Ben Head's blog

Action Steps 8/9/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 8/9/17


5 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


Make Some Calls


Do you have some time to spare on August 9th, 14th, or 15th? Those are the upcoming days when Niles Township Democrats will be phone banking for Illinois General Assembly SB1, an education finance reform bill that was vetoed by Gov. Rauner despite being evidence-based and in the works for two decades. Volunteers will gather at the Niles Township Democratic Organization in Skokie to call local constituents and urge them to ask their state legislators to override the governor’s veto. More information is on the sign-up form.


Grab Your Pen


Send a letter to the Illinois State Board of Elections this week to demand that our state withdraw from the voluntary Crosscheck partnership. Crosscheck is a system designed by Kris Kobach, now heading up the president’s election commision, that since 2005 has collected voter registration data including names, dates of birth, and the final four numbers of voters’ social security numbers. Despite the fact that this program includes gathering all this sensitive, private information, analysis of Crosscheck has demonstrated that the system results in millions of false positives--that is, instead of identifying actual voter fraud, the system produces unreliable data that has nothing to do with voter fraud. Yet this data is still used to purge voter rolls. Illinois voluntarily participates in the program, but a number of state officials have written a letter to the Illinois State Board of Elections to urge them to terminate the partnership later this month. Echo their sentiments in your own letter to the department, at 100 W. Randolph, Suite 14-100, Chicago, IL 60601.


Despite having heard from plenty of constituents that he should sign HB40 into law, Gov. Rauner is still equivocating on whether to sign or veto this bill that would preserve Illinois residents’ reproductive rights even in the event that federal legislation is rolled back. Use this ACLU tool to email the governor and demand that he sign into law a piece of legislation that impacts the lives of half the residents of this state.


Boots on the Ground


Have you amped up your civic participation since the 2016 election? Are you looking for additional ways to organize, work with like-minded resistance fighters, and overall better understand and navigate the landscape of civic action? Explore the resources from Act Local 2017, an initiative with partners from movements like Fight for $15 that will convene leadership training to take place in Fall 2017. It’s never too early to start planning your next big organizing move.


Get Informed


While the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is currently at an impasse, that doesn’t necessarily mean the issue is completely off the table. While we have a temporary respite from threats on our health care, take advantage of the appearance of the Save My Care Drive for our Lives tour bus in Chicago on Monday, August 14, at 12 noon at Daley Plaza. The bus, which has been traveling the country, features information and resources to ensure you’re informed about the Affordable Care Act, the medical coverage needs of Americans, and more.

Action Steps 8/2/17

5 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


Boots on the Ground


The Pink Angels for Planned Parenthood will have a presence outside of Lollapalooza this weekend, on both Saturday, August 5, and Sunday, August 6, from 1-5 p.m. The group will hand out safe sex kits while showing support for Planned Parenthood and the vital health resources it brings to communities. Sign up to join the presence via the Facebook events.


Get Informed


The organizers of the Women’s March are determined not to have the momentum of the resistance slow during the Congressional August Recess. Rather, they’ve reclaimed the time as the August Reset—an opportunity to gain knowledge on issues like civil rights, reproductive rights, and worker’s rights, while gaining skills and resources to successfully lobby for the resistance to legislators. Check out their August Reset guide, which includes policy briefs on a range of topics as well as a useful worksheet for preparing for a meeting with a legislator.


You’ve probably heard plenty about how the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education is a travesty for our schools and youth. If you’re not quite sure why her inexperience and her beliefs are so terrible for American education, or if you’d like a refresher on why, specifically, the conservation panacea for education, school vouchers, shouldn’t be a legitimate option, take some time to read “The Racist Origins of Private School Vouchers” from the Center for American Progress.


Raise Your Consciousness


On Thursday, August 3, from 6-7:30 p.m., Gallery 400 in Chicago will be hosting a conversation between Robyn Hillman-Harrigan of Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter and Aislinn Borsini, Coordinator for Black Lives Matter Chicago. The two speakers will have a conversation focused on the relationship between space and power, with the gallery’s current exhibition, Black Light, as a backdrop. All are welcome at the event.

Are you concerned about continued attacks on the rights of transgender Americans by the president and by states across the nation? Educate yourself to better be able to support all transgender people in our community and our country. Start by exploring the National Center for Transgender Equality, which includes comprehensive information about trans issues as well as a place to sign up to receive local action alerts. Then spend some time watching episodes of We’ve Been Around, short films documenting the lives of transgender pioneers.

Action Steps 7/26/17

5 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


Boots on the Ground


On Saturday, July 29, from 1-3 p.m., the Chicago rally of the nationwide #SavetheACA demonstration will take place downton. The rally aims to show the continued broad support for the Affordable Care Act, even as Senate Republicans aim to repeal the healthcare law without agreement on a replacement. Grab your friends and family and join the demonstration.


