The one consistent thing I’ve noticed about the FISA issue is this: people are disgusted by insincerity. More than anything, they want a way to channel that frustration into an action that could make a difference.
For some reason, elected folks inside the Beltway don’t seem to understand this. They have miscalculated on how many people in America are paying attention to civil liberties concerns these days. And it is our job to make certain that they learn just how badly they have misjudged this.
Beyond that, though, we need more ways to let them know how important this is to all of us. It’s time to take last year’s You Work For Us Summer Tour and kick it up a notch. And I’ve got a few ideas on how to do just that.
Since summer recesses in Congress are fast approaching — the 4th of July and the August recess are just around the corner — I thought laying out some plans for both, and using them for FISA and other civil liberties incentive as well as for other issues would be useful. And productive in some parts.
So, who is up for a little action?
I was brainstorming with Emptywheel about this a bit this morning, bouncing some ideas off her, and here’s what we discussed:
— Continued calls and FAXes and contacts with Senators about FISA. If they think we are just going to slink off without a fight, they can think again.
— As you can see from the photo, I’ve revived the Kiss float. There’s a reason: it was one of the most recognizable moments of political pushback in the 2006 election cycle — and it’s still hilarious, isn’t it? What if folks showed up at 4th of July parades all over the country with floats of their own. Or banners. Or hand-outs talking about the constitution, the rule of law, and the need for citizen participation in government.
I’m thinking something on a theme that includes a picture of the Constitution with the words "Don’t Shred On Me" (kind of a play on the Revolutionary War senitment — or is that too obscure?) Anyway, I’m open to suggestion, but it’s a start. We could work on wording, but I’d say playing to the "The Founders of this nation put their lives and their liberty on the line to ensure the freedom and rights of Americans were safeguarded by the rule of law. Why should we expect so much less from elected officials today? Tell your Representatives and your Senators to stand up for the rule of law." Or something to that effect — because that’s not nearly enough, but you see where I’m going with this.
— Letters to the editor, all summer long on these issues. So that every single time an elected official comes home to the district, folks in town will have some issues to talk with them about — and ready-made talking points at hand. Ditto for calls in to local talk radio.
— Now, imagine showing up at county fairs and senior centers and all the other public meetings those officials will be having all summer with the same floats, the same banners and the same hand-outs. And you see how this could make an impact.
— Call local offices for elected officials, and ask for a meeting with your Senator or Representative or with a staffer. Usually, folks setting up a meeting for a group of folks have better success.
— Show up at public events with your elected officials and speak your mind.
There are a LOT of ways to keep up the pressure. I want to spend some time brainstorming on this today — not just for the FISA issue, but for all the issues we need better action on in the coming months. It’s all too easy for elected folks to all into the Beltway habit of listening to lobbyists and big donors and cocktail party pundits. It is up to us to remind them that they work for us — and that we are willing to do the work necessary to replace them if they don’t pay attention. Now, let’s get to work…
PS — I’m hearing that Sen. Russ Feingold will be doing an interview with Young Turks today at 3 pm ET and will also be doing something on CNN around 4 pm ET regarding FISA. Will update as I hear about other information as well.