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So we’re going to look forward to having a chance to get to know you. In our breakout rooms later and also in our post event happy hour.
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I wanted to point out a very important update, because this morning we got word that our keynote speaker, Reverend William Barber co chair of the poor people’s campaign, his flight schedule
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May unfortunately prevent his attendance by video, but we will keep you posted on any changes and hope. Safe travels for the reference. And so with that, I see we have so many people still joining us on zoom.
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And so, please look to the chat and tell people where you’re from.
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So, as I said in the beginning, we’re going to take a screenshot. So please, as you’re getting ready and pulling out your buttons or any kind of swag that you might have at home.
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Just a few reminders so please as a reminder we prioritize respect inclusion and non violence in our work towards building progressive change.
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And regarding the chat, it will be moderated, we are recording and prior to this meeting will be live streamed on Facebook at indivisible, Illinois, so please like and follow our page.
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We thank you for your patience as we work through any technical issues, and also please take care of your bio needs, take breaks as needed. We hope that you stay for the whole thing also take stretch breaks, it’s very important for us to take care of
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each other, as we take care of ourselves and each other.
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Okay. So, moving on, everybody have your swag we’re going to stop screen share.
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We’re going to stop screen share. And we’re going to look to the whole zoom. And if you want to be included in our screen share – I wish that we could be together in person. Unfortunately, no it’s not going to happen for us today.
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So we are going to take a picture because we know if it’s not documented it didn’t happen right. Yes, here we go.
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We’re going to take a couple of screenshots here so it looks like four pages so this is the first one. Oh, now I did something really weird Oh, we can’t see, that’s okay.
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Bring yourself close to the screen, I love all of your signs. Thank you so much. Here we go, 123.
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That’s number one. we’re going to take three more two more 123.
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And the last one there are a lot of people on this call, 123. Whoo boy. Thank you so much. And with that, I’m going to pass it to my co leader of indivisible Illinois and co founder and co coordinator, Scott cross from indivisible Springfield.
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Thanks. Thanks a lot, Leni and welcome everyone. My name is Scott Cross, I’m co founder co state coordinator with Leni and Rose, just wanted to welcome you all today, and just introduce an exciting guest that we have today.
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Of course it’s our founder for indivisible.
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Ezra Levin and he’s a political activist, he’s co founder and executive director of Indivisible. He’s also the co author We are Indivisible Blueprint for Democracy After Trump.
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So we’re excited to have him join us today Ezra, welcome.
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Great, thanks guy can you hear me okay. Yep. Scott and Leni gosh what
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What a long road we’ve been on together now. It’s been a long five years I was thinking about how to open this up and I was thinking back to the big Chicago community they all helped put together gosh it was maybe three years ago, in the lead up to the
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2018 election, it’s just been, we’ve been building for justice for a really long time together and it’s just a joy to be here. I wish we could be in person, not just for the pizza too! just, just to hang out to that would be great.
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So I’m just going to talk a little bit about where we’ve been, where we are now and where we’re going. Isn’t that always the subject.
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About five years ago. Next week, Leah and I were pretty aghast at the current political situation wasn’t just that Donald Trump has been elected although that was a big driving force.
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I think the the thing that shocked us were these two interviews that we’re back to back one was from an incoming Trump appointee he would indeed be appointed he actually resigned in disgrace as so many did later but it was a, an interview with this guy
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who was talking positively about the Japanese internment camps during World War Two.
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As an example of what we might do with Muslims and refugees and immigrants. And then within 24 hours of that there was interview with incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the new york times in which he said well we lost the election.
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These things happen, it looks like we’re going to have to work with the other side, maybe we can work with Donald Trump on infrastructure that was, that was the orientation of the democratic party at that time and that was shocking that’s why we were
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gassed that’s why we were terrified and why we sat down to write the indivisible guide right after Thanksgiving, because it seemed quite likely that as of the end of 2016 America’s likely future would be one in which the bipartisan agreement was that
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the roads to America’s internment camps ought to be well paid.
