As the Senate gets ready to vote on the nominations of Steve Mnuchin to be Treasury Secretary and Tom Price to head the Department of Health and Human Services,
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the executive order on immigration and refugees that the President signed on Friday. It bans Syrian refugees from entering our country, suspends the entire refugee program for 120 days, cuts in half the number of refugees we can admit, and halts all travel from certain Muslim-majority countries.
I felt I had no choice but to speak out against it in the strongest possible terms.
This is a cruel measure that represents a stark departure from America’s core values. We have a proud tradition of sheltering those fleeing violence and persecution, and have always been the world leader in refugee resettlement. As a refugee myself who fled the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, I personally benefited from this country’s generosity and its tradition of openness. This order would end that tradition, and discriminate against those fleeing a brutal civil war in Syria.
There is no data to support the idea that refugees pose a threat. This policy is based on fear, not facts. The refugee vetting process is robust and thorough. It already consists of over 20 steps, ensuring that refugees are vetted more intensively than any other category of traveler.
The process typically takes 18-24 months, and is conducted while they are still overseas. I am concerned that this order’s attempts at “extreme vetting” will effectively halt our ability to accept anyone at all. When the administration makes wild claims about Syrian refugees pouring over our borders, they are relying on alternative facts — or as I like to call it, fiction.
The truth is that America can simultaneously protect the security of our borders and our citizens and maintain our country’s long tradition of welcoming those who have nowhere else to turn. These goals are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, they are the obligation of a country built by immigrants.
Refugees should not be viewed as a burden or as potential terrorists. They have already made great contributions to our national life. Syrian refugees are learning English, getting good jobs, buying homes, and starting businesses. In other words, they are doing what other generations of refugees — including my own — did. And I have no doubt that, if given the opportunity, they will become an essential part of our American fabric.
By targeting Muslim-majority countries for immigration bans and by expressing a clear preference for refugees who are religious minorities, there’s no question this order is biased against Muslims. And when one faith is targeted, it puts us all at risk.
I will never forget sailing into New York Harbor for the first time and seeing the Statue of Liberty when I came here as a child. It proclaims “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” There is no fine print on the Statue of Liberty, and today she is weeping.
This executive order does not reflect American values. If you agree, make your voice heard now.
Former Secretary of State
When Marin Alsop was 9 years old, her father took her to see Leonard Bernstein direct the New York Philharmonic. The next day, she got a bracing response when she told her violin teacher she wanted to be a conductor. She couldn’t. She was a girl.
Today, Alsop is music director and conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Yet despite her own ability to break through that glass ceiling, the 2016 election showed her that one crucial one remains in place.
“We thought we had achieved things, but they weren’t sustained,” she said.
“Some young women probably didn’t realize how stacked the deck is against women in our world,” Alsop pointed out. “This is how it’s been historically. We think, ‘Oh, here’s a breakthrough,’ and then the door slams shut even harder.”
Not only did the first female presidential nominee of a major political party lose after her victory was taken for granted, but she lost to a man caught on tape boasting about groping women. Now the sadness, alarm and ensuing determination that many young American women felt after the door-slam of the 2016 election have become catalysts for a resurging women’s movement.
“We all assumed that it was time for a woman to have this opportunity, and that it was obvious,” added Alsop. “It’s galvanized people.”
The Women’s March on Washington is bringing some women together around America, where they meet in state and local chapters to prepare for the march and to share experiences. In Key West, Florida, women are participating together in late-night yoga. In Orlando, they meet at a Fuddruckers restaurant. Women in Washington state are knitting special hats for the march. Women in Texas gather in living rooms to create signs.
The day after the election, Planned Parenthood received roughly 40 times the average number of donations. Appointments for contraceptives such as intrauterine devices at Planned Parenthood centers increased tenfold. The website of the National Organization for Women was so overwhelmed with the number of visitors it crashed.
“It was horror,” said Terry O’Neill, president of NOW.
“A lot of people woke up to the day after the election . . . feeling very scared,” said Emma Collum, 32, one of the Florida organizers for the Women’s March on Washington. “You woke up not knowing if your neighbor had voted for an administration that was basically going to take away your rights.”
SOME YOUNG WOMEN PROBABLY DIDN’T REALIZE HOW STACKED THE DECK IS AGAINST WOMEN IN OUR WORLD.Marin Alsop
Activists and organizers interviewed for this article all reported that in dozens of conversations with women they have come in contact with since Election Day, there has been a sense of fear or panic.
The tenfold increase in IUD appointments post-election reported by Planned Parenthood can be attributed to the fear of changes being made to the Affordable Care Act, something President-Elect Donald Trump has promised will happen. According to Gallup, concern over health care jumped from 4 percent in October to 10 percent in November. The same polling also saw a spike in concern over elections and election revisions.
315,000Donations received by Planned Parenthood since the election
“The best way I can sum up the feeling . . . is that we saw the earthquake up in the ocean and we know the tsunami is coming,” O’Neill said of her conversations with activists and the leaders of organizations that partner with NOW.
