Watching Myself Grow Old
INTERESTING STUFF – 7 January 2017

Things to Do Now to Resist and Protect

The former Congressional staffers who wrote the excellent Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda state unequivocally that, while not dismissing telephone calls, nothing works better than in-person meetings with our representatives in Washington, D.C. and at their state offices and events.

Certainly that is good advice but for us elders, it is often not possible for a variety of reasons. In that case our second best option is phone calls to our reps directed at one specific issue at a time.

An amazing, brand new case in point:

On the first day of the new, 115th Congress on Tuesday, the Republicans, who with their majority, are in charge of the House rules, had voted in secret on Monday evening to change the rules of the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).

”A rules change,” reported The New York Times, “would have prevented the office...from investigating potentially criminal allegations, allowed lawmakers on the House Ethics Committee to shut down any O.C.E. investigation and, for good measure, gagged the office’s staff members in their dealings with the news media.”

As soon as the news of this got out early Tuesday morning, even before the House members were sworn in, voters throughout the country deluged House members with angry phone calls.

Now here is the important part for you and me and others committed to resistance and protection:

Before noon, House Republican leaders reconvened in the basement of the Capitol and rescinded their changes to the OCE and that happened because of the uproar from ordinary citizens.

It was a humiliating defeat for the Republicans on the first day of the new Congress that was the lead headline Tuesday and Wednesday on every TV news program, internet news website and old-fashioned print newspaper.

Let us not forget that. We elders who don't get out and about much have an important role to play with phone calls and we got our first lesson this week in just how effective it can be. Here's why.

House members and one-third of the Senate will be up for re-election in 2018. From day one in each session, they spend about half their days fundraising for the next campaign and nothing scares them more than angry constituents. (See page 8 of the Indivisible guide for more on this.)

As on Tuesday, votes and other issues can come up quickly in Congress – in fact, the Republicans have planned it that way, to keep public and political opponents hopping and, maybe, confused with one thing following swiftly on the heels of another so they can sneak through bills – like that rule change on Tuesday.

So we need to be prepared to take action on a moment's notice. Here's how to do that: Create a file on your computer with all the information you need to contact your three representatives: two senators, one House member.

Make a section for each one that includes:
Member's Name

Congressional office phone number

District office phone number

Address of nearest district office

Email address, if available. If not, a link to the Congressional webpage where you can send email

List of committees he/she serves on and what position they hold on it. These can be relevant depending on legislation at hand.

Lots of this information and much more about bills and votes can be found at GovTrack

Copy out sample call dialogue scripts to edit as needed for current issues (See page 25 of Indivisible Guide and more scripts at this link under the header “Calling Script”.)

You can find links to your representatives home pages at these two links; it's a good idea to sign up for the newsletters that many members of Congress send out regularly:
Senate Contact Information
House Contact Information

If you don't know who your House representative is, click here to find out via Zip Code.

Keep this number handy too: 202.224.3121. It is the Capitol switchboard where you can be directed to any of your representatives. Even if you don't know the rep's name, just give the operator your Zip Code and he/she will connect you.

Keep the White House Switchboard number too: 202.456.1414

Subscribe to the Indivisible Guide newsletter. The authors send out regular updates with tips and information on how best to influence your representatives.

Add all your phone numbers to your cell phone so you can easily call from anywhere.

In the computer file you have made for each of your representatives, keep a diary of what you are doing: telephone calls, in-person visits, what you told them and the response you received.

If you think this is a lot of work, listen to what Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) said, as was recently reported in Daily Kos:

”Democrats plotting a return from the political wilderness are facing their first big dilemma: how fiercely to fight President-elect Donald Trump.

“Let me answer that for you: Fiercely. In the way that, back in 2010, Elizabeth Warren said she wanted the fight for a strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to go: 'plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.'

And President Obama said on Wednesday in his meeting with Democrats on Capitol Hill planning their resistance to Republican's promise to repeal Obamacare:

“Treat it like a campaign” and “Look out for the American people.”

I believe that America's democratic ideals, Constitution and way of life are at greater risk than at any time since the Civil War. And it is not just from the president-elect. The Republicans are equally dangerous to our country's well being.

For that reason, I will not let up on reporting and urging readers to do whatever is possible to resist and protect the United States. (Thank you, Simone, and all the commenters who agreed to her excellent suggestion for “resist and protect on Monday's post.)

