Ten Things We’re Thankful for This Thanksgiving
So many people under attack. People who need access to human needs programs just to survive. Immigrants. Workers. Consumers. LGBTQ people and people of color. And the assault on democratic institutions continues unabated.
And yet: there are things that those of us in the human needs community can be thankful for as we prepare to observe another Thanksgiving holiday. Here are ten things that come to mind:
- The rule of law. In well over 60 instances, federal courts have intervened to stop the worst excesses of the Trump Administration. We at Voices for Human Needs have been writing about this throughout the year – you can read more here and here. Although things can and probably will get worse before they get better, judges have often stood up strong and reminded us that in the U.S., the rule of law still counts.
- Elections. Voters in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Virginia turned out in record numbers earlier this month – and state election officials across the country are bracing for what they expect will be record turnouts on Nov. 3, 2020. (Yes, we know we have to keep fighting against voter suppression and disenfranchisement.) The elections earlier this month will have important policy implications – for example, when it comes to opposing Medicaid work requirements.
- The Poor People’s Campaign. Advocates continue to make the case that we need to pay more attention to poverty and poverty’s attendant issues. This past June, the Poor People’s Campaign hosted a presidential candidate forum; nine candidates attended and presented their plans for eradicating poverty. (President Trump was invited, but did not attend.)
- The role of government. The U.S. experienced the longest-running government shutdown in its history, beginning in late December and continuing into late January, because President Trump insisted on border wall funding Congress would not agree to. At the time, 21 percent of Americans reported they had been affected by the shutdown; another 46 percent said they knew someone who had been affected. Maybe it was the lengthening airport security lines, 38 million people threatened with the loss of SNAP benefits, bus, train and plane crashes uninvestigated, gaps in overseeing prescription drug and food safety, or a slowdown in processing income tax refunds – but Americans suddenly remembered that government, after all, does have a role in our lives. (And, despite all, President Trump caved on his wall funding demand.)
- Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD). In October, we lost an icon, a civil rights hero, a fighter for human needs. Even during Cummings’ final hours, he was fighting for immigrant children.
- The safety net. We’re thankful for our basic safety net programs, especially SNAP/food stamps, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and low-income tax credits. U.S. Census Bureau data released this fall once again demonstrated that these programs lifted millions out of poverty the previous year.
- Minimum wage advocates. Across the country, states and localities continue to pass laws mandating a living wage. And in an historic move, the U.S. House passed legislation that would increase the federal minimum wage. (Unfortunately, as of this writing, the legislation’s fate in the Senate is not promising.) Meanwhile, cutting-edge research continues to show that higher wages do not harm the restaurant industry, taking the wind out of the sails of those who oppose minimum wage increases and one of the primary arguments they use.
- Nutrition assistance. Again and again this year, the Trump Administration has proposed rules that would deny Americans access to SNAP, the nation’s most popular and effective nutrition assistance program. Another proposed rule is now pending that would tighten SNAP eligibility, affecting 19 percent of SNAP households and disproportionately harming the elderly and people with disabilities. You can submit a comment in opposition to the rule here, but hurry – the deadline for commenting is Monday, Dec. 2!
- 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. Over the past year, SAVE for All members have made literally hundreds of visits to congressional members’ offices to discuss pressing human needs issues.
- 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 the 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.