Right now, and likely for some time to come, Russia is the big focus of the media, Congress and various investigations.  But when everyone is focused with laser sharpness on the Russian connection, focus wavers from all the other equally important issues critical to so many Americans. If you believe we all need to be in it for the Long Haul, it’s important to create a long-haul strategy. Just hoping for an impeachment isn’t it, because there a  slew of other staunch conservatives starting with Mike Pence right behind Mister Trump. In fact, staunch conservatives would prefer the alternatives almost as much as liberals think they might.

There are many long haul issues. Here’s a list of just a few of them: Reproductive Rights, Climate Change, Health Care and the ACA, Immigration, Medicaid, Gerrymandering.

None are small issues. They are big, far reaching, values based, and critical to overall welfare. Yet, with increasing talks on Russian collusion, election tampering and Trump business interests in foreign, unfriendly lands, domestic issues have been relegated to the back of the policy debate closet.

And, that’s the problem with the media — they go for the big story, leaving the rest of us out in the cold about what’s gong on with other smaller stories of the moment.  As each of us, one by one, turns off the TV tired of the same story repeating hour after hour, it’s important for the rest of us to keep our focus on other issues so we don’t wake up one day, after the Russia story has dissipated, to find that Planned Parenthood is radically reduced in its national footprint, 23 million people have lost health care coverage, and Boomers getting ready to retire are faced with radically reduced Medicare and Social Security benefits.

As summer starts, it’s appealing for all of us to take a breather, go to the beach, and read fan fiction. But, we can’t trust this administration to honor our collective citizen wishes while we sunbathe. Rather than zone out, it’s as important a time as any to zone in and keep equal heat from our smaller quarters on all the other domestic issues of prime importance.  Here are just three examples:

  • Planned Parenthood. In Iowa, one third of all Planned Parenthood clinics are set to close due to reduced funding by that state. Per ABC News, the only clinic in Wyoming is closing as well as three in New Mexico. For those focused on all the great fundraising that occurred for Planned Parenthood  — 80,000 post election many in Mike Pence’s name —  it was just a shot in the arm and not enough to sustain women’s health care and reproductive rights in the long term.
  • Climate Change. In April, the EPA removed portions of its web site that referred to climate science.  Ostensibly, the move was to update language, but since the removal was made under the auspices of long-time EPA foe and now agency head Scott Pruitt, the absence of language after two decades is suspect at best.   Gore coming out with sequel
  • Penny Drives For Any Cause.  Little amounts add up. Little amounts allow little people and big people, too, to contribute without breaking the bank.  The point is to foster grass roots impetuses for change. Pick an issue that easily crosses generations  (unlike reproductive rights) and organize a drive to raise funds. You’ll be engaging various people in conversations, teaching the next generation to be aware of privilege versus real need, and helping important causes gain greater traction.
    1. What you can do now:  Create a fund in a local school, or with a scout troop to raise funds for an issue they are passionate about from Environmental Protection, to paying for newspaper subscriptions for underprivileged schools/students, to raising funds for Doctors Without Borders.  The cause is important, but the action is even more so for its ability to demonstrate how actions can be started with just a few people in a few places with few resources.
  • Media Responsibility.  There’s been no end to Trump tweets and rants on Fake News.  The cause of media responsibility is correct; his rants are just wrong. What we all need is more real news — not single issue news for an entire hour, but segments on all topics.  If you watched any cable show during the last week it was hard to believe anything else happened anywhere else in the world except the probe into Jared Kushner.  Without a free, operating and responsible press, democracy is severely handicapped.
    • What you can still do now: Each show and each network has a Twitter site. Find one that you support and as a viewer write them nightly on the type of news you want to see. Support their continued coverage of Russia, but ask for more well-rounded news coverage that doesn’t ignore all the other important issues related to overall democratic principles and domestic well being.

It’s the beginning of summer — but it’s not a time for lazy, crazy apathy.  Kids are out of school soon, so it’s a great time to create family projects with meaning. It’s a time to raise funds for underprivileged kids to see the country and experience camp. It’s a time to breath deep, take some time off, but not to go into a democratic coma.  Too much can happen in three months.

 

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