Can an app help “Stop Trump” and create a culture of active resistance?

trumpapp

I’d like to preface this post by saying that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if someone else already had this same idea that I’m about to share with you here. As it’s so simple, I’d actually be surprised if someone hadn’t. But, as I haven’t seen anything like it before, I thought that I’d mention it here, in hopes that it might lead to an interesting and productive conversation on how technology might help us battle against what’s coming… I should also mention that, if no one is doing it yet, I really wouldn’t care if one of you wanted to take the ball and run with it. The only thing that matters to me is that a tool, like the one I’m about to describe, gets made and distributed, and I don’t care who does it, as long as they’re on the side of truth, justice and fairness… With all of that said, though, if no one else is already doing it, and if no one else wants to give it a shot, I’d be happy to try, assuming, of course, I can pull together a motivated team of software developers, policy wonks, and marketing people capable of pulling it off. [Surely some of our left-leaning Ann Arbor tech folks would jump at a chance to help save their country, right?]

OK, so here’s the genesis of the idea.

A few days ago, I posted something here asking that people call their elected representatives in Congress and express their anger over President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to appoint Steve Bannon, a white nationalist, as his chief White House strategist. In the post, I included a number of links to sites where people could find contact information for their Senators and Representatives, as well as several other related resources, like a spreadsheet full of tips on how to communicate successfully with one’s elected officials. And, in addition, I also added a bit of detail concerning which House members here in Michigan had already come out against the Bannon appointment, and which hadn’t… And all of this got me thinking, “What if we could make an app that could deliver simple, targeted tasks like this to motivated members of the resistance every day?”

And that’s pretty much the idea. At it’s most basic, the app that I’m envisioning would send you an alert whenever it’s determined that one of your elected officials could use a call urging him or her to take a specific action to thwart the Trump administration. Your phone would buzz, and you’d get a message with the number of an elected official to call, a brief script to follow, and links to additional background information, should you care to do any further research of your own. It would be that simple. [By way of background, it’s important to know that constituent phone calls, to a large extent, dictate the positions elected officials take on specific issues.]

For instance, let’s say an app like this one that I’m describing existed earlier this past week, when I posted about Bannon’s appointment and encouraged people to call the district offices of their Representatives… Let’s say I had the app on my phone. I might get an alert telling me that, as a constituent in Michigan’s 12th Congressional district, I should call the office of Senator Gary Peters, asking him to go on the record against the Bannon appointment. It would do this because, at that time, Gary Peters had not yet taken a stand on Bannon, while my Congressperson, Debbie Dingell, already had. [Peters did eventually come out against Bannon, making a statement on the floor of the Senate yesterday.] In other words, the system, knowing where you were registered to vote, would suggest the best possible call you could make on a specific day to fight the Trump agenda.

And it wouldn’t just have to be about making calls. The system could give you a daily idea on how to push back against the administration. One day, it could be a prompt to make a call, like the one mentioned above. Another day, it could just ask you to post a particular news story to your social network. Or, maybe, it could tell you about a demonstration taking place at a Trump affiliated business within driving distance. Or, perhaps, it could suggest that you to give $5 to Planned Parenthood in response to something said by Vice President-elect Pence the evening before. The important thing is, it would give people something constructive to do every day, keeping them engaged, and helping them to find their voices and use them.

And that’s what I love about this idea… It would get people into the habit of calling their elected officials on a regular basis, a necessary first step in building an active culture of resistance in which individual citizens feel empowered to voice their opinions.

And, on top of all of this, if we could sell this app for a few bucks, we might also be able to raise some money for a few good causes, like the ACLU.

I should add that I know this isn’t a trivial task. It would require some work. In Michigan alone, we have 14 Congressional districts, and we’d have to have a team of people either constantly thinking about where pressure could best be applied, or a system where people could collectively decide on such things, which would add a significant level of complexity. But, given what we’re facing, I think the effort might be worth it.

So, what do you think? Is it worth pursuing?

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38 Comments

  1. Morbid Larson
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 3:18 am | Permalink

    I keep thinking that the reason that Trump wants to “fix” the “inner cities” is because he wants to be able to take, develop and sell the land in four years time.

