The Women’s Marches that took place across the country – some 250 of them including Washington DC and New York City – are the opening salvo to the 2020 Election. Make no mistake, this was about voting, realizing that all the issues that they care about hinge on the coming election and not on changing the minds of lawmakers who currently control the levers of power: reproductive freedom and a woman’s right to self-determination; access to the ballot and access to health care; climate action and environmental justice; gun safety and domestic violence; gender equity, sexism and misogyny; discrimination and sexual harassment; immigration reform and human rights. They are all on the ballot this November.
And the Supreme Court and all the courts now
dominated by radical right-wing judges that seek to roll back women’s rights,
civil rights, voting rights, health-care-is-a-human-right. “Ruth Bader
Ginsburg, hold on,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer declared as the
march set off down Columbus Avenue, passed the Trump International Hotel, where
the most animated expressions of outrage against Trump and his administration
A singular, unifying message emerged: Dump Trump and
his henchmen and his enablers.
And a theme for the New York City march organized by Women’s March Alliance (womensmarchalliance.org): Rise & Roar.
The vigorous contest of
Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent
policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren details her
plan to confront the crisis of environmental injustice. “Justice cannot be a
secondary concern – it must be at the center of our response to climate change.”
This is from the Warren campaign:
Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren has released her plan to fight for justice as we take on the climate crisis. Warren will implement an equity screen for her proposed climate investments, directing at least $1 trillion into the most vulnerable communities over the next decade and investing not only in cleaning up pollution but in building wealth and lifting up the communities in most need.
The climate crisis demands all of us to act, but it is also an opportunity to create millions of new good, middle class, union jobs and to directly confront the racial and economic inequality embedded in our fossil fuel economy. Elizabeth will honor our commitment to fossil fuel workers by fighting for guaranteed wage and benefit parity for workers transitioning into new industries, and to protect the pensions and benefits that fossil fuel workers have earned. She’ll partner with unions every step of the way.
She will hold corporate polluters accountable, working with Congress to create a private right of action for environmental harm, and imposing steep fines on violators that will be reinvested in impacted communities.
Elizabeth knows we need to elevate environmental justice at the highest levels. She’ll transform the Council on Environmental Quality into a Council on Climate Action with a broader mandate, including empowering frontline community leaders to speak directly to the White House.
In 1987, the United Church of Christ’s Commission on Racial Justice commissioned one of the first studies on hazardous waste in communities of color. A few years later — 28 years ago this month — delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit adopted 17 principles of environmental justice. But in the years since, the federal government has largely failed to live up to the vision these trailblazing leaders outlined, and to its responsibilities to the communities they represent.
From predominantly black neighborhoods in
Detroit to Navajo communities in
the southwest to Louisiana’s Cancer Alley, industrial
pollution has been concentrated in low-income communities for decades —
communities that the federal government has tacitly written off as so-called “sacrifice zones.” But
it’s not just about poverty, it’s also about race. A seminal study found
that black families are more likely to live in neighborhoods with higher
concentrations of air pollution than white families — even when they have the
same or more income. A more recent study found that while whites largely cause
air pollution, Blacks and Latinxs are more likely to breathe it in.
Unsurprisingly, these groups also experience higher rates of childhood asthma. And
many more low-income and minority communities are exposed to toxins in
their water — including lead and chemicals from industrial and agricultural
And these studies don’t tell the whole story. As I’ve
traveled this country, I’ve heard the human stories as well. In Detroit, I met
with community members diagnosed with cancer linked to exposure to toxins after
years of living in the shadow of a massive oil refinery. In New Hampshire, I
talked with mothers fighting for clean drinking water free of harmful PFAS
chemicals for their children. In South Carolina, I’ve heard the stories of the
most vulnerable coastal communities who face the greatest threats, from not
just sea-level rise, but a century of encroaching industrial polluters. In West
Virginia, I saw the consequences of the coal industry’s abandonment of the
communities that made their shareholders and their executives wealthy — stolen
pensions, poisoned miners, and ruined land and water.
We didn’t get here by accident. Our crisis of environmental
injustice is the result of decades of discrimination and environmental racism
compounding in communities that have been overlooked for too long. It is the
result of multiple choices that put corporate profits before people, while our
government looked the other way. It is unacceptable, and it must change.
Justice cannot be a secondary concern — it must be at the
center of our response to climate change. The Green New Deal commits us to a
“just transition” for all communities and all workers. But we won’t create true
justice by cleaning up polluted neighborhoods and tweaking a few regulations at
the EPA. We also need to prioritize communities that have experienced historic
disinvestment, across their range of needs: affordable housing, better
infrastructure, good schools, access to health care, and good jobs. We need
strong, resilient communities who are prepared and properly resourced to
withstand the impacts of climate change. We need big, bottom-up change —
focused on, and led by, members of these
No Community Left Behind
The same communities that have borne the brunt of industrial
pollution are now on the front lines of climate change, often getting hit first
and worst. In response, local community leaders are leading the fight to hold
polluters responsible and combat the effects of the climate crisis. In
Detroit’s 48217 zip code, for example, community members living in the midst of
industrial pollution told me how they have banded together to identify refinery
leakages and inform their neighbors. In Alabama and Mississippi, I met with
residents of formerly redlined neighborhoods who spoke to me about their fight
against drinking water pollution caused by inadequate municipal sewage systems.
Tribal Nations, which have been disproportionately impacted by environmental
racism and the effects of climate change, are leading the way in
climate resilience and adaptation strategies, and in supporting healthy
ecosystems. The federal government must do more to support and uplift the
efforts of these and other communities. Here’s how we can do that:
Improve environmental equity mapping. The EPA
currently maps communities
based on basic environmental and demographic indicators, but more can be done
across the federal government to identify at-risk communities. We need a
rigorous interagency effort to identify cumulative environmental health
disparities and climate vulnerabilities and cross-reference that data with
other indicators of socioeconomic health. We’ll use these data to adjust
permitting rules under Clean Air and Clean Water Act authorities to better
consider the impact of cumulative and overlapping pollution, and we’ll make
them publicly available online to help communities measure their own health.
