Some Actions I’ve Taken

Some thoughts on where we go from here.

Regarding Trump’s Cabinet nominees. If I could block any two of them and replace them with my own picks, I’d stop Jeff Sessions (nominated for Attorney General) and Scott Pruitt (nominated for the EPA). They’re the most dangerous to our ability to oppose Trump. But from a practical perspective, I think the most odious nominees we have a serious chance to stop are Tom Price, nominated to run the Department of Health and Human Services, and Andrew Puzder, nominated for the Department of Labor. (This said, it seems like Democrats are focusing on Betsy DeVos, who’s also awful.)

I set up a couple of donations on Inauguration Day that I’d like to talk about.

The first was a one-time contribution to Jon Ossoff. He’s a Democrat running for Congress in Georgia’s sixth congressional district, a historically Republican district in the Atlanta suburbs. That’s Tom Price’s seat; assuming he’s confirmed, there will be a special election in the next few months. That’s this year, folks! If you’re in the Sixth, please watch the news and make sure you vote! (The district includes parts of northern Fulton, northern DeKalb, and eastern Cobb; there’s a map and address-based lookup at http://bit.ly/2keAqtj.) I’ll try to remember to post about it again once the election date is set.

So, why should you care? Well, for starters, Trump only barely won the district — he received 48.3% to Clinton’s 46.8%. I don’t know if we can improve on or even replicate that downballot — but we’ll never find out if we don’t try. If Democrats want to ever win back Congress, we need to win in some tough districts. I think this is a great place to start. Ossoff is one of a few Democrats running; he’s a former staffer to Rep. John Lewis and Rep. Hank Johnson and has been endorsed by both of them. Like me, he was born in Piedmont Hospital. He plans to fight for our civil rights and liberties and currently runs a company that investigates corrupt politicians. (If you’d like to read more about his qualifications, I’ve included part of his bio at the bottom.*) I’d love to send Jon Ossoff to Congress, and I wish I could vote for him. If, like me, you can’t, you can donate here.

The second donation I made is recurring; it’s for the Magnolia Fund, which helps pay for abortions in Georgia. Donating to Planned Parenthood is great, but if your goal is to help with abortion access, contributing to a local abortion fund is an even better way to do that. (If that’s not your goal, obviously, don’t donate to an abortion fund!) The Magnolia Fund can be found here; if you want to find a fund in your state/area, I recommend using the National Network of Abortion Funds, which has a ZIP code lookup here.

I also donated to NIAC Action just now. It’s the political arm of the National Iranian American Council, and it “works to strengthen the Iranian-American community[,] promote greater understanding between the American and Iranian people[, and] maximize the political influence of Iranian Americans and the pro-peace community” via lobbying, grassroots action, and supporting candidates. The sheer lack of knowledge about Iran many Americans have is incredible. It’s okay if you’re one of those people — there’s nothing wrong with starting to learn now. NIAC Action’s website is https://www.niacaction.org; you can donate here. You can also contribute to NIAC itself; donations to NIAC are tax-deductible, unlike donations to their political arm. Their website is https://www.niacouncil.org; you can donate here.

The context for this is, of course, that nationals of 7 Muslim-majority nations have been banned from entering the U.S. (This includes current visa holders and U.S. permanent residents.) I think literally everything about this, as well as the “temporary” suspension of the refugee program, is bad. But I noticed something interesting about the list of nations (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen): Iran is the only one where the U.S. has had no recent military involvement (unless you include Stuxnet for some reason). All these nations make convenient villains in Trump’s narrative, which is crafted for domestic, not foreign, consumption. They “seem like” nations terrorists would come from, mostly because they’re war-torn. Iran isn’t. It’s a convenient villain because of its government and because of belligerent posturing. The Iranian people, by and large, have no qualm with us.

I could say a whole lot more about Iran, but for now, that’s all. This is why I chose to donate to NIAC Action, instead of one of the other great organizations fighting this ban. Here are a few others that are fighting it more directly, in court; I’m proud to be a donor to the ACLU of Georgia and CAIR of Georgia.

International Refugee Assistance Project

Council on American-Islamic Relations:

National

CAIR of Georgia (through PayPal)

Find other CAIR chapters

National Immigration Law Center

American Civil Liberties Union:

National

ACLU of Georgia

Find your state chapter

Regarding future elections, I hope Democrats focus on making gains in the states in 2017 and 2018, including Georgia. It’s too early to focus on 2020 right now, and 2020 will be too late to stop the worst of Trump’s agenda. (Then again, April this year might be too late…) In particular, aside from Ossoff’s race, Democrats are trying to win back the Virginia State House and the New Jersey governorship *this* year.

Also, about the Women’s March. It’s been called “messy”. I think that’s a good thing. We need to be having “messy” conversations about what opposition and progressivism mean. It’s a *good* thing that there were conversations about stances on sex work, abortion, and disability rights! That’s what progress looks like! I’ve seen a couple good articles on that… see “How the Women’s March Could Resurrect the Democratic Party”, by Lori Adelman, and “Don’t Call the Women’s March Messy. It’s a Movement”, by Sady Doyle, both written before the march. I’ll let the articles stand for themselves. I also liked reading trans woman Katelyn Burns’s anecdote “Why I Felt Excluded, Then Welcomed, at the Women’s March”.

*Ossoff’s bio: “I’m running for Congress because I believe we all have to stand up, right now, and fight for progress — for our prosperity and health, our civil rights and civil liberties, and our security. I was born and raised in Georgia and grew up here in the Sixth District. Today I lead a company that investigates corrupt politicians and organized crime. Our team has taken down human traffickers, exposed dozens of corrupt officials around the world, and uncovered atrocities committed by ISIS in Iraq. Previously I was a senior national security staffer in the U.S. Congress, working with our military and intelligence community to keep Georgians safe while investigating wrongdoing by government contractors. During five years as a Congressional aide, I learned how to get things done in Washington. On Capitol Hill and as a journalist, I’ve learned how to expose and fight the abuse of power. I will use my experience and all of my energy to fight for Georgia. Stay tuned!”

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