However, I cannot and do not want to neglect the original mandate of TimeGoesBy to explore “what it's really like to get old” and while it is important not to respond to every twitch from Congress or tweet from Trump, sometimes political events will take precedence over ageing.

That notwithstanding, I am wondering about the mix. I'd appreciate any thoughts you have.


Thanks! I just bookmarked this blog entry along with some of the pages linked within to a new folder for political activism. I hate that the election has put us in a position where we have to be not only watch dogs but attack dogs, but the next four years are too important to ignore this call to action.

While I appreciate the information you've given re: resist and protect, I have a number of sources for such information (almost too many!) and no other resources for info on aging so I would love to see that be more in the mix.

Thank you for this treasure trove of information.
It has become quite clear that our new president and his House and Senate cohorts are going to try and push their legislative agenda to the max just to see how far they can go and how much they can get away with.
Unfortunately, due to the (well known) apathetic nature of the American public, they (The Republicans) believe they can get away with a lot.

Thank you so much; I have shared this information with others. I still have trouble accepting that this is our new reality. Now if I just knew what to do at the state level, where our new representatives have been "bought" by the governor. Where do you take your concerns in that situation? (Welcome to Nebraska and goodby to our unique unicameral)

The mix is fine. Keep doing what you're doing.

I have a couple of sources I am following but because there are so many issues being attacked I like your focus. I trust that you will inform your readers on the actions and issues that are the most important to you. I am in a blue state with representatives that support my values. I am on their emails and give them money.

Thank you for your blog

Thank you, Ronnie. With your guidance, citizens will find it easier to protest, and that makes it more likely that they will! And there is plenty more to protest this week: threatened removal of funding for Planned Parenthood, and the continued attack on Obamacare.
You may know by now, I'm Canadian, but I'm right there in your corner, concerned Americans, because the Trump threat is an international issue!

I know it's a balancing act, but what's going on politically has a huge impact on aging. There's so much at stake and I appreciate all your efforts to bring the latest issues to light. It's easy to assume that things can't really go too wrong, but every day we're being shown what the agenda is and we're outnumbered. Whether it's healthcare or taking away Planned Parenthood's funding, they're ready to move - fast.

So many of us want to take action but we're at a loss on what would be most effective. If general aging topics have to take a backseat sometimes, I can't think of a better reason!

I'm with Lynn on this. I have a lot of sources for political information but very few for information on aging. And unique here are the readers who add so much to discussions about aging.

This blog entry IS relevant to our aging. When I became aware of the Indivisible booklet (Rachel Maddow show), I was ecstatic, because it provided assurance that making phone calls is effective. I can't do much else! Now you have helped me get prepared for making quick responses. Feeling actively involved in society is a big issue for us seniors, as you know. For one thing, it helps with the frustration and blood pressure peaks that come from watching daily news. So, thank you Ronni. Keep doing what you're doing.

The information and resources we need as we grow older are connected to what our government does. A lot of the resistance to Trump is more general and not directed to older people, who are as we know, forgotten much of the time.

We need your input on what is happening that affects us directly so that we can do whatever is possible to try and help ourselves make our country better.

Keep up the good work!

Lately, pre and post election, I see your blog becoming a political blog. That's your right. I am not a Trumpster. I appreciate all the time you do put into your blog; research and information concerning ageism.

Politics is important. Your mix of political data and commentary on aging is good. These are unusual times. It is an opportunity (sad to say) for us elders to step up do what we can to protect our precious freedoms. This blog is more personal than most political sites, so you can do more to motivate people to actually make the calls and gather at meetings/marches.

BTW Did you notice that major newspapers (including NYTimes) gave the credit for the roll back to the ethics decision to * more than to the calls from citizens. Sorry to see that.

In these fraught times... I admit longing for a paragraph about Ollie the cat.

Thanks, Ronnie, for your passion and great information. I love Saturdays with the lighter tone because these days I need to laugh more.

I trust that you will continue to include info on politics and how it affects all of us and particularly the aging, e.g. Medicare and Social Security, as well as info directly about aging.
My husband and I are leaving on a 10 day cruise tomorrow and I am looking forward to "unplugging" for a few days! Also terrified about getting seated with supporters of His Excellency and may have some stories to report when I get home! Sometimes I notice that just because we happen to live in Arizona, others assume they know our politics. They may be in for a big surprise!