  2. Jean Henry
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    The emergency manager outcomes in MI would suggest that. Public parks (left to city for the use of the workers by a Whirlpool heir) sold for pennies on the dollar to developers for private golf courses. The Detroit Land Bank is being investigated by the FBI– likely for seizing property in use for developers. That’s already happening.

  3. Maria Huffman
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    This is for Jean Henry…likely people you argue with at this site are paid to do so, as in draw a salary for it, for real, and sometimes people pay a few different people to argue on a site and the same person or company or entity is paying them. So keep that in mind when posting

  4. Jean Henry
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    The app is a good idea. I can say I have suggested aggregate sites/apps for local businesses and non-profits for a long time and could never get any traction. There were some national models, but none that scaled down to the state and local level effectively. Maybe these things are easier to build now. Someone would need to decide which issue gets top billing each day– or I suppose it could use an algorithm to preference whatever issues are of concern to you. The conversations on the site do not suggest unity of opinion about what is and is not important within social justice. Layers of complexity. Since it’s a partisan effort, civ city couldn’t be involved. I think the real issue will be who decides what issues rise to the top. I don;t think that’s an easy task. I think whoever assumes that role– individual or group– can expect a lot of blowback. Non-profits compete for resources. Issues compete for attention etc etc. I think the user would need to select the issues of concern and maybe advocacy agencies, if selected, can provide their own actions. Many non-profit advocacy groups like planned parenthood mid-michigan, the league of conservation voters, clean water action, pirgim already do regular calls to action. I don’t know what works or doesn’t to drive responsiveness to calls to action. Maybe figuring out what works and harnessing those moments could make it work.

  5. Maria Huffman
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    What I read about the Land Bank was it sold properties more cheaply to city residents and then those residents flipped the houses for profit…which I do not know if there was a contingency clause that specified that the buyer then had to live in the house if it was habitable etc…because if there was no contingency clause attached to prohibit that or restrict it in some ways other than buying it cheap and turning around and selling it high. Then well.there wasn’t and that would be the issue..and that is what I would watch for next.

  6. Maria Huffman
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    If people.want to argue the Land Bank should not even exist. I say that somewhere in that city governance structure probably at least a few people should have a list of the buildings and be following what happens to them. A Land Bank may seem over formalized
    .but there are so many building is such a state of disrepair I think it would be unwise to just let them go to open market. That is just my opinion.

  7. Demetrius
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    @ Maria

    Wait … What?!

    Are you suggesting that people are actually getting *paid* to argue with Jean here on MM.com?

    Is there I site I need to visit, or forms I need to fill out so I can get paid too?

    I feel like I’ve been totally missing out …

  8. Anonymous
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Today’s alert could ask people to demand an investigation of this most recent conflict of interest.

    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_58309ad8e4b058ce7aab78fe?

  9. Tommy
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    If people want to have Trump’s conflicts of interest looked into, the number of the House Oversight Committee is 202-225-5074.

  10. Tommy
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Before calling be sure to read this article on Trump’s conflicts of interest.

    http://time.com/4574938/donald-trump-conflicts-of-interest/

  11. Anonymous
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    See also: “How to call your reps when you have social anxiety”

    http://echothroughthefog.cordeliadillon.com/post/153393286626/how-to-call-your-reps-when-you-have-social-anxiety

  12. stupid hick
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    My god, you are so naive. This will have zero effect unless the complainants are registered Republicans. Even then maybe it won’t. Better to be a donor. Step one, donate at least $1000 to the GOP, step two design your app.

  13. Posted November 20, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    OK, here’s another possible example. Yesterday Congresswoman Katherine Clark of Massachusetts introduced a bill to ensure President-elect Trump addresses his multiple conflicts of interest. I haven’t done any exhaustive research into the bill (H.R. 6340), but let’s assume that it’s solid, and there’s not other pending legislation that would be any better. What if we could use this system I’ve described to get word out to everyone to contact their Representatives demanding that they support H.R. 6340?

    The text would have the number of your local Rep’s office, that you could just hit to dial, and a sentence-long script that you could recite. In this case, it would say something like, “I am a constituent of Representative Dingell’s, and I would very much like her to support H.R. 6340, ensuring that President-elect Trump addresses his multiple conflicts of interest.”