Implement an equity screen for climate investments. Identifying
at-risk communities is only the first step. The Green New Deal will involve
deploying trillions of dollars to transform the way we source and use energy.
In doing so, the government must prioritize resources to support vulnerable
communities and remediate historic injustices. My friend Governor Jay Inslee
rightly challenged us to fund the most vulnerable communities first, and
both New York and California have
passed laws to direct funding specifically to frontline and fenceline
communities. The federal government should do the same. I’ll direct one-third
of my proposed climate investment into the most vulnerable communities — a
commitment that would funnel at least $1 trillion into these areas over the
Strengthen tools to mitigate environmental harms. Signed
into law in 1970, the National Environmental Policy Act provides the original
authority for many of our existing environmental protections. But even as
climate change has made it clear that we must eliminate our dependence on
fossil fuels, the Trump Administration has tried to weaken NEPA with
the goal of expediting even more fossil fuel infrastructure projects. At the
same time, the Trump Administration has moved to devalue the
consideration of climate impacts in all federal decisions. This is entirely
unacceptable in the face of the climate emergency our world is facing. As
president, I would mandate that all federal agencies consider climate impacts
in their permitting and rulemaking processes. Climate action needs to be mainstreamed
in everything the federal government does. But we also need a standard that
requires the government to do more than merely “assess” the environmental
impact of proposed projects — we need to mitigate negative environmental
Beyond that, a Warren Administration will do more to give the people who live
in a community a greater say in what is sited there — too often today, local
desires are discounted or disregarded. And when Tribal Nations are involved,
projects should not proceed unless developers have obtained the free, prior and
informed consent of the tribal governments concerned. I’ll use the full extent
of my executive authority under NEPA to protect these communities and give them
a voice in the process. And I’ll fight to improve the law to reflect the
realities of today’s climate crisis.
Build wealth in frontline communities. People of
color are more likely to live in neighborhoods that are vulnerable to climate
change risks or where they’re subject to environmental hazards like pollution.
That’s not a coincidence — decades of racist housing policy and officially
sanctioned segregation that denied people of color the opportunity to build
wealth also denied them the opportunity to choose the best neighborhood for
their families. Then, these same communities were targeted with the worst of
the worst mortgages before the financial crisis, while the government looked
the other way. My housing plan includes
a first-of-its-kind down-payment assistance program that provides grants to
long-term residents of formerly redlined communities so that they can buy homes
in the neighborhood of their choice and start to build wealth, beginning to
reverse that damage. It provides assistance to homeowners in these communities
who still owe more than their homes were worth, which can be used to preserve
their homes and revitalize their communities. These communities should have the
opportunity to lead us in the climate fight, and have access to the economic
opportunities created by the clean energy sector. With the right investments
and with community-led planning, we can lift up communities that have experienced
historic repression and racism, putting them on a path to a more resilient
Expand health care. People in frontline
communities disproportionately suffer from certain cancers and other illnesses
associated with environmental pollution. To make matters worse, they are less likely to have
access to quality health care. Under Medicare for All, everyone will have high
quality health care at a lower cost, allowing disadvantaged communities to get
lifesaving services. And beyond providing high quality coverage for all, the
simplified Medicare for All system will make it easier for the federal
government to quickly tailor health care responses to specific environmental
disasters in affected communities when they occur.
Research equity. For years we’ve invested in
broad-based strategies that are intended to lift all boats, but too often leave
communities of color behind. True justice calls for more than
‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions — instead we need targeted strategies that take
into account the unique challenges individual frontline communities face. I’ve
proposed a historic $400 billion investment
in clean energy research and development. We’ll use that funding to research
place-based interventions specifically targeting the communities that need more
No Worker Left Behind
The climate crisis will leave no one untouched. But it also
represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity: to create millions of
good-paying American jobs in clean and renewable energy, infrastructure, and
manufacturing; to unleash the best of American innovation and creativity; to
rebuild our unions and create real progress and justice for workers; and to
directly confront the racial and economic inequality embedded in our fossil
The task before us is huge and demands all of us to act. It
will require massive retrofits to our nation’s infrastructure and our
manufacturing base. It will also require readjusting our economic approach to
ensure that communities of color and others who have been systematically harmed
from our fossil fuel economy are not left further behind during the transition
to clean energy.
But it is also an opportunity. We’ll need millions of
workers: people who know how to build things and manufacture them; skilled and
experienced contractors to plan and execute large construction and engineering
projects; and training and joint labor management apprenticeships to ensure a
continuous supply of skilled, available workers. This can be a great moment of
national unity, of common purpose, of lives transformed for the better. But we
cannot succeed in fighting climate change unless the people who have the skills
to get the job done are in the room as full partners.
We also cannot fight climate change with a low-wage economy.
Workers should not be forced to make an impossible choice between fossil fuel
industry jobs with superior wages and benefits and green economy jobs that pay
far less. For too long, there has been a tension between transitioning to a
green economy and creating good, middle class, union jobs. In a Warren
Administration we will do both: creating good new jobs through investments in a
clean economy coupled with the strongest possible protections for workers. For
instance, my Green Manufacturing plan
makes a $1.5 trillion procurement commitment to domestic manufacturing
contingent on companies providing fair wages, paid family and medical leave,
fair scheduling practices, and collective bargaining rights. Similarly,
my 100% Clean Energy Plan will
require retrofitting our nation’s buildings, reengineering our electrical grid,
and adapting our manufacturing base — creating good, union jobs, with
prevailing wages determined through collective bargaining, for millions of
skilled and experienced workers.
