, the nonpartisan general election AND the presidential primary election;

  • Aug. 11, the partisan primary election;

  • Nov. 3, the national general election.

Mark your calendars! Grassroots North Shore is planning to do as much as we can to turn out the vote in all four elections. Right now, we are starting with "deep canvassing" in an effort to build a relationship with people who lean toward progressive values and candidates but don't always vote. We have two more deep canvassing events scheduled for this fall — Wed, 10/2, from 5-7:30pm, and Sat., 10/12, from 2-4:30pm. Both canvasses begin at our office — 5600 W. Brown Deer Rd., Suite 116. We need your help to make this effort a success, so please sign up!

We will also be holding a more traditional canvass on Saturday, November 2, from our office, and Sunday, November 3, from Shirley Horowitz's house. We're participating in a Weekend of Action to mark one year until the general election in 2020. I'll have more details — the times and perhaps a preview of the script — in the next couple of weeks. So save the dates now!

In addition to our work on voter turnout, we are trying to help move two bills — AB303 and SB288 — through the legislative committees to which they have been submitted. The bills would create and a nonpartisan and publicly transparent process for drawing the next set of electoral maps in 2021. So, we're holding postcard parties to send the GOP members of those committees pre-printed postcards to urge them to hold hearings and vote the bills out to the full Assembly and Senate. Come to the office on Wednesday, October 2 at 5pm or Saturday, October 12 at 2pm to help us pressure the legislature to unrig the maps. You can find more information on our website and on Facebook: 10/2 on the web and on Facebook OR 10/12 on the web and on Facebook.

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turn, turn, turn

Fall is officially here. And with it comes a flood of events. So I'll keep this intro brief.

Grassroots North Shore is holding four more deep canvass events plus four postcard parties. The postcards are to urge the Republican members of the Assembly's Committee on Campaigns and Elections and the Senate's Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection to hold public hearings on the bills to ensure that the 2021 process for drawing electoral districts is non-partisan, transparent, and fair. For deep canvassing, we will provide all the essential materials and some training in this canvassing technique. For the postcard parties, we will provide printed messages on postcards, pens, recipients' names and addresses, and stamps. All you have to do is fill out the remaining information. We will mail the postcards for you.

Deep canvassing will help ensure a robust turnout in the 2020 elections and postcard parties will help keep the issue of extreme gerrymandering front and center in the legislature. We need your help to accomplish these goals. So please sign up!

The latest and most important Trump scandal — his effort to pressure Ukraine to dig up dirt (or manufacture it) on former VP Joe Biden — has made the subject of impeaching him more salient than ever. That's why, on Sunday Oct. 13, we are holding a debate between Dr. Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, and Dr. Sheldon Wasserman, Milwaukee County Supervisor. Kathleen Dunn, long time host of Wisconsin Public Radio, will moderate as our two panelists take sides: Impeachment? or Not? (Or see the event on Facebook and RSVP there!) You won't want to miss what is sure to be a lively and vital discussion. So save the date and sign up now.

On September 15, Grassroots North Shore held its Annual Potluck Picnic with a sellout crowd. Our keynote speaker this year — Seth Hoffmeister, Conservation Voters Director — provided us with a synopsis of what has changed in environmental regulations since Tony Evers replaced Scott Walker as governor. Christine Kuramoto, a stalwart supporter of Grassroots North Shore, has provided us with an account of Hoffmeister's talk and the Q and A session that followed.

Grassroots Northshore at Cahill Park with the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters

Elections have consequences…for our air, for our water, for our state in so many ways. Under the Walker administration no one in state government was allowed to mention climate change in connection with Wisconsin environmental policy. “Clean water. Clean air. Protecting public lands. It’s what we do.” said Seth Hoffmeister, describing the mission of his organization, Wisconsin Conservation Voters (formerly Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters). Walker administration prohibitions made protecting the environment that much more difficult at a time of impending climate crisis according to Hoffmeister. Governor Tony Evers’ leadership has changed the environmental regulatory atmosphere considerably, allowing for dramatic progress. For example, Evers has issued an executive order to create an office of sustainability and promote 100 percent clean energy in Wisconsin by the year 2050.

Hoffmeister said that another current critical issue is the fight against climate change denial, and countering the misinformation spread by industries that profit from carbon-based fuel consumption. “I’m talking about Exxon fuel. I’m talking about the coal companies. I’m talking about the Koch brothers, and I’m talking about ‘Big Oil,” he said, referring to carbon-based energy profiteers who have funded bogus research and obstructed progress on clean energy. Hoffmeister was speaking at a vibrant, well-attended event, hosted by Grassroots Northshore at Cahill Park on September 15.The audience of over 110 enjoyed a bluegrass duet from Linda and Poul Sandersen of LIBRA,, and a potluck supper featuring really delicious pulled pork and pulled chicken by Keith Schmitz and Eilene Stevens.

