How to Stand Indivisible at Labrador’s Town Hall
Raul Labrador’s office announced that would. hold two town hall events: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at Meridian Middle School, and Monday, April 24, 2017 at Mission Aviation Fellowship.
He added back to back town hall events on Friday, May 5 in Lewiston followed by a second in Coeur d’Alene. After his controversial statements on April 19th where he said “I do not believe health care is a basic right,” Labrador voted in favor of the Republican plan to repeal and replace the ACA on May 4th. He will face constituents for the first time after that vote at the town hall in Lewiston.
Labrador has made the first move. He has agreed to appear, and now we have to make ours. We need to appear at both events with tough questions about his vote on the American Health Care Act, immigration, women’s rights, worker’s rights, LBGTQ rights, climate change, etc., and why he believes that his position on these issues is representative of his constituents.
Raul Labrador is not easily rattled at these events, with one exception: his own voting record, which he has a tendency to deny. If you are attending this event, print a copy(ies) of his record and be prepared to hold him accountable for it.
We will be at the Meridian event with 500 sheets of red and green sheets of paper. This not an Indivisible event so we may be limited in passing out these sheets. Bring your own – write “agree,” “disagree” on a piece of paper and bring it with you. Remember, the success of this event will signal to our other MoC’s whether or not they should come out of the shadows and hold their own. It is in our best interest for it to succeed. Let’s show the rest of the country how to hold a town hall.
We’ve already seen how this can work successfully.
These town halls were certainly filled with the sounds of cheers and boos. We expect Labrador’s town hall to be as well. That shows that we have passion and care about the issues we are talking about. But we also need to demonstrate that the Resistance movement is peaceful, and productive.
Media PreparationTown hall events are of national interest right now, and we expect our local media to be there, but there is also a good chance that the national media will pick up the coverage from their affiliate stations. If you are interviewed by any news outlets, be prepared with a statement. What message do you have to say about your reason for attending the town hall? What message do you have for the Congressman? For your other two MoC?
Some general tips:
- If you are attending the town hall as part of Indivisible, tell the media you are there with us.
- If you don’t know an answer, ask if you can check with your team and get back to them.
- Explain the issue you are most concerned about (i.e. health care, immigration, tax reform) and explain why.
- Use personal examples if you are comfortable sharing that information.
- If not, find a few relevant facts that you can share.
- Bring a note card, and write your statement down.
- Be prepared.
- Stay calm.
- Don’t attack, or speak aggressively about your representative. They won’t use your interview if your language is threatening or filled with expletives.
- If you misspeak, ask to re-state your point.
- Just be authentic. You can’t go wrong.
At the Town Hall
- Be polite but persistent, and demand real answers. MoCs are very good at deflecting or dodging questions they don’t want to answer. Don’t let them get away with moving on before they’ve answered your question. If the MoC dodges, ask a follow-up question. If they aren’t giving you real answers, then call them out for it.
- Don’t give up the mic until you’re satisfied with the answer. If you’ve asked a hostile question, a staffer will often try to limit your ability to follow up by taking the microphone back immediately after you finish speaking. They can’t do that if you keep a firm hold on the mic. If they object, then say politely but loudly: “I’m not finished. The MoC is dodging my question. Why are you trying to stop me from following up?” Use the crowd to your advantage: ask them to cheer or stand in solidarity if they want the MoC to answer your question before moving on.
- Keep the pressure on. After one member of your group finishes a question, everyone should raise their hands again. The next member of the group to be called on should move down the list of questions and ask the next one. If the MoC moves on to you without addressing the previous question, don’t be afraid to restate it and demand an answer to your friend’s query.
- Anticipate their efforts to dismiss or undermine you. Some MoCs will try to undercut your legitimacy by claiming that you or other members of the audience have been bussed in or are paid protesters. Don’t be afraid to tell your MoC where you work, what neighborhood you live in, what church you attend, or what precinct you vote in as a preface to your question.
- Show your approval or disapproval of your MoCs answers in the town hall. A key part of attending a town hall is providing your MoC with evidence of exactly how deep the opposition to Trump’s agenda runs in their district. We are prepared to do this with plain red and green signs to show support and displeasure.
- Remember: be passionate in expressing your positions, but don’t shout down your MoC. Keep in mind that one of your goals in attending a town hall is to get your MoC to give on the record statements about issues that matter to you and your group. They can’t do that if no one can hear them.
- Record everything! Use a smart phone or video camera to record other advocates asking questions and the MoC’s response. While written transcripts are nice, unfavorable exchanges caught on video can be devastating for MoCs. These clips can be shared through social media and picked up by local and national media. Please familiarize yourself with your state and local laws that govern recording, along with any applicable Senate or House rules. These laws and rules vary substantially from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
After the Town Hall1. Reach out to media, during and after the town hall. If there’s media at the town hall, the people who asked questions should approach them afterward and offer to speak about their concerns. When the event is over, you should engage local reporters on Twitter or by email and offer to provide an in-person account of what happened, as well as your pictures or videos.
Example Twitter outreach:“.@reporter I was at Rep. Labrador’s town hall in Meridian today. Large group asked about Medicare privatization. I have video & happy to chat.”
Note: It’s important to make this a public tweet by including the period before the journalist’s Twitter handle. Making this public will make the journalist more likely to respond to ensure they get the intel first.
Here are the largest local news Twitter accounts and several national media Twitter accounts:@IdahoStatesman @IdahoOnYourSide @KTVB @KBOITV @IdahoPressTrib @BoiseWeekly @MSNBC @Maddow @CNN
We are asking everyone to use the Hashtag #LabradorTownHall to consolidate the tweets into one thread.
2. Share everything. Post pictures, video, your thoughts about the event, etc., to social media. Tag the MoC’s office and encourage others to share widely. Also, always tag us on Twitter (@IndivisibleID) and send pictures, videos, and everything else to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll amplify all of your great work and help you get national press attention—something your MoC desperately wants to avoid.
3. Tell your MoC—and the press—that one town hall is not enough. Showing up to listen to your constituents questions and concerns once every few months is not acceptable. MoCs block off days at a time to meet with campaign contributors, industry lobbyists, and other special interests—they owe you at least as much time. Your MoCs should listen to their district, not just their party, and the only way they can do that well is by spending a lot of time with you.
We stand Indivisible with you. We are citizen activists. This is our opportunity to be loud and remind them that they work for us, not the other way around. Stand Strong. Stand Indivisible.
As always, special thanks to the Indivisible Guide for tips and guidance.