As we gather together — in celebration or in protest — on this Independence Day, we cannot deny the truth: 2022 has been a year of highs and lows. And while we rail against the lows, we can also take heart from the highs.
We grieved as a nation over the massacre at Uvalde, Texas, and we raged when the Supreme Court gave its nod of approval to concealed carry less than a month later. (“Why,” wrote an aggressively callous Justice Alito in his concurrence to the decision, “does the dissent think it is relevant to recount the mass shootings that have occurred in recent years?”)
And yet… two days after that SCOTUS decision, President Joe Biden signed into law a bipartisan gun safety bill — not everything we desire, by a far stretch, but the most significant federal gun legislation to pass in over 30 years, despite the current gridlock in our House and Senate.
Ron DeSantis’s outrageous “Don’t Say Gay” policy in Florida has found support from homophobes here in New Jersey, as coordinated (and misguided) attacks on our school boards and state curriculum guidelines proliferate.
And yet, Pride Month was celebrated across our district with unprecedented community enthusiasm! Most exciting of all was the Montclair PRIDE Festival (launched by Montclair Councilman and NJ 11th for Change ally Peter Yacobellis), which drew over 14,500 attendees from near and far!
Rep. Mikie Sherrill speaking at the Montclair Pride Festival about being in the military during the era of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: “I had so many friends who couldn’t share their personal lives … who had to hide who they were, who were afraid that if anybody found out who they loved they would no longer have a job, they would no longer be welcomed to serve their country.”
NJ 11th for Change hosted a voter information table at the PRIDE festival, and tabling volunteers who’d hoped to chat and catch up with one another found themselves much too busy with curious passersby to have the chance! We brought out our favorite Trivia Wheel to get kids into the action, distributed voter registration forms and VBM request forms, educated voters about their newly redrawn district lines, and got lots of new members signed up. We were especially thrilled to meet so many young people who were raring to vote in November 2022 midterms. We’re pretty confident they’ll be voting for MORE rights, MORE equity, and MORE progress here in New Jersey.
Thanks to our tablers:
David Waggett, Carole Schaffer, Mara Novak, Patricia Doherty, Leslie Bockol, Michael Gottesman, and Bill Beren!
With the beginning of the January 6 hearings, we’ve all had to endure the low of right-wing neighbors, family members, and media scoffing at the commission’s careful, deliberate case-building …
… but then there was the high of listening to 25-year-old Jersey-girl Cassidy Hutchinson, whose stunning testimony made some jaws drop, and others clamp shut (finally) in blessed silence.
Of course, the Dobbs decision — the death of Roe v. Wade — was a gut-punch. The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn this fifty-year old guarantee of reproductive rights is devastating; shocking despite the fact that we knew it was coming, and sure to do immeasurable harm across our country before it gets fixed.
But we WILL fix it. As fast as red states implemented their trigger laws, blue states initiated legislation designed to protect their people. Here in New Jersey, where the right to abortion is already ensconced in law, there are renewed efforts by the Murphy administration to pass legislation to ensure access, as well. We encourage everyone to call and email State Senate President Nick Scutari (908-587-0404) and State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (732-855-7441) to support Governor Murphy’s abortion access bills. They need to bring Senate Bill 2918 and Assembly Bill 4350 to the floor for a vote!
ADD TO YOUR SPEED DIAL:
ADD TO YOUR SPEED DIAL:
On Friday, we were thrilled to see Governor Murphy sign into law two brand new bills, the sponsors of which include our own Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (South Orange) and State Senator Nia Gill (Montclair). These bills protect people who come to New Jersey from out of state in order to have safe, legal abortions, and also protect the healthcare providers who serve them.
Just as heartening — and even more inspiring — were the number of community members who showed up at our rally in South Orange, just hours after the Supreme Court’s anti-abortion decision dropped. A coalition effort spearheaded by NJ 11th for Change, BlueWave NJ, the League of Women Voters, NOW, Planned Parenthood, SOMA Action, and other ally groups, the rally drew over a thousand people!
Rep. Mikie Sherrill had to be in D.C. for a vote, but — literally! — ”phoned it in” to let us know that she was with us in spirit, and ready to fight. But best of all, we’re thrilled that over SIX HUNDRED PEOPLE took advantage of the sign-up table to volunteer with our coalition and make sure we get the right candidates elected in 2022!
NJ 11th for Change co-executive director Leslie Bockol urging rally-goers to volunteer!
The lows in
2022 have been
(and continue to be)
hard to swallow.
But we are not done fighting, and NJ 11th for Change is not giving up! As Yotam Marom writes in this powerful essay about how to cope with feelings of hopelessness: “[We] walk towards it and through it — choose to take action, choose to build movements. We do it because we don’t know how it ends, because there are possibilities out there that we simply can’t see from here.”
Marom explains that despair is "quite simply, bad politics … In despair there is no need for good strategy, no need for healthy group culture. These are things we only need if we intend to take a real shot at winning. Despair is a self-fulfilling prophecy; it blocks us from taking agency, which makes it all the more likely that our worst fears will come to pass."
At NJ 11th for Change, we are all about taking agency. That’s our mission: to build our power as constituents, and use it to make the changes we need! To do that, we need you. This summer will bring
- Endorsements of candidates we believe are poised to make a difference;
- Tabling at community events;
- Volunteer opportunities to postcard, canvass, phone bank, and text bank;
- Exciting new educational and social events!
We’re going to need YOUR help to make all of this happen. If you’ve been pedal to the metal all year, or if you’ve been taking a much-needed break from volunteering, or if you are brand new to activism — we can’t wait to work with you as we move forward to the November elections.
In the meantime,
we wish you a happy
Fourth of July.
Let’s all re-commit to fighting for independence, justice, and fairness for all!
Your contributions make our work possible! Donations allowed us to make almost 160,000 voter contacts in New Jersey's 11th congressional district in 2020, and over 130,000 in 2021; our efforts were a big part of making 11 towns flip from Trump in 2016 to Biden in 2020 (including some historically deep-red municipalities!) and securing a tight victory for Governor Phil Murphy in 2021.Your generous donation goes towards our data analysis and voter-file access, text banking expenses, support for our events, printing, and much more. It allows us to continue our work building a government that is transparent, responsive and accountable. Please visit our "DONATE" link and pledge any amount. Every contribution helps as we charge ahead into 2021 and beyond!