State Your Case


Earlier this year, the Illinois legislature passed House Bill 1785, which reforms the Vital Records Act to allow transgender Illinoisans to modify their birth certificates to reflect their gender identity without requiring proof of gender reassignment surgery. The bill has been sitting on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature. Use this ACLU of Illinois interface to send a message to Governor Rauner insisting he sign the bill into law to recognize and protect the rights of all Illinois residents.


The teen pregnancy rate in the United States is at an all-time low, thanks in no small part to federal funding that has been put toward teen pregnancy prevention over the past few years. Now Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price is calling to eliminate this funding a full two years ahead of schedule—in effect stopping current strategies right when they are being most effective. Write to Secretary Price ( to say that his decision adversely impacts the lives and futures of girls in particular, and demand that funding be restored so we may fully understand and continue to decrease incidents of teenage pregnancy.


Get Trained


Have you ever considered running for public office? Even if the idea is the merest twinkling in the back of your mind, plan to attend this webinar from Run to Win on Monday, July 31, from 6-7:30 p.m. The webinar will guide anyone interested in running for office through the ins and outs of doing so. While the webinar is open to anyone who is interested, it will focus specifically on women running for office.


Raise Your Consciousness

Earlier this month, a Cook County judge issued an order stating that a defendant’s bail cannot be set at a level higher than what they can currently afford to pay. Read up on this victory for bail reform, which means that poorer people accused of crimes will not be disproportionately forced to remain in jail simply because of the amount in their bank account.

Action Steps 7/19/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 7/19/17


5 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


This week is all about arming yourself with knowledge—about the civic process, items in the news, and the ways in which our habits, no matter how progressive, may be fueling the dichotomous political landscape currently rampant in our country.


Get Trained


The Northside Democracy for America will be leading a two-day Campaign Academy on July 29 and 30 downtown. Registration is open for this event, which will cover all aspects of campaign and volunteer strategy, messaging, fielding, and reporting. Registration fees are discounted for multiple individuals signing up together.


Raise Your Consciousness


You’ve been hearing frequent stories about missile tests out of North Korea. If you’ve been wondering why these recent tests are such a big deal, why missile range always comes into play, and some of the history of our two countries’ nuclear landscape, give this piece from Time magazine a read.


You’ve been hearing about the president’s Election Integrity Commission, which seeks to root out nonexistent voter fraud. But are you aware that a significant percentage of Americans who are legally eligible to vote currently don’t get to exercise that right due to voter suppression tactics? As we resist the demands of the president’s commission, it’s important to recognize all the ways in which the voting landscape is already weighted against many Americans. Give this article from Time magazine about voter suppression a read.


You may have read about privilege—white privilege in particular. If you’re white, however, there’s a good chance that despite any reading and reflection you’ve done, you’re still harboring conceptions about racism that are impeding your ability to be a true racial ally and activist for racial justice. Spend some time with this piece from On Being about recognizing and confronting the racism that is inherent in an American cultural upbringing, even for people with the best of intentions.

When’s the last time you had a conversation with a friend, neighbor, or family member who views the world through a vastly different political lens than you? We’re talking real conversation, in person—not just responding to comments online and then closing your browser window in a righteous huff. Having deep, thoughtful conversations with people who hold different beliefs than you do is vital to American democracy. Read this article from The Atlantic on how our tendency to talk politics in echo chambers is ultimately doing the entire country a disservice, then make a plan to engage in conversation across ideological lines with the intent to hear and understand.

Action Steps 7/5/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 7/5/17


5 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


Make a Call


Governor Rauner still has not signed HB 40 into state law, despite the measure passing in both the state house and senate. Use this resource from the ACLU of Illinois to reach out to Rauner to express how vital it is he sign this legislation into law to protect the reproductive rights of Illinois residents.


Add Your Name


The current administration has proposed eliminating Amtrak long-distance passenger service, a move that would cut off small towns across the country from connection to commuter routes and their final remaining option for low-cost public transportation. Add your name to the petition asking Congress to reject this proposal and allow Americans to continue to stay connected via Amtrak.


Commit yourself to being a compassionate and supportive member of your community. Sign the Pledge of Allegiance to Each Other, a pledge to honor the dignity in all humans and to join together in community and fellowship.


Stay Informed


Unsure of what to do now that the Supreme Court has allowed aspects of the Muslim Ban to go into effect? Take a look at this infographic, which includes ideas for standing against the ban and standing up for our Muslim neighbors.


In continuing to speak out against the proposed American Health Care Act, the current Republican legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, it’s vital to have knowledge of how the AHCA would adversely affect people. Use this resource from Indivisible, which crunched the numbers on the increased costs and decreased coverage that the AHCA would bring to Illinois residents.