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And that was shocking us this is why we wrote the indivisible guide to say no that doesn’t need to be our future that in fact we can say no to that future and we can organize locally and we started doing that ourselves reaching out to our friends and
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family members to try to figure out what to do and indivisible leaders who would become leaders of these power houses started doing that too reaching out gathering people in your living rooms meeting in church basements, forming.
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What started out as small groups that grew to be larger groups and food to be statewide coordinating structures that grew to be a nationwide force and in 2017, what we did was we beat back the top legislator priority of this unified Conservative government
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we save the Affordable Care Act in 2018. We built this big blue wave and indivisible Illinois was a major part of that ya’ll replaced two crappy republicans with Casten and Underwood in 2019 we made Donald Trump the first impeached President in nearly
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a generation that third in all of us history in 2020 we grew the progressive caucus in the House and Illinois, had a major role in that to you replaced that fake democrat Lipinski with Marie Newman who has been absolutely critical in the fights in the
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House all this year. And then, what else do we do in 2020 I feel like there was something else.
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Right We contacted 10s of millions of voters all across the country from Arizona to Wisconsin to Pennsylvania to Georgia, all over the country made Donald Trump.
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The first one term president in a generation.
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And we didn’t stop there. We didn’t stop there indivisible Illinois didn’t stop there Indivisible nationwide didn’t stop there, we ran through the tape.
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We ran through the tape there was a special elections in. In January, on January 5 in Georgia and indivisible groups across the state of Georgia across the country, contacted as many voters as we could even though the general election was over, to try
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to get those two Senate seats, and we succeeded we won a democratic trifecta earlier this year and on that day, literally on January 5 we launched the campaign to save the democracy to pass what would become the freedom to vote Act.
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The for the people act that john lewis Voting Rights Act and DC statehood, because we knew this was our opportunity.
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that john lewis Voting Rights Act and DC statehood, because we knew this was our opportunity. So, why, why did we run through the tape Why are we still running right now it’s because look Donald Trump’s election was of course the precipitating event that led many of us down this
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led many of us down this path five years ago, that’s what started getting us all together but the reason why we are still building power the reason why we’re still actually running is because we knew then and we know now that Trump is this particularly
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bad symptom of a much deeper sickness in our society. If we had an actual functioning democracy Donald Trump wouldn’t have been within spitting distance of the White House let alone been allowed to remain in office for four years why spend every single
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day trying to break down norms and dismantle the rule of law. The problem wasn’t just Donald Trump, who was the system that we’re living in and I think we all get that and that’s why we’re here.
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Five years later not talking about some Google Doc but talking about the power that you all have been building over this time to change what’s politically possible.
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And that’s why at the heart of what Indivisible is is this radical idea that I’ve talked to you all about before that, in a representative democracy, your representatives ought to represent you and if that’s our radical idea.
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The reactionary idea on the other side, isn’t just a cult of personality around Trump although it is that their their reactionary idea is that we shouldn’t have a democracy that we shouldn’t have a republic, and they demonstrated that throughout the Trump
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presidency they demonstrated again on January six when they stormed the capital they demonstrated in every single day when they refused to hold accountable those Confederates and forget even holding accountable they they kick people out of their party
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who won’t embrace the big lie that the election was stolen.
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And they demonstrate this, not just in what they say but in their actions on the ground we all see this day to day week to week, any place the GOP has controlled the state level from Arizona to Texas to Florida Georgia they are enacting voter suppression
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laws, they are enacting gerrymandered maps and they are passing laws to not just make it harder to vote, but to subvert the elections themselves so they don’t have to care about the popular vote and they’re doing this in broad daylight, they’re doing
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in broad daylight.
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Now, I know things look dark right now. This is a full scale attack on the American people it’s an attack on women, it’s an attack on Black Americans it’s an attack on Indigenous Americans it’s an attack on young Americans, it an attack on people are living in
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cities, it’s an attack on people are organizing for justice in rural areas, hell. This is an attack on their own damn voters because they are spreading lies about the COVID vaccine that is killing them off.
