November 4, 2021
This week the push is on to make calls in support of the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The Reform Jewish Community is mobilizing to deliver the message – over and over again – that voting rights are the lynchpin of our democracy. And these two pieces of legislation are our best strategies to combat the almost 400 bills with restrictive voting provisions that have been introduced in 48 states. Twenty-two of these bills have made it into law. Even in our home state of Illinois, a number of bills have been introduced limiting voter access. (Source: Brennan Center).
Protecting the right to vote is so important that a number of groups – including the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism – are now calling for reform of the filibuster so that voting rights legislation can be passed.
Join with other Reform Jews both at Beth Emet and across our country who are taking part in a national effort to support passage of voting rights legislation. The Religious Action Center (RAC) of Reform Judaism is calling on individuals, communities, and congregations to commit to joining our call-in week November 8th-11th to call on the Senate and President Biden to reform the outdated filibuster and swiftly pass the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Now is the time to join in a moral minyan speaking up for justice and fairness for all.
1) What is it like to call?
I called today. At Senator Durbin’s office the person who answered the phone listened as I said;” I am calling to urge Senator Durbin to do all he can to secure passage of the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. This includes modifying the filibuster. Voting rights are too important to be stopped by an arcane Senate rule.” The person said she would record my call and asked for my zip code.At Senator Duckworth’s office there was only the option of leaving a recorded message.At the White House it took three tries to get through (good sign) when my call was finally answered I opted for leaving a recorded message since the wait time to speak to a “volunteer operator” was in excess of eight minutes.Total Time to Make All Three Calls (excluding retries to White House) 5 minutes, 42 seconds.
2) Why bother calling Senators Durbin and Duckworth? We know they support this legislation.
You are completely right about Durbin and Duckworth being in support of these bills. Here is what is also right — when Senator Schumer brought the Freedom to Vote bill up, Mitch McConnel et. al. used the filibuster to block even talking about the bill. Now it is crunch time. Will the Democrats vote to modify the filibuster in some way so that these bills can pass — either a carve out for voting rights legislation or a reverting back to the talking filibuster? Durbin is key because as the Senate whip and head of the Judiciary Committee he holds great power. Will he use it to get colleagues reticent about modifying the filibuster to act in this case when we see much voter suppression happening.? It is more likely that he will if he is bombarded with constituent calls asking/demanding that he do so. Also, he should be hearing from other Senators that they too are getting tons of calls asking for action on voting rights. (this is a national campaign). Now when Durbin speaks with reticent Senators (think one from West Virginia and one from Arizona) he can say, we are hearing from thousands of voters that this is important, this is critical to democracy, this is what we must do. Calls are also being made to President Biden with the same message. President Biden has stated that he will consider modifications to the filibuster.
3) Why should I make calls through the RAC? Can’t I just call on my own?
Yes, you can make these calls as an individual. Here are the numbers:
But when we call from the RAC, we build the power of the Reform Movement, and we underscore that the values that drive us to make these calls are our Jewish values.
We are in the middle of our week of action to make the freedom to vote real for all Americans. Join us in calling to tell the Senate and President Biden to reform the outdated filibuster and swiftly pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.
We are most effective when our communities and congregations show up together. Just as we heed the call of the shofar, we will continue heeding the call of our Reform Jewish values to work toward racial justice. Join with other Jews across our nation and make calls today!
Our tradition teaches us, individual acts have tremendous meaning as we work to fulfill our mandate of tikkun olam, repairing the world. If you have already made your calls, a great big thank you to each and every one of you. Let us work together to build a world of wholeness, justice, and compassion.