SummaryLearn the history of petitions and protests in the United States and worldwide; and how you can organize to make a difference.
Coming together from across the United States,
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Welcome to ResistBot Live.
Melanie: Hey, y'all, it is December 19, 2021. I'm your moderator, Melanie Dion, and this is Resist Bot Live. Welcome to our last show of the year. Before we take a brief holiday break. We today are going to be talking about the history of petitions and protests. I'm excited because we have our sort of special guest, our regular panelist, Dr. Joseph Coohill, who is also known as Professor Buzzkill, to join us with his historical take on where petitions actually come from the history of protests, what works and what doesn't. The first recorded petition goes all the way back to ancient Egypt when the slaves had wanted to have better conditions when they were building the pyramids. Basically, they wanted better working conditions. So as long as there has been labor, as long as there has been exploitative labor, there have been people willing to speak up for their rights and gain better treatment. And the old ways still work all the way to now, when there is something that needs to be corrected that needs to be heard, not just the things that we like, but when it's something that we don't like, we have to speak up. And petition and protest is how we do it when the other methods do not work. So speaking of work, I am going to start bringing up the people who are doing the work with me. Our regular panelists, we will start with Athena Fulay. Hello, Athena.
Athena: Hello, Mel. Hello. Good to see you all. Hear you all today. Beautiful day here in California. Happy to learn more about this concept of protest and petition and this idea that it's sort of inherently built into how our democracy functions and works. So good to be here. Love the hair. Mel.
Melanie: Thank you. Thank you. I had to let it go. I was tired of looking at the camera and trying to make sure my fro was even. I'm like, you know what? Screw it. We're doing it live. So let's talk about what brought you to the bot. Scott, always a joke about how you would say you've been with the bot from the top. What brought you here? What was the thing that motivated you to be a part of this work?
Athena: So I saw an article that started talking a lot about the work of folks that created ResistBot, or creating Eric, Jason and the team. And I thought this is fantastic because I've also thought that our representative democracy is not a spectator sport and that if we are truly going to have a democracy, that functions that requires an educated populace that requires actual engagement with your elected officials. And that relationship was increasingly and is a pay to play sort of situation. So when I read about what they were trying to do and making sure that voices were getting heard on the Hill. And being a DC resident, I thought, well, of all the things that I'm doing right now, is there something I can do to help this piece, this specific civic engagement tool, because I understood the power of it. And so I reached out to the team, and I said, I have no tech background in terms of any sort of coding or anything like that. But I do a lot of outreach. I do a lot of organizing, and I know the Hill very well through my professional role and some other volunteer work. So it turned out that when people like Ted Cruz started unplugging Fax machines, it would make sense that there would be an arm of the bot that would facilitate and deliveries. So working with the team, opening channels, printing hard copies and getting out onto the Hill and into people's offices, I was watching some of those videos recently, actually, and I started laughing because I think it was Rand Paul. It was Mitch McConnell. Somebody in Kentucky locked their doors. They weren't really answering doorknocks. So there's pictures of the delivery squad, like shoving them under the door, which is perfectly valid. That's how a lot of mail gets delivered up there. But when it's on camera for the world to see that look, your elected officials aren't actually answering doors and deliveries like this is where we've come to. So anyway, that was how I got involved at the start. And then again, I believe in the tool. I understand the power that it has to engage people who are not already active or people who just feel completely overwhelmed by how to engage. Being able to reach your elected officials within two minutes from your phone via text is huge, and the scale with which the bot is operating is unmatched. I've seen that personally on the Hill, and I've heard that from colleagues over there as well. So, yes, being able to get those constituent voices in front of the people who need to hear it has been a really amazing experience over the last few years.
Melanie: Right. And I think we're looking at what something like 9 million users over time, which is just gargantuan when you think about it. It's just funny how no matter what technology we have, there's always somebody who will try to subvert it so that they don't have to do the work of democracy. So thank you for doing what you do. We have Susan. Susan Stutz. Hello, Susan.
