Seven new and exciting developments

February 21, 2020

There are 7 bits of good news to cover…

  1. The supporter who offered us $100,000
  2. A new way to recruit people to make Congress obey
  3. How and why YOU will restore federal parole
  4. How the U.S. will stop imprisoning people for acquitted and untried charges
  5. Does Senator Lindsey Graham agree with us?
  6. Why we will target South Carolina districts to test our new tactics
  7. The new Agenda Setters website and Founders Committee

Let’s get started…

The $100,000 pledge

Last fall, a Downsize DC monthly pledger approached me with a big idea. I’m going to call him Chuck because he prefers privacy.

Supporters sometimes give us suggestions. We can rarely act on them for various logistical and funding reasons. But…

When Chuck offered the $100k funding for his idea, that caught my attention. That makes a huge difference. I met with Chuck for over two hours. Then, I called Perry Willis, who for years had worked alongside me at Downsize DC. I was looking for a way to make Chuck’s idea work. Sadly…

I still had to decline. Downsize DC wasn’t equipped to do it, and $100,000 wasn’t enough to change that.

Chuck came back

Months went by. Chuck called with a new idea. This one was a fit. It would even give us a chance to deploy new strategies, based on lessons we had learned over the years.

Chuck’s wanted us to recruit people using a company that rents their double opt-in email list. This list is huge. They have detailed demographic information about their subscribers. I stress “double opt-in” because the first word that flashed across my mind was “SP*M.” Instead…

  • Opt-in means these subscribers chose to join to receive these emails.
  • Double means they actually went through a separate confirmation process after choosing to join the list.
  • Those two steps help the “open rate” exceed industry expectations.

A mere $5,000 would permit us to reach 630,000 subscribers. Chuck asked, “If I pay for it, would you send those subscribers a message asking them to pressure Congress?” I said, “Of course!” But…

Chuck’s money was tied to a specific issue.

Since the mid-80s, there’s been no federal parole. That’s part of the reason that…

The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population but 25% of its prison population. We’re hardly the land of the free.

Chuck wants us to focus on restoring federal parole because his son…

  • Was accused of a crime with no actual victims.
  • Is imprisoned by the feds, even though his supposed “crime” is outside the enumerated constitutional powers of the federal government.
  • Is not getting out of prison for 16 years because there’s no federal parole.

Chuck wants federal parole restored.

And there are good reasons to believe that now is the time to do it.

  • Donald Trump’s campaign ran an expensive Super Bowl ad focused on criminal justice reform.
  • The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has suggested, in a public hearing, that parole should be restored as part of a rehabilitative incentive program.

That’s not all…

Chuck also wants sentencing rules changed.

His son is one of roughly 30,000 federal prisoners serving long terms because of “judicial findings.” These are sentences based on additional charges that were either acquitted or NOT TRIED in court. A bipartisan bill has been introduced to end this practice. Our new strategy will help pass this bill. It’s a good sign that…

Senator Lindsey Graham appears to be on the correct side of this issue!

Senator Graham chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. This is the committee responsible for things like federal parole and sentences based on judicial findings. So…

We’ll target the seven House districts in Graham’s home state, South Carolina using the double opt-in email list.

  • We’ll email tens of thousands of people in those districts.
  • We’ll ask them to contact their reps to end sentencing based on judicial findings.
  • Every message sent to a South Carolina House rep will also go to Senator Graham (and Senator Tim Scott).
  • The people who send these messages will also become available to support our other transpartisan issues, like federal parole and the One Subject at a Time Act.

But there’s more…

We’ll also recruit some of these people to be “one of the 300” in our district!

Remember the goal we described in our last message. We want to…

  • Identify 300 Agenda Setters in each Congressional district – people who will make in-person visits to their congressional office, in groups of three, five, or six.
  • Overcome the inertia caused by rational apathy (the belief that a given action won’t work because not enough people will participate). We call our approach Option Activism because no one will visit until we have all 300 people pledged to go.

We’ll send emails to 630,000 people in South Carolina to recruit our batch of Agenda Setters. That won’t be enough to get all 300 in any of the districts. But it will be a start.

Then we’ll expand beyond South Carolina.

To be as effective as possible, in those efforts, we’re launching a new, highly-focused website – “Agenda Setters by Downsize DC.” We’re just days away from showing you this website, which will be optimized for mobile use.

Do you like our plan? Then please consider joining our new Founder’s club…
Become an Agenda Setting Founder!

  • Every donor to during February will be listed on our website, the same way we’ve done in epochs past (see the sidebar of our About Us page).
  • Names will be listed in order of contribution size, and ties will be resolved by who gave first.
  • You can leap towards the top by making a monthly pledge; we “annualize” those for ranking purposes. If you’re already giving a pledge, you’ll be counted, but this would be a great time to increase that pledge.
  • And if you don’t wish to be listed, please check the appropriate box on the contribution form.

Become a Founder

Imagine, putting YOU in charge of Congress!

Jim Babka
Downsize DC

Today’s Action: Become an Agenda Setting Founder


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