Our commitment to a Green New Deal is a commitment to a
better future for the working people of our country. And it starts with a
real commitment to workers from the person sitting in the White House: I will
fight for your job, your family, and your community like I would my own. But
there’s so much more we can do to take care of America’s workers before,
during, and after this transition. Here are a few ways we can start:
Honor our commitment to fossil fuel workers. Coal
miners, oil rig workers, pipeline builders and millions of other workers have
given their life’s blood to build the infrastructure that powered the American
economy throughout the 20th century. In return, they deserve more than
platitudes — and if we expect them to use their skills to help reengineer
America, we owe them a fair day’s pay for the work we need them to do. I’m
committed to providing job training and guaranteed wage and benefit parity for
workers transitioning into new industries. And for those Americans who choose
not to find new employment and wish to retire with dignity, we’ll ensure full
financial security, including promised pensions and early retirement
Defend worker pensions, benefits, and secure retirement. Together,
we will ensure that employers and our government honor the promises they made
to workers in fossil fuel industries. I’ve fought for years to protect pensions
and health benefits for retired coal workers, and I’ll continue fighting to
maintain the solvency of multi-employer pension plans. As president, I’ll
protect those benefits that fossil fuel workers have earned. My plan to empower American workers commits
to defending pensions, recognizing the value of defined-benefit pensions, and
pushing to pass the Butch-Lewis Act to
create a loan program for the most financially distressed pension plans in the
country. And my Social Security plan
would increase benefits by $200 a month for every beneficiary, lifting nearly 5
million seniors out of poverty and expanding benefits for workers with
disabilities and their families.
Create joint safety-health committees. In 2016, more than 50,000 workers
died from occupational-related diseases. And since the beginning of his
administration, Trump has rolled back rules and regulations that limit exposure to certain
chemicals and requirements around facility safety inspections,
further jeopardizing workers and the community around them. When workers have
the power to keep themselves safe, they make their communities safer too. A
Warren Administration will reinstate the work safety rules and regulations
Trump eliminated, and will work to require large companies to create joint
safety-health committees with representation from workers and impacted communities.
Force fossil fuel companies to honor their obligations. As
a matter of justice, we should tighten bankruptcy laws to prevent coal and
other fossil fuel companies from evading their responsibility to their workers
and to the communities that they have helped to pollute. In the Senate, I have fought to
improve the standing of coal worker pensions and benefits in bankruptcy — as
president, I will work with Congress to pass legislation to make these changes
And as part of our commitment, we must take care of all
workers, including those who were left behind decades ago by the fossil fuel
economy. Although Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal is the inspiration for this
full scale mobilization of the federal government to defeat the climate crisis,
it was not perfect. The truth is that too often, many New Deal agencies and
policies were tainted by structural racism. And as deindustrialization led to
prolonged disinvestment, communities of color were too often both the first to
lose their job base, and the first place policymakers thought of to dump the
refuse of the vanished industries. Now there is a real risk that poor
communities dependent on carbon fuels will be asked to bear the costs of
fighting climate change on their own. We must take care not to replicate the
failings and limitations of the original New Deal as we implement a Green New
Deal and transition our economy to 100% clean energy. Instead we need to build
an economy that works for every American — and leaves no one behind.
Prioritizing Environmental Justice at the Highest Levels
As we work to enact a Green New Deal, our commitment to
environmental justice cannot be an afterthought — it must be central to our
efforts to fight back against climate change. That means structuring our
government agencies to ensure that we’re centering frontline and fenceline
communities in implementing a just transition. It means ensuring that the most
vulnerable have a voice in decision-making that impacts their communities, and
direct access to the White House itself. Here’s how we’ll do that:
Elevate environmental justice at the White House.
I’ll transform the Council on Environmental Quality into a Council on Climate
Action with a broader mandate, including making environmental justice a
priority. I’ll update the 1994 executive order that
directed federal agencies to make achieving environmental justice part of their
missions, and revitalize the
cabinet-level interagency council on environmental justice. We will raise the
National Environmental Justice Advisory Council to report directly to the White
House, bringing in the voices of frontline community leaders at the highest
levels. And I will bring these leaders to the White House for an environmental
justice summit within my first 100 days in office, to honor the contributions
of frontline activists over decades in this fight and to listen to ideas for
how we can make progress.
Empower the EPA to support frontline communities. The
Trump Administration has proposed dramatic cuts to
the EPA, including to its Civil Rights office, and threatened to eliminate EPA’s
Office of Environmental Justice entirely. I’ll restore and grow both offices,
including by expanding the Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE)
and Environmental Justice Small Grant programs. We’ll condition these
competitive grant funds on the development of state- and local-level
environmental justice plans, and ensure that regional EPA offices stay open to
provide support and capacity. But it’s not just a matter of size. Historically,
EPA’s Office of Civil Rights has rejected nine out of ten cases
brought to it for review. In a Warren Administration, we will aggressively
pursue cases of environmental discrimination wherever they occur.
Bolster the CDC to play a larger role in environmental
justice. The links between industrial pollution and negative public health
outcomes are clear. A Warren
Administration will fully fund the Center for Disease Control’s environmental
health programs, such as childhood lead poisoning prevention, and community
health investigations. We will also provide additional grant funding for
independent research into environmental health effects.
Diminish the influence of Big Oil. Powerful
corporations rig the system to work for themselves, exploiting and influencing
the regulatory process and placing industry representatives in positions of
decision-making authority within agencies. My plan to end Washington corruption would
slam shut the revolving door between industry and government, reducing
industry’s ability to influence the regulatory process and ensuring that the
rules promulgated by our environmental agencies reflect the needs of
communities, not the fossil fuel industry.
Right to Affordable Energy and Clean Water
Nearly one-third of
American households struggle to pay their energy bills, and Native American,
Black, and Latinx households are more likely to be energy insecure. Renters are
also often disadvantaged by landlords unwilling to invest in safer buildings,
weatherization, or cheaper energy. And clean energy adoption is unequal along
racial lines, even after accounting for differences in wealth. I have a plan to move the
United States to 100% clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy in electricity
generation by 2035 — but energy justice must be an integral part of our
transition to clean energy. Here’s what that means:
Address high energy cost burdens. Low-income
families, particularly in rural areas, are spending too much of their
income on energy, often the result of older or mobile homes that are not
weatherized or that lack energy efficient upgrades. I’ve committed to meet
Governor Inslee’s goal of retrofitting 4% of U.S. buildings annually to
increase energy efficiency — and we’ll start that national initiative by
prioritizing frontline and fenceline communities. In addition, my housing plan
includes over $10 billion in competitive grant programs for communities that invest
in well-located affordable housing — funding that can be used for
modernization and weatherization of homes, infrastructure, and schools. It also
targets additional funding to tribal governments, rural communities, and
jurisdictions — often majority minority — where homeowners are still
struggling with the aftermath of the
2008 housing crash. Energy retrofits can be a large source of green jobs, and
I’m committed to ensuring that these are good jobs, with full federal labor
protections and the right to organize.
