Thursday, June 15, 2017

Acidic Discourse Tears at Nation’s Fabric—Precursor to America’s Demise

By Mildred Robertson

Free speech. It is the bedrock of our democracy. It is what sets us apart from most other nations in the world. It is also what has helped create a chasm so wide between ideologies that our Union is threatened. Not since the civil rights movement has our nation been so divided, so hateful and mean-spirited.
During that period the media held up a mirror to America. What she saw shamed her. That shame led to action that created a new progressive era of inclusiveness; a time when many leaders strived to level the playing field for blacks and others who had not only been excluded from the American dream, but nearly decimated by it.
Because of the noble efforts of the media to live up to its high calling as the 4th Estate of American democracy, it was lauded and held in even higher esteem. Over the years it seems that once vaunted profession descended to a place ruled by ratings and advertising dollars; giving little thought to the need to guard the doors of our democracy. The meteoric fall of the mainstream media coupled with white backlash over civil rights concessions have left America vulnerable to the ravings of fringe elements that blame “otherness” for all of America’s ills.
Fox News, Donald Trump and others like them crept inside that open door to pimp the First Amendment and the values upon which it was based. The mainstream media, like a deer caught in headlights, failed to see that danger barreling down upon both it, and our nation until it was too late. The result has been the rise of entities proclaiming 1st Amendment protections while tearing at the fabric of our nation by spewing hate and divisiveness. They engage in hateful discourse and encourage violence against anyone who does not look or think like them.
Now we live in a nation wary of not just the media posers; but all media, including what many call “the mainstream media.” People have taken to social media to not only find, but to create their own truth. They have fashioned tribes that practice group think, and refuse to consider that the real truth may be found outside their twitter feed.
It is against this backdrop that we see raucous town hall meetings, angry protestors going after one another and representatives being shot down in a ball park. Americans seem to be armed with their own individual facts that leave no room for discussion or dissent; with some willing to kill for them. 
If we are to survive this current attack on our democracy we must somehow go back to the time when we realized that facts are facts, whether we agree with them or not. We must return to a time when those in power spoke the truth, and the media called them out when they did not. We have to somehow learn to put news gathering above garnering ratings.
If we cannot somehow find our way back to an America where truth and integrity are honored, and national discourse is respected, we are destined to go the way of many other historic empires. We are destined to fall.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Take Focus off Trumpgate: Health Care Legislation Needs Your Attention

As we watch the drama of espionage, collusion, treason and obstruction of justice unfold in Washington, D.C., many of us are overwhelmed by the magnitude of our country’s current peril.  I have detected a sense of hopelessness among my friends and colleagues as we stand by helplessly viewing the erosion of democratic rule in our nation.

The common lament is “What can I do as an individual citizen to help right this ship?” 
Well, unfortunately, we must leave the pursuit of justice against this corrupt administration in the hands of elected officials, the FBI, the Department of Justice and others tasked with protecting our democratic way of life. At least for now. 
But there is something we can do right now. We can hold our elected officials responsible for the bad acts they perpetrate while the world is focused on Trumpgate.
The Senate is currently attempting to push through destructive healthcare legislation while no one is watching. Mitch McConnell is working on a Senate version of the health care bill behind closed doors, with little input from any but a select few Republicans. It is expected to be as devastating to the average American as the recently passed house bill that, if enacted, would hit the elderly particularly hard.
According to the AARP, the U.S. House of Representatives health care bill would harm millions of Americans, hurt Medicare’s financial solvency and drive up health insurance costs for those over 50.
In its June 2017 issue of the AARP Bulletin, AARP lists, by state, the names of state representatives who voted for the bill. The American Health Care Act, which passed by a mere 4 votes in the House, includes what AARP calls an “age tax” that could potentially add as much as $13,000 to the cost of insurance for those 50 – 64 years of age, and would discriminate against those with preexisting health conditions.
AARP urges votes to hold representatives accountable for their vote. I urge you to do the same. In North Carolina those representatives who voted for the American Health Care Act, or “Trump Care” as I like to call it, are:

     NC-2   George Holding
     NC-5   Virginia foxx
     NC-6   Mark Walker
     NC-7   David Rouzer
     NC-8   Richard Hudson
     NC-9   Robert Pittenger
     NC-10 Patrick L. McHenry
     NC-13 Ted Budd
The only way we can change what goes on in Washington, D.C. is to change who we send to Washington, D.C. We need to contact our elected officials to let them know that we are not so distracted by the Washington spectacle, that we do not clearly see what they are doing. And we must let them know that we plan to hold them accountable at the ballot box. 
I urge you to contact your U.S. House Representative to let him or her know how you felt about the recent health care vote. And let your U.S. Senator know you will be watching his or her vote when McConnell roles out his healthcare bill.
We each have a voice in the preservation of our Democracy. Let’s be loud about it!