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Letters to the Editor: Trump’s Fake National Emergency

The national Indivisible Project recently published an update on the #FakeEmergency, which included an excellent Letter To the Editor guide we thought we’d reprint here.

Letters to the Editor might not seem like the flashiest way to get your member of Congress’s attention. But there’s something about a sharp Letter to the Editor in a hometown paper that can really get under the skin of the most powerful lawmaker. As we wrote in the original Indivisible Guide, taking control of the narrative is a critical piece of winning any policy fight — and a letter to the editor does just that.

Use your Letter to the Editor as an opportunity to raise awareness around the issue and urge your neighbors to call their members of Congress to take action.

Talking Points

  • Donald Trump’s fake national emergency is a direct attack on our democracy, and it’s critical that our members of Congress rein in this executive overreach and stop the emergency in its tracks.
  • Congress has an obligation to check Executive Branch abuses, and there is a clear path for them to do this. The National Emergencies Act expressly provides a procedure for Congress to terminate a state of emergency by passing a resolution. Congress has never used this procedure. But they should this time.
  • Congress also has oversight powers in the House. Democrats should immediately schedule hearings and investigations into Trump’s illegal power grab.

Writing Tips

  • Focus on one topic. If you have two, write a second letter.
  • Obey those word count limits. If your letter gets long, write a second letter.
  • Be clear and concise—you only have around 200 words or less to make your point.
  • Be yourself. You don’t need to talk like an academic or a policy expert. Remember, you’re a smart, passionate constituent who’s paying attention, one who other constituents might identify with—and that’s the most powerful thing you can be.

Sample Letter: How We All Must Respond to Donald Trump’s Fake Emergency

“Make no mistake: Trump’s fake emergency is an illegal, anti-democratic power grab rooted in racism. By going around constitutional separations of power and declaring a fake emergency, he is abusing his power. It is a misuse of authorities that are intended for actual emergencies and sets dangerous precedent that could further erode our democratic norms and institutions. Worse, it puts the communities most under attack by Trump at even greater risk.

“For far too long, Congress has abdicated its responsibility to check presidential power grabs. Over and over, presidents have cited “national security” rationale to erode democracy and threaten rights and liberties. Think of the internment of Japanese Americans, post-9/11 torture, and more. Trump’s fake emergency declaration is illegal and will be immediately challenged in court. But Congress has a role here too, and must push back.

“All of our neighbors must call on our members of Congress to do two things: the National Emergencies Act expressly provides a procedure for Congress to terminate a state of emergency by passing a resolution. Congress has never used this procedure, but they should this time. Additionally, with new oversight powers, Democrats should immediately schedule hearings and investigations into this illegal power grab.”

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