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So the good news here, and this is good news, it was true in 2017 when we fought for healthcare was true in 2018 when we built the wave it was true in 2020, when we defeated Trump.
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The good news here is there more of us than there are of them. There are more of us than are of them. So our challenge right now is not to persuade those Confederates to come over to our side our challenges to mobilize to win.
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That’s what our challenge is there more of us than there are of them, when we show up when we demand that our representatives represent us we win when we show up, we go and contact 10s of millions of voters and actually get them out.
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We win if every single Joe Biden voter shows up next year, we when we when the house we win the Senate and we’re on the way to win the presidency again.
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So this isn’t about one degenerate former president, it’s not about one issue or one election or one specific candidate or one race.
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This is about the Republic. This is about the republican whether we organize to keep it and so look that’s why I’m proud to be here with you all because you have been organizing to keep it for five years now.
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You understand the moment of history that we’re in and you’re organizing to change what is politically possible that’s what today is about that’s what you’ve been doing for years now.
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And that’s why I’m committed to doing everything I can to help Illinois individuals across the state, and at the coordinating structure level, to build the power we need to win.
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So Leni or Scott, with that, should I pass it back to you.
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Yeah, thanks. Um, so, you know, one thing I wanted to say is it’s crazy when you think about on the news lately because lately as run the news is talking about the democrats a lot, but what the news isn’t really talking about is the fact that, um, you
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know authoritarianism Why aren’t the democrats throwing up on anti authoritarianism like legislation, so that the focus of the media is about that and they can actually talk about what’s happening it seems like there’s kind of a disconnect with activists
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and things that are happening in the party at times.
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What do you think, yeah i mean i think there’s a huge disconnect because much of the media treats This is well this is politics as usual. You know the democrats are beating this bill or the republicans are filibustering that bill but what we’re in right
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now is not a typical debate over what happens legislatively it’s about whether we have a representative democracy or not whether we can agree on what reality is or not.
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So here, here’s what I will say, I’m hopeful that if we get through the President’s build back better agenda I expect there to be a vote this week in the house and we’re hopeful that we’ll get a vote in the Senate relatively soon thereafter.
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I am hopeful that then there will be a pivot directly back to the debate around democracy reform, which is not just a debate about legislation that the freedom to vote Act would undo much of the voter suppression that’s being pushed throughout the states,
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whether in Georgia or Arizona or Texas he would also implement anti elections version provisions that would prevent them from just throwing out the vote in Georgia, it’s really close election in 2024 in Arizona.
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These are good things that should be passed but fundamentally it’s not about any individual provision. It’s about whether or not we have a representative democracy, which I think, Scott you’re exactly right.
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That’s what we ought to be talking about and, you know, up until this point in the year, we have been fighting that fight on the ground, there were more than 375 eventss nationwide back in July during the deadline for democracy campaign, and after that
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right now this week we’re seeing events across the country, telling the Senate to prioritize filibuster reform and get these democracy or forms done.
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The Senate is on our side, Chuck Schumer is actually with us in this fight, it’s not always been with us he’s with us in this fight Nancy Pelosi is with us in this fight.
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Joe Biden hasn’t been not because he disagrees with us on the issues but because he’s prioritized the economic agenda. Now, that wouldn’t that wouldn’t have been my priority.
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I think democracy is more important than anything else but these are the cards we were dealt as activists, as people fighting for democracy. So, in order to get Joe Biden on board with this fight and have the full pressure the democrats from the president
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to the house of the Senate. We got to get through this economic agenda. So then Biden will come to the table and actually start fighting. And because we are close on the build back better agenda I’m hopeful that that is days or a couple of weeks away.
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But I 100% agree with these guys. I think there has been a disconnect, and we really desperately need to close that gap between the activists based and the folks in charge because if we don’t now we’re going to run out of time.
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Great. Leni do you have a question.
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Ezra, how, how is Leah doing and your beautiful family, we are so thrilled to see your family is growing and we wish that Leah could be here today too.
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I still remember you know that first time that Leah came to visit us in Chicago, and and really just wanted to know what we were all about and what we what we were prioritizing.
