US politics

Urgent: The GOP is close to destroying the ACA and Medicaid

The GOP is trying to repeal the ACA and cut Medicaid again. They almost have the votes to do it. We have the chance to stop them from getting the votes, if we act *right now*. We need to put overwhelming pressure on every senator to vote no.

Their current attempt to take away our health care is called “Graham-Cassidy”. It’s important to tell our elected officials to vote *against* Graham-Cassidy. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has more information about what’s going on, and how to contact your representatives. This is the script they suggest using for phone calls and emails (They also have suggestions for what to do if you can’t make calls):

My name is [your name], and I live in [your town]. I’m [calling/writing] to ask Senator [Name] to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy bill, or any other bills that would repeal the Affordable Care Act, cut Medicaid funding and leave millions of people with no health insurance. The people of [your state] are still watching, and our health care is just as important to us now as it was in July. We’re counting on you to do the right thing and save our health care. Please vote NO on Graham-Cassidy.

It’s also worth contacting your state governor. They can’t vote on the bill, but they *can* put pressure on senators to vote against it. Senators sometimes listen to governors about what’s right for their state. You can find your state governor’s contact information here.

Why you should vote even if an election isn’t close

Sometimes, it seems obvious who is going to win an election. Even in that kind of election, it’s still important to vote.

Your vote matters, even when your candidate loses. Voting sends a powerful message to politicians. Every vote against a politician tells them that some people dislike their policies, and that it is costing them votes. Politicians care about everything that costs them votes, because their jobs depend on continuing to win elections.

It matters who wins elections. It also matters how much they win by. The closer an election is, the more the winning politician has to care what the opposition thinks. Even in a state where one party is almost certainly going to win, there’s a big different between getting 90% of the votes and getting 40% of the votes.

When you vote against a politician, you’re sending a powerful message. It makes everything else you do more effective. It means they’re more likely to listen when you and others call them. It means they’re more likely to feel that they have to show up at town halls, and more likely to take what you say seriously. Voting creates leverage in ways that matter, even when you lose.

This is also true when your candidate is almost certainly going to win. Vote anyway, because it matters how much they win by — every vote they get gives them more power to enact their agenda. When they win by more votes, they don’t have to be as worried about the opposition. 

(And in any case, it’s inadvisable to get complacent. Sometimes elections are much closer than they seem.)

Your vote matters, even if your candidate loses. Your vote matters, even when your candidate is almost certainly going to win. It’s important to go vote when you’re eligible, even if it’s unlikely to change the results. Even when voting doesn’t change the outcome of the election, it does change the political facts on the ground.

Tl;dr Vote when you can, even in elections that aren’t close. It puts pressure on politicians in ways that matter. Whether or not your vote affects which politician wins, it will affect what the winning politician does.

Responding to a question about Jews and race

Anonymous said to realsocialskills:

I really don’t want to be rude but can you explain to me why there is some sort of line between being Jewish and white? I keep hearing this sentiment that people should not compare the two because of religion and culture but that to me is like Russian people saying they aren’t white because of religions and culture. I don’t mean to hurt feelings but I’m black and Native and I’ve face discrimination based on my looks but I’ve never been able to tell when a person was Jewish just by looking them. Help?

Also I know that there are Jewish people of color but this goes back to my ask of what do people see on them, their Jewishness or their skin color because unless Jewishness is a part of color then we would call them mixed instead of Jewish poc because that skin and lineage mixes with another skin and lineage and produces someone with a dual identity. If I’m out of place, sorry but I’m confused cause I’ve never thought anyone was Jewish from looking at them unless they had a religious identifier.

Realsocialskills said:

The very short version: All Jews are affected by anti-Jewish racism. Some Jews, in some contexts, also have white privilege. Both of these things matter.

White supremacists don’t think that Jews are white. And other ideologies of racism have intensely targeted Jews. (Including Nazism, but not limited to Nazism.)

Most living Jews are very closely related to Jews who were murdered by anti-Jewish racists. (Grandparents, parents, great-grandparents brothers, sisters, spouses, cousins, etc.)