Support community power. Consumer-owned energy
cooperatives, many of which were established to electrify rural areas during
the New Deal, serve an estimated 42 million people
across our country. While some co-ops are beginning to transition their assets
to renewable energy resources, too many are locked
into long-term contracts that make them dependent on coal and other dirty fuels
for their power. To speed the transition to clean energy, my administration
will offer assistance to write down debt and restructure loans to help
cooperatives get out of long-term coal contracts, and provide additional low-
or no-cost financing for zero-carbon electricity generation and transmission
projects for cooperatives via the Rural Utilities Service. I’ll work with
Congress to extend and expand clean energy bonds to
allow community groups and nonprofits without tax revenue to access clean
energy incentives. I’ll also provide dedicated support for the four Power Marketing
Administrations, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Appalachian Regional
Commission to help them build publicly-owned clean energy assets and deploy
clean power to help communities transition off fossil fuels. Accelerating the
transition to clean energy will both reduce carbon emissions, clean up our
air, and help bring down rural consumers’ utility bills.
Protect local equities. Communities that host large
energy projects are entitled to receive a share of the benefits. But too often,
large energy companies are offered millions in tax subsidies to locate in a
particular area — without any commitment that they will make a corresponding
commitment in that community. Community Benefit Agreements can help address
power imbalances between project developers and low-income communities by
setting labor, environmental, and transparency standards before work begins.
I’ll make additional federal subsidies or tax benefits for large utility
projects contingent on strong Community Benefits Agreements, which should
include requirements for prevailing wages and collective bargaining rights. And
I’ll insist on a clawback provision if a company doesn’t hold up its end of the
deal. If developers work with communities to ensure that everyone benefits from
clean energy development, we will be able to reduce our emissions faster.
It’s simple: access to clean water is a basic human right.
Water quality is an issue in both urban and rural communities. In rural areas,
for example, runoff into rivers and streams by Big Agriculture has poisoned local
drinking water. In urban areas, lack of infrastructure investment has resulted
in lead and other poisons seeping
into aging community water systems. We need to take action to protect our
drinking water. Here’s how we can do that:
Invest in our nation’s public water systems.
America’s water is a public asset and should be owned by and for the public. A
Warren Administration will end decades of disinvestment and privatization of
our nation’s water system — our government at every level should invest in
safe, affordable drinking water for all of us.
Increase and enforce water quality standards. Our
government should enforce strict regulations to ensure clean water is available
to all Americans. I’ll restore the Obama-era water rule that protected our
lakes, rivers, and streams, and the drinking water they provide. We also need a
strong and nationwide safe drinking water standard that covers PFAS and other
chemicals. A Warren Administration will fully enforce Safe Drinking Water Act
standards for all public water systems. I’ll aggressively regulate chemicals
that make their way into our water supply, including by designating PFAS as a
Fund access to clean water. Our clean drinking water
challenge goes beyond lead, and beyond Flint and Newark. To respond, a Warren
Administration will commit to fully capitalize the Drinking Water State
Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to refurbish old water
infrastructure and support ongoing water treatment operations and maintenance,
prioritizing the communities most heavily impacted by inadequate water
infrastructure. In rural areas, I’ll increase funding for the Conservation
Stewardship Program to $15 billion annually, empowering family farmers to help
limit the agricultural runoff that harms local wells and water systems. To
address lead specifically, we will establish a lead abatement grant program
with a focus on schools and daycare centers, and commit to remediating lead in
all federal buildings. We’ll provide a Lead Safety Tax Credit for homeowners to
invest in remediation. And a Warren Administration will also fully fund IDEA
and other support programs that help children with developmental challenges as
a result of lead exposure.
Protecting the Most Vulnerable During Climate-Related
In 2018, the U.S. was home to the world’s three costliest environmental
catastrophes. And while any community can be hit by a hurricane, flood, extreme
weather, or fire, the impact of these kinds of disasters are particularly
devastating for low-income communities, people with disabilities,
and people of color. Take
Puerto Rico for example. When Hurricane Maria hit the island, decades of racism
and neglect were multiplied by the government’s failure to prepare
and Trump’s racist post-disaster response —
resulting in the deaths of at least 3,000 Puerto
Ricans and long-term harm to many more. Even as we fight climate change, we
must also prepare for its impacts — building resiliency not just in some
communities, but everywhere. Here’s how we can start to do that:
Invest in pre-disaster mitigation. For every dollar
invested in mitigation, the government and communities save $6 overall. But
true to form, the Trump Administration has proposed to steep cuts to
FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, abandoning communities just as the risk
of climate-related disasters is on the rise. As president, I’ll invest in
programs that help vulnerable communities build resiliency by quintupling this
Better prepare for flood events. When I visited
Pacific Junction, Iowa, I saw scenes of devastation: crops ruined for the
season, cars permanently stalled, a water line 7 or 8 feet high in residents’
living rooms. And many residents in Pacific Junction fear that this could
happen all over again next year.
Local governments rely on FEMA’s flood maps, but some of these maps haven’t
been updated in decades. In my first
term as president, I will direct FEMA to fully update flood maps with
forward-looking data, prioritizing and including frontline communities in this
process. We’ll raise standards for new construction, including by reinstating
the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard. And we’ll make it easier for
vulnerable residents to move out of flood-prone properties — including by
buying back those properties for low-income homeowners at a value that will
allow them to relocate, and then tearing down the flood-prone properties, so we
can protect everyone.
