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!

Saving the DREAM

The vast majority of us that claim the title “American” trace our origins to some other country, and usually, another continent.

Since the birth of our nation, we have grown and become stronger because of those who have sought to join all the things we have said we stand for, even though we often fall far short of the goals and standards we claim we believe.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” It’s a beautiful sentiment and yet I wonder if it skews our idea of what it looks like when people immigrate to this country. Often because of what they escaped or left behind, they are the highest achievers, the hardest workers, the ones who start with the least and achieve great things. Immigrants are not permanent refugees of some sort taking up space and resources, they are new citizens, bursting with possibility and ideas.

Obviously what has this on my mind is all the news today surrounding DACA. DACA was always meant to be a stop-gap, a temporary solution to an urgent need. Repealing it with no replacement leaves hundreds of thousands of our fellow residents in a terrible and terrifying position. The DREAM Act is a solid idea, a way to transition people into citizenship, something we need more–not less–of. Ninety-one percent of dreamers are currently employed. Over 15,000 of them live in Tennessee. This is not some abstract population, these are your neighbors. Their kids might go to school with your kids.

The implications of letting DACA lapse are far reaching. Some states will see major economic impacts from the Dreamers losing their status and possibly their jobs. It has implications for schools as children of Dreamers are enrolled in K-12 programs around the country and parents may fear sending their children to school if they are facing the threat of deportation.

Which brings me to the specifics of why we need a clean DREAM Act. This Act is a stabilizing force for our society. This allows the residents in our communities to take that breath of freedom we promised, to live without the stress of their statuses being up in the air, subject to the whims of whoever is in the executive branch. It lets them continue their lives, their jobs, their business, and continue with their schooling so they can build lives for themselves. They literally ask nothing of their neighbors except the right to stay and call themselves “citizen.” Congress must work together and actually make a clean DREAM Act this time. 

These are our neighbors, fellow Americans in all but a technicality of law, a technicality that needs to be fixed.

Put yourselves in their shoes for a moment. Feel their courage, their fear, the stress, the uncertainty. Feel all that and then reach out to your members of congress in both the House and Senate and tell them why you think it’s vital to the future of our country that they work on making a clean DREAM act a reality.

The main people who have been fighting this fight to date are the young people affected by  the decisions. Last night’s ruling may have caused a mess, but overall, I think it was a victory for those young people who have fought so hard–harder than most who call themselves Americans–just for the right to live here. It’s time America started making good on it’s promises.


References and more reading:

Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition

DACA injunction: What a federal judges ruling means for ‘Dreamers’

DACA Recipients by State

MAP: How Ending DACA Could Play out across States

Shutdown/DACA state of play: A ‘mess’ with a major twist

Republicans can’t avoid Trump’s wall promises in DACA talks

US Immigration: DACA and the Dreamers explained

What is DACA and why is it ending?

If Trump wants a ‘Bill of Love,’ he should pass a clean Dream Act

#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”