National Day of Action: #TrumpTaxScam Sit-Ins
National Day of Action on Monday, November 27
For weeks, Indivisible groups have been showing up at congressional offices around the country to say no to the #TrumpTaxScam. On Monday, November 27, our whole national network will be showing up together to say that the #TrumpTaxScam would hurt our friends, our families and our country—and we’re not letting that happen without a fight.
We are encouraging Indivisible groups to plan sit-ins at as many of their Senators’ regional offices as they can around the state. Statewide actions will be the gold standard. We’ll be sharing stories, being as visible as possible and leaving behind photos and stories of people impacted by #TrumpTaxScam for them to remember when they vote. Beyond that, we’re encouraging groups to be visible outside the offices however they can. Bring whatever clothing, props and signage you believe work best for your group.
#TrumpTaxScam State of Play
Republicans have made it crystal clear: the Trump Tax Scam fight and the TrumpCare fight are one and the same. That’s because yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee added a repeal of the individual mandate—a key pillar of the Affordable Care Act—to their version of the tax scam bill. In other words, their plan is to leave 13 million Americans uninsured, with premiums an extra 10% higher, in order to give bigger tax cuts to the top 1%. If people were on the sidelines in the tax fight before, now’s the time to get engaged.
Here's what else is in the bill:
- Permanent tax cuts for the rich, not for the middle-class. Republicans are "sunsetting" (putting an expiration date on) nearly every single feature they say benefits the middle class: the Child Tax Credit, reductions in income tax rates, the doubled standard deduction — these would all end in 2026. But the corporate tax cuts? Those are permanent.
- Bigger corporate tax cuts. As if cutting the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20% wasn’t bad enough—now Republicans want to do it right away (not delayed as originally planned) and they want to make the cuts even bigger through a change in the taxation of overseas profits.
- The same tax cuts for the rich we’ve seen before: Repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax, limiting the rate on pass through income, and exempting even more wealthy heirs from the estate tax are all features that only benefit the wealthiest families. They designed their bill this way on purpose, so it’s no surprise the result is the biggest benefits flow to the wealthiest people.
Your Senator, whomever that might be. But if your Senator is McCain (AZ), Flake (AZ), Murkowski (AK), Collins (ME), Portman (OH), Capito (WV), or Corker (TN), they’re the most important of the bunch. We've drafted customized call scripts for these 7 Senators.
Our newest resources:
An explanation of the changes related to the individual mandate (#TrumpCare is back!), and graphics that will have state-specific numbers on premium increases/coverage losses and the number of families that will see their taxes go up (coming soon).
Not only can we win, this fight just got more winnable. Adding the individual mandate to their tax bill puts us at an entirely different arena, and already some Senators are expressing concerns about that being added. Nonetheless, Republicans will try to do this as quickly as possible so the key right now is slowing them down, just like it was with #TrumpCare. If we can slow them down, we can shed more light on this bill. And if we shed light on this bill, we can kill it.
Demand that your Senator vote against the “Motion to Proceed” on the tax bill. This is a key first step in the Senate process and Mitch McConnell needs at least 50 votes to get it. If the motion to proceed succeeds, the fight isn’t over. We can still kill the bill if we keep McConnell from getting the necessary 50 votes to pass the actual bill—this is what happened on healthcare when Sen. McCain voted against TrumpCare.
Bonus Ask for your Democratic Senator(s): If you have a Democratic Senator(s) who has stood strong in opposition to TrumpCare and the TaxScam, they can help by delaying the process as much as possible. Demand that they shutdown the Senate by withholding consent on every bill or nominee that McConnell puts forward.
Sit-ins are a peaceful direct action tactic wherein activists draw attention to an issue by sitting down and occupying a physical space. Often the chosen space is one where demonstrators might not typically be welcome, or where they can disrupt business-as-usual for powerful institutions or passersby. Sit ins can be very effective in asserting a group’s right to be in a space, or in drawing attention to an issue. This tactic has a long history in American politics—most notably in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and recently many Indivisible groups used them to great effect during the last round of healthcare fights in 2017.
We will be sitting in at Senator’s offices around the country to demand that they speak to their constituents about the disastrous GOP #TrumpTaxScam bill. For too long, these members have ignored the grave concerns of the very constituents they are obligated to serve.
Every Senator has at least one district office, and many Senators have several spread through their district or state. These are public offices, open for anybody to visit — you don’t need an appointment.
