Executive Director Column 4/23/14
Its time to Stand and be Heard, and that means each of us. If you bear with me, I’ll explain.
To begin, I want to reflect on my personal history to lend perspective to the request for your personal action now.
In the 60’s and 70’s, when I was a young activist, we were paranoid about signing our names on to any list—for the same reason, you could not find a tattoo on any of us—for fear of identification to the “man,” or others intent in their opposition to our issue—ending the war in Vietnam, voting rights, discrimination in the South and across the country, etc.
Today, those concerns are moot. Realistically, we all should assume we are on some list or other, and ongoing revelations about the NSA and other intelligence agencies, the “cloud,” and private corporations leave no doubt that privacy/anonymity in this day and age is a rare commodity.
Today, we have to step up and Stand and be Heard, and begin to stand shoulder to shoulder.
2014 is the year each of us must Stand and be Heard, because,
- Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget cuts $125 Billion in SNAP benefits
- A Congress infected by corporate disease cannot lead
- The Supreme Court has lost its way—see Citizen’s United, McCutcheon v. FEC, and striking down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
On April 2nd, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the dissenting opinion for four Supreme Court Justices who oppose the majority ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC that strengthens the Citizen’s United ruling, writing that the decision undermines the political integrity of our governmental institutions:
“It creates a loophole that will allow a single individual to contribute millions of dollars to a political party or to a candidate’s campaign. …What has this to do with corruption? It has everything to do with corruption…. Today’s decision eviscerates our Nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve.”
So, what are we going to do?
I know how the law works—I have managed two public interest law firms. But you don’t have to be a lawyer, or familiar with stare decisis or legal precedence, to realize that we are so far from what we like to think is our democracy, and that it is time to stand and be counted. Because, we believe:
- Access to healthy food is our basic human right
- Corporations are not people
- Money is not free speech
- Rich people should not be able to buy elections in our democracy
- Individuals should not be intimidated when they exercise the right to vote
To be clear—with its most recent action, SCOTUS gave just 646 individual donors in the 2012 election cycle the right to spend unlimited amounts of money to buy any election, anywhere in our country.
Please be honest—this is not the country you were raised to believe in, correct?
So here is the challenge, for each and every one of us who is not one of the 646 “lucky” Americans being taken care of by the Supreme Court.
Stand and be Heard, here at CFJC, and with each and every organization fighting to reclaim our country on your behalf. That means, make the commitment to be a monthly donor, at the $10, $20, $50 level or whatever level works for you—but Stand and be Heard, because we are all in the fight of the century for our country. And while it may not yet be too late, time is running out for those of us who want to take back our country from the 1% oligarchy which is turning our democracy into their own personal country—a country with a dwindling middle class, absent political representation, and absent the benefits and responsibilities of democracy that, in denial, we still like to think defines the United States.
Not so much.
Yes, I am asking that you become a monthly donor, for a number of reasons. First, we need your financial support.
But more important, others just like you across the country need to know that they are not alone—that they are not going crazy, when it seems they just can’t make ends meet; or that no matter what they do or say, the gas and oil companies continue to despoil the environment; that the Farm Bill and national food policy supports industrial agriculture at the expense of access to healthy food; that political debates about the ACA (Obamacare) and climate change continue while the effects of both are so very real for families in our communities.
Stand and be Heard, to count yourself among the residents of our country who say “enough is enough,” and who know that no one single act/action is going to change anything. It takes a personal and ongoing commitment.
I am also asking every partner organization to reprint and broadcast this message, and to include their own call to action along with the CFJC Stand and be Heard message. Yes, we should all be monthly contributors to a growing number of those organizations willing to claim leadership in this fight for our future.
What this means at CFJC is that you will receive a monthly acknowledgement of your contribution, and at the end of the calendar year a letter thanking you suitable for tax purposes.
Again, and more importantly, we are building a membership of individuals and organizations who individually and collectively say, “enough is enough,” and demonstrate that resolve with a monthly contribution.
Therefore, while you still can, please Stand and be Heard, and let your friends, brothers and sisters across the country know that you will be heard, and that they are not alone.
Over the coming month(s) CFJC is launching a membership campaign, so that you are clear as to what membership means for you, and for your organization. Please stay tuned and send your feedback to help shape our approach.
We also have committed to co-hosting the Food Justice and Leadership Conference in partnership with Food First—probably some time in 2015. You may recall that Food First and CFJC were the local host of the CFSC 15th Annual Food Justice Conference in Oakland in 2011. Since then, I think we all are acutely aware of the space left vacant by the absence of CFSC, and it is the spirit of honoring their work and the work still to be done that we are moving forward. Although still in the discussion phase, already the California Institute for Rural Studies has stepped forward to partner in the effort.
As always, you can rely on CFJC to represent the values we share—because you do Stand to be Heard, in the face of the talking heads on television and radio, and the barrage of misinformation from a culture of lies. Our culture wasn’t always so. We can make and be the change, together, now.
All the best.
Y. Armando Nieto