10 things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving
In these times, it sometimes feels like there are many more things to be unthankful for than thankful. The fires out west that have taken the lives of so many. The shootings…again…and again…and again. The undercurrents of racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism that accompanied our recent elections and are encouraged, or at least tolerated, by some among our political leadership. And yet, we survive and strive forward to try to build a better world for those who need our help.
Despite all the bad, I think there are many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Here are ten:
- The elections. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents turned out in numbers so heavy that it marked the highest percentage of participation among eligible voters for a mid-term election in more than a century. And women and people of color led the way. Regardless of which candidates you supported, or whether your candidates won or lost, there is no such thing as too much democratic participation.
- Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act. For almost two years now, some in Congress, aided by the Trump Administration, have tried to kill the ACA. Not only have they failed, but voters increasingly have spoken up. First, they elected new General Assembly members in Virginia who, working with the new governor, agreed to expand Medicaid. That expansion, which takes effect Jan. 1, will cover as many as 400,000 people. Next, the people of Maine overwhelmingly passed Medicaid expansion. That was in 2017 – it’s been held up since by outgoing Governor Paul LePage – but with a new governor, Maine will soon have expansion that will cover 70,000 people. And most recently, voters in Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah – red states all – passed Medicaid expansion. Once the will of these voters is implemented, Medicaid will cover an additional 363,000 people. It seems as if the more opponents push back against the ACA, the more voters say they want it.
- The safety net. We’re thankful for our basic safety net programs, especially SNAP/food stamps, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. These programs are under near-continuous attack from leaders in Congress and the White House, but you can believe that we’ll fight with everything we have to protect these programs from cuts and harmful programmatic changes and to seize opportunities to improve them in the months and years ahead.
- Immigration advocates. We’re thankful for groups such as the National Immigration Law Center, CLASP, UnidosUS, Families Belong Together, United We Dream and so many others who are fighting on numerous fronts to stand up for immigrant families. We’re overwhelmed by the number of individuals who have taken action on their own, including risking arrest, to demand an end to family separation and an end to the mistreatment of our neighbors.
- #MeToo. We are thankful for the #MeToo movement, which went viral just over a year ago and has deeply changed the world. Millions of individuals have come forward to reveal the sexual violence perpetrated against them by family members, bosses, co-workers, classmates, priests, strangers, and others.
- SAVE for All. We’re thankful to be part of the SAVE for All campaign, which stands for Strengthening America’s Values and Economy for All. Human needs organizations are stronger when we stand together in protecting vulnerable populations and encouraging fiscal responsibility. We’re currently gathering signatures in anticipation of the incoming Congress, which is sworn in in January. If you represent a local, state, or national organization, please sign. Click here! (Questions? Email Joe Battistelli at firstname.lastname@example.org) (The deadline: Friday, December 14.)
- Nutrition assistance. Even as you are reading this, our friends at the Food Research & Action Center, Feeding America, and Bread for the World are continuing their support of the Senate version of the Farm Bill, now being negotiated in Congress. The Farm Bill includes SNAP/food stamps, which helped lift three million Americans out of poverty in 2017 and helped feed 40 million low-income Americans in an average month last year. The Senate version of the bill maintains SNAP, while the House version includes severe cuts.
- Teachers – and the labor movement. CNN put it best when it described teachers’ protests that swept through West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina: “This was the school year teachers reached their breaking point. From West Virginia to Arizona, they walked out en masse to protest at their state capitols. Many were tired of working multiple jobs and wanted higher salaries. Even more demanded better school funding for their students to replace crumbling textbooks and archaic supplies.” Teachers were particularly successful in Arizona and West Virginia, where they won significant raises, and in Kentucky, where they convinced legislators to earmark more money for students in the classroom. Teachers’ campaigns for investments in education remind us how important organized labor is, and how we need to support the right of workers to organize.
- Students. Back in March, students across the country marched out of their classrooms all across the country to protest gun violence and the lack of response from our nation’s political leadership. Some of them penned an op-ed in The New York Times that was headlined, “Dear NRA: We Won’t Let You Win. From, Teenagers.” The students pledged to be a force at the voting booth this year, and early indications are that young people voted in greater numbers than usual.
- You. We at CHN are thankful for the member groups that belong to our coalition and the work they do, the hundreds of local, state, and national organizations who are part of our SAVE for All campaign, and the many individuals who support CHN through their actions, petition signatures, calls and emails to Congress, and donations. We could not take on this great work without your support.
Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you, from all of us at CHN.