Susan: Hi, everyone. How are you today? I am in sunny South Florida today. It's beautiful outside. And I'm so glad to be here to listen to this history. I had no idea that protesting went as far back as ancient Egypt, which is a topic that I'm very interested in anyway. So that just adds to that. So how I came to the bot I started, I believe I saw a sign at a protest that somebody was holding up and it had send Resist to 50409, looked at it and started doing it. And so I started using Resistbot in May of 2017 and writing letters to my representatives to the President. One of the things that would happen with our letters and you can still look to do this today is we could turn our letters that we sent to our representatives into letters to the editor for your local newspaper. And I had some success with that. My local newspaper published many of my letters to the editor on our website. For those who are not aware on our website, we have a map of United States, and there's a pinpoint for every letter that has been submitted to a newspaper, and so you can find yourself on the map. If you're interested in getting my pins onto the map. I received an email from another volunteer by the name of Donna. She invited me to become a volunteer. So I of course, said yes, because I've always had this impression that one of the problems with our democracy is that people don't have a real good connection to what's happening on the Hill. And so Resistbot brought those two things together. It connects me to the Hill without having to really work too hard to express what I want to say. Also, being the parent of a disabled adult, I understand that not everybody can make a phone call, not everybody can go to their Representative's office to say what they have to say at any rate. So I started working on submitting letters to the Editors to newspapers all over the country. And I think at this point we've been and published in 49 of the 50 States. I think Rhode Island is the only hold out or it was the last I knew. And so I started working on that. Then in the lead up to the midterms, I had the privilege of working on our vote keyword and all of the data that goes along with that. So if you're not familiar with that, take a look at our website because we're going to be getting into that real quick. The Midterms coming up again. And then when COVID hit, we wanted to be a source of information to our 9.5 million users. And so I did research. We researched every topic we could possibly think of to give our users the best source of information on mandates and what was open and what was closed and where you could get tested and just everything you could possibly think of. And then I got a phone call from Scott MacTaggart asking me to participate in the Pod. And so that was just I'm so honored to be a part of this project and helping connect people to the Hill. And so one of the other things that I do is I write articles for our blog on the different topics that we talk about here on the show. That's also a great source for a great Avenue for me to vent some of my frustration with what we see happening every day. I started taking a look at anti protest bills back in April of this year, Florida. We have one here. We have an anti protest bill that just tramps all over our constitutional rights. We did an article and it's called a Right is the language of the unheard. And you can find that by going to Rs Botest and that will take you to the article. And when I looked at this back in April, there were 30 some odd pieces of legislation that had been enacted across the state, and then there were still many more pending at that time. So I went back and took a look at it again. One of the things that I saw as of now is that there have been 36 anti protest pieces of legislation that have been enacted in 21 States, and as of just a couple of days ago, there are 51 additional pieces of legislation that are pending out there across 20 States. And so if you're interested in the bill that's pending in your community in your state, take a look at the article. There's a link in there to the International Center for not for Profit Law, and they have a great map in there that shows you all of the bills have been inactive. The bills that have been that are still pending. It's a great resource to try to stay on top of it. And then through their website, you can get to the actual legislation if you happen to be interested in reading that kind of thing. And here I am.
Melanie: We are very glad you're here every week that we have a show. Susan is more likely than not to have an article that's leading up and giving you information preparing you for the topic that we're going to discuss. We talk a lot about struggling in public, and Susan helps us struggle with a little bit less every week. So we appreciate you. And we also have Christine Lou, our international woman of mystery. Hi, Christine.
Christine: Hello. So I'm looking forward to learning more about the history of petitions from the lens of coming from places and having lived in places and worked in places. I was born in Taiwan, but I spent much of my career in China, Taiwan. Many people may not know because it's a pretty young democracy now, but in its history and my family goes way back. We have a history of not even having a voice being colonized multiple times, being subjected to martial law. And so from that lens, my family pays really close attention to democracy because we come from a history of not having had that myself personally, spending a good 20 years of my career across border China business and having lived there for five years, that country is not known for being very receptive to people with differing voices and actually the very act of wanting to start a petition or becoming visible and vocal about something that goes against the government can really get you in some serious trouble, which is an understatement. So I'm very grateful to have been raised in this country. And as I got older, things like being able to protest, which actually is not very natural to my upbringing and my culture. I come from a family of immigrant parents who were just trying to get their bearings. The first generation always does, right? Just trying to figure out life in America do the best for your kids, make ends meet. You don't really get very political and you're not accustomed to even being heard if you are. So I feel a sense of responsibility now as a mother of a teenage son who will be voting age in the next election to be active and to be vocal. And so that is what I'm looking forward to learning more and participating in the conversation about today. Now how I came about this, I guess in regards to Resist Bot life, I'm an old friend of Jason from Resist Bot, and I would say I'm an early fan and early user because I have had and continued to have a history of talking out loud on Twitter about things that are on my mind. And as somebody who is really from the private sector, mostly social entrepreneur, impact investor, single working mom. A lot of my time hasn't been spent in public policy and hasn't really been spent engaged in organizing. And so what I loved when Resist Spot came about Jason's like, hey, try this out and like, are you kidding me? Are you telling me that I, as a constituent, can use Twitter to make my voice directly heard to my elected officials? Oh, God, it felt like magic. And so I've been a fan ever since, and I'm really glad that I got invited to be part of just this great. I want to call you guys family now because we spent every Sundays together for the past couple of months, and I really think this is a great platform and I'm really looking forward to next year as well. Thank you.