Women’s march organizers such as Collum, Amber Keith and Meghan Brokaw reported having a hard time waking up the morning after the election, or sleeping at all. Brokaw described it as “a despair.”
But they also spoke of that fear, and the root cause of that fear, as having a silver lining.
“I think ‘scared’ could be categorized as one of the top emotions in the formation of this organization,” explained Collum. “Now I felt empowered by this organization and I felt safe.”
“I wish that we had this before the election, this sisterhood and this community,” added Brokaw, 31. “But I’m excited that it’s happening now.”
Would this community of women have formed had Hillary Clinton won the election? The activists and organizers interviewed for this article said probably not.
“I would have just celebrated and then gone on with my life,” said Keith, 41. “It definitely lit a fire in me.”
The number of volunteer applications at Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, which manages centers primarily in the Carolinas, increased from five to 10 a week to hundreds in the immediate aftermath of the election, and now is still more than double what it was before Trump’s win.
The Women’s March on Washington, for which Brokaw and Keith help lead the Kansas state chapter, has registered nearly 300,000 attendees since Election Day. Organizers estimate the number will be even higher in Washington on Saturday.
For many, the march is not the culmination but a beginning.
“We’re using this march as a launching pad,” Keith explained. The Kansas contingent plans on having a platform outlined before heading to Washington that will likely focus on education and increased female and moderate representation in the state Legislature.
Meanwhile, in Florida, Collum said the new community of female activists was inspired by Florida’s status as a swing state.
“We can turn the head of the country if we can turn the head of the state,” she said. “That’s a lofty goal, but, dammit, it’s a goal.”
Dr. Alexa Canady, the first female African-American neurosurgeon, has faced discrimination throughout her life. The post-election determination and the quick organization of events such as the women’s march have reminded her of the civil rights era in the 1960s.
“People organize when they’re ready, when they have something that galvanizes them,” she explained. “I think, in fact, it may open the eyes of many women to how tenuous things are.”
Natalie Fertig: 202-383-6020, @natsfert
As the new year begins, any honest progressive knows the political outlook is bleak. But if we’re going to limit the damage that President-elect Donald Trump inflicts on the country, then despair is not an option. The real question, as Democracy Alliance President Gara LaMarche recently said, “is how you fight intelligently and strategically when every house is burning down.”
Indeed, with Trump and Republicans in Congress aggressively pushing a right-wing agenda, progressives will need to invest their resources and attention where they can do the most good — both now and over the next four years. With that in mind, here are three steps to take to resist and rebuild as the Trump administration gets underway.
First, while strong national leadership is certainly important, progressives must recognize that the most significant resistance to Trump won’t take place in Washington. It’s going to happen in the streets led by grass-roots activists, and in communities, city halls and statehouses nationwide.
There is real potential for cities and states to act as a bulwark against Trump’s agenda. On immigration, for example, a coalition of mayors from across the country — including New York and Los Angeles but also cities throughout the Rust Belt and the South — are already coordinating to fight Trump’s deportation plans. Local Progress, a national network of city and county officials, is working to protect civil rights and advance economic and social justice. And while the Trump administration may ravage the environment, cities and states can also continue the fight against global warming; in particular, California has the potential to become a global leader on the issue, and Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has defiantly pledged to move forward with plans to slash carbon emissions in the state regardless of Trump’s policies.
Cities and states also give progressives an opportunity to play offense by advancing policies that truly improve people’s lives, while providing a concrete and actionable blueprint for the rest of the country. Take the Fight for $15. Last year, 25 states, cities and counties approved minimum-wage increases that will result in raises for millions of workers nationwide. And despite Trump’s hostility to workers, there are campaigns to increase the minimum wage planned in at least 13 states and other localities over the next two years, representing a real chance to build on that progress.
Second, as New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman writes, “We need a broad commitment from activists and donors to take back state governments.” Even if Democrats do well in the midterm elections, they are unlikely to regain control of Congress until after the next round of redistricting, in 2020. Yet there will be 87 state legislative chambers and 36 gubernatorial seats up for grabs in 2018. Progressives would be wise to adopt a laserlike focus on winning these races.
A strong performance at the state level in 2018 would do more than improve progressives’ ability to combat Trump’s policies. It would also help create a stronger pipeline of leaders who could eventually run for higher office, following in the steps of incoming House members Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). Crucially, it would also give progressive Democrats more influence over congressional redistricting in 2020, boosting the party’s prospects at the national level. For that reason, it’s noteworthy that President Obama is planning to get involved in state legislative elections and redistricting after he leaves office, though grass-roots efforts will remain paramount.
And third, it will be critical for progressive leaders in Washington to amplify local progress to drive a national message. In the absence of a single party leader — especially one whose success depends on compromising with congressional Republicans — there is more room for strong, populist progressive voices to emerge in opposition to Trump.
Already, Sens. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Jeff Merkley (Ore.) are stepping up,and they will be joined in the House by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, whose members will play a key role in recruiting and running progressive candidates, connecting with grass-roots movements and driving local issues into the national sphere. Working alongside activist groups, progressive Democrats can present a clear alternative vision for the nation.