Many of you already have extensive experience visiting your Senators district office. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to planning an effective action. Think about how the office is laid out and how staff have responded to your groups' visits before when planning your action. A sit-in expresses that your group is willing to sit there until your Senator or his or her staff address your concerns—that you are demanding to be heard. That is what makes these actions powerful.
BEFORE THE ACTION:
Find out where your Senators’ local offices are. This is easy—go to www.contactingcongress.org and type in your zip code. This will bring up your Senators (and Representatives for that zip code), along with the district offices and addresses.
Reach out to other Indivisible groups across the state. To significantly ramp up impact, coordinate with indivisible groups in other parts of the state to orchestrate your sit-ins at multiple offices on the same day. If you can cover every regional office in the state, that’s the gold standard. This NEVER happens, and it will be a shock to the offices, and send a clear message that opposition to #TrumpTaxScam is statewide. Take a look at the website and facebook to find other groups, and reach out to email@example.com to get help finding other groups in the state to coordinate with if you’re having trouble. This is a good thing to be doing anyway!
Register your event at this link, so Indivisible can help recruit for your event.
Articulate your demands, and write these down. Clarity is crucial in any kind of potentially disruptive civil disobedience. Let there be no doubts about why we are going what we’re doing. By now, you all will have voiced your concerns in the local paper, and you will have made many calls to their offices. If they haven’t adequately responded, it is time for escalation. Given that the #TrumpTaxScam vote is coming up in the Senate so soon—and recognizing the effect it will have on our lives—we can’t afford to let them vote without having heard our concerns in-person.
Determine your placement strategy: Some offices have rules about not letting groups bigger than two in to the office. If someone tells you they don’t allow groups in, will you walk in anyway? What if they lock the door to keep you out? Consider an alternate space if the office is inaccessible for whatever reason. This could mean the hallway, it could mean the sidewalk outside, the parking lot, etc. Be aware that blocking entry or exit could mean that law enforcement could be called.
Determine your exit strategy. How long will you stay at the office? Will you sit-in until your demands are met? Will you stay for predetermined number of hours? Come to a consensus on this, and the determine how you will exit the office once the time comes. A poorly planned exit can make your action appear to have ended in failure.
One suggestion: Everyone exits the building together after X hours of sitting in. Your spokesperson or action coordinator addresses the participants, passersby, and media outside the office after the predetermined period has ended. The spokesperson congratulates demonstrators on a successful action and says whether or not demands were met.
What will you do if your Senator's staff asks you to leave? You can say something like: “I understand why you're asking us to leave, but this is our Senator's office and (s)he works for us. We will be happy to leave as soon as our concerns have been addressed." However, the staff may insist that you leave or threaten to have you arrested. Decide as a group in advance how you want to respond and under what circumstances you would exit the office.
Write an agenda for the action.
2. Spokesperson asks staffer for meeting with Senator if they’re available, or with district director.
3. Everyone sits down
4. Remarks (optional)
5. Chanting (optional)
7. Post sit-in remarks
Designate key roles.
Action Coordinator - The Action Coordinator should manage the logistics of the action, ensure that key participants have arrived, and signal when it is time to sit. This person should also give the signal when it is time to exit or determine, in case of emergency, whether the action needs to end early.
Spokesperson - The Spokesperson(s) should communicate with the staff and/or the Senator. This person should clearly state demands: that your group wishes to speak with the Senator, that you are there as concerned constituents, worried about the #TrumpTaxScam, and to demand that they vote “No.” Spokespeople should also be responsible for speaking to the press.
Speakers - These individuals should share their story of how the #TrumpTaxScam will affect their lives or the lives of people close to them.
Police liaison - This is the individual responsible for speaking with law enforcement. This person should not divulge information about who planned the event, who the Action Coordinator is, or dictate what participants do. The Police Liaison is a calm intermediary communicating between the demonstrators and police.
Support team - This role is great for people who cannot sit down for long periods of time. The support team will bring snacks, water, pillows, and meals to the demonstrators to ensure that discomfort does not compromise the sit-in.
Who will sit? - This is the most straightforward and most important role. Several people in your group who are comfortable sitting down for long periods of time should commit to be the demonstrators. These people should be able to maintain their calm in case of confrontation.
Social Media Lead - These are the individuals who should take photographs and livestream or live-Tweet the event. They should help broadcast your efforts to the world. Be sure to tag @IndivisibleTeam in your Tweets!
