Curtain Raiser

No Time to Call it a Day, Colltalers

Gun massacres and wild fires have taken over the headlines, with another batch of dozens of preventable deaths to their account. As these tragedies turn into daily events, they may have already become normalized. Have we lost the will to produce change?
For haven’t we just had a major election? Weren’t these and other issues supposed to have been addressed last Tuesday? Let’s check on the priorities listed here last week, and see whether voters’ choices reflected how concerned we really are about them.
Starting by last Newsletter’s title, we did get an almost great turnout. The best of midterm elections since 1966, with 47% of able to vote electors casting a ballot. Wow, some would say. As for us, though, let’s face it: we’ve got to climb over that 50% hump.
We know, there’s been rampant voter suppression, extreme GOP gerrymandering, hate speech, raw lies, unbound spending and spineless sycophancy, by a party whose members’ top priority is to please the leader. Or be publicly scorned by him, if they lose.
Down the Florida way, it’s 2000 all over again, and Republican bigwigs are landing in droves so recounts of hanging chads may drag long enough for the Supreme Court to be called on and close shop. With few revisions, that old script will be applied again.
Now the issues. We picked climate change, immigration and asylum rights, healthcare, women’s choice, racial and sexual rights, gun control, wage and labor reform, voting rights, plus whatever pet projects you may have, as this nation’s most obvious woes.
Along their enthusiasm, most Democratic and independent new comers have won on commitment to fight climate change and support wind and solar power projects. Pity we still can’t get a majority in such an obvious bad-for-everyone-but-big-oil issue.
The retaking of the House by the Democrats means more than a mere hard-fought comeback, for it’s a game we’re still losing: 1×2. But it was a score all the same and we’ve still got some time.

Representatives will have subpoena power to call on hearings, challenge presidential nominations, veto draconian immigration and asylum rulings, and even begin impeachment proceedings.
That doesn’t mean that they will, not without public pressure. Anticipating that, the president has already kicked the bucket ahead of everybody else: in the smoke of firing his Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he just claimed new powers to refuse asylum, trying to single-handedly dismount a century of international accords over the issue of refugees. He can’t possibly succeed, now can he?
More than 100 female candidates elected is a record, as it was the number of votes and donations to pro-reproductive rights made by women. Yes, Alabama and West Virginia have passed harsh anti-abortion laws, in preparation for a likely Supreme’s re-staging of Roe v Wade. Still, most Americans voted to protect women’s right to choose, and expand Obamacare and Medicaid.
There were other great wins in these elections, represented by many ‘firsts.’ Stacey Adams continues to fight to confirm that she’s a first among firsts, as governor of Georgia while black and female. Colorado’s first gay governor Jared Polis; NY’s Alexandra Ocasio-Castro, the youngest woman to be elected to Congress; as the first Muslims, MI’s Rashida Tlaib and MN’s Ilhan Omar. The two native Americans and a Somali refugee added to a courageous display of diversity and resilience by female candidates.
But the demographics most blatantly disenfranchised, that of blacks and people of color, didn’t fare so well, despite electing 17 African-American women. Right now, a would-be landmark, that of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum becoming Florida’s first black governor, beating Trump-fave Ron DeSantis, has still to grind through the state’s flawed and partisan recount machine.
It was in Florida too, that no gun-control proposal, lead or not by the teen survivors of the massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high-school, on Valentine’s Day, could get any love from voters. Despite lethal shootings in the days preceding and even that Tuesday, once again, we let down those kids. They, who had to grow up fast and act as adults, still can’t get our full support.
Overall, workers and labor staged gains, with $15 minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, and union support boosting many a victory. But it was the 1.4 million Florida felons, regaining rights to vote, and the majority of proposals against voter suppression being soundly approved, what may bring the change we need. Not now, though: our electoral system remains in mortal danger.
Putting this way, it looks like we’ve gained more than lost, towards protecting democracy and individual rights. But unlike the U.S. president, few are about to ‘celebrate.’ People, not politicians, did win the House; but the Senate was an embarrassment.
Yesterday marked Armistice Day’s 100th Anniversary, when nations finally ended WWI, supposedly, the ‘war to end all wars.’
As expected, the president pulled out a cruel stunt, by choosing not to visit graves of American soldiers buried at the Aisle Marne cemetery in France, despite being in Paris, and blaming it all on the weather. It was an insult so close to Veterans Day, that it’s no wonder they’ve voted in mass against him Nov. 6. And a big screw-you to global diplomacy. Don’t you wish the turnout had been bigger?
The sobering pictures of Paradise, California, all burned down to a crisp, is the haunting prospect, and so far the most damaging injury, that Trump has already inflicted upon Americans and the world. His denial to take any action against climate change, and gun control for that matter, has had only one result: more than the three dozen-plus who died this week stand to be killed too.
The regularity that massacres and climate-driven fires and floods occupy the headlines has done little to awaken us. A growing number of casualties, victims of these two man-made scourges, still lacks votes and power, to finally stop the butchery. Many worked very hard to get us to this point; this is no time to be self-congratulatory or rest our case. We’re still here, let’s keep at it. WC

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