Melanie: I definitely can't say as family. I was joking the other day a couple of weeks ago, Athena and I were on video and she saw me eating Turkey necks, and so basically we're bonding for life.
Athena: They looked good, though!
Melanie: We are stuck together for life. Honey, that's a next level bonding. I definitely look like I'm a half Velociraptor when I'm doing that one of the things. It's interesting, though, Christine, how you brought up how it was different and from your upbringing, I came here as a user. That's how I became familiar with Resist Bot. As a user, I can't even remember what my first petition or letter where I was a user, but I just know it was Trump doing something ridiculous. I can only imagine what it started out there and just realizing, just like you said, it's accessible, it's reachable. It seems insurmountable when you're just a person. But when you see that there's something that just kind of helps you get your voice heard. And it makes it easy for you. It was almost a no brainer to become a user. And like Susan, Scott reached out to me. He and I have been friends for a few years. He was like, yeah, you want to use your voice for something? And I told him I'm not an activist. There are just a lot of things I'm not, but I am a voice, and I have like, Christine, I've always used my voice on Twitter. So it was another no brainer for me to say yes, because one of the things that I love doing more than anything, more than using my own voice. I like amplifying other people's voices because I'm a big mouth. And sometimes I use my big mouth to say, Shut up and listen to this person. And so I think that's an important part of the work and just calling back to what Isthina said. I'm not a coder. I can't help you with this, but this is the thing that I can help you with. And I think each of us found our place in the puzzle where we fit and move and do that. Well, I appreciate all of you being able to protest to be heard. That's something that we do take for granted. Going back to what Christine said. A lot of kids, of course, are black Americans. So my first familiarity is learning about civil rights move. So that was my first introduction to what protest was like. But seeing protest live, the first thing I saw that I remembered was Tiananmen Square. I had to be about twelve, and I saw all of these young people who are dangerous their lives. But there was a bigger cause when you look at something that great, sending a text is the least I can do. And that's how I saw it. Using my voice was just the least I can do. But getting into the historical standpoint of it not to be delayed any longer. I would like to have Professor Buzzkill join us. Dr. Joseph CooHill. Hello, Joe.
