Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman. ~U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis
Maybe you have to know darkness before you can appreciate the light. ~Madeline L’Engle
I laughed when I saw Donald Trump beginning his campaign rallies by walking out to the Rolling Stones’ “You can’t always get what you want.” I wondered if he had even listened to the lyrics: “You can’t always get what you want… but if you try sometime, you just might find – you get what you need.”
But now, looking back on the election and the months that have followed, I have a very different appreciation for those lyrics. You and I did not get what we wanted. (Is that the understatement of the year?) But perhaps – just perhaps – we all got what we needed.
This election ripped off the thin veneer of civility that hid racism, misogyny, and able-ism from easy view. Hidden just below the surface of everyday American life was an entire American experience that many of us either didn’t believe existed or hadn’t seen for ourselves.
Dark prejudices and bigotry hid deep in the corners and the crevices of our country. Entire cultures met in basements, at nighttime rallies – in the cover of darkness, festering, growing, getting bigger by feeding on anger and resentment and insecurity.
But, as Justice Brandeis said in the quote above, sunshine is the best disinfectant. Suddenly, after Trump’s election, we were forced to turn our lights toward those dark corners to see what on earth lurks there. It’s hard to do, isn’t it?
We can’t deal effectively with a problem that we can’t – or refuse – to see. But the corollary is also true: once a problem is lit with the light of a thousand suns, it’s hard to ignore.
We need to see the pervasive racism that perverts every aspect of our lives – including our justice system.
We need to see America’s reaction to seeing a woman of overwhelming confidence, intelligence and experience challenging a male-dominated system.
We need to see politicians’ readiness to set aside the lives of Americans so they wouldn’t be cut off from the party piggybank.
So while it’s true that with Trump’s election we were given a peek into what lives in those dark corners of our society, it’s what we do with that knowledge that matters. With every action, with every article we read, and every seminar we attend – with every protest, every uncomfortable conversation, every phone call to Congress – with all of our individual and collective actions we cast more light into the dark parts of our country that grew unchecked for so long.
One light can’t illuminate an entire country.
But maybe a million can.
Let’s light it up.
Let’s get to work.
Actions: Three Calls, One Resistbot, One Share, and a List of Places to Donate!
Tuesday & Wednesday: Don’t Stop Supporting Healthcare
There’s no question that right now our focus needs to be on healthcare. Right now, regardless of when you’re reading this, you need to call your Senators and tell them to vote against Graham-Cassidy. It’s that important.
And yes, I know that after we heard that Collins was a “no” it seemed like this fight was over. It’s not. This emergency situation won’t be over until September 30 (because that’s when the procedural rule that allows the GOP to pass Graham-Cassidy with a simple majority expires). But frankly, this particular fight won’t be over until we vote out of office the people who are trying to take health care away.
So take 35 seconds and call your Senators on Tuesday AND Wednesday!
Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m calling from ____. I’m calling today to ask the Senator to vote against Graham-Cassidy. The entire medical community – providers, hospitals, patient advocates and insurers – have come out strongly against this bill. The S&P said that it’s bad for the economy and will cost 580,000 jobs; state insurance commissioners have come out and said its terrible for states. It will harm the people of our state; it will harm me personally. We can do better. The Senator can do better. Please – vote to protect the people of [your state] and vote no on this bill.
Here’s a Resistbot friendly version! Text RESIST to 50409, and cut and paste the statement below to send a fax to your Senators:
I’m writing today to ask you to vote against Graham-Cassidy. The entire medical community – providers, hospitals, patient advocates and insurers – have come out strongly against this bill. The S&P said that it’s bad for the economy and will cost 580,000 jobs; state insurance commissioners have come out and said its terrible for states. It will harm the people of our state; it will harm me personally. We can do better. You can do better. Please – vote to protect the people of [your state] and vote no on this bill.
Wednesday & Thursday (Well, All Week Long, Actually) Support Puerto Rico
I’m just as concerned as you are that more people aren’t concerned. There are 3.5 million American citizens waiting and waiting for help that doesn’t seem to be coming. Just as with everything else in this administration, it looks like we’ll need to take matters into our own hands.
The people of Puerto Rico need us. They are Americans. I’m not pointing that out because I think we should only help American citizens. I’m pointing it out because they have a right to rely upon our government to help them. And our government is letting them down.
What can we do to help? Two things: support them financially, and ask why the H-E-double-hockeysticks our elected officials aren’t doing more for these people.
First: Here’s a list of organizations that you can contribute to that are supporting Puerto Rico. (Hat tip to PBS for having such a wonderful comprehensive list.)
- United for Puerto Rico (a project led by the First Lady of Puerto Rico)
- Center for Popular Democracy
- Hispanic Federation’s “Unidos” page
- Our former presidents have expanded the One America Appeal – so it now includes Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
- All Hands Volunteers
- Catholic Relief Services
- Direct Relief
- Save the Children, which focuses specifically on the needs of families and their children.
- Global Giving has a $2 million goal for victims of Hurricane Maria
Second: Call your Senators and your Rep and let them know that this really matters to you. And let’s see if we can find out why it doesn’t seem to matter to them, shall we?
Script: Hi, my name is _____ and I’m a constituent at _____. I’m calling because I want to know what specific things the Senator/Congressman/woman is doing to help the people of Puerto Rico. What is he/she planning to do in the next day or two to get help to these Americans? Why on earth isn’t the Senator/Congressman/woman treating this like the life-or-death issue that it is?
Friday: Register people to vote from the comfort of your couch!
Graham-Cassidy polls about as well as a root canal, but the GOP has moved forward regardless. Twice as many people oppose the tax plan envisioned by this silver-spooned cabinet as support it – but the push to enact it is already underway. A full 86% of Americans support DACA,– but the administration and its GOP enablers do nothing to protect Dreamers.
The Congress that’s up in Washington just isn’t representing the people it serves anymore. So it’s time to change the makeup of that Congress!
Are you registered to vote? Great! But do you know if your friends and family are? You don’t need to embarrass them and ask them directly – you just need to go to this link, and share Rock the Vote’s registration page on either Twitter or Facebook or both. (Unfortunately, the text in their sharable says “I just registered to vote!” – which may not be accurate if you’re already registered. You can change that message to “Hey, you should totally register to vote so we don’t have to freak out about healthcare every 10 days!” Get creative!).
The DNC also has a web registration form that you can share.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together.
If you want one more quick action, make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two.
If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!
Lastly, if you’d like to support this work (thanks to those who have done so!), you can become a supporter here.