Executive Director Column 9/23/14
Dear Friends, Colleagues, & Fellow Americans:
Congress is in recess until after the elections on November 4th, except that their staff is working behind the scenes on Capitol Hill, planning for the various scenarios: will Republicans take the Senate? If so, does that mean nothing gets done until the new Congress is seated in January?
And since the Continuing Resolution (in lieu of a Federal Budget) that runs to December 11th includes a “Syria Amendment,” is any Congress going to make additional cuts to programs for the American people in order to pay for a new war?
The truth is we can’t know the answers for sure.
But that doesn’t mean we have to sit and wait to see what next we are spoon fed.
In my private conversation with the Secretary of Agriculture I expressed concern that we only have through 2016 to take the actions we need to change the current course of the United States. No one knows what will happen after the next presidential election.
In the meantime, he and the President can move money around via administrative and executive authority to plug holes in the frayed safety net, but this Congress is not going to provide a cent more for farmers and others devastated by drought and the effects of climate change; for families facing homelessness and worse.
Because, while I am not going to say that individual members of Congress are racist, the opposition has played the racism card like a fine violin.
At this point it is obvious that anything the President is for, his opposition is against.
No one says publicly that “we won’t give a nickel to anything a Black President wants.” But then again, they don’t have to say it.
The tragedy is that we allow them to get away with it.
We also let them pillorize Hillary Clinton when she said “it takes a village to raise a child.”
And when they took down ACORN, for the sin of registering poor people, we let them spread lies and screen bogus footage.
It is up to us to change things, now.
Congress is out and we will continue to monitor unofficial activities via the GOAT process, but CFJC and partners are also moving forward with aggressive Voter Registration and Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts.
Elsewhere in this month’s newsletter you can read about John Zippert’s visit to the Montgomery County Jail in Alabama, for protesting mean spirited efforts to deny health care to poor people.
In North Carolina the Moral Mondays movement has birthed similar protests in other states in the South.
But today, and for the next few news cycles, climate change will capture the headlines.
400,000 people marching in New York City is not easily dismissed.
But after the celebrities move on to the next event; after the politicians complete their statements and posturing for the television cameras; after the world leaders move on to plans for war without end, it is left to us, we, the people to carry on.
I cast no aspersions to any efforts to heal the planet; to bring attention to the ills of our society, or of any specific community. And about war unending, well…
It is exactly for those reasons that it is time to build on the growing dis-ease of our fellow country men and women, in that uniquely American tradition of engaging in voting.
And I don’t mean to claim that we are the only country where men and women vote. But, we may be the only country where people have the stubborn belief that our votes actually mean something in terms of governance.
Consider; today I receive a dozen emails soliciting funds daily asking for contributions to counter the millions of dollars the Koch brothers and others are pouring into races across the country.
What an incredible waste of money that could be feeding families on the verge of starvation.
Instead, we may have to continue contributions that feed public relations teams and media moguls, but we can also do much more.
The public’s dis-ease with politics, politicians and the status quo is fertile ground for voter registration. We are building on the good food movement, on the need to build something wholesome, in place of the cesspool that politics have become.
We are better than that. Here is what we can do.
Step One: CFJC callson all members, all partners, on any and everyone with whom we have ever been in contact, with a simple request. First, make sure you are registered to vote. Then, commit to ask anyone and everyone you know if they are registered to vote.
You may be surprised to learn that many are not. Maybe they have moved from another state. Or, maybe they just have never got around to it. Or, maybe they just don’t remember—but we need to remember that in order to vote, we first have to be registered.
Step Two: find out the deadlines for registration in your community and state. Thanks to Gary Redding at the Rural Coalition, for providing links to these resources:
1. Am I (and are the people in my community) registered to vote? If not, register here.
2. What date do I need to register myself or someone else by to vote on November 4, 2014? Voter Registration Deadlines.
3. Is a form of identification, such as a photo ID, required for me to vote? Find out here.
4. Am I going to be in town to vote on November 4, 2014? If not, plan to send in an absentee ballot.
5. Do I have room in my vehicle to take someone with me to vote? If so, check with senior citizens, young people, and neighbors who do not have a vehicle. If you live in a city with pubic transportation, consider accompanying someone who would appreciate assistance.
We have a limited amount of time to register to vote, and to assist others to register.
CFJC and partners will continue to monitor what the current crop of politicians are doing “in our name.” At the same time, we can all get more involved in the electoral process to make Congress and our local and state leaders more responsible to us, and not to corporate donors.
Next month we will highlight efforts to Get Out The Vote (GOTV). But first, let’s all get registered.
Thankfully, we are blessed with a process bought and paid for with blood, sweat, and tears—and I am speaking here of those activists here at home, in addition to our soldiers in wars abroad.
The history of voting rights is the story of heroes and heroines, and repressive efforts that continue to the present day, under the guise of double-speak that fools absolutely no one. It is at once a sad history, but also a proud history, of the spirit of self-determination.
By all means, let’s get registered.
Let’s get everyone registered.
Our Vote is the most powerful weapon we have to combat racism and bigotry; corporate greed and jingoism.
And the 2014 election is a benchmark in a new movement of educated citizens aware and awake, who will take back control of our country.
It is a glorious time to be alive, and of age to participate in the grand democratic experiment.
At CFJC we often say that we connect the dots, between policy at the national and state levels, and the lives of people in communities across the country. Last month that meant to highlight events in Ferguson, MO.
Today the struggle in Ferguson continues, and we won’t forget.
But the movement for democracy is spreading across the country, in small towns and on farms, in big cities, and in the halls of government.
Thank you for being part of the moment.
Once again, we ask again that you take a moment to make a commitment to the work we are doing by making a donation, not for a political cause or party, but so that we can continue to work with you and for you every day of the year.
Yours in partnership and respect.
All the best.
Y. Armando Nieto