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Fighting no-show Senators for healthcare, with Autumn Zemke


Hillary Clinton won the “purplish” state of Nevada, notes Autumn Zemke of the Northern Nevada Working Families Party, but one of its Senators is still a Republican. Dean Heller has made noises about opposing Trumpcare, but now he’s dodging his constituents. Zemke and others attempted to hold a sit-in at his office last Friday, June 16, but were only let in one at a time. She talked to me about the movement for healthcare in Nevada, and the state’s own proposed Medicaid-for-all solution to the holes in the Affordable Care Act–one that could be even more important if the federal government repeals the ACA.

I think the American public needs that kind of realization, that kind of wake-up that I had, and I just happened to have it a little bit sooner than some people are coming to it. I think it is important for us to tell that story, “This person died.” There is this gentleman who I just came across on Twitter and he was trying to crowdfund his insulin. I think he was in Austin, Texas and he was big in the arts scene and comic book scene. This man actually died because he couldn’t do it.

We shouldn’t be crowdfunding healthcare. Not in the wealthiest country. It is insanity. Plus, it just doesn’t make financial sense. The reality is we have to hold Senator Heller accountable. “Why would you do this? Why would you take healthcare away from us?” And hold them accountable to the fact that there is no financial reason for it.

I have to add, the reality of people who are in the 1% are there off the backs of our labor. It is not like we are trying to take something from them. They have that wealth because they have workers, they have employees, they have people that have lifted them up to this point of extreme. They got there because they have companies where they have people working for them. That is our wealth. We helped make that wealth. Asking for healthcare shouldn’t be that big of a deal when we create the wealth as employees, as workers.

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Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. You can now subscribe on iTunes! Previous interviews here.

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40 acres for liberation, with Chinyere Tutashinda


Juneteenth is not a federal holiday–but it should be. It is the day that the news of emancipation reached the last group of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, months after the Emancipation Proclamation and even the official end of the Civil War. To mark the day, and its unfulfilled promises, a group of organizers planned a day of action: of reclaiming vacant land, 40 acres in 40 cities to be precise. From Atlanta to Oakland, Chicago to New Orleans, anchored by the BlackOUT Collective and Movement Generation, black people claimed and held land, taking space to have community dinners, put vacant spaces back into the commons, and challenge gentrification as well as amplify the demand for reparations. Chinyere Tutashinda of the BlackOUT Collective told me about the plan.

There are a lot of people who are out on the streets… I think there is a lot of interest and a lot of people who have been newly politicized and woken up to the fact that now Trump is our president. But, when I think around what has been going on within the Movement for Black Lives and organizations that are part of that constellation–because this is not new for us and because a lot of folks, particularly those in the South, have been living under conditions very similar to the ones that Trump is trying to enact nationally–there was just a different level of “What does that mean for us?”

People have been really focusing on strengthening their organizing and strengthening their base building and trying tto build and do strategy in just different ways. People are noticing there are less people on the streets, but they are not necessarily less people in our organizations or less people doing local work. I think as people are building and are slowly growing, the work that you will see come into fruition in the next year or so.

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Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. You can now subscribe on iTunes! Previous interviews here.

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Stopping Trumpcare wherever you are, with Angel Padilla


The vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with…something is on, but Republicans are hiding the bill away, refusing public debate, and Democrats are unwilling to put it all on the line to stop it. Angel Padilla of the new resistance group Indivisible tells me what their strategy is to stop the bill, and why every single Senator matters.

Republican senators are hiding from their constituency. They are afraid of facing them because they know they are pushing this bad bill that is going to harm them. It is a bill that is literally going to harm thousands and thousands of their own constituents and they are doing it simply because they want to give Donald Trump a win. That is why they are hiding. That is why we have to bring the fight to them.

They are hiding, but constituents can go down to regional offices and they can make their voices heard. They can have sit-ins. They can keep calling. Even if they are not willing to meet with their constituents, they are paying attention. They know that people don’t want it. The only way we are going to stop this bill is if they really get the sense of how widely opposed this bill is. That is the truth.

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Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. You can now subscribe on iTunes! Previous interviews here.

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No is not enough, with Naomi Klein


The rise of Donald Trump seemed shocking to so many, but to Naomi Klein, something of an expert on shock, the feeling that Trump brings out is more akin to the horror of a bad dystopian novel. Indeed, it’s like her decades of previous research into the growth of global brands and a movement against them, into the violence of neoliberalism, and the destruction and movement against climate change has all come together in one presidency. That gives her a lot of ideas of how to fight him, ideas she details in a new book, No Is Not Enough.

There is no doubt that the far right is entering into a vacuum left by neoliberal centrism and liberalism. It is worth remembering that not so long ago, there was a very large, progressive, committedly internationalist movement that was taking on the whole logic of what was called “free trade” or “globalization” or “corporate globalization.” We called it “corporate rule” for the most part, because the problem was not trade, it was the writing of rules for the global economy in the interests of a small group of powerful corporations. Forget hollow brands. The center of that fight was about the hollowing out of democracy. Yes, sure, you can still vote, but the most important decisions about your life are being outsourced to institutions over which you have no control.

The fact that neoliberal centrist parties pushed those deals, signed those deals, negotiated those deals, and never aligned themselves with that grassroots progressive movement, left the space open for the Donald Trumps and the Nigel Farages and the Marine Le Pens of the world to come in and say, “We know how out of control you are. We believe you should be authors of your own fate, of your own destiny.” We left these ideas unattended, let’s just say. There are lots of great groups that never stopped focusing on trade, like Public Citizen and Food and Water Watch and lots of groups in Europe. But it stopped being a mass movement in the global north after September 11th. It is worth interrogating why that happened.

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Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. You can now subscribe on iTunes! Previous interviews here.

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Knock every door, talk to everyone, with Becky Bond


In the wake of Trump’s election, Becky Bond says, people began to ask her what they could do. Beyond just donating money to campaigns or showing up to protests, she says, people wanted to be active in their communities, talking to their neighbors. She and some of her Sanders campaign colleagues decided to create a platform for people to do just that, and thus KnockEveryDoor was born.

The big data strategy is where essentially you hire a bunch of data consultants to run a bunch of models to find out “What is the smallest number of people you can talk to and win? Who are those people and what do they care about?” We need to talk to everybody. When you talk to a small group of people, they may not reflect back what the campaign needs to hear and about what is really going on with most of the constituents in that race. I think that campaigns need to hear from the majority of the people how policies are affecting their lives. Then, that could really change what politicians decide to talk about and fight for.

One of the things that I really learned from talking to people across the country is that the people that are not participating in elections, the so-called “low information voters,” it is not that they are ignorant people at all. In fact, time and time again, when I talk to them I come away feeling like they have a very sophisticated political analysis and they are choosing not to participate in politics. Not because they don’t know, but because their liberation is not on the ballot or they don’t see how voting is actually going to materially change anything in their lives. I think that reestablishing the feedback loop of talking voters is doing an important thing. That the concerns from the people that are not participating can also be something that politicians take into account, not just the narrow slice of voters who they think will put them over the top.

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Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. You can now subscribe on iTunes! Previous interviews here.