Why you should contact your representatives even if they’re already on your side

When your politician wants to do the right thing, they need your help.

If you call/tweet your representatives about something they already agree with, you are telling them: We have your back. You don’t have to worry that doing the right thing will cost you the election. Doing the right thing will get you votes, and make you *more* likely to win. That gives them more options.

I made a tool to do this.


truth and trust

Great NYTimes Article on the end of truth:

Social networks and hacking also “have enabled us to see, in full color, into the innermost workings of every institution and into the attitudes of those who run them,” noted Seidman, “and that has eroded trust in virtually every institution, and the authority of many leaders, because people don’t like what they see.”

Yellow Flag and Privilege

In racing there are different kinds of flags.  During many of them such as the yellow flag, drivers are not allowed to pass each other.  Now imagine in this flag situation the opposite of rubber banding (where in Mario Kart where the AI racers behind are placed closer to the player playing than they should given their performance) was happening.  Pretend the car in first place was allowed to go faster and each car down the line was allowed to put 150 feet between them.  It would make the race more unfair obviously.  I feel that’s what Trump has done to America.

The people of privilege have put distance between the rest of us and now there is more separating us as one goes further down.  The people in last place (refugees and immigrants) are driven further back because everyone has put distance between them.  As a man with a disability my interactions with men of privilege are noticeably different.  We just don’t have much in common.  Until Trump got elected I used to obsess over my closest friend from college but that has all but stopped now.  Because we are utterly different people, our experiences singular.

the biggest problem with good things

I think the biggest problems with good things is you don’t notice them.  We just tune out systems that are working properly.  Kind of like how you don’t think about your washing machine at all until it starts malfunctioning.  A lot of people didn’t vote last election because they just assumed the government would keep running fine without their input.

We Christians like to talk about Hell a lot, so let’s talk about Hell a little.

White Christians who Voted for Donald Trump:

This is the personal Hell we’ve unleashed upon our people this week. 

And if you’re a white Christian and you voted for Donald Trump: You need to fix this. Now.

You comprise the lion’s share of Trump’s elevation to the highest office of our country.
You knew exactly who this man was while you held your noses and covered your eyes and endorsed him anyway.
You are fully responsible for the flood of personal sewage now engulfing children and adults of color, those in the LGBTQ community, those in the Muslim community.
And you, white Christian, better get you spiritual shIt together and figure out how you’re going make this right.

Or, you can step out into the school hallways and bus stops and coffee shops and Twitter feeds and bring the bold, loving, redemptive presence of Jesus you’re always claiming you want to be in the world. You can actually step into Hell and bring the freakin’ love of God.

The Two Empowering Things


It’s easy to tell if something is empowering.  If something is truly empowering, those in power are doing everything in their power to suppress it.

Voting.  In the 2012 election wait times for largely minority dominated precincts were twice as long for white dominated ones.  All those news articles on Gerrymandering and voter suppression aren’t just happenstance.  Voting is powerful.  If it weren’t people wouldn’t be trying their darnedest to suppress it.

One common objection to voting is that all the politicians are equally corrupt.  While a lot of times it is slim pickens at the polls, look at it like an optometrist eye glasses test.  They alternate lenses in front of your eye and ask you which one you see the letters more clearly through.  The first two lenses the letters look blurry but one looks less blurry than the other.  After many tries with different lenses the letters look clear.   The point is if we vote for the lesser of two evils eventually things will get better because the next choices we get will be better.  Things will never get good but over time they will get better than they are now.

Tangentially related to voting is demographic disenfranchisement.  Those in power put their greatest hope in our generation’s disaffection.  This is because a healthy voting percentage is the main way a demographic advocates for itself in our system.  Senior citizens and baby boomers vote (in the general election and primaries) and politicians bend over backwards to support what they care about.  If we millennials started voting in numbers like them you can bet that things close to our hearts such as student debt reform, income inequality, unemployment, climate change, etc.. would feature more prominently on politician’s minds.  It wouldn’t be a matter of them becoming more just or warm hearted.  It would just be that their hands would be forced because our votes would help keep their butts in their seats, and in the end that’s all they care about.  In this case it doesn’t matter if millennials voted Democrat, Republican, or Independent, just that they voted in large numbers.


Collective Bargaining.  Union power has been on the wane for decades but the decay is accelerating now.  If unions weren’t powerful why would the Tea Party governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker try busting the public sector ones basically as one of the first things of his tenure?  Why did Michigan governor Rick Snyder pass right to work legislation (which basically severely weakens unions) in a unionized auto manufacturing state where they were the strongest?  Why does Wal-Mart have a union suppression crew that flies via private jet to stores attempting to unionize?

The common objection that comes up is unions slow productivity and are corrupt.  Some are but again it’s weighing the two evils and picking the lesser one.  Usually you’ll find unionized employees make more per hour, have better benefits, and are treated more fairly.  Again there are exceptions but this is the rule.

There is this narrative coming from those in power that it isn’t a zero-sum game, there is enough for everybody, it’s not powerful pitted against the powerless, employee pitted against employer, etc..  This narrative is partially true because there is enough for everybody but those in power would lose their power if things were truly distributed evenly and the thing those in power fight for the hardest is keeping and expanding their power.  If you want something you have to fight for it, that’s how things have been since prehistory.  Knowing the right battles to pick is key though.  And those in power’s actions will lead you to the correct ones to pick.

anybody else

I hate to boil complex geopolitical problems into simple language, but…  I think a lot of our problems stem from the fact that nobody gives a damn about anybody else.  If something is good for the commons but the actors involved don’t get something out of it, it gets left undone.  Just look at the heartbleed vulnerability.  This was a vulnerability in a computer program (OpenSSL) that millions of websites depended upon.  It was an open source project which meant that any programmer could work on it and it was free for people to use.  So billion dollar companies used it without blinking without having any of their programmers look over the code for bugs and security vulnerabilities.  Unsurprisingly a huge security vulnerability was found earlier this year and millions of websites were at risk of being compromised.

I could say the same about the Ebola vaccine that was shelved for ten years.