Rehearse the event. Practice a few different scenarios. Have someone play the Senator’s staffer, disgruntled passersby, police, etc. Take stock of how you and your group are feeling as you rehearse. Is it uncomfortable to sit on the floor? Was it clear to your group how to respond if staff asked you to leave? If the police arrived? Practicing the event will allow you to make contingency plans and think critically about the experience and safety of the demonstrators.
AT THE ACTION
Allow time for arrivals. Be discreet. The Action Coordinator should make sure that the event does not begin until all key roles have arrived. They should take attendance outside or in the parking lot.
Everyone goes inside or nobody goes inside. Make sure everyone in your group and in the office is clear that ALL group members go inside the office or no one goes inside. If the staffer refuses to allow part of your group in the office, demand to have your Senator come outside to meet you instead.
Go inside. The Spokespeople make your demands clear, and politely, but firmly, ask to meet with the Senator in-person. Staff will ask you to leave or at best “offer to take down your concerns.” Don’t settle for that. You want to speak with the Senator directly. If they are not in, ask when they will next be in, or if they can be put on speaker. If the staffer doesn’t know, tell them you will wait until they find out. Sit politely in the lobby. Note: On any given weekday, the Senator may or may not actually come to that district office.In district, the best person to meet with is the district director, or the head of the local district office you’re visiting. The district director or the office director will be the most senior staffer at the office and is the best person for you to speak with. In some cases, they may be more open to progressive ideas than the Senator, and having a good meeting with/building a relationship with a supportive staff member can be a good way to move your issue up the chain of command. Follow these steps for a good staff meeting:
Have a specific “ask” (e.g., the asks listed in the above section)
Bring a brief write-up of your issue, with your demands clearly stated.
Share a personal story of how you or someone in your group will be personally impacted by #TrumpTaxScam
Be polite—yelling at the underpaid, overworked staffer won’t help your cause!
Be persistent. Even if you have a good introductory chat with the staff, you should not capitulate in your demands. You want to hear directly from your Senator!
No answers? Sit down. If your Senator will not meet with you, won’t get on the phone with your group while you’re there, and there is no sign that your wishes will be honored, the Action Coordinator gives the signal. Everyone sits down.
Throughout the sit-in, speakers will take turns sharing their stories and giving remarks. Call out your Senator by name, during each set of remarks. These speakers will be most moving to the staff, to the press, to viewers on social media, and will be energizing for the demonstrators who are sitting in. Consider chanting as well!
Difficulties during the event? It is almost inevitable that some discomfort will be involved. It is important the Support Team do their best to mitigate this by bringing snacks, water, supplies, warm meals, pillows, and anything they can to make it easy for demonstrators to continue. This team is also a big part of morale during the event. They should be encouraging and should cheer on the demonstrators while being responsible for comfort.Your group might be physically uncomfortable. You might be confronted by staff. The police may be called. (A note on police encounters is a good resource.) NOTE: If law enforcement asks you to leave, you should comply.
What happens next will vary from sit-in to sit-in! Some of you will get to talk to your Senator. If so, congratulations! Your sit-in was a success. Follow the same guidelines that listed above for talking to the staff. If not, don’t worry! Your sit-in will still be successful, as long as you stick to the agreements you made during the planning process. If a staffer asks you to leave, you can say something like: “I understand why you're asking us to leave, but this is our Senator's office and (s)he works for us. We will be happy to leave as soon as our concerns have been addressed." Stick with your plan: leave under the circumstances you agreed to beforehand. If something unexpected happens—if the staff threatens you, for example—your Action Coordinator should make a decision whether to exit and everyone should do so as a group. Even in these cases, gathering outside the office and publicizing what happened will still accomplish the most important part of this campaign—applying intense public pressure.
Follow your exit strategy. We outlined above that it’s important for to stick your exit. Remember this, despite the stress of the event itself. Your optics here will determine how your action is viewed by the media and your followers on social media. Come out triumphant in your success or energized by your righteous anger. Make sure that you don’t leave behind any trash. The only thing you should leave behind are your written demands and an impression upon the staff in the office.
AFTER THE ACTION
Send photos and press clips of your event to firstname.lastname@example.org! Plan a debrief meeting with your team. Use this time to discuss how it went and whether you would do anything different. Be sure to celebrate your work and take a well-earned break.