Mitigate wildfire risk. We must also invest in
improved fire mapping and prevention programs. In a Warren Administration, we
will dramatically improve fire mapping and prevention by investing in advanced
modeling with a focus on helping the most vulnerable — incorporating not only
fire vulnerability but community demographics. We will prioritize these data to
invest in land management, particularly near the most vulnerable communities,
supporting forest restoration, lowering fire risk, and creating jobs all at
once. We will also invest in microgrid technology, so that we can de-energize
high-risk areas when required without impacting the larger community’s energy
supply. And as president, I will collaborate with Tribal governments on land
management practices to reduce wildfires, including by incorporating
traditional ecological practices and exploring co-management and the return of
public resources to indigenous protection wherever possible.
Prioritize at-risk populations in disaster planning and
response. When the most deadly fire in California’s history struck the town
of Paradise last November, a majority of the
victims were disabled or elderly. People with disabilities face increased difficulties in
evacuation assistance and accessing critical medical care. For people who are
homeless, disasters exacerbate existing
challenges around housing and health. And fear of deportation can deter undocumented
people from contacting emergency services for help evacuating or from going to
an emergency shelter. As president, I will strengthen rules to require disaster
response plans to uphold the rights of vulnerable populations. In my immigration plan, I
committed to putting in place strict guidelines to protect sensitive locations,
including emergency shelters. We’ll also develop best practices at the federal
level to help state and local governments develop plans for at-risk communities
— including for extreme heat or cold — and require that evacuation services
and shelters are fully accessible to people with disabilities. During
emergencies, we will work to ensure that critical information is shared in ways
that reflect the diverse needs of people with disabilities and other at-risk
communities, including through ASL and Braille and languages spoken in the
community. We will establish a National Commission on Disability Rights and
Disasters, ensure that federal disaster spending is ADA compliant, and support
people with disabilities in disaster planning. We will make certain that
individuals have ongoing access to health care services if they have to leave
their community or if there is a disruption in care. And we will ensure
that a sufficient number of disability specialists are present in state
emergency management teams and FEMA’s disaster response corps.
Ensure a just and equitable recovery. In the
aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,
disaster scammers and profiteers swarmed, capitalizing on others’ suffering to
make a quick buck. And after George W. Bush suspended the
Davis-Bacon Act, the doors were opened for contractors to under-pay and subject
workers to dangerous working conditions, particularly low-income and immigrant
workers. As president, I’ll put strong protections in place to ensure that
federal tax dollars go toward community recovery, not to line the pockets of
contractors. And we must maintain high standards for workers even when disaster
Studies show that the white and wealthy receive
more federal disaster aid, even though they are most able to financially
withstand a disaster. This is particularly true when it comes to housing —
FEMA’s programs are designed to protect homeowners, even as homeownership
has slipped out of reach for
an increasing number of Americans. As president, I will reform post-disaster
housing assistance to better protect renters, including a commitment to a
minimum of one-to-one replacement for any damaged federally-subsidized
affordable housing, to better protect low-income families. I will work with
Congress to amend the Stafford Act to make grant funding more flexible to allow
families and communities to rebuild in more resilient ways. And we will
establish a competitive grant program, based on the post-Sandy Rebuild by Design pilot,
to offer states and local governments the opportunity to compete for additional
funding for creative resilience projects.
Under a Warren Administration, we will monitor post-disaster recovery to help
states and local governments better understand the long-term consequences and
effectiveness of differing recovery strategies, including how to address climate gentrification,
to ensure equitable recovery for all communities. We’ll center a right to
return for individuals who have been displaced during a disaster and prioritize
the voices of frontline communities in the planning of their return or
relocation. And while relocation should be a last resort, when it occurs, we
must improve living standards and keep communities together whenever possible.
Holding Polluters Accountable
In Manchester, Texas, Hurricane Harvey’s damage wasn’t
apparent until after the storm had passed — when a thick, chemical smell
started wafting through the majority Latinx community, which is surrounded by
nearly 30 refineries and
chemical plants. A tanker failure had released 1,188 pounds of
benzene into the air, one of at least one hundred area leaks that happened in
Harvey’s aftermath. But because regulators had turned off air
quality and toxic monitoring in anticipation of the storm, the leaks went
unnoticed and the community uninformed.
This should have never been allowed to happen. But
Manchester is also subject to 484,000 pounds of
toxic chemical leaks on an average year. That’s not just a tragedy — it’s an
outrage. We must hold polluters accountable for their role in ongoing, systemic
damage in frontline communities. As president, I will use all my authorities to
hold companies accountable for their role in the climate crisis. Here’s how we
can do that:
Exercise all the oversight tools of the federal
government. A Warren Administration will encourage the EPA and Department
of Justice to aggressively go after corporate polluters, particularly in cases
of environmental discrimination. We need real consequences for corporate
polluters that break our environmental law. That means steep fines, which we
will reinvest in impacted communities. And under my Corporate Executive Accountability
Act, we’ll press for criminal penalties for executives when their
companies hurt people through criminal negligence.
Use the power of the courts. Thanks to a Supreme
Court decision, companies are
often let completely off the hook, even when their operations inflict harm on
thousands of victims each year. I’ll work with Congress to create a private
right of action for environmental harm at the federal level, allowing individuals
and communities impacted by environmental discrimination to sue for damages and
hold corporate polluters accountable.
Reinstitute the Superfund Waste Tax. There are over 1300 remaining
Superfund sites across the country, many located in or adjacent to frontline
communities. So-called “orphan” toxic waste clean-ups were originally funded by
a series of excise taxes on the petroleum and chemical industries. But thanks
to Big Oil and other industry lobbyists, when that tax authority expired in
1995 it was not renewed. Polluters must pay for the consequences of their
actions — not leave them for the communities to clean up. I’ll work with
Congress to reinstate and then triple the Superfund tax, generating needed
revenue to clean up the mess.