In the question-and-answer period after Seth’s presentation, audience members shared ideas for tree planting and ending Walker-era surcharges on registration for fuel-efficient cars. As always with Grassroots Northshore events, many candidates and local change makers joined the audience for informal discussions and networking. These included: Earnell Lucas, Milwaukee County Sheriff; Rebecca Dallet, Justice, Wisconsin Supreme Court; Tomika Vukovic, Glendale School Board member; Rebecca Kiefer, Candidate for Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Branch 29; Bret Blomme, Candidate for Milwaukee Circuit Court, Branch 5; Ed Fallone, Professor, Marquette University Law School, Candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court, and Jill Karofsky, currently Branch 12 judge on the Dane County Circuit Court, now a candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Find out more about Wisconsin Conservation Voters initiatives.

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the con continues

This week's link-fest of a newsletter has a brief update on the Foxconn foibles, followed by some important information and events we especially want you to know about.

So, a few days ago, the Journal Sentinel published "It looks like one of Milwaukee's Domes. But this proposed Foxconn building would be high-tech" (jsonline.com, Sept. 12, 2019), a story about a futuristic, spherical building to serve as the "network operations center." According to the article,"[t]he operations center is a central location for network administrators to manage, control and monitor information technology networks." But on the same day, Wisconsin Public Radio announced that "Foxconn's plans to build a nine-story circular office building reminiscent of Epcot's iconic Spaceship Earth building at the entrance of its Orlando theme park in Mount Pleasant have been put on hold." Also on September 12, The Epoch Times (a right-wing news organ) reported that Terry Gou, "quit Taiwan's main opposition party on Sept. 12, paving the way for a possible bid to stand in a presidential election as an independent...." But yesterday, Gou announced that he will not run for president of Taiwan after all! (See Reuters). Foxconn's con in WI carries on: "UW experiences delay in receiving Foxconn gift." The Badger Herald's subhead reads "Rep. Chris Taylor unsurprised." If you've been keeping up with the con, you are surprised either.

Back here in the real world, you don't need to be reminded that politics is a participation sport. So if you live in Milwaukee County, become a member of the Milwaukee County Democratic Party. If you live in Ozaukee County, you can find the "Join the party" link here. Follow the links to find everything you need to know to become a "virtual card-carrying member" of the Democratic Party in your county.

You'll want to be a party member to attend the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee in July 2020! Hot off the presses, here's what you need to know to be a delegate and help choose the party's nominee: Becoming a delegate to the 2020 Democratic National Convention. You know it's going to be in Milwaukee at the Fiserv Forum, right? (For those of you who want to volunteer for the convention, the place to go is milwaukee2020.com. Those of you who have already signed up but have not heard back, be patient a little longer. Ben Wikler, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, assured the party faithful that the organizing committee will be fully staffed up and, well, organized soon. And will be in touch.)

Meanwhile, Grassroots North Shore continues to encourage you to join us for some deep canvassing on Wednesday, September 25, from 5-7pm and Saturday, September 28, from 2-5:30pm. Meet in our office at 5600 W Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116. Also on Wednesday, September 25, from 5-7pm and Saturday, September 28, from 2-5:30pm, we're hosting some postcard writing sessions to support two bills, AB303 and SB288. These bills would ensure that the Assembly, state Senate, and US Representative districts that will be drawn in 2021 will be developed in a non-partisan and transparent way. Right now, the bills are stuck in Assembly and Senate committees and cannot come up for a floor vote, let alone be signed into law. Our postcard effort will target the chairs and vice chairs of the relevant committees to urge them to schedule public hearings on the bills. So please give us a little of your time to fill the postcards out — Wednesday, September 25, from 5-7pm, and Saturday, September 28, from 2-4:30pm.

Finally, please SAVE THE DATE: Impeachment? or Not? A Debate on the Future of This Country. Speaking in favor of impeachment is Dr. Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. Speaking against impeachment is Dr. Sheldon Wasserman, Milwaukee County Supervisor. Moderating the proceedings is Kathleen Dunn, long-time host of Wisconsin Public Radion. The program will be held on Sunday, October 13, at North Shore Presbyterian Church (4048 N. Bartlett Ave., Shorewood). We will have further details as we get closer to October 13, so stay tuned. But you can register now.

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what's happening this week

Congress has returned and is getting very busy with investigations of the Trump administration. We have a Presidential Primary Debate coming up on September 12 with Debate Watch Parties (see the events list below for details). We'll keep our eyes on both of these stories.

But the good news, for now at least, is that Stanley Greenberg, a long-time Democratic pollster, has a new book out — R.I.P. G.O.P. — in which he predicts that "[t]he year 2020 will produce a second blue wave on at least the scale of the first in 2018 and finally will crash and shatter the Republican Party that was consumed by the ill-begotten battle to stop the New America from governing." As we say in my family, "from his lips to G-d's ears!" (Michelle Goldberg, in the NYTimes online, has an excellent op-ed about this book.) Still, we can't afford to become cocky. I know I have flogged these events in nearly every newsletter lately, but deep canvassing is really important.