    Background on H.R. 6340 from Clark’s website.

    Congresswoman Katherine Clark has introduced legislation to ensure that U.S. Presidents are required to resolve any conflicts of interest with regard to financial interests and official responsibilities. Current law prohibits federal office holders from engaging in government business when they stand to gain profit. The President and Vice President are currently exempt from this statute. Clark’s Presidential Accountability Act removes this exemption and requires the President and Vice President to place their assets in a certified blind trust or disclose to the Office of Government Ethics and the public when they make a decision that affects their personal finances. This issue has been elevated to greater importance as concerns of conflicts of interest have surfaced in the first week of the President-elect’s transition period. From the Trump Organization’s federal contract to operate the President-elect’s hotel in the Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington, D.C. to the scale of his debt to foreign banks, the President-elect’s business interests present an unprecedented level of conflict. Trump has also appointed his children to serve in leadership positions on both the President-elect’s transition team and his businesses. Clark’s Presidential Accountability Act prohibits the President from engaging in government responsibilities from which they or their families can benefit financially.

    “The President of the United States has the power to affect how our tax dollars are spent, who the federal government does business with, and the integrity of America’s standing in a global economy,” said Clark. “Every recent president in modern history has taken steps to ensure his financial interests do not conflict with the needs of the American people. The American people need to be able to trust that the President’s decisions are based on the best interests of families at home, and not the President’s financial interests.”

    Previous American presidents including Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have all used some form of blind trust or placed their assets in an investment vehicle over which they had no control.

  14. Posted November 20, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Mr. Hick, when you call you Rep’s office, you don’t have to identify which party you are with. All they care about is that you’re a voting constituent.

  15. Posted November 20, 2016 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    And, yes, everyone who posts here, with the exception of Jean, is paid. I make the payments monthly in Riverside Park.

  16. stupid hick
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Lol, then you better be calling from a “Republican” number in their donor database! Borrow your conservative neighbor’s phone. You don’t think the GOP doesn’t weight constituent calls, using a formula that mostly involves multiplying by the number of dollars donated by the caller? You worked with the Democrats, do they not use modern customer relationship management software too? OMG.

  17. Lynne
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    stupid hick. hmmm? My parents live in Mike Bishop’s district and my Dad joined the GOP so he could make sure he “knows what they are up to” Guess who is going to getting calls from my parents land line? bwahahaha

  18. Jim
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Maybe this:
    https://www.wall-of-us.org/

  19. Jean Henry
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Maria Huffman– I dont think the idea of a land bank is bad at all, but this is Detroit. And the execution appears to be lacking. There seem to be many issues with the Land Bank. And it’s not clear what the FBI is investigating last I heard. They have taken in evidence but no charges have been made and their investigation is under wraps. The issues I have heard from residents and business people, was that property in use for gardens, by renters etc, was being seized in areas that are more hospitable for development. And those properties were not being made available for purchase by those users. And they were receiving eviction notices. Michigan Urban Farming Institute is one example.
    That would correspond to Pete’s concern. I also know that people are flipping houses in Detroit at a fast rate. It’s not easy or cheap to rehab houses stripped of all wiring, plumbing etc. I have a hard time imagining That these are flips without reno, but maybe. Generally the EM oversight everywhere in MI has resulted in quick land sales way under value. Often for development. There were more eyes on Detroit. And so far it has worked better. Now that the EM is gone, and the money is flowing, vigilance is still required. The story in Detroit is never simple.

    Maria– as you can see I’m terribly argumentative:)

    Mark– My check is overdue. I’m going to have to start charging interest and penalties. I’ll send you a billing statement.

  20. Posted November 20, 2016 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Jim, I like that site. Thanks for the tip. And it is close in some ways to what I had in mind. I do, think, however, that it would be awesome to have something that was more tailored to the individual voter, based on Congressional district, etc. But, yes, this is a start.

  21. Jcp2
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    http://www.thestranger.com/features/2016/11/15/24694214/the-resistance-how-to-defeat-donald-trumps-plot-against-america

  22. Posted November 20, 2016 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    For those of you itching to make calls tonight, here’s something else to consider. It comes by way of Tori Somalia.

    Super easy Sunday night activism! Perfect for introverts, since you don’t even have to speak to anyone!

