On the eve of the inauguration, Carmel Democrats and others concerned about Trump's policies and appointments crowded into Ramiro's to discuss practical, positive ways to fight back against attacks on our Democratic values. Many of those present were planning to attend marches in Washington DC, New York and Poughkeepsie. But we recognize that this is only a start. We will have to raise our voices and take action for the next four years. Here's a way it can be done. (My speech follows.)
I’m sure that many of you in this room woke up on November 9th and thought, How is this possible?! Was this a nightmare? Unfortunately, it is our nightmare come true and it is only getting worse as Trump, instead of “draining the swamp” has invited all the alligators in! One appointment after another is determined to tear down all that Obama and earlier Democrats built up.
We cannot go back to sleep! In spite of our disappointment, anger and broken hearts, we are not helpless in this situation. Let’s talk about what we need to protect and how we can go about it. Big picture, each of us can choose a few issues to focus on and take action at the national and state levels. But ultimately, all politics are local, and we need to act right here in our county – in our towns.
So, if you are concerned about the repeal of Obamacare, and the appointment of someone like Tom Price who will dismantle access to health care, then join up with the League of Women Voters who are fighting to assure affordable, quality health care for all Americans. You might ask Lillian Jones about that.
They are also working to assure women have access to the health care services and choices they need. Other actions: support and join Planned Parenthood and give to local clinics like Open Door in Brewster.
Let our senators know exactly how you feel about Price’s nomination. Then keep on top of the emerging trends and continue to voice your opposition to specific legislation that will roll back the progress that has been made.
As an educator, I am appalled by Trump’s proposed education secretary, Betsy Devres. She is a woman dedicated to the destruction of public education. We know that privatization of education will be no more successful than privatization of the prison system. Detroit, which has had a voucher system forced upon them, has the lowest performing urban schools in the country. There are even some among us who believe that the 1% want to destroy public education because it is easier to dupe an ignorant electorate.
So, what can you do?
Keep in mind that education is largely controlled by the state, so pressure them to limit support to any education programs that are not inclusive or not required to meet high standards.
Locally, join the PTA. Support our local public schools by voting yes for their budgets. Run for the school board. The position is often uncontested and the people on it have often been unqualified.
But also, keep an eye on local school activity. In the current environment, with Trump's tweets and Sessions’ history, racism, antisemitism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia all have a green light. We must make sure our children are not being taught this hatred nor accept them joining in it. We have had problems in this area in the past. And when you see expressions of hatred in our community, go to school board meetings, confront principals, and write letters to the editors of our local papers.
On the national scene, support Southern Poverty Law, the ACLU and their like.
If you are worried that Scott Pruitt as the head of the EPA and Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior will deregulate environmental controls and allow corporations to rape our environment, then support the Sierra Club and Environmental Defense Fund. Hammer representatives, even the Democrats, with letters, emails and phone calls insisting that they vote to protect our land.
Press New York State to stand by its current fracking ban and promote renewable energy.
Locally, support organizations such as the Putnam Land Trust.
Join Gerri Ravnitzky in the fight against the AIM pipeline:
I am part of a group of people suing our town government for failing to protect wetlands on Kirk Lake.
There is so much happening all at once on a national level that we could be here all night discussing the threats to our democracy and how to defend it. But I hope you have gotten the idea. Decide on which issues matter the most to you and raise your level of involvement with mutli-tiered action:
- Support national organizations,
- Reach out to our national and state representatives,
- Volunteer for and support local organizations,
- And speak out!
Locally, I urge you to hold our county and town government’s feet to the fire. The Carmel Democratic Committee is looking for volunteers to help us with this. We need people to attend meetings of the Planning Board, the Environmental Review Board and Town Board and alert us all to emerging issues so we can rally the troops and fight back in a timely manner.
Our problem is that we have been silent for too long so they think they can ignore us and demean us and spread false rumors about who we are and what we believe...let them hear our voices, and let us define who we are and what we really stand for.