Ronni, you have always called attention to political issues affecting elders. Seems likely we'll see an increase in this as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are threatened, not to mention housing and discrimination by age, gender, race, etc. So increased attention is warranted in these scary times.

I too am on many political mailing lists and am weary of dozens of requests to sign petitions which I fear are not very effective except for making signers feel good. So talking about more effective strategies is key.

If you're worried about the balance, you could focus on what it's like to grow older in smaller chunks or main focus one day a week. But please don't drop Saturday lighter fare. And definitely raise the political issues.

I rarely comment but read and learn often. Thank you for being there.

I've created address links in my smart phone for three elected reps and will add the two additional you've suggested. It makes it easy to call.

I signed up for direct action - one concern I have is when someone send a notice to call congress about X bill, I want to know a bit more about it so I'm not a sheep following along. It is challenging to keep up with all the craziness.

Additionally, I found the Krugman column in the NYT today useful. I don't want to get sidetracked on sensational stories that are just cover for more serious issues and dialogues.

Thank you for doing such an excellent job of reading and sharing. I appreciate it.

I called Paul Ryan's office this week and waited and waited until I could leave my message of support for the ACA. That also involves beeping through his smarmy message about how awwwwful the ACA has been.

My retirement plan was based on being able to afford insurance that way until I'm 65. I had to retire because my hands were nearly crippled from years of abuse on cash register, physical labor that involved lifting in a retail setting, and over 25 years on computers. The damage was done before the word "ergonomic" was in popular use. Will I have to go back to work and damage them more to afford medical insurance?

I spilled that all on the tape. God help me, sometimes I feel like I truly hate these people, and hatred is against everything I hold dear.

Thanks for helping us, Ronnie. I cannot stand the dozens of daily "sign our petition" emails either.

So far, I like the mix you are presenting. Thank you.

Information on aging MUST include advocacy for the aging, and you are most definitely the person to do this. In the current click-baity, lie-stuffed, chicken-little media fluff pieces, we need a discerning eye to focus on the important info to more efficiently protect ourselves. I need your intelligence, strength, and commitment as a rock to cling to when I feel fearful, overwhelmed, and hopeless about the next four years. Certainly continue to offer the latest on all issues about aging, and any light-heartedness you can find, perhaps even a cartoon or two, but above all, #RESIST! Your blog is a sanctuary in so many ways, a refuge for even opposing opinion, and always a safe watering hole for the best of the boomers. Oh, honey--please and thank you--go for it!

Ronni, thanks for today's great inormtion. I am, admittedly, very shy about calling. I don't manage confrontation well. But I recognize that I must get out of my comfort zone and make the calls to the likes of Steve King (dumbest Representative in the House), Chuck Grassley, a very powerful guy, and Joni Ernst, freshman Senator and ultra conservative. I've got the "Red State blues".

I expect that you'll find the balance you want in your blog with some trial and feedback as you go. Certainly, the big issues facing eldeers would be priorities for action. Maybe "what it's really like to get old" has expanded into the realm and role of Resisters and Protectors.

Thanks again for all the good you do.

I've recently become involved with a newly formed local group of about a dozen people interested in peace and justice issues. In the fall, we received advocacy training by the Quaker national advocacy group - Friends Committee on National Legislation. They choose one topic each year and work on that relentlessly, nationwide, on a nonpartisan basis. They've been pretty successful in their advocacy efforts over the years, due largely to their highly respected history and efficient organization. They are always looking for new groups to help form and will do training anywhere. This is at no cost, but they are looking for people who will continue to stay engaged in this work advocacy in the future. I'm anxiously awaiting their announcement of the 2017 focus, which will be coming on Jan. 11; there are so many possibilities that I'm sure it will be hard to limit it to one.

I appreciate all the resources you provide Ronni, whether political or more strictly related to aging. I wish I knew much more about both, but I'm learning every day.

Great practical information. Now to use it ...

I may have said this here before, but I'll risk being repetitious. In the days after the election, much older friends of mine expressed a particular despair: they feared they wouldn't live long enough to see the pendulum swing back from hate and fear (if it does). I know some of us are motivated by what we fear will happen to those who come after us -- but I am also strongly motivated to resist and protect by my love for my older peers, many of whom put in long hard lives of trying to make this a better country. They didn't deserve this!

Another great post. Going to reblog this and forward it to my friends. I'm not certain what your mix should be between elder issues and political issues of the day. I read everything you write and it is all relevant to keep on doing what you are doing.