Many living Jews are first-generation refugees from anti-Jewish racial persecution, (or closely related to people who are). Jews have been repeatedly expelled from many, many places.

There are a lot of towns in Europe in which every Jewish resident was murdered. And a lot of Jews who were the sole survivors of those places, and who lost their entire families.

(There are few speakers of Yiddish today because so many Yiddish speakers were murdered by racists. The National Yiddish Book Center is dedicated to preserving as much literature as possible).

This isn’t just about culture and ethnicity. Converting to another religion did not save Jews from racial persecution. Neither did assimilating and acting like everyone else. And this isn’t a new thing, throughout history, Jews have been seen as racially suspect even if they convert to Christianity or another religion, regardless of actual behavior

Race and color are not the same thing. Color is a physical fact. Race is a social construct. And it’s socially constructed in different ways in different times and places. In the US, race mostly gets defined in terms of color. It’s defined differently in different times and places. In Europe, demographic forms have often listed “Jewish” as a race.

It’s also true that in the United States, light-skinned Jews have a degree of white privilege. Especially in liberal cities. Especially in comparison to black people and Native people. Jews are far less likely to face employment discrimination, and far less likely to face police violence. (It happens to Jews too, but it happens to black and Native people a lot more.) And any number of things.

But Jews are only seen as white some of the time. There are physical racialized characteristics associated with Jews. For instance, big noses.  There is also an antisemitic belief that Jews have horns, which used to be commonly believed in the US. It used to be fairly common for Jewish women to get nose jobs to escape from that racial characterization. For most white people, being seen as white has not required body modification.

When people look at skin color, they will probably see a white person. When they know that someone is a Jew, they may not see a white person anymore. It’s not about religious beliefs — Jews are seen as less white regardless of behavior and regardless of belief. (Jews who practice Judaism are often more *visible* as Jews, but anti-Jewish racism can’t be reduced to religious differences.) The novel/movie Gentleman’s Agreement is a good depiction of this issue. (It’s on Netflix, and your public library likely has a copy of the book.)

Related to this, white supremacists don’t think that Jews are white. As you know, white supremacy is still significant in the United States. Steve Bannon’s role in the Trump administration is causing Jews to fear for their own safety. People who are consistently seen as white are mostly not asking themselves “Do I need to flee the country?” (Unless they’re also gay or lesbian or trans or disabled or otherwise marginalized.)

There are significant numbers of antisemitic hate crimes in the United States. They’re reported as religious bias crimes, but that’s somewhat misleading. Eg: This article has an image of anti-semitic graffiti with a swastika and the words “Make America White again”  

Tl;dr The answer to “Are Jews white?” is “sometimes, and it depends on what you mean by white”. If you mean ‘light skinned people who have privilege over black and Native people in the US’, then yes, light-skinned Jews are white. If you mean ‘people who are safe from racialized persecution in the US and worldwide’, then no, Jews aren’t white even when they have light skin.

Light skinned Jews have some degree of white privilege in the US, but it only goes so far. Other white people can count on being seen as white. Jews can’t. Even in situations in white Jews are safe, Jews carry the effects of generational trauma from racial persecution, recent and ancient. The ways in which light skinned Jews have white privilege matter, and the ways in which light skinned Jews do not have white privilege also matter. In most contexts, both of these things are important, and both need to be acknowledged.

If an abuser is making you take a ballot selfie, you can still vote the way you want to

If abusive people in your life are expecting you to take a ballot selfie, this doesn’t need to prevent you from voting the way you want to vote. You can fill out a ballot the way they want you to, take a selfie, spoil the ballot instead of casting it, and then vote a new ballot the way that *you* want to vote.

