Visiting Senator Franken’s office

Yesterday I got out of work early, and went to a meeting at Senator Al Franken’s office.

A few points:

– The invitation was issued by MoveOn.org, whose lists I have signed up for. The event was held in conjunction with Indivisible.

– A simultaneous event was held at Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office in Minneapolis, and I understand it was much more strongly attended.

– These will be weekly things, though in the future probably not scheduled at the same time.

– Senator Franken was not there, having flow back to D.C. after a weekend spent in Minnesota at the Muslim Ban protests.

Why I went:

– I want to meet local organizers, HOWEVER, I don’t want to be on Facebook. In doing some research I have found that a LOT of groups are popping up locally, and they largely have a Facebook presence and nothing more. MoveOn is a national umbrella for local, grass-roots organization, with a years-long record of having its shit more or less together.

– I wanted to see Franken’s office, since I have been calling it every week since November 9th.

– I have the privilege, I *could* go to a noon meeting. I could take the time off work, I could get there. I could attend and speak up for others who may not have been able to attend.

Who else was there:

– I was the second-youngest person in the room. The MoveOn local coordinator was a bit younger than me. She, in fact, brought her small child with her. (Which had a remarkably quelling effect on everyone’s language, let me tell you! The amount of profanity bitten-back at the last minute was … a lot.)

– Of the fourteen constituent-activists in the room, four were (probably) men, nine were (probably) women, twelve were white, one PoC. Nearly all of us were completely new to this activist-thing. When asked, “are you here with MoveOn?” three of us, including me, said, “I have no idea yet.”

How it went:

– We were a small group, and were ushered into a conference room. The Franken staffer said that for larger groups (and for future reference) they ask that the main group stay outside in the public space and send a delegation up to the office. Because, he explained, they are renting in this office building and the landlord gets worried about disrupting the other tenants.

– The conversation was a free-for-all, though people did sort of raise their hands. Everyone stressed that we are generally pleased with Franken.

– However, we want him to be a little less diplomatic.

– Except, we also want him to remain an effective Senator and reach acros the aisle for allies.

– I was NOT the only person in the room who is worried about a coup, and I didn’t bring it up first.

– I requested that Franken’s office include in a weekly email, or on the website, a list of the things Franken is working on, so we stop fretting about whether he’s on it or not.

Overall, I was glad to have gone. I met some people, I gave my email to some local organizers, and I thanked Franken’s staffers for their work.

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