Joseph: Hello. I'd like to say Hi to everyone on the bot and say that I'm sorry I haven't been on for the last couple of weeks, but as you can see, I've been moving into my new house in Malibu, and it's wonderful. Here I am participating in Resistbot, yet I'm being an amazing American consumer all at the same time, just leaving behind the little people. We see you. Yeah, that's right. I'm keeping it real. Thank you so much for joining us. You want to talk a bit about what brought you here? Well, I came to the bot also because of Scott MacTaggart. We've been colleagues for a number of years in the podcast world, and also because when Scott talked about it and when I talked to the rest of you about it, I really was struck by what, for instance, Tina said earlier, which was that democracy is not a spectator sport, and it never has been. And the only time democracy ever functions really well is when the crowd participates as much as the players on the field. That is the politicians, so to speak. And what I think is so great about the body and what I think is so great about. I'm just going to use this phrase openly. And I'm sorry about you young people because I'm the grandfather in this scenario. My first protest that I remember when I was five was a Martin Luther King protest is that you're very keen and you're very observant about keeping technology one step ahead of the populace. So the old days of petitioning and letters to the editor and everything have to be continually updated. And that's why I think the bot is so good and so necessary at every stage in petitioning history. That's exactly what happened. People changed their tactics, improved their tactics when they realized that a technology had changed in the way of getting attention and getting the proper attention, changes. When you look back at where petitioning and protest was comparing what worked and what didn't work historically, what do you find? Well, petitions and petitioning and protesting in general work very well when they are combined with other things. So, for instance, let me just jump ahead to 19th century Britain, early Victorian years, early reign of the Queen of Victoria. There was something called the Charter, which was a massive petition built up over a number of years. I mean, massive as it had to be brought in. But by today's standards would have to be brought in by tractor trailer trucks. There were so many signatures, and it was so long. That was a point where people decided that they had to move forward on a national scale with petitions. So the thing that changes petitions and makes them work is when you can combine either approaching the right person, often a community leader, Church leader, a local politician who could then help champion the petition at the national level. Or you make such a big splash as the Chartists did in the 1830s and 40s and make it a spectacle. But in all cases, they have to be combined with other things approaching just petitioning has never really worked. We can go back to ancient Egypt like you talk about in slaves, petitioning for better working conditions. Ancient Chinese laborers protested and actually had petitions written for them to various emperors, the same in Japan. There were some sorts of protesting of petitioning movements in India, and in ancient times they usually went through religious leaders to get to the top. Martin Luther 95 visas might be considered the major petition of early modern Europe and which broke off, which eventually started the Protestant Reformation. So there are tremendous points in history where we can see really great successes. But one of the problems that we run into is for every one of those huge successes or huge splashes, there are probably 100 or 200 petitions that fail. And the reason they seem to fail is because they are just petitions. And that's why I think again, the bot is so powerful, it can help the protests flow down many different avenues. And again, keep ahead of the technology. Now, I could talk to everyone about till the cows come home about the number of petitions in American history. In particular, a couple of important points need to be made right at the top. Petitioning, perhaps started the American Revolution. There were petitions against the British Parliament back in the 1760s and 1770s, and then petitions started to the King directly. But more importantly, in addition to petitioning, the petitioners would form these, for instance, noncooperation associations which boycotted British goods. Or they form other organizations to make sure that their voices were heard. Or it appealed to Parliament and colonial governors that people were paying attention. People wanted change. This wasn't just a bunch of noise. It was noise and action, and that's the key. We can go straight from that to temperance movements, people who wanted to cut down on the abuse of alcohol throughout American history using petitions using all kinds of other types of activity, marches, et cetera. Women's suffrage, right. Which is an issue for well over 100 years before it passes. And the civil rights movement. These are just sort of a highlight, but they are the point at which petitioning really has worked very well when combined with these other things. It is astounding how long real change takes to happen, and it's astounding how much effort and how much focus and how much energy has to be put into an issue or for change to happen. And that's why petitioning has to be combined with other things.
Melanie: Yeah. It's not just a matter of doing one or two things and then dusting your hands and saying job done. I think one of the things I'm an active Internet user, and we'll see these sort of I call them like flash boycotts, where people want to black out a company or shopping or whatever for a day or two days or even a week. But it's just that there aren't those other elements like you mentioned that are required to make change substantive and permanent and lead to progress. We have someone here. We have another special guest who I did not introduce, and I feel kind of negligent doing that. But one of the people who are the reason behind us being here today is other than Scott Mactaggert, other than Scott, we have Resistbot co-founder Jason Putorti. Jason.
Jason: Hey, guys. Good to be here.
Melanie: Good to have you. Jason is the one who is the most camera-ready and is never on camera. So we're glad to just showcase your situation today.
Jason: Thanks, Mel.
Melanie: Always. Jason is just like he's on the bot, just giving blue steel the whole time.
Jason: So everyone knows. Usually I'm behind the scenes pushing buttons and making all the titles come up and stuff day to day.
Melanie: It's much more involved than that, though. He's being modest because you're the reason we're here. Can you talk a bit about what helped you in the group co-found Resistbot as we know it now as we use it now?