(Note: Taking ballot selfies is actually illegal in several states. In any case, I think taking ballot selfies is a really, really bad idea. But since I know people are doing it, I am writing this to help people protect their right to cast a secret ballot)

Here’s a step by step list of how to do this:

  • Step one: Get your ballot.
  • Step two: Fill out the ballot the way your abusers want you to. *Do not cast it*. Do not put it in the ballot box. (If you are using a voting machine, *do not tap vote* and *do not pull the final voting lever*. )
  • Step three: Take a selfie with the ballot filled out the way your abuser wants you to vote.
  • Step four: Spoil the ballot and ask for a new one (Or if you’re using a voting machine, go back and correct your vote). Draw a line down the middle, and bring the spoiled ballot back to the table where you got the ballot. 
  • Tell the polling person that you made a mistake, and ask for a new ballot. They should take back your spoiled ballot and exchange it for a new one.
  • (If they won’t give you a new ballot, tell their supervisor or call 866-OUR-VOTE for help. You have the right to start over with a new ballot if you make a mistake. *So long as you have not put it in the ballot box yet*. Once you’ve put it in the ballot box, you can’t take it back.) 
  • (If you’re using voting machines and aren’t sure how to start over, ask the polling officials for help. They are required to help you. (But make sure that you don’t press the Vote button or pull a final lever before you fix your ballot! Once you press Vote or pull the voting lever, your vote is final and you can’t undo it.)
  • Step five: Fill out your new ballot the way you want to fill it out. 
  • Step six: Cast your real ballot that you have just filled out. (Put it in the ballot box, pull the lever, or push the Vote button).

Tl;dr If abusers are trying to coerce your vote by making you take a ballot selfie, you can take the selfie and still vote the way you want to. Scroll up for step by step instructions.

Your election t-shirt may not be allowed inside the polls




Campaigning is not allowed inside polling places, or a certain distance from them. Once you are inside your polling place, no one is allowed to try to influence your vote — and you’re not allowed to try to influence anyone else’s vote inside the polling place either. This is a really strict rule, and it probably means that you won’t be allowed to wear a shirt or button with your candidate’s name/logo on it inside the polls.

The rules against campaigning inside a polling place are really strict in order to protect voters from intimidation. Voting is private, polls are private places, and there are a lot of rules and laws in place to protect them. You also can’t do things like pass out flyers, hold up signs, or answer questions about candidates inside the polls. Election judges err on the side of caution when deciding what counts as campaigning. Generally speaking, anything with a candidate or party’s name visible is likely to be seen as campaigning — including a button or t-shirt that you are wearing. (The same may go for logos)  

Since people wear election shirts/buttons as a way to campaign for their candidates, they’re generally not allowed inside the polls. So, if you wear a candidate shirt/button to the polls on election day, you will most likely be asked to take it off or cover it up. If you’re planning to wear a pin, you can put it in your pocket or pin it to the inside of your shirt while you’re inside the polls. If you’re planning to wear a campaign t-shirt, bring something with you to cover it up with. 

tl;dr Campaigning is not allowed inside polling places. Wearing a t-shirt with a candidate’s name or party’s name visible is likely to be considered campaigning, just like if you were holding up a sign for your candidate. If you’re planning to wear a campaign t-shirt or button on election day, be prepared to take it off or cover it up while you are actually voting.


Do not go to vote wearing a T shirt like this and if you are wearing any badges or stickers like this take them off before going into the polling place

Here in Texas I’ve already seen polling places with Republican candidates yard signs and people in line wearing shirts supporting Republican candidates (or bashing non-republicans) weren’t turned away. Conservatives aren’t playing by the rules in many states, but they’ll still do everything they can to prevent you from casting your ballot.

Election Protection (nonpartisan voting rights organization led by lawyers) and the Department of Justice both want to hear about law violations like this.

