Local OrganizingTax & Budget

Retirement Party Organizing Toolkit


Overview

Republicans in the House and Senate voted to give a major tax cut to corporations and the wealthy. 224 Republicans in the House and 51 Republicans in the Senate voted to raise your taxes, increase your health insurance premiums by repealing a key part of the Affordable Care Act, and explode the deficit—in many cases for their own personal benefit and that of giant corporations.

Let’s make them pay for it. Constituents won’t forget this vote—when MoCs return in January let’s show them how we feel and hold them accountable for a vote that will harm their constituents.

2018 is an election year. It’s finally 2018 and that means that every single Representative and a third of the Senate is up for re-election. if an MoC isn’t listening to their constituents, it’s time to replace them. With local Indivisible groups in all 435 congressional districts, we can reclaim progressive power all across the country (check out Indivisible435.org for more electoral tools).

It’s time to wave them out in style with Retirement Parties. Grab a cake, some party hats, a “Congrats on your Retirement” banner, a bunch of constituents and head on over to your MoC’s office to say farewell before their forced retirement from Congress!

Goal/Strategy

The GOP Tax Scam is a giveaway to the wealthy and corporations, paid for on the backs of everyday American families. It will raise taxes on 83 million families, raise healthcare premiums across the board, and lead to 13 million more Americans being uninsured. Our goal is to show these MoCs that constituents plan to hold them accountable for voting yes on the tax bill. They voted for the tax scam, and now their constituents are going to vote them out of office.

WHAT’S AN MOC RETIREMENT PARTY?

A retirement party is an action where you creatively send the message that your member of Congress’ vote for the Tax Scam is the beginning of the end of their time in office—that we will not forget their vote for a bill that sends 83% of its benefits to the wealthiest 1%, while gutting health care and raising taxes for everyone else. These should be district office visits, but with a fun twist.

You should make your event feel like a party with visuals and props that make it fun to join and easy to photograph for press and social media:

  • Cake (decorated with some clear message, like “Happy Early Retirement”), and paper plates/forks for eating it!
  • Party hats, balloons, and party blowers
  • Pink slip posters that clearly state why they will be out of office soon (The bigger the better! Here’s an example you can print and fill out yourself)
  • Posters and signs about the Tax Scam to make sure the message about why they are retiring is clear.
    • “Rep. ___ voted for the tax scam. In November, we’ll vote him out!”
  • Large banners. Here are some message ideas:
    • “Congrats: You betrayed us!”
    • “Tax Scam vote = early retirement! Enjoy!”
    • “Happy early retirement!”
  • Poster-size job applications from your MoC to big corporations, lobbyist organizations, big bad business associations in your area, etc.
  • Posters with countdown until November 6, 2018
  • “You’re fired!” posters (Apprentice-style)
  • Handouts with resume tips for MoCs
  • “Help Wanted” signs, asking for replacements who won’t work for the donor class
    • Help Wanted: Fighter for [your state], not billionaires
    • Help Wanted: Replacement for Tax Scam Sellout
    • Etc.

Check out Indivisible Carbondale’s retirement party for their Congressman last month! Indivisible IL-12 and Indivisible Carbondale made some tasty cakes for retirement parties:

 

HOW TO PLAN A RETIREMENT PARTY

Like any good party (or action), it’s important to take the time to plan out your event to make sure it’s a success!

Set a date for your retirement party.

Members of Congress will be returning to work the first week of January, so kick off your group’s first event of 2018 with a retirement party at your MoC’s office! Indivisible’s Week of Action will be January 8-14, so pick a date to hold your event, or incorporate accountability for your MoC’s vote on the tax bill and the retirement party theme into an event you already have planned.

Make a Facebook and/or Indivisible event and start recruiting.

Register your event here!
Since these events are happening so soon after the holidays, make a Facebook event and start inviting people now! Send out an email to your group wishing everyone a Happy New Year and include a link to your group’s retirement party event so people can put it on their calendar a week or two in advance. Ask everyone who RSVPs to bring two friends who haven’t been to an action before - parties are more fun with more people! Register your event so we can help you spread the word here: http://act.indivisible.org/event/local-actions/create.

Hold a planning meeting.

Great planning makes for great events! Have a small team meeting the first week of January to plan for your retirement party. What posters and props will you bring? Who will speak at the event? Make sure to designate the following roles:

  • Main speaker/MC: Good (and LOUD!) public speaker who will control bullhorn or microphone and introduce other speakers.
  • Storytellers: Identify group members who are willing to share their stories of how this tax bill will negatively impact them at the event. Have these speakers write a quick draft of their remarks and share with the group for feedback. Make sure they tie your MoC’s vote to the November 2018 election and end on a call to action: “Send Rep. ___ into retirement!”
  • Propmaster: A creative and responsible person to oversee poster-making and make sure retirement party favors (cake, hats, etc.) make it to the event on time.
  • Timekeeper: Someone to keep speakers on time and make sure your event ends on time - important if you’re doing a 12-1pm event on people’s lunch hour!
  • Inside office lead: If your MoC’s office doesn’t let groups of people inside, designate one person (or 2-3 people) to deliver their pink slip, cake for staff, handwritten letters from constituents vowing to vote your MoC out, etc. to make sure their office knows they are on notice!
  • Photographer AND videographer: These roles are REALLY IMPORTANT. Without photos and video, the retirement party might as well not have happened. Ask one person to take photos and one person to take video. Make sure either or both of these people make it inside the office to document your office lead handing over the pink slip to your MoC’s staff!
  • Social media coordinator: At least one person (could also be the photographer) should be tweeting out photos of the event in real time!
  • Media liaison: Press-savvy person to put out a media advisory and pitch reporters on coming to your event. Check out our “How to Get Press to Cover Your Event” and “Press Releases, Media Advisories, and More” resources if you need help!