Jason Yeah. I think it wasn't that long ago, folks, remember? And it would happen after the 2016 election. There's a lot of activism like Dr. Kuhl said, folks where folks are taking the streets, a lot of different groups. There were women's marches, people sitting in an airport. People were calling Congress. There's a groundswell of activism by folks who are very worried that the 2016 election wasn't just another election, that there were real threats, that rights were going to start getting peeled away one of the time by the elected President of the United States. Resistance was just a tool that a bunch of us came together to create in our spare time to solve the problem of phone lines in Congress being overwhelmed. Most people probably don't realize that Congress is woefully understaffed. You could think of both Chambers are understaffed when it comes to the actual machinations of Congress. The folks who are actually there to process constituent communications staffers are underpaid, and there's not really very many of them, and there's not very many phone lines. So there was all this ground swell that was basically just plugging up the pipes, if you will. So in response to all the busy signals and the full voicemail boxes in everybody's offices, the bot was created as a simple way to take text messages and turn them into faxes that would print out in the office. We launched on Product Hunt and with one article, and it really just took off. It was an example of sort of the products meeting the market at the right time and kind of meeting a need. It's been kind of rolling ever since, and we've continued to add lots of functionality over time. But that was really it. There's clearly a problem there because people were out there complaining and you can think of part of what Congress does. You can think of it sort of as customer service Department. And those folks were just being totally overwhelmed. So we kind of popped in to fix that problem.
Melanie: So now that we are in a new administration and there are people who are a little more comfortable with where we are, whether that comfort is rightful or not. Have you noticed a decline in actual in the urgency? I won't say a decline necessarily in users, but in the urgency of petitions like we're looking at right now. Everybody is kind of upset. I won't say everybody. But a lot of people on the left are upset about the announcement that Joe Manchin wouldn't be supporting Build Back Better, do you find there's less urgency in this administration than in the administration before? And how much does that lead to? Lead to what Joe said about all of the multiple pieces that are important to change. I guess we have the petitions. Those are available. But is there something missing that makes this a lesson sense of urgency than it did before?
Jason:Yeah, certainly from between 2017 and 2021, especially between 20, 17, 20, 19, when the GOP controlled all three branches. Folks were taking to the streets, as I said multiple times over that period, worry that rights are about to be rolled back ever since Joe Biden took office. I think a lot of people feel like the work is done. Maybe they're not in danger anymore, but certainly, as we see, Joe Biden was not the magic bullet. It's very difficult to get legislation passed. As everyone knows, the Senate is basically 50 50, and the filibuster makes it effectively 60 40 to get any real legislation passed. That doesn't have to do with tweaking the budget. Republicans have generally embarked on a project of making it very hard for folks to vote. There's gerrymandering happening all over the place. A lot of experts think that the failure of Trump to sort of power last time he sort of learned all the lessons and evolved the plan and were in big danger in 2024. Unfortunately, there's some really big dangers here with big threats to our democracy, big threats to a lot of people's rights. We just had the decision in the Supreme Court to effectively allow the Texas law on reproductive freedom to just kind of go unchecked. So we have big problems. What's unfortunate is that the volume has definitely fallen off. I think it's just a lot of people are kind of burned out over the past four years, not paying attention. We certainly haven't seen the moments and the activity around those moments since 2021 that we saw many times over the past four years. We had a huge number of people come together when Ruth Beer Ginsburg passed away and it was for exactly what just happened in Texas. But there hasn't been the same groundswell. I'm not sure why it's unfortunate change is going to take a lot of people coming together and paying attention. Yes, incumbent on everyone listening and everyone who pays attention to politics, to continue to talk to your friends and tell them to engage. Because, as I've said before, if we're not using our right to free speech and expression, our right to petition that's protected by the Constitution. Other folks come in and fill that gap, whether it's lobbyists, professional lobbyists on K Street who have pretty much free reign to go in the halls of Congress and talk to whoever they want whenever they want or it's people who don't agree with you if those folks are being hurt instead of you, that's just going to get paid attention to. We definitely had plenty of moments in the bot history where Republican legislation was. Our efforts were defeated by a lot of people coming together very close to one moment in time and just flooding everything. Post office was one of those moments. We had moments around net neutrality. We had moments around health care. This stuff works, but it doesn't necessarily work on a major national issue. With 50,000 people. It takes more like a million or more. I'm not quite sure what it's going to take for folks to wake up. I hope it doesn't take something much worse than what we saw over the past four years to get people to engage. But that's why we're working on the Bot. We're all here to sort of figure that out and just do what we can to build the plumbing and help organizers organize.