The Election Protection Hotline can be reached at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683), (Spanish/English: 888-Ve-Y-Vota 888-839-8682), (Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Bengali, Urdu, Hindi Tagalog, or English: 888-API-VOTE), (Arabic/English: 844-418-1682)

You can report possible violations of voting rights laws to the Department of Justice in various ways:

Online complaint form 
Phone (800) 253-3931 (toll free)
Phone (202) 307-2767
Fax (202) 307-3961
TTY  877-267-8971

How to call for help if your voting rights are violated or you have questions about voting

If someone tries to stop you from voting, or you run into other problems, or you just have questions, there are election hotlines which may be able to help. There are nonpartisan lines in several languages. The Democratic Party also has an ASL video phone line and a texting line. The Department of Justice has several ways to report possible voting rights violations. The NFB has a line specifically for blind and low vision voters. There may also be resources specific to your state. 

The Election Protection Hotline  866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) is nonpartisan. They’re run by lawyers who care about protecting everyone’s right to vote. They’re also affiliated with a couple of other organizations who have hotlines in additional languages. They work to make sure individual voters can vote:
Spanish/English: 888-Ve-Y-Vota 888-839-8682 by NALEO Educational fund 
Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Bengali, Urdu, Hindi Tagalog, or English: 888-API-VOTE  APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC.
Arabic/English: 844-418-1682 Arab American Institute’s #YallaVote hotline 

The National Federation of the Blind has an election hotline for blind and low vision voters (nonpartisan): 877-632-1940 (November 8 from 7 a.m. EST to 7 p.m. PST)

The Democratic Party also has hotlines for voter assistance, including an ASL line and a texting number (I don’t know of any nonpartisan texting or ASL options unfortunately):
Voice: 844-464-4455
For texting, you can text QUESTION to 47246.
ASL voting hotline, 240-204-6475 on videophone (VP) There’s an ASL video about this hotline here.

You can also report possible voting rights violations to the Department of Justice. The DOJ is likely more interested in the overall issue than your case specifically — it’s absolutely worth reporting issues to them, but probably worth trying to contact Election Protection (or one of the affiliated organizations) or the party of the candidate you want to vote for first:
Online complaint form
Phone (800) 253-3931 (toll free)
Phone (202) 307-2767
Fax (202) 307-3961
TTY  877-267-8971

There may also be hotline numbers specific to your state.
For instance, in North Carolina, there is
Disability Rights North Carolina  877-235-4210 (888-268-5535 TTY)
The North Carolina State Board of Elections has a form for reporting incidents  and a guide to what is and is not acceptable from people who wish to observe or monitor the polls 
Local county boards of elections also have phone numbers, fax numbers, and email addresses 

tl;dr If someone tries to stop you from voting, or you run into other problems, or you just have questions, there are election hotlines which may be able to help. There are nonpartisan lines in several languages. The Democratic Party also has an ASL video phone line and a texting line. The Department of Justice has several ways to report possible voting rights violations. The NFB has a line specifically for blind and low vision voters. There may also be resources specific to your state.

Urgent information for North Carolina voters

In North Carolina, early voting is your best chance to make your that you will be able to vote. Early voting ends on the 5th (Saturday). 

The last days to vote early in North Carolina are Friday the 4th, and Saturday the 5th. If you’re reading this post on Friday or Saturday, please try to vote today if you haven’t voted already.

You can vote today (Friday the 4th) or tomorrow (Friday the 5th) *even if you have not already registered to vote*. If you are not already registered to vote, you will not be able to vote on election day. You must vote during early voting.

You must vote in the county you live in. Every county has at least one early voting site, some have more. You can check where your early voting site is on the North Carolina Board of Election website.

If you are not already registered to vote, you will need to present an ID.   (And it’s a good idea to bring one anyway.) These are IDs North Carolina accepts during on-site registration for early voting:

  • a NC driver’s license
  • photo ID from a government agency
  • student photo ID with a school document showing the student’s address
  • or a utility bill, bank statement, payroll stub, or document from any government agency with your name and current address.

If you are already registered to vote, you do *not* need to show ID in order to vote in person. (But it’s a good idea to bring one anyway.)

If you are trans, the National Center For Trans Equality guide “Voting While Trans: Preparing for Voter ID Laws”  may be helpful. It’s also helpful information for anyone whose identity may be challenged for any reason.