Here's why: Wisconsin may well be the "tipping point" state — the one that decides whether the USA goes in a new direction or sinks into authoritarianism. And all it takes to be on the right (by which I actually mean the left) side is a few extra votes per ward. So we are working to contact voters who don't always vote because if we turn them out next year, we could turn out Trump and his cronies! We have three more deep canvasses scheduled and we need your help to get to everyone on our list. Please sign up.

The days, dates, and times of these events are as follows:

And don't forget to sign up for the Grassroots Northshore Annual Potluck Picnic at Cahill Park (in Whitefish Bay) from 4:30-7:30pm on Sunday, September 15.

We'll know in the next week or two whether as a country we've made any progress on gun safety legislation since the mass shootings in El Paso, Dayton, and Odessa. Pat Slutske provides us with a view of the "mental illness" argument against universal background checks and other sensible controls.

Pat Slutske

So now we have it. The president is scampering away from the idea of improving background checks to fight the gun violence pandemic. But they do have a proposed solution: lock up those mental cases, crazy people, and sickos that commit violence with a gun.

Nope, that is not the answer. Why? Because

  • only 3 – 6 % of the people who commit gun violence, it is estimated, have a recognizable mental illness;
  • many other countries have the same mental health issues as we do, but not the gun violence;
  • modern treatment for mental illness does not confine the person in some hidden-from-view, sequestered institution where the standards of care are barely human (think children in cages with no soap or toothbrushes);
  • and even the mentally ill have civil rights.

And what a windfall for those on the right who believe there is no good idea that cannot be privatized. We can throw together some shoddy buildings, call them mental institutions, and lock away those with mental defects. We can charge fees that amount to extortion, but have most of that money go to profit, not to the care of those that are being warehoused. We can keep them so medicated that they can barely function, making them so much more docile and easy to manage.

I know this is a bit conspiratorial, but I believe that it can happen here. So many things are happening that in isolation seem like no big deal. But when you start to put them together, the result looks an awful lot like how fascism has worked in any number of places to install autocratic, tyrannical, despotic regimes. Fascism is not a political ideology, but a phenomenon that is used to change government by taking advantage of what already exists: white supremacy, xenophobia, nationalism, hatred, and so many others. For the record, I did not come up with this on my own, but my view was fashioned by what we read and discussed in a grad school course devoted to Fascism that I sat in on last year. Some pretty scary stuff, made even scarier when what you are reading seems to be actually happening today. So, yes, I really wonder if building a bunch of mental institutions based on locking up the loonies might just be part pretext.

I am reminded of the often quoted passage from Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) a prominent Lutheran pastor in Germany:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
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Rounding the corner into Fall

Read what Jane Fonda concluded after door-knocking in Scranton, PA, with Working America, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO that "unites working people who don’t have a union on the job. With more than 3 million members in urban and suburban communities, [Working America] works together for good jobs, a fair economy and a democracy that represents all of us."

Her top takeaway — "It’s voters like these we need to talk with — those who are dispirited and confused like Steve; ambivalent like Edith; and uninformed like Sharon. A respectful conversation that started with their concerns and opinions hooked each of them, so when Working America goes back, the door is open to information from a new trusted messenger, which can encourage them to take action on issues they care about and vote with that new information in mind." What Fonda describes is what Grassroots North Shore calls "deep canvassing." It's an effort to connect in a personal way with voters whose views we need to hear.

That's why it is so important that we connect with potential voters now. Please consider becoming a deep canvasser. You and a partner will meet people where they live, holding "respectful conversations" about "their concerns and opinions." You'll be talking to voters who lean in our direction but who do not always vote. And we will need them come November 2020. We have four more deep canvass events scheduled for September:

Please sign up for one of them.

I also want to call your attention to two events taking place on Thursday, September 12: Democratic Debate Watch Parties and a showing of the film "Rigged: The Voter Suppression Playbook."

  • Debate Watch Party in Mequon, Ferrante's Restaurant, 10404 N Port Washington Rd, starting at 6:30;
  • Debate Watch Party in Fox Point, Martha Pincus' house, 7045 N Belmont Ln, starting at 6:30;
  • "Rigged: The Voter Suppression Playbook" sponsored by WAVE and co-sponsored by Grassroots North Shore, at All People's Church, 2600 N. 2nd St., Milwaukee. Doors open at 6:30 pm, screening begins at 7 pm.

Finally, as we barrel toward fall, there's the annual Grassroots North Shore event. Is it a Picnic? Is it a Party? Or maybe a Path to the Future? It's all of that and more! Grassroots North Shore is holding its annual potluck picnic at Cahill Park (diagonally across from Whitefish Bay High School) on Sunday, September 15. We can promise you good food, convivial conversation, and hope we can make a difference in the world. The featured speaker will be Seth Hoffmeister, Executive Director of Wisconsin Conservation Voters. He will address present and future effects of climate change, and what we can do to prevent and cope with its future effects. Doors open at 4:30, with food served around 5:15. Seth will speak around 6:00. RSVP and find out what food contribution to bring (though you're just as welcome without a dish-to-pass).

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