Melanie: Yeah, I get the sense that a lot of people, especially when you look at the conversation on the Internet. I think a lot of people who loaded Democrats feel as though they voted Democrats so that they didn't have to work anymore. So they were fine with doing the work when there were Republicans in office. But it does not matter who's in office. Democracy is for the people. And so unless you are voting to no longer be the people, there's always going to be a need for work. There's always going to be a need for input. I think we all agree that we are in for a very busy 2022. Athena, you are our lead boots-on-the-ground person. What do you have your eye on as far as whether it's short term, immediate or long term of what actions will look like in 2022, with it being a midterm year?
Athena: My goodness, how much time do we have? Yes, I don't even know where to start. I think from a very pragmatic approach, and it kills me to say this, but we've got to go back to getting out the vote. We have voter suppression laws in place in so many parts of this country that we tied to be so overwhelming to be able to overturn some of that. So I would say that's going to need to be something in the books to keep on the horizon for everybody in terms of what activism and organizing is looking like. I think what is often missed is this idea that there are some good people doing a lot of really great work out there. So as the population tends are starting to look at things in more and more progressive ways. I think it's important to call out the wisdom of the elders, so to speak. I think Joe had some great ideas in terms of the historical context. We lost Bell Hooks last week and we're losing these elders, and if so much research and information has been written already from different points of view, I would encourage every single one of us to make sure that books that we're reading, the essays that we're reading, the theory that we're reading are coming from vulnerable populations who can actually speak about what that's like, because it's only through that lens we will be able to move from. I read this distinction recently this week, but this concept of empathy, empathy is not going to get us anywhere. Empathy is a way to remove yourself from an accountability to what's happening. While compassion is actually what will get you to become directly involved into the correction of systems, to the adjustment of norms that will take to lift everybody up to greater liberation and freedom. So I would encourage everybody listening to think very hardly as individuals. Am I being empathetic about this because I think it's the right thing to do, or am I actually being compassionate about it and learning on ways to improve myself, learning on ways to make sure the voices that need amplifying and the voices that need to be studied and heard are getting the spotlight and recognition that they deserve. Yeah, I think workers rights are increasingly going to be a thing in the coming year. Like Kellogg at the moment, I come from this work kind of both on a personal level, like Christine was saying in terms of immigrant backgrounds and understanding, the ramifications of colonialism and imperialism in your own upbringing and biases. But from a professional level, we understand in a capitalist society that we're going to need to find ways to be in solidarity with our workers now as ever, because capitalism and these policies are running amok are literally killing workers and candle factories in Kentucky, we need to as a general populace, understand what our own responsibility. It's easy to say this is somebody's specific fault. This is Kellogg's issue. This is Amazon's issue. This is whatever. But no, we're all complicit in some capacity. So again, it will take work for all of us to sort of see what that would look like. Sort of the most immediate thing is getting to the polls and making sure that we're continuing to support platforms and invoices and elected officials who are representative of what we're all talking about today.
Melanie: I agree. I think one of the big things that we do need to look at is not just look at the ways we are right. I think that's an easy thing to stand on, but we do have to look at the ways where we're complicit and further these systems and challenge ourselves and question ourselves. So I definitely appreciate that. I wanted to check in with Susan about what you have planned. I know you're prepared to do a lot of blog writing for us this coming year. There will be ample opportunity to write about the Midterms. Is there anything specific that you had that you're itching to talk about right about as we're looking staring down the barrel of the midterms right now?
Susan: One of the more important keywords that we have here at Resist Bot is the vote keyword package, and it has a ton of other words underneath it for different functions. And I live in what used to be a very blue county that went red, and it has been blue as far back as I can remember. But one of the things that we tried to do here locally through the Martin County Democratic Organization is reaching out to those other red counties in our state and just really supporting them and helping to get different people out to vote and getting people out, getting them to vote, getting them to participate in the process we all are suffering. I know I suffer terribly from compassion, fatigue and worrying about the things that don't affect me, but affect my neighbors or the person down the street. Because just because it doesn't affect me doesn't mean that my voice can't be lent to it, to amplify someone else. As Mel said, sometimes I have a big mouth and sometimes that is just to say, hey, you be quiet and listen to this person. It's really easy to believe that the problems are solved because Biden is in the White House. The Trump administration felt like a baseball bat that hit us in the head, like every single day. Biden is there, and maybe it doesn't hurt quite so bad when the baseball bat hits us, but it still hits us. The work didn't end when Biden moved into the White House, not by a long stretch, 50 years on. We're still fighting for women's reproductive rights and to have autonomy over our own bodies. 50 years later, I'm looking towards all those things, trying to figure out ways that we can reach out and support our other red counties. If we all try to do some level of that work, maybe Florida would look a little different. Perhaps we've got a long road ahead of us, but the work has to be done. And if we have a voice, I think we have a responsibility. I have a T shirt that says to whom privilege is given. A social responsibility is required. I'm privileged enough to have a voice. So I also have a responsibility to my community and to other people around the country to do what I can to support them.