Action Steps 6/28/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 6/28/17


5 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


Make a Call


The White House has reduced press briefings and made other changes that drastically limit the ability of the American people to learn what the administration is doing. This unprecedented move is undermining a core tenet of American democracy. Read up on the threats associated with decreased access to White House briefings, then call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111 to demand that open press briefings be held on a regular basis so that Americans may stay informed about the activities of the executive branch.


Add Your Name


While Illinois residents across the state have been inundating federal legislators with demands to preserve health coverage guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act, our governor has not made any comments on the House and Senate attempts to repeal ACA provisions and leave hundreds of thousands more uninsured. Add your name to a petition demanding that Governor Rauner speak out against proposed bills that would leave Illinois residents without health coverage.


Join Community


People across the country will be hosting Resistance Summer Cookouts this weekend, including at locations in Chicago and Skokie. RSVP to attend a cookout where you can meet others in the resistance, swap strategies for persisting in standing against the current administration, and build stronger community. A full list of cookout dates, times, and locations is available on the Resistance Summer website.


Raise Your Consciousness


With the acquittal of the police officer who shot Philando Castile, the list of unarmed black men and women who have been killed by police without judicial consequences continues to grow. Until Americans recognize the extent of systemic racism in our country, and reckon with its centrality to American history and the stories we tell of our nation, this desecration of black bodies without consequence will continue to occur. Read this five-part series on police brutality by Shaun King, then investigate what your community is doing to ensure that “protect and serve” applies to all residents and not just white ones.

Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago on June 27. Watch Secretary Clinton’s speech in which she touts the ways in which libraries add vital services to their communities, then visit your local library to sign up for summer reading, offer to volunteer, or talk to a librarian about strategies for combating fake news.

Action Steps 6/21/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 6/21/17


5 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


Boots on the Ground


Come to the Federal Center downtown to greet the Truth Tour bus as it completes its route around Illinois and stand in solidarity with the millions of Illinois residents who rely on the Affordable Care Act for their health care coverage. The Truth Tour demonstration against repealing the ACA for the poor replacement AHCA will take place Thursday, June 22, from 2:30-4 p.m.


A candlelight vigil in memory of Nabra Hassanen, a Muslim teen girl killed over the weekend, will take place on Thursday, June 22, from 6-8 p.m. downtown. Join members of the Muslim community and allies in standing against hateful and racist rhetoric that is contributing to the normalization of harassment and killing of Muslim Americans.


Sunday, June 25 is the annual Chicago Pride Parade. Plan to attend and celebrate in solidarity with LGBTQ Chicagoans and those who recognize their inherent human dignity. Check out the Chicago Pride website for a full listing of events.


Join Community


June 25 is the Day of Dinners nationwide, with ordinary citizens across the country gathering together to share a meal with neighbors both familiar and new. Based on the tenet that our sharply partisan political sphere calls for people to get together, talk, and recognize the humanity in one another, the Day of Dinners offers opportunities for both hosts and attendees to gather around common tables. For information on events near you, visit the website and register.


Raise Your Consciousness


While the current administration doubles down on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the United States, it has recently come to light that Russian hackers perpetrated a cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system and voter information during the 2016 presidential election. Take some time to read up on these hacks so you’re prepared to talk about real issues of voting security.

Action Steps 6/14/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 6/14/17


5 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


Support Immigrants and Refugees


Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance, enacted in 2012, was a step toward making Chicago one of the most immigrant-friendly cities in the nation. A rally in support of the ordinance, including a call for the closing of loopholes in its language, will take place on Thursday, June 15, at 11 a.m., across the street from City Hall downtown. Stand in solidarity with this pro-immigrants’ rights action.


June 20 is World Refugee Day. To mark the day, visit the webpage of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and familiarize yourself with the work they do. Print off copies of their “Know Your Rights” card, which has rights information in English, Spanish, Korean, and Polish as well as contact info for families experiencing crisis. Keep a copy in your bag, share one at your local community center, and think about other places where this information might be accessible to immigrant and refugee families who need it.


Raise Your Consciousness


Get a head start on preparing for the 2018 gubernatorial race by taking some time to review the bios of those who have declared they’ll run to challenge Gov. Rauner. Read statements from:

Daniel Biss

Bob Daiber

Chris Kennedy

Alex Paterakis

Ameya Pawar

JB Pritzker


It’s okay to disagree with people who hold different views than your own—but it goes too far to dehumanize them for simply having different beliefs. Take some time this week to read this Vox piece by Brian Resnick exploring the ways we dehumanize those who live, worship, or vote differently from us, and the negative toll it takes on both our country and our minds.