Hold the finance industry accountable for its role in the
climate crisis. Financial institutions and the insurance industry underwrite
and fund fossil fuel investments around the world, and can play a key role in
stopping the climate crisis. Earlier this year, Chubb became the
first U.S. insurer to commit to stop insuring coal projects, a welcome
development. Unfortunately, many banks and insurers seem to be moving in the
opposite direction. In fact, since the Paris Agreement was signed, U.S. banks
including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Bank of America have
actually increased their
fossil fuel investments. And there is evidence that big banks are replicating a tactic they
first employed prior to the 2008 crash — shielding themselves from climate
losses by selling the mortgages most at risk from climate impacts to Fannie Mae
and Freddie Mac to shift the burden off their books and onto taxpayers at a
To accelerate the transition to clean energy, my Climate Risk Disclosure Act would
require banks and other companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions
and price their exposure to climate risk into their valuations, raising public
awareness of just how dependent our economy is on fossil fuels. And let me be
clear: in a Warren Administration, they will no longer be allowed to shift that
burden to the rest of us.
They came together in celebration, not anger or fear. The common thread among the 150,000 who marched, coming from around the world and across the country, and the estimated 2.5 million who watched along the WorldPride NYC 2019 parade route: Free to be me.
The parade, which took eight hours to complete and was
estimated to be the largest Pride event in history, was particularly poignant,
honoring the 50th anniversary since the Stonewall Uprising, which
are considered the trigger to the modern LGBTQ movement.
Jim Foray, among the Grand Marshals at the parade, was there
that night. He was living just a block away and recalled the Stonewall as a
“sleazy bar where we were grateful and exploited.” The bar, reputedly owned by
the Mafia, was regularly raided by the police.
What a difference 50 years has made, noted Julian Sanjivan,
NYC Pride March Director. “They had no way of knowing what the next 50 years
would bring, no way to know they were starting a global movement, changing
hearts and minds everywhere.” And who could have expected an openly gay and
married man, a mayor from South Bend, Indiana, Peter Buttigieg, running for
Fear and loathing has given way to pride and joy.
Five Grand Marshals lead both the 50th NYC Pride March: the cast of POSE, represented by Dominique Jackson (Elektra), Indya Moore (Angel), and MJ Rodriguez (Blanca); Phyll Opoku-Gyimah; Gay Liberation Front; The Trevor Project and Monica Helms.
Phyll Opoku-Gyimah is the nucleus of the award-winning
celebration and protest that is UK Black Pride. Widely known as Lady Phyll –
partly due to her decision to reject an MBE in the New Year’s Honours’ list, to
protest Britain’s role in formulating anti-LGBTQ+ penal codes across its empire
– she is a senior official at the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) trade
union as the Head of Equality and Learning. She’s a community builder and
organizer; a Kaleidoscope Trust Trustee; an Albert Kennedy Trust patron; Diva
Magazine columnist, and public speaker focusing on race, gender, sexuality and
Gay Liberation Front was the very first LGBTQ activist
organization formed after the Stonewall Rebellion. The courageous members of
GLF fought to give political shape and direction to a whole new generation of
LGBTQ militancy that spread with unprecedented vigor and impact across the
nation and the world.
The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention
and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,
queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The organization works to save
young lives by providing support through free and confidential programs,
including TrevorLifeline, TrevorText, and TrevorChat. They also run
TrevorSpace, the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ
youth, and operate innovative education, research, and advocacy programs.
Monica Helms is a transgender activist, author, and veteran
of the United States Navy, having served on two submarines. She is also the
creator of the Transgender Pride Flag, in 1999, and subsequently donated the
original flag to the Smithsonian Institution in 2014.
It was indeed a demonstration of world pride – there were
marchers from Copenhagen, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Portugal,
Australia, Holland, and so many other places.
American cities and states were represented as well, from
coast to coast and in between – from Palm Beach and Orlando to Palm Springs,
San Francisco and Venice (California), Austin to Washington DC, Brooklyn,
Boston, even Native American tribes.
Here are highlights from the WorldPride NYC 2019:
A clear sign of the changing times was the outpouring of
elected and government officials who joined the march. New York State Governor
Andrew Cuomo used the occasion to sign into law legislation banning the gay
and trans panic legal defense, a key component of his 2019 Justice
The venue for Senator Elizabeth Warren’s rally was strategic for her message: a former warehouse with dank walls now used for an entertainment space in Long Island City, the neighborhood that booted Amazon, despite its promise to bring 25,000 jobs, in exchange for a $3 billion tax incentive.
The message the declared 2020 Democratic candidate for president brought to the 600 eager supporters was that it is time to break up the high-tech companies that have come to wield out-sized economic power more like government, dictating demands and reclaim government for the people.
“We have these giant corporations — do I have to tell
that to people in Long Island City? — that think they can roll over everyone,”
she said, comparing Amazon to “The Hunger Game.”
“Giant corporations shouldn’t be able to buy out
competition. Competition has to be able to thrive and grow.”
“Who does government work for? Just the richest people and
corporations? I want government that works for the people.”
“I spent whole life wondering what happening to middle
class, why so much rockier, steeper, and even rockier and steeper for people of
color – what has gone wrong in America.
“Our government works great for giant drug companies, not for people needing prescription drugs; for giant oil companies, not for people who see climate change bearing down; great for payday lenders, not for people of color and communities and poor people who are targeted, whose lives are turned upside down.
“It’s corruption plain and simple and we need to call it
“Whichever issue brought you here – income gap, climate change, affordable child care, housing – whatever issue brought you here, I guarantee decisions made in Washington that directly touch – runs straight through corruption in Washington…. We need big structural change.”
Her prescription: change the
rules of government, of the economy, of politics:
Where to start? Change the rules
of government by taking corruption head on.
“I introduced the biggest anti-corruption bill since
Watergate; it’s big, long, complex, but here are a few pieces:
“End lobbying as we know it. Stop the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington; make Supreme Court follow the basic rules of ethics. Anyone who wants to run for federal office, must release their taxes.
“We need workers to have more power, we need stronger
unions. Unions built American middle class and will rebuild the American middle
Warren is advocating an ultra millionaire’s tax: imposing 2%
tax for those with over $50 million in assets.
That means the top 0.1% -75,000 households. She estimates that would
generate $2.4 trillion.