Melanie: Yeah, that's very important when we have to lend what we have. And I think that's something that's a duty that's incumbent upon all of us because most of us have these spots where we have privilege somewhere. So I appreciate that. Susan. Christine, what are you looking forward to? Where are your energies for the work going to be going for 2022 and what protester issues do you have your eye on?
Christine: I continue to pay close attention to AAPI voter turnout, especially in the recent years. Or the last year with anti-asian sentiment, there was a growing realization in our communities that we needed to organize, get more involved in the political process. And so midterms for us, I'm really going to look forward to what that looks like, even though we are a small group in terms of population in America, in key swing districts and cities, we are the margin of victory. And so I just wanted to raise that issue and share. And actually, a couple of days ago, there was a tweet. If you follow AAPI Victory Fund, they announced that they are in collaboration with Latino Victory, US and Collective Pac. They signed a memorandum of understanding. The three orcs from three different communities are going to work together on key strategic campaigns, raising money, supporting candidates from each other's demographic groups. I love that because that is that inclusive cross intersectionality that I've been wanting to see. And I think that will also be a great catalyst and inspiration for those in our community in the Asian American community who haven't been active to see that change as possible and across different communities. And I'm just really looking forward to what that ends up bringing us in the midterms.
Melanie: Thank you so much. Thank you. We have, Joe, I know that you always talk about how there's this kind of this treasure trove of information as far as historians are concerned. Are there things that you are looking at that history tells you that we're going to see again and things that you want to make sure that we're aware of prepared for.
Joseph: Most importantly, perhaps, is the fight against apathy, which Jason mentioned in our planning for the show. Not only is democracy not a spectator sport, but a particularly difficult times, particularly tense times. Democracy needs to be everybody's part time job. We need to devote a certain amount of time to not only petitioning and things like that, but getting out the vote, canvassing people in districts and trying to get changes to happen. My particular focus this year in 2022, because I'm so terrified of what's going to happen. If we don't have a blue wave in the midterms, which we probably won't is I strongly believe that at least for a short time, we have to take things back to the state level and local level. People in Texas really need to be up in arms, not literally, but up in arms about the voting rights, discrimination that's been going on. We have so many people, people of a progressive turn of mind, people of a compassionate turn of mine are actually the majority of people in this country. But I don't feel like the majority of people who go out and vote. So if everyone in Texas could understand the immense difficulties it took to pass the 1965 Voting Rights Act and that's one of the most important pieces of legislation in our history would realize that it's been thrown away by Texas, it's going to be thrown away by Florida. And we need to get that back. We focus on Biden and Covet has become this big elephant in the room that takes our attention away. But Texans need to get out there and fight for their very right to be able to walk to the ballot place. That should be a petition right there. It should be in the Constitution or in state laws that there's a ballot place within walking distance of every American. That would change an awful lot. And the only way that can change because States run elections is for us to focus on state action. And I think where I am in Malibu, Pennsylvania, we are one of these sort of border States, and we're possibly in danger of going the way some of the Southern and Western States are going. So I need to do something that I don't normally do, which is pressure Harrisburg as much as I pressure DC.
Melanie: I agree. It's important. I do agree with you that a lot of this is taking it back to the States. There's so many things that we look at from a national view, but a lot of the issues that we see now are state issues. That's why people talk about the importance of engaging your local representative. It doesn't matter as much who's in the White House, the way this government is set up, it doesn't matter as much who's in the White House when you cannot get the person who is representing your district, your state to work with them. Jason, you want to give us the final word?