If you have been convicted of a felony in the past: If you have served your sentence and are not currently on probation or parole, you *are* eligible to vote in North Carolina. You do not need to apply for restoration of rights, but you *do* need to re-register to vote (your registration was cancelled when you were convicted). You need to re-register to vote, even if you were registered before. If you haven’t already re-registered to vote since you were convicted, you will need to vote during Early Voting (Which ends Saturday the 5th).

If you have a disability and need assistance voting, North Carolina requires poll workers to ask you whether you want assistance, and if so, who you want it from. They are also explicitly required to accept non-verbal forms of communication, including your answers to yes or no questions that they ask. These rules apply both during early voting and on election day.
From the memo sent to polling officials about communicating with voters with disabilities

“”””A qualified voter seeking assistance at the voting place must provide his or her current name and address and request permission to obtain assistance, stating the reasons.4 The requirement to state a reason for the assistance does not require the voter to provide details of the disability. Certain disabilities may affect voters’ ability to vocalize their request, but federal law still provides that such a disabled voter is entitled to
Accordingly, elections officials should exercise their best
efforts to understand and respond to individual requests for assistance,
however communicated. State administrative law provides that an election
official may prompt the voter, where appropriate.5

An election official may pose “yes” or “no” questions, may allow the voter to point out the person from whom he or she wishes to receive assistance, or may use the Voter Assistance Section of the Station Guide as a visual tool to ensure that voters are enabled to communicate their request for assistance. In many cases, a voter in need of assistance will be accompanied
by another individual. However, unless the voter requests the assistance of the accompanying individual, that individual is not entitled to assist the
voter. The voter may instead request assistance from election judges or an election assistant.

If you are unable to speak, the election official might ask you to point to options from their election rules handbook. It may be worth familiarizing yourself with that manual and making sure that you will be able to point to the choice you intend. (Or printing it out and bringing a copy to point to yourself). If you are unable to say your name and address, it may be a good idea to bring ID. (It is not legal to require it of you when other voters are not required to present ID, but your ID may be the fastest way to effectively communicate your identify and eligibility to the polling official in a way that they will accept).
Disability Rights North Carolina has more information about disability voting rights in NC.

If you are reading this after the 5th and you need to vote on election day itself:
A voter ID law was passed this year, but it was also struck down by the courts.
So people *tried* to require IDs, and some people may be under the impression that you need IDs in order to vote in North Carolina.
Most voters do not need an ID to vote in person.
“If there was a problem with verifying the information on your registration form” you may be asked to present a current photo ID *or* a utility bill, bank statement, payroll stub, or document from a government agency.
So if you have any of those documents, bring them anyway.

There may be people outside the polls trying to trick you into not voting. Some of them may try to pass themselves off as election officials. They might lie to you about the requirements, or they might try to check your ID and tell you that it’s not valid.

Election officials themselves may also illegally try to tell you that you need ID in order to vote, or may illegally reject an ID they’re required to accept.

If anyone, official or not, tells you that you can’t vote, don’t give up on voting. There may be volunteer lawyers outside the polls who can help you assert your right to vote. If you are able to use a phone, you can also call the (nonpartisan) Election Protection Hotline 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) for help

In any case, do not leave without voting. If all else fails, you have the right to cast a provisional ballot.

Disability Rights North Carolina has another list of hotlines you can call to report rights violations: 

  • Your local County Board of Elections
  • The State Board of Elections at 919-733-7173
  • Election Protection
  • English: 888-OUR-VOTE (888-687-8683)
  • Spanish: 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682)
  • Asian Languages: 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683)
  • The National Federation of the Blind Election Day Hotline (1-877-632-1940)
  • Disability Rights NC at 877-235-4210 (888-268-5535 TTY)

tl;dr If you vote in North Carolina and haven’t voted yet, your best chance of being able to cast a vote is to vote on Friday the 4th or Saturday the 5th at in-person Early Voting. Scroll up for information on voting rights in North Carolina during Early Voting and on Election Day, including information for disabled voters.