To that end, the race for Democratic National Committee chair presents a significant opportunity to shift the party’s direction. Regardless of who prevails, progressives would be wise to insist on a return to the 50-state strategy that former chairman Howard Dean championed and that all of the current candidates say they support. Ultimately, the party’s fortunes will depend on recruiting a new generation of progressive leaders, especially women and people of color, who can harness the power of social movements and drive it into electoral politics — everywhere in the country, at every level of government.
Could not resist republishing this. Please read through to the end; it will make you feel better!
Apologies to Dr. Seuss
HOW THE TRUMP STOLE AMERICA
This wonderful poem was written by John Pavlovitz
In a land where the states are united, they claim,
in a sky-scraping tower adorned with his name,
lived a terrible, horrible, devious chump,
the bright orange miscreant known as the Trump.
This Trump he was mean, such a mean little man,
with the tiniest heart and two tinier hands,
and a thin set of lips etched in permanent curl,
and a sneer and a scowl and contempt for the world.
He looked down from his perch and he grinned ear to ear,
and he thought, “I could steal the election this year!
It’d be rather simple, it’s so easily won,
I’ll just make them believe that their best days are done!
Yes, I’ll make them believe that it’s all gone to Hell,
and I’ll be Jerk Messiah and their souls they will sell.
And I’ll use lots of words disconnected from truth,
but I’ll say them with style so they won’t ask for proof.
I’ll toss out random platitudes, phrases, and such,
They’re so raised on fake news that it won’t matter much!
They won’t question the how to, the what, why, or when,
I will make their America great once again!”
The Trump told them to fear, they should fear he would say,
“They’ve all come for your jobs, they’ll all take them away.
You should fear every Muslim and Mexican too,
every brown, black, and tan one, everyone who votes blue.”
And he fooled all the Christians, he fooled them indeed,
He just trotted out Jesus, that’s all Jesus folk need.
And celebrity preachers they all crowned him as king,
Tripping over themselves just to kiss the Trump’s ring.
And he spoke only lies just as if they were true,
Until they believed all of those lies were true too.
He repeated and Tweeted and he blustered and spit,
And he mislead and fibbed—and he just made up sh*t.
And the media laughed but they printed each line,
thinking “He’ll never will win, in the end we’ll be fine.”
So they chased every headline, bold typed every claim,
‘Till the fake news and real news they looked just the same.
And the scared folk who listened, they devoured each word,
Yes, they ate it all up every word that they heard,
petrified that their freedom was under attack,
trusting Trump he would take their America back.
From the gays and from ISIS, he’d take it all back,
Take it back from the Democrats, fat cats, and blacks.
And so hook, line, and sinker they all took the bait,
all his lies about making America great.
Now the Pant-suited One she was smart and prepared,
she was brilliant and steady but none of them cared,
no they cared not to see all the work that she’d done,
or the fact they the Trump had not yet done thing one.
They could only shout “Emails!”, yes “Emails!” they’d shout,
because Fox News had told them—and Fox News had clout.
And the Pant-suited One she was slandered no end,
and a lie became truth she could never defend.
And the Trump watched it all go according to plan—
a strong woman eclipsed by an insecure man.
And November the 8th arrived, finally it came,
like a slow-moving storm but it came just the same.
And Tuesday became Wednesday as those days will do,
And the night turned to morning and the nightmare came true,
With millions of non-voters still in their beds,
Yes, the Trump he had done it, just like he had said.
And the Trumpers they trumped, how they trumped when he won,
All the racists and bigots; deplorable ones,
they crawled out from the woodwork, came out to raise Hell,
they came out to be hateful and hurtful as well.
With slurs and with road signs, with spray paint and Tweets,
with death threats to neighbors and taunts on the street.
And the grossest of grossness they hurled on their peers,
while the Trump he said zilch—for the first time in years.
But he Tweeted at Hamilton, he Tweeted the Times,
And he trolled Alec Baldwin a few hundred times,
and he pouted a pout like a petulant kid,
thinking this is what Presidents actually did,
thinking he could still be a perpetual jerk,
terrified to learn he had to actually work,
work for every American, not just for a few,
not just for the white ones—there was much more to do.
He now worked for the Muslims and Mexicans too,
for the brown, black, and tan ones, and the ones who vote blue.
They were all now his bosses, now they all had a say,
and those nasty pant-suited ones were here to stay.
And the Trump he soon realized that he didn’t win,
He had gotten the thing—and the thing now had him.
And it turned out the Trump was a little too late,
for America was already more than quite great,
not because of the sameness, the opposite’s true,
It’s greatness far more than just red, white, and blue,
It’s straight, gay, and female—it’s Gentile and Jew,
It’s Transgender and Christian and Atheist too.
It’s Asians, Caucasians of every kind,
The disabled and abled, the deaf and the blind,
It’s immigrants, Muslims, and brave refugees,
It’s Liberals with bleeding hearts fixed to their sleeves.
And we are all staying, we’re staying right here,
and we’ll be the great bane of the Trump for four years.
And we’ll be twice as loud as the loudness of hate,
be the greatness that makes our America great.
And the Trump’s loudest boasts they won’t ever obscure,
over two million more of us—voted for her.