If we don’t vote, we can’t complain

Here’s the thing, I was formulating this great blog on a grassroots effort to encourage our State legislature to hold a special session for Medicaid Expansion.  But then Tuesday, May 1st happened.

If you’ve had been following, even minutely, during the weeks leading up to the Sumner County primaries, some campaigns turned really nasty.  The ballots were either uncontested or empty for the Democratic party.  But what disturbs me the greatly most greatly is the  turnout of voters!

According to the Sumner County Election Commission there were 103,214 registered voters eligible to vote on May 1.  14,446 cast votes.  Folks, that’s dismal. Less than 5% of registered voters in Sumner County exercised their constitutional right.

What’s even more disturbing to me was to see the comments on local “progressive” Facebook pages who were saying they weren’t voting because of an uncontested candidacy or because it was only county primaries and they were waiting until the “real” one in August.  Have we become complacent? It’s very easy to sit behind a keyboard to complain on a social media platform about our current administration or end a post with #BlueWave.  Have we become reactive instead of proactive?  Sure it’s easy to show up at a rally or vigil when the next tragic mass shooting occurs.  But how many of the thousands of us on these progressive pages have done door knocking, phone banking, post card writing or (gasp) run for a local office?

We have 3 months to be proactive for our local progressive candidates.  We have 6 months to change the culture in our Federal government.  Nothing will happen if WE DON’T VOTE.  With the advent of online voter registration through Proud Voter and Early voting most of the obstacles have been eliminated.  Let’s bring Tennessee out of the gutter in voter turn out.  Let’s get out there and work for our progressive candidates to get them elected.  But, most importantly, VOTE!

 

We Don’t Elect Our State Reps To “Spurn” Us #Medicaid Expansion

HEY! WAIT Did you hear?  Our Tennessee State Governor Haslam along with House Speaker Harwell and  Senate Rand McNally were cool with the idea of having a special legislative session regarding Medicaid Expansion!  So exciting!

Oh, now, what was that different sound? That was the sound of all the other reps’ “NOs”. According to an intern in Speaker Harwell’s office the matter is now dropped.  And I am angry. I AM ANGRY!  If you get a chance, read  Humphrey On The Hill – Tennessee Politics and Legislature because it gives you a good idea just how our State Representatives spurned Medicaid Expansion.

Tennessee could become the 32nd state to expand Medicaid,  An expanded Medicaid program would provide greater access to health coverage.  Medicaid expansion would provide more low income adults access to healthcare services, resulting in improved health outcomes.

Expanding Medicaid could save our State Of Tennessean money,  The Federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost for newly eligible low-income adults for the first three years. There are so many benefits for Medicaid Expansion, I just don’t get the hold up

Well, how do I tell my 24 year old special dude that he’s been “spurned”?  Or look at Reid when he was a really little guy, weighing in at only 1 lb. 5 oz. Well, my Tennessee State Legislature, My representatives are telling me that my child is spurned, meaning rejected with disdain.

So let’s create an action plan.  Governor Haslam’s office is tallying their phone calls.  Please call him at 615-741-2001, thank him but then demand a special legislative session for Medicaid Expansion.  Call your State House and State Senate reps and tell them to get on board, that you’re sick and tired of seeing rural hospitals close down and people losing their jobs.  Make videos of how Medicaid Expansion would affect you and then make them go viral. Like the one I did when the ACA was being threatened :

A Cautionary Tale (Except It’s Reality)

Scene:  I had just dropped my son off at work and stopped by a corner market to pick up a few items.  It was mid-morning and pretty busy in there. As I queued in line I noticed one cashier finishing with a customer, another in front of me with a large basket of groceries and then a man behind me.  Another cashier opened her register, allowing for the next person in line. The man behind me started to go forward but then indicated for me to go ahead. Thanking him, I placed my item on the counter.  Here is where the “cautionary tale that’s really occurred” comes in. This man then stated, “Well, I think that deserves a hug” and immediately grabbed me up into a full frontal hug. I immediately pushed away with an emphatic “NO” and “Get your hands off me!”.  I was stunned, violated and scared. The clerk was paralyzed. I paid, left with the man following soon behind me where I noticed he took my picture as I was getting into my car.

So there you have the scene.  I went through the gambit of emotions: fear, embarrassment, anxiety, anger, shame.  Then I did my own victim blaming, “If only I’d been wearing my wedding rings he wouldn’t have targeted me.” “Maybe he was just doing a nice southern gesture”.  NO! NO! NO! How too soon I’ve forgotten the #MeToo movement and the empowerment of women it has fostered.

