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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it's still summer, right?

Well, the Iowa State Fair is behind us, so the 2020 campaign must be starting in earnest. The next debate(s) will take place on Thursday, September 12 (and if necessary, Friday, September 13), at Texas Southern University in Houston. ABC and Univision will broadcast live. GRNS will host some debate watch parties again, so stay tuned for information on the specifics. The criteria for gaining a spot on the debate stage is higher than it was in June and July. Right now according to NPR, only nine candidates have met them. But candidates have until August 28 to do so. Plenty of time to exceed the 10-persons-per-night limit.

An interesting op-ed piece in the NYTimes online this morning focuses on the power that people of color especially can wield when they turn out to vote. Here are some important tidbits from the piece:

Since 2008, women of color have grown by 18 percentage points in the general population and by 25 percentage points among registered voters. This is starting to show up at the ballot box. The 2018 election set new benchmarks for turnout in a midterm election, with a whopping 30 million more people voting than in 2014. For women of color, the increased turnout was even more stark, at 37 percent; for Latinas it was 51 percent; and for Asian-American and Pacific Islander women, 48 percent.

. . .

Turnout also substantially relied on the efforts of independent political groups. Consider that nearly half of 2018 voters who were contacted to register or go to the polls reported that the contact came from a group unaffiliated with a political party.

That's why Grassroots North Shore is contacting some low propensity voters on the North Shore: to establish a positive relationship that will encourage people to vote in all four elections in 2020. Of course we will also be doing more traditional voter contact ahead of each election, but now is the time to reach those potential voters, to hear their concerns, and to start them on a path to more engaged political action. I urge you to sign up now for some of our deep canvassing opportunities.

After a lazy, hazy July, political action around Milwaukee is beginning to pick up again. So the events list is a little bit longer than it has been the last few weeks. Lest it be lost in the shuffle, then, mark you calendars now for our annual picnic and potluck event at Cahill Park (4950 N Woodruff Ave, Whitefish Bay) on Sunday, September 15. GRNS will supply a main dish and drinks. We'll ask you to bring a side or a dessert to share. In a later newsletter, we will provide more information. But in the meantime, you should know that our theme this year is Climate Change. And a timely topic it is! A trickle of stories about GOPers testing the waters for a change in their flat climate-crisis-denial stance looks like it might be happening. See "Climate Could Be an Electoral Time Bomb, Republican Strategists Fear" in the NYTimes on August 2. Or "Republicans form conservation caucus to take on environment, climate change" in The Hill on July 10. Whether the Republicans really want to change is still up in the air. But you can be sure grassroots groups such as ours are doing what we can to help the public understand the urgency of action. You can RSVP for the picnic on our website or our Facebook page.

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Nothing left to say

It's another week of sadness and outrage. What more is there to say? If you'd like to donate to funds to help the communities of El Paso and Dayton heal, here are some links:

And just in case you've averted your eyes, here's today's top story on jsonline.com: Wisconsin leaders show no signs of tackling gun violence after massacres in Texas and Ohio. The story's lead talks about "Wisconsin officials," but really means Republican leaders Vos and Fitzgerald. Do mythical Second Amendment rights trump human life? Apparently.

On a somewhat lighter note, some clever designers in Chicago have created an entire font, Ugly Gerry, from images of gerrymandered districts nationwide. Read about and download it to use to write an email to your assembly representative and state senator.

The newsletter is short this week because I am recuperating from some surgery and just don't have the patience right now to dig through all the news and commentary. According to Eilene Stevens, who took over for me last week, the Irma Bombeck of Grassroots North Shore is happily returning the spot to GRNS' Rachel Maddow! I think she just means that I'm wordier than she is. But I'm grateful for her willingness to do the honors last week.

For our events offerings this week, I especially want to call your attention to opportunities to get involved in the early, seed-sowing stage of campaigns we HAVE TO WIN. So here, once again, are the dates to start a little deep canvassing with Grassroots North Shore:

And mark your calendars now for our annual picnic and potluck event at Cahill Park (4950 N Woodruff Ave, Whitefish Bay) on Sunday, September 15. This year's theme is "Climate Change: This Generation and Beyond."