In what sounds like an expansion of Obama’s
oft-taken-out-of-context line, “You didn’t build that,” Warren justifies the
wealth tax saying, “I’m tired of free loading billionaires. You built (or
inherited) your fortune, good for you, but you built it using workers we educated,
roads and bridges we paid to build, police – all helped. So yeah, you built a
great fortune, so give a little back to the American people (who enabled you).
It’s a property tax, she said, not unlike the property tax
that any homeowner, farmer, condo owner all pay, but includes the Picassos,
diamonds and yachts.
What would it do? It would fund universal child care, and
still have billions left over.
To change the rules of politics and protect our democracy, she said, “I want to see a constitutional amendment to protect the right to vote and make sure every vote gets counted. Overturn Citizens United.” (adding that she isn’t taking any corporate PAC money, but is depending on grassroots donations, ElizabethWarren.com.)
“I don’t go to closed door meetings with millionaires. I’m
here with you.”
“My father was a janitor but his daughter got a chance to be
a teacher, a college professor, a Senator and a candidate for President of the United
States. I believe in opportunity because I’ve lived it. I want an American where
every child gets a chance to build a future.
“This is our moment. Dream big. Let’s win.”
She then took questions (the questioners were picked at
Asked her view of Governor Andrew Cuomo trying to woo Amazon back after local
progressives including State Senator Michael Gianaris, who introduced her at
the rally, she said, “This is like ‘Hunger Games’ – it is
not just the enormous economic power, but the political power they wield.
“A handful of companies spend $50 million lobbying
Washington – a great return on investment if they get to keep Washington from
enforcing regulations, antitrust laws, hold back oversight. That’s not how
America is supposed to work. Corporate power… and billionaire power, all
those who make their voices heard through money. They fund the think tanks that
come to, predetermined conclusions, the public relations firms, the soft ads on
TV, controlling government, they tilt the playing field over and over against
She reflected that she went to see Trump being sworn in, and
realized that with control of the White House and both houses of Congress, the
Republicans could have swept away health care and Medicare “by Tuesday.” “But
the next day, there was the biggest protest in the history of the world.”
“I want to rein in big tech. That won’t happen by talking
inside the Beltway, but in rooms like this.”
Asked whether her wealth
tax would cause billionaires like Trump to simply move outside the US, she
quipped, “That would be a bad thing?” but explained the 2% wealth tax would be
on all property where it is held, so a yacht in the Caribbean would be taxed. More tax treaties mean it can be tracked. The
IRS (now underfunded and understaffed) would step up enforcement. Even with a
15% cheat factor, you still get nearly $3 trillion in revenue. As for moving
and renouncing US citizenship to avoid the tax? There would be a 40% exit
“You built your fortune here, you owe something to the
Asked about addressing homelessness
and the lack of affordable housing, Warren said, “It’s a matter of values.
In the richest country in the history of the world, people shouldn’t be
sleeping in the street. I have a plan, a housing plan, but the first step is to
diagnose the problem: Why has the cost of housing gone up? Wages, adjusted for
inflation for four decades are flat, but housing costs have risen by
two-thirds. That puts a squeeze on families.”
She said that over the years, government has withdrawn investment in housing, while private developers have build the more profitable mcmansions and luxury high rises. “There’s been an increase in housing at the top but no increase for middle class and down. The federal government is not making investment in housing for poor, working poor and middle class. Meanwhile, across America, the housing stock has deteriorated, shrinking in size, but the population is expanding, so people are paying more and more for less and less.
“The answer: build more housing. I want to build 3.2 million
new housing units all across the country. That would decrease rents by 10%. I
want more housing for purchase, so families can build equity over time.
“Housing is how working families have built wealth
generation after generation – paying off the mortgage, and living on Social
Security, grandma can live with the family, the home passes on wealth to the
“It is no surprise that for decades, from the 1930s, federal
government invested in subsidized housing for white people, but discriminated
against blacks. Red lined areas where federal government would block mortgages,
so that generation after generation [was deprived of home ownership to build
wealth]. In 1960, housing discrimination was legal, while the federal
government subsidized whites and discriminated against black neighborhoods. Then,
the gap between white and black home ownership was 27 points.
“Then civil rights made housing, voting discrimination
illegal, and we see black middle class recover.
“But then the big banks came along – looked to black, brown
home owners’ equity. They targeted black and brown people for the nastiest
mortgages – Wells Fargo, Bank of America. Greed.
“Today, the gap between white and black home ownership is 30
points. Race matters in America.
“My housing bill has something we haven’t seen anywhere
else: in formerly red-lined areas, first time home buyers or those who lost
their homes during the housing crash, will get assistance to buy again.”
Asked whether she would support ending the filibuster which
the Republican minority used to block progressive legislation during the Obama
administration, to block his judicial appointments, even the Merrick Garland
Supreme Court nomination, she said (not too coyly): “It’s all on the table,
baby. I’m on record for filibuster reform. The Republicans used filibuster to
block judicial nominees, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection
Board, the National Labor Relations Board. “Republicans get to do what they
want when they’re in power, and when we are, we drink a lot of tea. It’s all on
“I get that things I’m asking for all are hard – attacking corruption,
changing the rules of the economy, democracy. I get that some people earn more
or less, but everyone should have an equal share of democracy.”
People, she said, saved the Consumer Financial Protection Board, which she created after the
2008 financial collapse. “The people saved it, and it’s already forced the
biggest banks to return $12 billion to the people they cheated.
“I’m calling for big structural change, but you don’t get
what you don’t fight for,” she said, citing the abolitionists, suffragettes,
union organizers, the foot soldiers of civil rights, gay rights activists. “They
were all told, ‘it’s too hard, give up now, and yet, every one of them stayed,
fought, organized, persisted [she said to big cheers], and changed. This is our
moment to change.
“Dream big, fight hard, and let’s win.”
In an already crowded field of candidates – even the
progressive faction – Warren is the only one who has clearly spelled out policy
proposals and the underlying rationale, the powerful statistics of growing
inequality, that she has studied and worked to change for years to level the
playing field, “make government work for you”: campaign finance reform and
government reform; housing; tax reform.