Need a reminder of why it’s important to get your news from a variety of sources—or, at the very least, not just from a single source? Take a look at this piece from The Washington Post showing what MSNBC, CNN, and Fox included in their coverage of James Comey’s testimony. All three outlets drew from the same primary source, and yet each crafted a unique perspective of the story. Use this example as a motivator to do an audit of your current preferred news sources and to add some new ones to the mix.

Action Steps 6/7/17

IL-9 Action Newsletter 6/7/17


5 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


Boots on the Ground


While demonstrations and marches have been a cornerstone of the resistance since the inauguration, protest is a right that can be exercised by people of all viewpoints—including those who would demonstrate their hate and racism. Drown out the planned anti-Muslim protesters downtown this Saturday, June 10, at 9 a.m., as part of Counter-Protest: Chicago Resists Islamophobia. Show your solidarity with Muslim neighbors while denouncing hate.


Show your support of and celebrate Chicago’s LGBTQ community on Sunday, June 11, at 11 a.m., at the Chicago Equity Rally at Andersonville Midsommarfest. RSVPs are requested for this event, which will mobilize community members and allies in confirmation of LGBTQ rights and humanity. This rally is in solidarity with The Equality March for Unity and Pride happening in Washington, D.C., the same day.


Make Some Noise for Climate Action


The biggest administration news since the last action newsletter was the president’s announcement that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement—making us one of only three nations globally that will not participate. Make it clear to CEOs of major corporations who are serving on the president’s Advisory Council that this decision is unacceptable and dooms the future of the planet. Reach out via social media and email to demand that these CEOs resign from the council and commit their companies to serious action to combat human-caused climate change.


In the wake of the news that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, a handful of governors have announced that they will lead their states in upholding the standards of the agreement even without federal support. Give Governor Rauner a call and demand that he commit Illinois to honoring the standards of the Paris Climate Agreement.


Take Some You-Time


Active resistance requires energy, which is why it’s important to take time to recharge your batteries on a regular basis. Take advantage of the calming benefits of coloring by printing off and making beautiful these resistance-themed coloring sheets just released by Planned Parenthood. Share with a friend, color with a kid, and add your finished product to your fridge so you feel invigorated each time you see it.

Action Steps 6/1/17

5 Things To Do This Week to Resist from the IL-9


Boots on the Ground


While news has been happening at a breakneck pace since the 2016 election, one feeling prevails: there are so many conflicting accounts of what’s happening in the news that it’s hard to keep track of what’s true. Join the Chicago March for Truth on Saturday, June 3, at 11 a.m. at Federal Plaza at Adams and Dearborn, one of many Marches for Truth that will be happening across the country this weekend. The march platform includes calls for an independent commission, non-partisan and with Congressional funding, to investigate recent behavior of the Trump campaign and administration around Russia.


Moms Demand Action - IL is a local group dedicated to demanding that legislators, companies, and educational institutions act to create common-sense gun reforms. On Saturday, June 3, from 12-3 p.m. at Harold Washington Park, the group will be hosting Wear Orange 2017: Party for Peace. The event is intended to bring together community members in favor of ending gun violence through common-sense reform. There will be food, music, and games, and RSVPs are appreciated. Don’t forget to wear orange!


Peter Roskam, the Congressional Representative for the IL-6, has not been holding town halls—and that’s after he snuck out the back door of a scheduled constituent meeting during the winter in order to avoid interacting with those of his constituents who demanded answers for his seeming agreement with the policies of the new presidential administration. Residents of the IL-6, however, are organizing their own town halls. In what they’re billing as an “Adopt a District Town Hall,” the Coalition for a Better Illinois 6th will be hosting a town hall with special guest Rep. Jan Schakowsky on Saturday, June 3, from 5-6:30 p.m. in Palatine. Residents of the IL-9 can attend in support of their neighbors in the IL-6.


Wear Orange & Share a Photo


June 2 is Gun Violence Awareness Day, and for the second year in a row people across the country will show their commitment to ending gun violence by wearing orange—a bright color that demands to be seen and that signals there is more work to be done to end gun violence. Wear orange on Friday, June 2, and take a selfie. Share and tag photos #WearOrange to demonstrate your support, then visit Wear Orange online to learn what actions you can take to help bring gun violence to an end.


Share a Story


When legislators argue against the policies and proposed budget cuts being put forth by Republicans and the administration, their arguments are all the more powerful when they amplify the experiences of the everyday Americans all elected officials represent. That’s why it’s so important to share your stories and experiences with services that may be on the chopping block, like healthcare, public education, and environmental protections. Hands Off, a project with over fifteen partners including and Planned Parenthood, is providing a forum for Americans to share their experiences with core services. Take some time this week to share your own stories so that your representatives may better advocate for services that you and millions of other Americans rely on.