So, why this blog; why now?  Today’s political climate is daily, sometimes hourly, in flux.  The frenetic pace of crisis mode is the norm rather than the exception as our State and Federal representatives continually push destructive legislation through. We MUST keep all our important issues in the forefront.  But this is so taxing and many of us weary.   So let’s game plan.

First:  VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!  If you aren’t registered, it’s easier to do so now more than ever.  Just go to a simple online tool, Proud Voter, and you’re good to go.  Our vote is the way to make our voices emphatically heard.

Second:  Tap into a special interest in which you can maybe donate time or resources.  If healthcare impacts you get in touch with the Tennessee Justice Center.  If common sense gun laws is your passion then Moms Demand Action is just for you.  There are always voices needed for our disability community and I think Tennessee Disability Coalition is an outstanding resource. DACA and Immigration is a very important issue for our state.  Please advocate with Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition if this your wheelhouse.  And making sure everyone is treated equally, the Tennessee Equality Project works tirelessly on  behalf of our LGBTQ community.

Third:  If you don’t necessarily have a niche yet or a special interest to get behind, then consider donating to Act Blue so the “Blue Tide 2018” progressive candidates can be successful and affect realistic change which benefits everyone.

My cautionary (real) tale is just a reminder that although there are so many issues to fight and claw, we don’t have to forget one as another comes to the forefront.  There are enough of us working together to shine the light ALL THE TIME on healthcare, common sense gun laws, #MeToo movement, immigration, tax reform and government corruption, etc.  We are on the cusp of a very active, important political season.  Let’s get to work!

Are we refreshed? Are we rejuvenated? Are we together?

Now the holidays are over and it’s time for the new year of activism, phone calls, planning sessions, knocking on doors and revitalizing each other.  I hope everyone has a had a chance to recoup accordingly.

2018 is a pivotal year for turning TN blue and we need all hands on deck. Look how close we came with Mary Alice Carfi in TN-7; a flawless grassroots level working together at it’s best! But with success comes areas of improvement.

Recently, I posted a comment to an opponent of Diane Black’s uncontested TN-6 House seat. Not that I expected much commentary. However, suffice it to say how surprised I was when the majority comments I received was from BLUE supporters commenting on my font use!  And frankly, my feelings were hurt.  Folks, come on! Doesn’t anyone remember that awful day in November, 2016 when we all wandered around, wondering “what do we do next?” For me, it was getting plugged into Indivisible Sumner where citizens of Sumner County came together organizing and advocating for the values of diversity, social justice, and environmental conservation. Together, We stand INDIVISIBLE. Nowhere does it say “divide”. Everyone in our grassroots effort of Sumner Indivisible comes with an important skill set. And every opportunity to use these is not only welcome but very appreciated in an appropriate non-condemning way. But let’s not use these skill sets in the minutia of public social media. Come to meetings, share your expertise with the group so we can all benefit, not just rely on the keyboard hijacking that can easily offend a like-minded person while adding fodder for the opponent. Correcting one’s font choice on a public Facebook page is not a great example of advancing a message of unity and professionalism.  In order to be attractive to our mission, we all have to change to be inclusive and inviting.

We have so much to do to prepare for the 2018 midterm elections. We must be prepared to fight for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. We must find Democrats for House TN-6 and get the support out again for Mary Alice Carifi for TN-7 (which she almost won!). We must keep our eye on the attack to continue to erode the ACA mandates, Planned Parenthood. We must get CHIP fully funded for our children.  We must be prepared for voter registration and to get out the vote. Also, we must hold our own Tennessee Statehouse’s feet to the fire as they always attempt to send some zingers of ridiculous legislation to keep us on our toes. We must do this TOGETHER and ORGANIZED, not singularly, tearing each other down.

If you haven’t already, get involved with the Tennessee Justice Center where they will be holding a Bring It Home rally on January 9th for opening day of our State legislature (see their Facebook page for more info.)

Join an Indivisible group like ours at www.indivisiblesumner.org.

I guess what I’m asking is: let’s use use our talents that are in our wheelhouse , together, in a constructive way, a way that will truly flip Tennessee blue.  We are organized, We are mighty. Together,  WE can  get things done!

#TaxScam ~ The Art of Confusion

Ok. I’ve been tasked with trying to disseminate information about the Senate Tax Reform bill which passed in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday.  I’ve researched different sources. I’ve waded through the minutia of conflicting facts and figures.  And here is my assessment.  I’m just not smart enough to know what the heck what the GOP has actually done.

Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself a pretty educated woman.  I’m a nurse so I frequently deal with fact.  So here is my hypothesis: if the GOP wouldn’t even provide the 500+ page bill to their colleagues in the Senate until 15 minutes before the vote, then of course the constituency isn’t supposed to understand the content! 

The Washington Post  reported on November 22 that the University of Chicago’s Initiative on Global Markets recently conducted a survey of academic economists.  They asked these economic experts if the Republican tax plan would exacerbate America’s debt-to-GDP ratio.  Of the 38 experts who responded, 37 said Republicans were wrong about the plan paying for itself.  The 38th said HE MISUNDERSTOOD THE QUESTION!  So, again, if the experts don’t understand it…..

But one thing is clear.  The bill is filled with perks for America’s wealthiest individuals and largest corporations, many of them paid by closing loopholes that benefit the middle-class people,  According to nonpartisan Tax Policy Center,  by 2027 the top one-fifth of earners would receive 90% of the tax benefits.  This will be done by: (source U.S. Senate: Budget senate,gov).

  • Slashing corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%
  • Creating a big new tax deduction for private school and homeschooling
  • Encouraging corporations to automate without any help for displaced workers
  • Setting the stage for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid
  • Rejecting a proposal to expand a tax credit for families with children in order to reduce the corporate tax rate even more
  • All but eliminating the estate tax for the country’s wealthiest households

The Senate tax overhaul bill also served double duty.  For the fourth time, our Legislative branch of government has attacked components of the ACA, particularly the Healthcare Individual Mandate.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, by 2019, 4 million people will lose insurance and by 2027, 13 million more won’t be covered.  Many healthy people would voluntarily opt out and go without coverage, and insurers would inevitably raise premiums to cover the remaining sicker population.

The tax bill the Senate GOP passed would give large tax cuts to the rich while raising taxes on American families earning $10,000-$75,000 over the next decade.  For perspective, the median income for Sumner County is $56,193.  Diane Black, the Congressman for the 6th district and a resident of Sumner County, is worth $29 million.

Can you guess who’s going to make out better with this Senate Tax “Reform” bill?  Here’s a hint: it’s certainly not going to be the 99%.

Diane Black’s $25 million Gallatin home (Photo Jen Yamin Facebook)

 

 

#MeToo – Leave No Woman Behind

Millions have rallied behind the hashtag #MeToo campaign exposing the sheer magnitude of sexual harassment and other forms of violence that women everywhere suffer, everyday.  Breaking the silence is first step to transforming the culture of gender-based silence.  I’m a #MeToo.  

But why now?  Why is the seemingly teflon ceiling of exposing sexual power over women crumbling?

The advancement of our rights in the United States began in the mid-19th century when individual states allowed women to own property.  Around this same time women also began to be admitted into colleges and universities.  1920 saw advancements in Women’s Suffrage by the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving us the right to vote.  But here in the 21st century, we women still don’t have the expectation of true equality.

When the Harvey Weinstein allegations of his decades of sexual harassment exploded with 57 women currently accusing him, at first I was angry.  Angry at the women for keeping the Hollywood “secret” that everyone knew.  Why would WOMEN protect a sexual predator for years?   But then I realized I was participating in the societal norm of victim shaming.  As I began looking into what type of culture that would foster such secrets, I began to see a pattern.  Hollywood:  predominantly white men directors, producers & studio owners (82.4% according to 2014 Film Directors by Gender & Ethnicity report).  Corporate America:  In 2015 Fortune 500 reported 91.2% of CEOs were white males.  115th Congress:  around 80% white men represent the entire United States (Washington Post 01/12/2017). Whoa!

(Photo Credit: Twitter @cathymcmorris 11/17/16)

No wonder women have kept quiet.  The silent message from powerful men, “To move up in our world, you play by our rules”.  So, our bodies became a commodity.  

UN Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka says, “Violence against women and girls is not inevitable.  There are many ways to prevent violence in the first place and to stop cycles of violence repeating.”  With 1:3 women and girls experiencing violence in our lifetime-that is one too many. And ending violence against women and girls is possible by resisting, empowering and rising. We can transform the culture by enforcing laws that protect women’s rights and changing attitudes that condone violence against women.  We saw Anita Hill begin to start the conversation during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nominations hearings in 1991 and we experienced the outcry of the laughable sentence the USC student athlete, Brock Turner, received for his sexual assault and rape convictions.  And after the election of this current president (who himself admits to sexual assault) we’ve come full circle in the culmination of the worldwide Women’s March on January 21, 2017.

Continue reading “#MeToo – Leave No Woman Behind”