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And that is really the basis of what we do in Illinois is to figure out where people are in. And when you talk about this disconnect. It’s exactly that, but there is such a huge divide between, you know what we’re talking about on the ground here and
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what is happening in DC, which goes back to the original intent of the documents, and so can you just remind us of like three things that we should be thinking about moving forward that indivisible wants to just remind us no matter where you are, if you’re
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in Illinois in Chicago in Virginia, West Virginia, what is it that we can be doing and thinking about as we’re moving forward to 2022.
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Yeah, well right now in this very moment, there is nothing more important in my mind, than getting a combination of the build back better agenda past and the freedom to vote act passed the democracy bill so what does that mean for people are actually on the
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ground. You’ve got two senators who are on the right side of these issues right you’ve got senators who actually would like to vote for these have said positive things about them.
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So what do you actually do. Does it feel like you’re just spinning your wheels and we get that question all the time, we get the inverse of that from our folks in Texas or Louisiana or elsewhere where they have republicans you don’t give a damn what they
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think. For if you are in a blue state or if you’ve got two blue senators one thing you can do on democracy right now. I don’t know if everybody knows this, but your senators care what you think because they care about their own reelection.
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That is the theory of organizing at Indivisible is that you have power in Illinois with your senators because they are eventually going to have to go back for your voat.
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So the question is how do you express that in ways that they’re able to digest. Now, the other thing about senators or members of Congress in general is they have an attention span that roughly 60 seconds long.
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If it’s not directly in front of them if there’s not a vote coming up or speech they got to make, then it’s going to be very interesting but they’re not actually going to act on that so every Wednesday the Senate Democrats have a luncheon.
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Every Wednesday, they have a luncheon where they get together with all their senate colleagues and they talk about the issues of the day. One thing that you can do, being an Illinois is on the Tuesday before or that Wednesday morning, calling your centers
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and say, Hey, I know you got a luncheon Wednesday afternoon. Are you going to bring up filibuster reform and are you going to bring up democracy and when you’re going to pivot to it.
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It’s a concrete thing, the fact that that action is happening within the next 24 hours means it’s something that’s super actionable, that they can do, it’s healthy for them to be hearing, so that in that meeting when Schumer brings up hey we really want
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to turn to democracy, then there are more folks saying yeah I’m getting a lot of crap from my constituents on this too so we got to do it. Don’t underestimate the importance of being a pain in the butt, that is useful.
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That is really useful and being a pain in the butt at the right time.
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That’s excellent. You really want to focus on that. Now if you’re in a red state or even a red district. There is work for you to do to this applies less to Illinois because much of the fight here is in the senate but we are working with our red state
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indivisible groups to demonstrate republican intransigence so that when Schumer tries to push mansion and send them out to come to the table and they say well why aren’t.
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Why aren’t you putting pressure on republicans will will have the receipts, and we’ll be able to say, we have been pushing Republicans, look at look at what we’re hearing in Texas look at what we’re hearing in Louisiana look at what we’re hearing all
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over, where their Republican senators, they’re not coming to the table, they’re not engaging, this is on us to do, is that going to be enough I don’t know, I don’t know, but what I do know is when I talked to my, the Senate allies that we have who are
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on our side. Want to see this get done. The, the thing that they asked for is overwhelming sense of urgency and sense of salience when it comes to this issue.
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It needs to be felt on Capitol Hill and in the media system that people are actually watching this and caring about it. So that’s where your calls that’s where your action, that’s where your op eds that’s where your earned media events.
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That’s where they come in, and I would timing wise think, start thinking about sometime after Thanksgiving will see an opportunity for filibustering democracy reform.
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So in your planning I would start thinking about how are you best going to get the attention of your centers and make sure that they know that they better respond to you.
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Great, well thank you as well. Really appreciate you coming in and spend some time with us today.
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It’s a packed schedule I’d love to ask you more questions and do more things. I’m always good to see you. We’re always fighting to make change happen here in Illinois keeping everything blue and expanding our, you know, organization as much as we can.
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Thanks Ezra co founder of invisible.