Scoundrel Time

Health of Our Planet, Health of Our People

It’s June—reign of the longest days of the year (in the northern hemisphere, anyway). But despite the extra hours of sunlight, the darkness these last few weeks has felt oppressive. Donald Trump gave the middle finger to the planet and the nations with whom we share it when he withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement on the first of the month. Then came last week’s revelation of the president’s disturbing interactions with former FBI director James Comey. Those of us who’ve faced sexual harassment or other abuses of power in the workplace had to reckon (once again) with the fact that the leader of our country is normalizing such coercive behavior (not to mention dismantling the precision and nuance of language—“honest loyalty,” really?).

Meanwhile, the Republican Senators have been getting closer and closer to a vote on their rewrite of the healthcare bill. This rewrite no longer enables insurers to charge those with preexisting conditions more for coverage, but it still promises to disproportionately hurt many of the most vulnerable members of our society: the elderly, those who depend upon Medicaid, and low-income families and individuals. The bill also eliminates funding for public health programs that work to protect these groups and removes the requirement that insurers provide essential services such as maternity and newborn care, mammograms, birth control, mental health services, and prescription medications. To make matters worse, Republican Senators seem to be intentionally keeping their discussions of the bill under wraps; as Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill said to GOP Senator Orrin Hatch at a Senate Finance Committee hearing last Thursday, “We have no idea what is being proposed. There’s a group of guys in a back room somewhere making these decisions.”

So what can we do to make our voices heard on these issues during these long and heavy days? Don’t forget the power you have as an individual and as a local citizen.

1) CLIMATE: Mayors in cities across the country have rapidly fought back against Trump’s foolish withdrawal from the Paris Agreement by pledging their commitment to continue to abide by its principles. The Mayors of Pittsburgh and Paris went as far as proclaiming their own climate deal. Meanwhile, governors in ten states have come together to create the United States Climate Alliance, whose goal is to to reduce emissions 26%-28% from 2005 levels.

ACTION: As Jen Hoffman suggests in this week’s Action Checklist for Americans of Conscience, call your governor’s office (if you don’t live in CA, CT, DE, HI, MA, MN, NY, OR, PR, RI, VT, VA, or WA) and ask your governor to get on board. Here’s her suggested script: “Hi. I’m from _TOWN_ and would like Governor _NAME_ to join the ten states that have created the US Climate Alliance. (Share why a livable planet matters to you.) Will you please pass along my message? Thank you.”

2) HEALTHCARE: Make sure you know what the new healthcare bill is all about. The Washington Post put together a nice question and answer piece after the bill passed the House. Slate staff writer Jim Newell outlines a few of the changes Republican Senators are discussing making to it here.

ACTIONS:

  • Call and/or tweet your senators (both of them)! The Senate will vote on the healthcare bill before the July 4th recess—tell them your thoughts while you still can. As Jen Hoffman writes, “Speak up for yourself and for those who cannot.” Jen suggests the following script: “Hi. I’m from _ZIP_ calling to ask _NAME_ to fight for my right to affordable, quality healthcare coverage. Specifically, (list what you want—ideas: no gender discrimination and no lifetime caps; access to reproductive medicine without cost; coverage for all pre-existing conditions; cost less than $X per month per person; comprehensive Medicare and Medicaid. Most importantly, share why this is personally significant to you.). Thanks!” Need numbers and Twitter handles? The Trumpcare Toolkit has you covered.
  • Call Senator Orrin Hatch, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and ask him for an open hearing of the Senate healthcare bill. Senate Finance Committee office: 202-224-4515. Fax: 202-228-0554. Jen Hoffman’s suggested script: “I am calling Sen. Hatch in his capacity as the chair of the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate’s current approach to the healthcare issue appears secretive, manipulative, and undemocratic. Democracy thrives with discussion, cooperation, and compromise. As a consumer of healthcare services, I’m asking Sen Hatch to conduct open, public hearings on the Senate healthcare bill.” She also suggests sending your Senators an email with a copy of this script. (Look them up).

3) Don’t lose heart! Spend time with those people who nourish your spirit. Immerse yourself in the beautiful places we hope to protect for future generations. Read words that inspire and uplift.