There are days that evoke traditions, even if your tradition is different than everyone else’s. But on a day whose official holiday begins with thanks I think it important to consider, even if it only be a short while, all that each of us is thankful for. I’m thankful for my family, and for putting up with any mood swings or irrationality that have popped up from time to time over all these years. And I am thankful for the people I work with, all of us doing our job, all of us collecting a paycheck, doing the bidding of others so that we economically survive in this tough, tough place, but doing the job because it is our job. And I am thankful for everyone I come in contact with who smile back at me when I smile at them (or do so first) and anyone who’s bearing and actions lends a certain grace to our day to days. I am thankful for the activism that appears to be regenerating in young people – it is a dynamic in our daily affairs that lapsed a bit yet appears to be coming back. I am thankful for those bits of government no matter how maddeningly they operate at times – Social Security, Medicare, the CDC, the Weather Service, the Department of Transportation…those parts of the safety net that truly operate as elements of a safety net. And I am certainly thankful for any reader of my words and I hope at least in some way that the words even if it is occasional, help in some way.
There are many hopes that I have. One of them is that people start to recognize the incredible safety net that operates all around us. Surely the safety net needs to be improved in several ways and strengthened. Even if you do not need the safety net very much it is import for the dynamics of the zeitgeist that it be there and be recognized. When studying the history of man it is a wondrous thing that the safety net has improved to the extent it has. Now if we could only get people to translate that acceptance of the safety net to voting for their self-interests…
“Meanwhile, many people who in fact most use and need social benefits are simply not voting at all. Voter participation is low among the poorest Americans, and in many parts of the country that have moved red, the rates have fallen off the charts. West Virginia ranked 50th for turnout in 2012; also in the bottom 10 were other states that have shifted sharply red in recent years, including Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee.”
“In the spring of 2012, I visited a free weekend medical and dental clinic run by the organization Remote Area Medical in the foothills of southern Tennessee. I wanted to ask the hundreds of uninsured people flocking to the clinic what they thought of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, whose fate was about to be decided by the Supreme Court. I was expecting a “What’s the Matter With Kansas” reaction — anger at the president who had signed the law geared to help them. Instead, I found sympathy for Mr. Obama. But had they voted for him? Of course not — almost no one I spoke with voted, in local, state or national elections. Not only that, but they had barely heard of the health care law.”
“This political disconnect among lower-income Americans has huge ramifications — polls find nonvoters are far more likely to favor spending on the poor and on government services than are voters, and the gap grows even larger among poor nonvoters. In the early 1990s, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky freely cited the desirability of having a more select electorate when he opposed an effort to expand voter registration. And this fall, Scott Jennings, a longtime McConnell adviser, reportedly said low turnout by poor Kentuckians explained why the state’s Obamacare gains wouldn’t help Democrats. “I remember being in the room when Jennings was asked whether or not Republicans were afraid of the electoral consequences of displacing 400,000-500,000 people who have insurance,” State Auditor Adam Edelen, a Democrat who lost his re-election bid this year, told Joe Sonka, a Louisville journalist. “And he simply said, ‘People on Medicaid don’t vote.’
“…So where does this leave Democrats and anyone seeking to expand and build lasting support for safety net programs such as Obamacare?”
“For starters, it means redoubling efforts to mobilize the people who benefit from the programs. This is no easy task with the rural poor, who are much more geographically scattered than their urban counterparts. Not helping matters in this regard is the decline of local institutions like labor unions — while the United Mine Workers of America once drove turnout in coal country, today there is not a single unionized mine still operating in Kentucky.”
“But it also means reckoning with the other half of the dynamic — finding ways to reduce the resentment that those slightly higher on the income ladder feel toward dependency in their midst. One way to do this is to make sure the programs are as tightly administered as possible. Instances of fraud and abuse are far rarer than welfare opponents would have one believe, but it only takes a few glaring instances to create a lasting impression. Ms. Edin, the Hopkins researcher, suggests going further and making it easier for those collecting disability to do part-time work over the table, not just to make them seem less shiftless in the eyes of their neighbors, but to reduce the recipients’ own sense of social isolation.” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/22/opinion/sunday/who-turned-my-blue-state-red.html?emc=edit_th_20151122&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=63667984&_r=0