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Emotionally, where are you?

Personally, I'm terrified. The Upshot (NYTimes.com, July 19, 2019), Nate Cohn's statistical forecasting site, suggests that Trump's "advantage in the Electoral College, relative to the national popular vote, may be even larger than it was in 2016, according to an Upshot analysis of election results and polling data." And here's the punch-in-the-gut news: "Wisconsin was the tipping-point state in 2016, and it seems to hold that distinction now, at least based on the president’s approval rating among 2018 midterm voters."

Nate Cohn is not the only pundit focusing on the importance of Wisconsin to the outcome of the 2020 presidential elections. Here are a few other articles:

I bring this to your attention because we can't afford to be complacent. We can't afford to waste any time. We need to feel the fierce urgency of now. It won't be good enough to wait for the traditional weekend for Get Out the Vote. It won't be good enough to get around to organizing next summer. It won't be good enough to look at Trump's approval ratings in Wisconsin, note that he is under water, and go back to sleep! That's why Grassroots North Shore is working NOW to contact those voters who might be inclined to vote Blue but who do not always vote. We're on our own listening tour — to find out what issues are important to these potential voters and to build relationships with them. Election wins take only a few votes per ward. And we don't want to wake up on November 4 regretting that we did not contact a few more voters on the North Shore and in Ozaukee and Washington counties! Be a part of the action. Sign up for an August date:

We also have scheduled some dates in September.

You also don't want to miss our "Funraiser," Are you ready for Political Jeopardy? on Sunday, August 4. The event will include a night of political jeopardy games plus a silent auction of themed baskets, artwork, and crafts. Have fun while helping Grassroots North Shore Keep the Lights On! The event doors open at 3:30 at North Shore Presbyterian Church (4048 N Bartlett Ave, Shorewood). As usual we will serve light refreshments. So RSVP already!

And we're hosting Democratic Debate Watch Parties on Tuesday, July 30, and Wednesday, July 31, in several locations on the North Shore. It's more fun to watch with fellow like-minded people, so plan to come to these events. For more information, look on our website and our Facebook page.

Finally, Ginny Gennis explains how health insurance in America (dis)functions. You can read the first part of her essay here. You'll find the whole thing on our blog.

Health Insurance in the USA: A Cheeky Explanation
by Virginia Gennis, M.D.

Surprise! your monthly health insurance premium just increased 600% You call your friendly health insurance company and receive the consoling explanation: "It's Market Forces."

Market Forces are capitalism at its best. The relationship of supply and demand, free of government meddling, will fix all economic problems. For instance when you go to buy a car, you can choose a Lexus, a Corolla, or if necessary a used Yugo. If many people want one model but there aren't many of them, the price goes up appropriately. The system works.

But obtaining health isn't like buying a car. Is there a real choice between good health, fair health and poor health? Good health generally means good medical care. Only one kind of medical care is available, and it is expensive. There are no healthcare Dollar Stores or cut rate Heart Surgery Outlets. Going back to the automobile analogy, you need transportation and the only car in the lot is a Lexus.

Good health isn't even a product you can buy. It's a probability. Good medical care just improves the odds. The market in its wisdom has devised insurance to deal such uncertainty. Insurance works because lots of low risk people pay in but few people take money out. The difference is profit for the company. It's like auto insurance. The many people who will never be hit by a truck contribute to a pool that pays your claim when your car gets totaled by a semi.

The chances of needing healthcare is too high for insurance to work. Even the young get into nasty accidents. When you get older and sicker your risk of coming down with a costly condition rises inexorably. Of course, if you already have a chronic disease, your chance of having a medical problem is 100% and the insurance model hits the skids. The profit pool is fed by a trickle of premiums but drained by a river of claims. You can't insure a car that has no brakes.

Read the rest of the essay.

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Now is the right time...

...to get going on the elections for 2020.

The second round of debates are coming up. Once again, there will be 20 candidates distributed between the two nights. We won't know until a few days from now who will be on which night but we'll put that information on our events pages once we get the information. Be aware that this month the debates will begin at 7pm CDT!