    Paul Ryan is conducting a phone poll on the ACA (Obamacare), hoping to hear overwhelming popular opposition to it. For many of us, the ACA means we get to keep getting life-extending medicine. Seriously, nobody would give me insurance if it weren’t for the ACA.

    3 easy steps:

    1) Call 202-225-0600. There was about 90 seconds of silence before the call connected when I called. Maybe the need to add some hold music!

    2) Select what issue you want to vote on. The ACA (Obamacare) is #2.

    3) Listen to a brief recording about HR-3762, Paul Ryan’s proposal to gut the ACA, and President Obama’s use of his veto power to stop it. Then, you will have a chance to indicate your opinion with the press of a button. Press 1 if you support Obamacare, 2 if you oppose it.
    That’s it!

    Copy and paste rather than sharing–it reaches more people.

  23. Morbid Larson
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    Everything you do is meaningless. These people will always win in the end.

  24. Lynne
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Morbid Larson, yeah. That is probably why they still have slaves and only white men can vote.

  25. ytown
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Good idea, I could”ve used this with Obama!

  26. Jean Henry
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    worth a read.

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/11/how-the-loyal-opposition-will-work-in-trumps-america.html?mid=twitter_nymag

  27. Jean Henry
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Pete– Green Day, having ripped off everything else previously, stole your election day after tune at the AMA’s too. So now I have something good to say about Green Day. Because I try to find the good in everyone. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/green-day-ama-trump-chant_us_5832a245e4b030997bc030c7

  28. Morbid Larson
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    I like Green Day.

    So does Dave Dictor of MDC, who apparently was gushing on Facebook today about how Green Day covered the song.

  29. Jean Henry
    Posted November 22, 2016 at 4:44 am | Permalink

    Excellent then. Good for you. They were big when I lived in CA and just seemed like more of the same— highly produced, industry generated pop mimicking other genres of music. I like pop music. Can’t bear Green Day.

  30. Morbid Larson
    Posted November 22, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    “Excellent then. Good for you.”

    Seriously? What’s up with the attitude?

  31. Murph
    Posted November 22, 2016 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Just saw this, https://callyourrep.co/ . Has a lookup for Senators / Congresspeople for a given address, and the ability to create your own “Call script” and share it with people.

    Not everything you’re looking for, but some pieces.

  32. Jean Henry
    Posted November 22, 2016 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    I meant it, Pete. (as in there’s no downside then) No attitude. I don’t like them. We don’t need to agree on bands. I don’t require that kind of alignment in my friends. That would really be pretty boring, right?

  33. Johnny
    Posted November 22, 2016 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps the tool you’re looking for is already partially built. The international union of operating engineers has a political action department that pushes out emails with pre-written letters for members to send.

  34. Posted November 22, 2016 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    This seems like a great idea! The central piece is a database of users and their general location, which you could feed into Google’s Civic Info API (https://developers.google.com/civic-information/) to return representatives at different levels of government. To reach the most people, you’d probably want to have this deployed a couple of different ways: some will prefer an app, some might prefer an email list, or a web view.

    Aside from the application itself, you’d need a person or multiple persons to push the content on a regular basis.

  35. Dave
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    https://www.flippable.org/

  36. JEAN HENRY
    Posted November 24, 2016 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    I like this politically progressive site which combines news & analysis(filtered for diverting media moments) with defined and vetted progressive action steps. https://www.americanprogressaction.org/

  37. iRobert
    Posted November 28, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    They might already have something much like this exclusive to California state politics. You might want to check. If not, I’d say get on it fast. It would spread like wildfire right now.

  38. Meta
    Posted January 4, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Calling does work in some instances.

    Think Progress: “Flooded with phone calls from voters, House GOP drops effort to gut ethics panel”

    The House GOP reversed course on Tuesday, deciding in a closed door meeting to abandon a plan approved less than 24 hours earlier to gut the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).

    In an emergency conference meeting Tuesday morning, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) offered and the party approved a motion to restore the current OCE rules. The reversal came as members of Congress said their offices were flooded with calls from constituents angered by the decision.

    Read more:
    https://thinkprogress.org/house-abandons-ethics-plan-8e321ae246c8#.6qpdxosia

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