OPUS Mag

Far from timid • Caveat Lector

The First 100 Days - Taking Advantage of the Transition Period

The First 100 Days - Taking Advantage of the Transition Period

In the previous installment of this series, we detailed a few of the institutions and civil liberties that are in the crosshairs of Donald Trump’s Presidency and tried to impart on our readers the importance of truly intersectional solidarity in the coming years. The stark truth is that the next 100 days are going to be the most crucial in attempting to resist any changes the Trump regime tries to force on the country. Collectively we have to use these 100 days wisely and do what we can while the safeguards of the Obama era are still in place. Reason being that once Trump is sworn into office, the last line of defense will be the Senate which is now in Republican control; put simply, it’s highly unlikely that the GOP will impede Trump now that they are presented with the chance to force through every measure they’ve wanted to implement. As Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern noted in his article, Republicans rolled over for Steve Bannon. They’ll roll over when he comes for you, too.
 

For this particular entry in the series, we’re pooling together a few resources and ideas for how to turn your concern into actionable steps. 
 

Are you worried about the erosion of civil rights?

With Republicans now in control of the presidency, Congress and two-thirds of our state legislative chambers, attacks on voting rights are not only going to continue but are going to get markedly worse. Take Wisconsin for example, where Donald Trump won by just 27,000 votes, but 300,000 voters lacked the strict forms of identification that became law. Voter turnout in Wisconsin was the lowest it was in 20 years and was depressed by almost 15% in Milwaukee, home to 70% of the state’s African-American residents. The continuation of this kind of disenfranchising of voters is not a possibility, rather a guarantee. Which means that now more than ever, organizations that fight for voter rights need your help. Organizations defending against this assault will need your help the most, be it financial (in the form of donations) or logistical (in the form of volunteering). A few dollars or hours will help them in beating back the attack on the Voting Rights Act that awaits us.
 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization whose stated “mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Through litigation by way of its team of lawyers, lobbying and community empowerment, the ACLU has fought for civil liberties since the 1920s. Whether it was protecting anti-Vietnam war protestors or through its work with the NAACP during the Civil Rights era, the ACLU has been at the forefront of civil rights for almost 100 years. True to form, they are already gearing up for a court battle against Trump and his cabal of white supremacists. The ACLU allows for single or continual donations of any amount, this crowd sourcing allows for their team of lawyers to keep the pressure on Trump as he and his cabinet attempt to upend every measure of progress made over the last 50 years.

One of the early steps the ACLU has taken is to call for Trump’s pick for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, to have his confirmation hearing include a comprehensive review of his entire voting record and history of disparaging comments. Supporting measures like this petition is one way to engage in the pushback against Trump’s Presidency.

Are you troubled by Trump’s promise to immediately deport three million immigrants?

One of the groups that will be most affected during Trump’s Presidency will be undocumented immigrants, specifically the students who are covered under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. DACA allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country before their 16th birthday and before June of 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit exempting them from deportation. The idea is to remove harsh immigration enforcement attention from what are considered “low priority” individuals (students and workers who have been good citizens and have clean criminal records)

Unfortunately, President Obama achieved this through executive action, which means it is also at risk of being torn down by Trump. The ACLU has already named DACA recipients as one of the groups they will be fighting for, you can do your part as well by donating to them and by circulating information on what those affected should know. If you should know someone who is covered under DACA, direct him or her to inform themselves of what they should and shouldn’t do. Accurate information and education is power, do your part to spread them.

Unsure what to make of Paul Ryan’s talk of “phasing out” Medicare?

So that there is no confusion about what Republicans mean by a “phase out” of Medicare it is important to put it in exact terms: they want to undo it and privatize healthcare for the elderly. Disdain for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other forms of social welfare safety net programs that help the poor is one of the hallmarks of Republican fiscal policy – as was seen with George W. Bush’s push to dismantle Social Security. Much like they believe private companies should run healthcare while being motivated solely by the profit motive, they also believe that private companies should run healthcare for the elderly. The long and short of it is that while they’ll talk up empty vehicles like federal subsidies, most will be unable to pay the rates and will suffer for it. The elderly will fall victim to the reality that many lived prior to the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare as it’s more commonly known) where it’s simply too expensive to take care of their health. 
If this is something that leaves you unsettled, call the following members of Senate Finance Committee, the body that oversees Medicare. A rule of thumb in the coming days to follow is that calls are 100 times more effective than emails or letters that can go largely ignored.

Chuck Grassley: 202-224-3744
Johnny Isakson: 202-224-3643
Rob Portman: 202-224-3353
Nevada: 202-224-6244

Is there something else that has you worried?

The uncomfortable truth is that there are simply too many things that are going to be under attack in the coming years to cover in one post. While we will continue to feature a few at a time, as well as ideas with which to engage, it’s possible that we might not cover some that are most near and dear to you specifically. Rest assured that there exist organizations dedicated to protecting what you value, search them out and help them in any way you can. Aside from that, it bears repeating that one of the most useful tools in our arsenal is the phone call to our elected representatives. As was alluded to earlier, emails and letters go ignored for the most part, and on those rare occasions when they do get replies, often it’s by way of algorithm and automation. A phone call, however, means that someone has to listen to you and log what was discussed as well as your stance on the given issue. It’s easy to fall into cynicism about whether it works or not but there is ample proof that this kind of leaning on officials is very effective. In fact, it’s part of how the hostile anti-establishment Tea Party movement took over the Republican Party.

With that in mind, we have included some resources to guide you in not only directing your calls but how to go about it.

First, you must find out who your local representative is, you can do this by entering your zip code in the House of Representatives’ ‘Find Your Representative’ page.

Once you have that information in hand, you’ll need to locate their number, which can be found in the House directory for the 114th Congress.

Before you make your call, prepare a call script for yourself to make sure that everything you want to say is included. Should the representative or anyone on their staff (you’ll most likely speak to a staffer) interrupt with questions, let them know that you will answer only once you are done expressing your concerns. For more tips on how to handle a phone call to your representative, visit Civilrights.org’s Tips on Calling Your Member of Congress page.

Spread the Word and Educate Yourself as Well as Those Around You
 

It cannot be overstated how vital an educated front will be in safeguarding the institutions that are vulnerable to the looming menace of white ethno-nationalist fascism. It’s for this reason that we all need to be more careful and critical of what we consume in terms of news. We can’t take every post we come across for truth and vetting each and every source of information needs to be a behavior that’s engrained in our day-to-day lives. Many of the large mainstream media outlets (CNN, MSNBC, etc.) are already bending over backwards to normalize Trump’s actions and minimizing the danger of them. The ugly truth is that propaganda and lies are also to blame for Trump’s Election Day win. It’s for this reason that we should all subscribe to the few outlets that are actually reporting on the happenings of the world such as The Washington Post, The Nation, The Atlantic and others. Facebook can no longer be viewed as anything other than a cesspool of ignorance and misinformation; a lesson that we need to make clear to everyone in our family as many of our parents and older relatives fall victim to believing what they come across there.

In the interest of providing more insights, we’re including some other selected readings to help in formulating a plan of action.
A Path Forward After the 2016 Election.
My Plan – Please Join Me.
There’s a Right Way to Do This.

Finally, as we stated before, we must never forget that now is a time for strength and vigilance. We cannot let the daunting odds scare us off or introduce doubt into our minds, as the saying goes: “They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds.”

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