Jason: Sure. Thanks. Now. Yeah. We have a lot of things going on at the bot. Not everyone has been paying, obviously as close attention as we all have being on the inside of all the things we've been building. But this is going to be a big year in terms of focusing on organizers. The very first era of the bot, actually, since you all joined time ago in 2017, the first era of the bot really focused on this individual, one to one relationship between you and your elected officials. But over the past four years, we've continued to build up tools like the petition tool, which actually didn't exist for the first two years. And we're continuing to build out those features so organizers can actually build movements. What folks probably haven't noticed is we have a few users on the platform that have actually thousands of followers. That is actually thing you can now do. You can claim a username on the bot, and then every time you create a petition, it texts all of your followers. And there's a pretty cool feedback loop that happens because when you create a petition and push that out and people sign it, the folks that signed your petition are prompted, hey, do you want to follow so and so and about 65% of the people say yes, which is pretty remarkable. And then the next petition you make gets texted to those people. So this snowball effect happens. We have an organizer very prolific named Jess, who hopefully we can get her on to a future pod. She has well over 1000 followers and she's been writing petitions and bringing people together on a variety of issues over the past few weeks, and it's really working for her the next twelve months is going to be continuing to build those tools out. Vote drives are another feature that go generally underutilized versus petitions. Generally, folks are trying to advocate about a particular issue, but that same mechanic will be in place for people who want to turn out votes, and that's at every level. So if it's a state race, state ledge race, a mayor's race, whatever it is, you can create a vote drive, which works exactly the same as the petition folks text in and then all the folks who text in essentially pledge to your candidate or issue. It's basically a pledge from the signer to you, the creator that you'll show up and vote, and then the bot itself takes care of all the reminders leading up to the election. It makes sure that the pledge registered to vote. They get a little graphic and they could share in social media. So 2022 is going to be very busy, very exciting as we continue to build out these features for organizers, folks listening, just head on over to resist bot. If you click on the petitions page, you'll see an organizer guide sitting right on top of that, which really walks you through all that's possible. I don't think most people know and what is possible, so check it out and there's going to be a lot more good stuff coming here this year.
Melanie: Thanks so much, Jason. I can agree. As somebody who is working with him behind the scenes, we're really excited about what comes next. There are so many things that we're developing because of what's coming in the next year. The upcoming elections are important. And though it's not solely about getting out the vote, it does matter. We cannot act like it does not matter. We cannot act like it does not matter who represents us, the willingness to serve because these people are for lack of a better term. They are employees. So we do have to make sure that we have employees who are concerned with our wellbeing in keeping this country going. I appreciate all of you, all of the panelists. Thank you so much for joining us today as well. Jason, thank you, Athena. Susan, Christine Joe, these past twelve episodes have been a pleasure, and I'm so glad that we've been able to cover just this breadth of topics that don't always get discussed in some of the regular Sunday shows, but that actually impact us, not just as voters, not just as constituents, but affect us as people, as compassionate people who have a concern for their neighbors. We talk so much. There are so many people who focus on religion and being an evangelical. And one of the key principles is to be kind to your neighbor. And there's a lot of that lacking. And I appreciate that. The Bot, this show we are focusing on what actual kindness to our neighbors looks like as an action, not just as an abstract ideology. So I want to thank everyone on this panel and I want to thank everybody who is listening who's been with us for these past twelve episodes. We will see you next year. We are taking a well deserved break. We tired, we are tired and everybody needs a break, including you. So we hope that you get to safely cautiously enjoy your families. Omicron is real. Don't play with it. Wear your mask. Small groups if you don't have to travel, don't. I understand that we're all fatigued. But as one of my favorite videos says, the pandemic isn't over just because you're over it. So be careful out there. We want to see all of you back with us next year because we are going to be talking about January 6, which I can only imagine what will happen between now and then the information that we'll be getting between now and then that will go into that episode. So thank you all. If you want to learn more about ResistBot, if you want to volunteer, if you want to donate, go to Resist Bot. You can also go to ResistBot Live and subscribe to us. Subscribe to our podcast. We go up every Monday is Tuesday ish but the early part of the week you'll be able to hear whatever the Sunday show was there's, of course, an archive. And during our break we'll be sharing highlights from our first twelve episodes. We look forward to seeing you next year. Lucky 13. Stay safe until then, take care.
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