Make your signs and gather your props.

In addition to making your event more fun, having lots of signs and retirement party props will make for strong visuals that media outlets like to cover! See above for lots of ideas for banners, posters, and props, but here are some good tips:

  • Have a sign-making party at your planning meeting or a day or two before the event! It’s more fun to do this together (and you can pool art supplies!), and people who can’t make it to the event itself can help with this instead.
  • Make enough signs and bring enough party hats so that there are no empty-handed participants at your retirement party!
  • Make sure that your art calls out your MoC by name wherever possible (this will make your target clear in photographs of the action).
  • Keep your signs and props on-message! Anyone looking at photos of your event should be able to tell what your message is: that your MoC voted for the tax bill, so you’re going to vote them out—which is why you’re celebrating their imminent retirement from Congress. Keep signs about other issues at home until your next event!
  • Make a banner that can be seen from a distance. Use bold colors. If you want to make it look professional, use a projector to project letters or a picture onto your surface, then trace your image in pencil and paint inside the lines.
  • Be creative and don’t underestimate the power of humor and theater!

Tell the media.

Make a list of reporters who cover politics at all the media outlets in your district and send them a media advisory by email about your event a day or two in advance. Make note of strong visuals you’ll have (so they’ll send photographers/videographers) and follow up individually to pitch them on the story! Send a reminder the morning of your event and make sure you have designated press-ready group members prepared to speak to the media (who will stay on-message!) if they come.

Check out our “How to Get Press to Cover Your Event” and “Press Releases, Media Advisories, and More” resources if you need help!

PARTY TIME 🎉

Once all your plans are made, it’s just a matter of getting folks to show up! Post reminders and logistical information (parking, etc.) on the Facebook event, send out a reminder email to your group, ask group members to share the event with their social networks, and message folks who RSVP’d yes online to make sure they’ll actually be there. Ask people to bring a friend and remind folks that this isn’t just any old protest, it’s going to be a party! Who wouldn’t want to come?

ON THE DAY OF THE ACTION

Once you’ve taken the time to plan your event, it’s time to start the party!

Meet in advance.

All people in key roles should meet 45 minutes in advance. Bring snacks and water, assemble any art pieces that need to be put together, test your technology (microphones, phones, cameras, etc.), make reminder calls to everyone who signed up to attend, and begin to get in position.

Explain why you’re there.

Meet outside your MoC’s district office, ideally in front of a building sign with their name on it. Once everyone has gathered, the Main Speaker should state clearly why you all are there, and that many people in your district will be affected by your MoC’s vote on the tax scam bill.

Start the party!

Have your designated speakers tell their stories and lead the crowd in chants. If you’re able to, play some party music! Storytellers should stand in a line next to the speaker, so they can easily pass the microphone or bullhorn to share their stories. Make sure to have your banner or best signs behind whoever is speaking at all times so photos/video can include both.

At the appropriate time, the timekeeper will give the signal and retirement party-goers should let the designated office lead hand the cake, pink slip (or other visual) over to the MoC or their staff. This person should make the point clearly and slowly that this tax bill is a giant payout to the 1% on the backs of middle class families and that we will remember their vote next year. Feel free to talk about why the bill is a scam, but keep it brief. Make sure to get photos and video of this part.

  • During the handing over of the pink slip or cake, other people holding signs should stay silent, and hold their signs up prominently. Chanting would be appropriate after the staffer or MoC has the item in hand.
  • When the party ends, everyone should clean up and leave quickly. You may also wish to end with some chanting. The mood is a little humorous, so be aware of media and social media coverage before you assume things are finished. But do regroup off-site and congratulate yourselves!
  • Leaders should plan a debrief meeting.
  • Send your stories, pictures, and best practices to stories@indivisibleguide.com.

Document the event.

The Social Media Coordinator should record, live-tweet and/or Facebook-live the entire experience.

  • Make sure that you are recording and taking photos horizontally, not vertically. It really helps the video get shared and makes it usable for press.
  • Be sure to tag your Member of Congress and @IndivisibleTeam on Twitter.
  • Post photos of the action on Twitter and your group’s public Facebook page!

Other ideas:

  • Bring a bullhorn or portable microphone - make sure your voices will be heard!
  • Agree on a dress code. Wearing the same color or Indivisible t-shirts (get yours here!) creates a strong visual impact, makes it clear you are together, and looks great in photos. Alternately, you could dress up like you’re going to a party to keep with the theme!
  • Collect all of the constituent stories that you can, and deliver them in a package to your MoC. This is a great way to incorporate the stories of folks who couldn’t attend.