Thanks, Ronni,
You just kicked my nether regions hard enough to get me out of my feeling sorry for myself syndrome and back to being active participant again!
Have a friend who just took me to lunch and made me cry -- she and her husband just offered to get me a wheelchair and push me the length of the march in San Diego on January 21st to protest and resist so I would not miss my chance to once again march against wrongs and tyranny just as I did in the 1960s with Dr. King!
With friends like her and her husband, and encouragement from you and others like you, I will survive these tough times!

Just book marked this in my newly created "Politics" file. I am so grateful to you for the information. I do call my reps, and other people's as well but haven't been very organized about. This gives me a tidy framework to build on. Thank you.

I just copied all that fabulous information to a file on my desktop and will connect the specifics for my reps, etc., later today. Thank you, thank you. It's the least I can do, since I don't plan on marching.

I think you're doing terrific work here, Ronni, and am quite, quite happy with whatever your choices are for blog content. In short--I trust your judgment.

Many thanks, as always.

I also agree with Lynn and others ~ I'm inundated with political news and I look to TGB for a respite from this, and see it as a portal to my daily concerns, aside from the dreadful effects of * and closer to TGB's original mandate. It helps that I live in a very blue city and state where views are strongly anti *. How dare *, one of the biggest of them all, call Chuck Schumer a clown? Enough said.

Ronni, I hope you'll continue to follow your "original mandate" and describe what it's really like to get old TODAY. There are as many websites about aging, caregiving, etc. as there are websites about politics. But yours is the ONLY website about aging I know that doesn't forget that we live in a participatory democracy, and that being old does not give you a pass and allow you to be an uninformed voter. Fulfilling our civic responsibility is demanding more of us, made more complicated by our rapid news cycles, unrelenting information bombardment, and too many dis- and mis-information campaigns.
Thanks always.

Another Canadian and frequent visitor to the U.S.A. here.

We have family in the U.S.A.

Your blog, your content.

Respect your hard work.

Also, what Bruce and Still the Lucky Few said.

"Stand up for your rights. Don't give up the fight."

(Bob Marley)

Love your blog, Ronni! Keep it coming. If the mix is right for you, this is what you should be writing. Be true to yourself and you will be keeping faith with your readers. I don't comment often, but I read daily. Thank you!

I agree with Sarah_H and others who advise "staying the course" on TGB. I'm on myriad (far too many) mailing lists for progressive causes and candidates and need to pare down the list to be even slightly effective. The scattershot approach is not likely to work. I will be guided by TGB and probably The Daily Kos and ActBlue (although I wish the latter wouldn't continually solicit me for money I don't have). I've never been a phone person so most of the time email and letters will be my primary weapons for combatting "The Orange Apparition" and the Repugnican Congress.

My Senators are true-blue, as is the Rep. from my district so I don't think they'll need much prodding from constituents to adhere to Progressive values, unless they appear to be waffling in the face of Repug onslaughts. From what I've read, it's not generally useful to communicate with members of Congress unless you're their constituent, except for the leadership and committee chairs perhaps. Is my understanding commonly held?

Another crowding the corner with most here, especially Claudia, Sarah_H & Elizabeth.

You're good at feeling your way around what to write. And that's partly dependent on what's happening politically. Particularly if it involves aging.

You're also aware of how good it can be for us to have an outlet to express our viewpoints or experiences, and to feel companionship and stimulation with one another as we age and face challenges and changes.

I've learned so much from you and others here that makes me look beyond what I already know and includes new attitudes and experiences of others as it's relevant to my own.

I for one wouldn't like to see too much politics. It becomes overwhelming and I'm now looking to focus on a few key issues and do them really well.

Conversely, there are issues that we need to immediately attend to, such as the appointments of some dangerous people. Most appointees will make and take measures that we'll hear about later, and they'll have less direction and oversight than in any previous administration, esp. with a questionably-responsible Republican landscape in Washington, D.C.

I think you've got this one just fine, Ronni.

Thank you so much for your work and information. I'm in the early stages of organizing my political information and find your suggestions valuable. I'm hoping to follow Indivisible's guidelines and form a group in my area.

What concerns me today is the rushed attempt to confirm Trump's cabinet nominees before all their background paperwork is complete. After all, how can committee members vet someone before them if they don't have information from which to work/question?

Together I think we can accomplish what's really important.


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