And once again Grassroots North Shore is hosting several Debate Watch Parties. You can find out all the details of each on on our website's GRNS Events page. Right now, we have 5 watch parties scheduled: on July 30 and July 31 at Ferrante's Restaurant in Mequon; on July 30 and July 31 at Art Bar in Milwaukee; and on July 31 at Martha Pincus' house in Fox Point. We currently looking for someone to host a watch party in Shorewood, Whitefish Bay, Glendale, and/or Brown Deer on July 30. (Actually we could use a couple more on the North Shore. So if you would like to volunteer to host one on July 30, or even on July 31, please get in touch with Dean Schultz or Norma Gilson).

Although the level of political activity in the Milwaukee region is on the light side right now, some important work is going on at Grassroots North Shore. As Nate Cohn explains in a must-read NY Times piece on July 15, a larger-than-normal turnout for the 2020 elections does not necessarily confer an advantage on the Democrat's nominee. With our work cut out for us, Grassroots North Shore is trying to learn about infrequent voters in our area. Cohn's piece underlines just how important knowing who are potential voters are! To that end, we are mounting a series of what are known as "deep canvasses," a proven technique for understanding the issues infrequent voters care about and figuring out who we need to motivate to turn out for the election. You can and should sign up to do this vital work. We have canvasses set up on Sunday, July 21; Wednesday, August 7; Sunday, August 11; Wednesday, August 21; Sunday, August 25; Wednesday, September 11; Saturday, September 14; Wednesday, September 25; and Saturday, September 28. You can find all the dates and details for each date on our GRNS Actions --> deep canvassing page. If we want a win in Wisconsin, this is the work we must do. So please become a deep canvasser!

Finally, for those of you who missed the talk on healthcare proposals given by Dr. Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action in Wisconsin, Shirley Horowitz has kindly provided a succinct summary. (You can also see it on our website.)

What Health Care Plans are Proposed? Who Supports What? How does Medicare for All Differ from Medicare for America?

Despite health care being a winning issue for Democrats in 2018, people are more uncertain than ever about what is being proposed and how it will affect them. Instead of discussing how to improve the ACA, candidates are talking about Medicare for All and its variations. Many people assume that the ACA is no longer a factor. On May 16th the House passed legislation strengthening the ACA and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. However, because the Senate has declined to take up the bill, the conversation appears to have moved on.

On Sunday, June 23rd, Dr. Robert Kraig of Citizen Action of Wisconsin filled us in on the new debate, new legislation and its supporters, and which candidates might support various health care reform alternatives. Daniel Folkman (you can find him on YouTube and at Video Hub) recorded the presentation. He also recorded short videos of individuals’ health care (or lack of) stories. (We appreciate his help in making this more widely available).

Robert described the differences between Medicare for All, as introduced by Bernie Sanders, and Medicare for America. The major distinction between them is budgetary and financial, regarding who should pay how much, rather than major differences in coverage. Medicare for America has budgetary provisions that would pay for the legislation, while Medicare for All does not. Medicare for America offers full coverage with a robust public option but allowances for keeping private insurance, and financial support. Dr. Kraig noted that Beto O’Rourke supports Medicare for America. From recent statements, Kamala Harris also seems to support it. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders support Medicare for All. Biden supports what appears to be an upgraded ACA similar to Medicare for America. It is not clear yet whether there are other candidates who support Medicare for All but who would not support Medicare for America.

People with whom I discussed health care while canvassing tended to support fixes to the ACA, particularly in the area of drug coverage and subsidy categories. That was a topic used to our advantage in the 2018 elections. It remains to be seen whether the newer proposals will garner support or just increase the already high level of anxiety among voters.

The conversation within the Democratic candidate community and those who go out to work for them needs to shift to figure out how to fix the system without pushing our supporters to either fight or run. Good explanations of the alternatives followed by a poll would go a long way to help us finalize a position.

To view this talk (and there is a lot of information here), watch the video of the event plus health care stories by Mark Foreman, Eilene Stevens, and Pastor Ellen Rasmussen.

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