And in this venue, it
was fascinating to see how she could be so factual, so academic, but so
enthusiastic and personable, her
audience asked for more detail about how she would address the critical
shortfall in affordable housing, even
taking her by surprise.
The evening was organized a little like a townhall, with Warren moving freely about a stage in front of a giant American flag, taking questions, and then at the end, offering to stay as long as necessary so anyone who wanted to take a photo with her could get their chance.
Tens of thousands took to the streets of New York City on Saturday, January 19, 2019 for the third annual Women’s March organized by the Women’s March Alliance, calling for action on a Woman’s Agenda that encompasses everything from pay parity, paid parental leave and reproductive freedom, to immigration reform, gun violence prevention, climate action, criminal justice reform – in other words, the gamut of social, political, environmental and economic justice. (See also With Cry of ‘Your Voice Your Power,’ Alliance Mounts 3rd Annual Women’s March on NYC Jan. 19)
The marchers got particularly animated outside of
Trump Tower Hotel on Central Park West, chanting “Shame, Shame, Shame,”
extending a finger, and waving placards calling for “Indict, Impeach, Imprison.”
The protesters use their bodies as message boards. Here are highlights:
Women’s March Alliance, the official organizer of the March on NYC since 2017, will stage its third annual march on Saturday, January 19. Line up begins at 10 a.m. with the march kicking off at 11 a.m. on 61st Street and Central Park West (main entrance on 72nd and Columbus). The march, which is expected to draw 100,000 participants, will run along Central Park West south around Columbus Circle, east on 59th Street then south on 6th Avenue.
The theme for this year’s Woman’s March, taking place in New York City on Saturday Jan 19, could well be “I am woman. Hear me roar,” especially after the dramatic successes culminating in the 2018 elections that saw a record number of women running for office and elected – women now one-fourth of Congress, and there are four more women governors.
And in New York, the
successful takeover of the Senate gives new hope for a progressive agenda,
topped with the Women’s Reproductive Health Act.
But the Women’s March
Alliance organizers worry that sheer exhaustion and complacency might rightly
set in after all that happened to produce the success of 2018, but that there still so much work to be
done, not the least is: Now you have heard our roar, act.
“We want to make sure we don’t
stop fighting. We are half way there. We can’t stop now. We have to move
forward,” said Katherine Siemionko, founder and president of Women’s March
Alliance. “The theme for the march
is ‘Your Voice Your Power.’ We have seen what happened in 2018 Elections. New York cannot stand back. New
York leads nation in progress.” (The actual hashtag for the march is #YourVoiceYourPower)
Indeed, that there is still
so much work to be done is reflected in the cavalier attitude Trump and
Republicans have to shutting down government, with no clue and no care of the
ramifications on women and families that go beyond withholding pay to 800,000
federal workers as well as contractors,from food safety to food stamps, from
mortgages to small business loans, from housing vouchers to veterans benefits. They
even stood by while the Violence Against Women Act expired.
And then there is the
unbelievable cruelty being inflicted on millions of families across the nation
who may have an undocumented immigrant among them but American citizen spouse
or children, or the four million Dreamers whose lives are in limbo. Think of
the desperate migrants as the Trump Administration tries to overturn domestic
violence and gang violence as a basis for asylum; the forced separation of
families; the families of tens of thousands of migrants and refugees here for
decades under Temporary Protected Status who have been told they will be
deported. Think of the families ripped apart. That’s a woman’s issue, too.
Now Trump is threatening
to declare a national emergency in order to take funds allocated for rebuilding
communities devastated by climate disasters in Puerto Rico afflicted by Maria,
in California after the wildfires, in Florida and South Carolina after Michael.
And then there is the humanitarian crisis created by Trump’s anti-immigrant
policy that has led to two children dying while in US custody, and hundreds of
children rendered orphans, thousands more traumatized by their condition.
But this is New York
State, and thankfully, there is finally full control by Democrats. On January
22, the 46th anniversary of Roe v Wade, the State Legislature is
expected to pass the Reproductive Health Act, strengthening abortion access by
codifying the principles of Roe v. Wade in state law, after 12
years of trying but failing. But this action cannot be taken for granted. There
is still need to push the politicians to act –and not take such landmark for
This is no time to be
complacent – the regressive forces are not complacent, they are seizing the opportunity of a hard-religious right
majority on the Supreme Court, to push through personhood amendments that
essentially give more rights to a fetus than the mother carrying it. Women have
actually been prosecuted for miscarrying and such laws could be applied to
punish women for behaviors that are deemed harmful to a fetus. Essentially,
women would become slaves of the state, not considered entitled to the same
right of self-determination as a man. Big Brother doesn’t begin to describe
So this year’s march has
its own urgency: to cement and recommit, to make sure that the electeds carry
out what could be called a woman’s agenda but encompasses so much because women’s
issues are so broad.
Here’s a partial list:
gun violence prevention, universal health care, universal pre-K, affordable
college, climate action and environmental justice, immigration reform, pay
equity, parental leave, criminal justice reform… Way too many to fit into a
soundbite, a poster or a tweet.
But if you still need a
motivation, consider this: the 2020 presidential election is already underway,
and the way women candidates for office are once again being evaluated
according to a different standard (“likeability,” “shrill”).
The danger of
complacency needs to be recalled: that’s what happened in 2016, when too many believed
that Hillary Clinton becoming the first woman to head a major party ticket
meant that America had entered a post-feminist era, just as Obama’s election
was supposedly a post-racist era. Okay to stay home out of some manufactured
outrage, just because you could; okay to throw a vote away on an independent
candidate, because of course the most qualified candidate, who stood for gender
rights, civil rights, criminal justice, environmental justice, economic
justice, would win. We saw how that went.
The march, which will
include opportunities to register to vote (and local elections in 2019 are
important), is a call to action to get things done while we have the
“honeymoon” of the new electeds and the fear of God in the incumbents – because
they think they can do anything they want and ignore the voices of 2018 because
the electorate won’t remember in 2020.
It is important, as
well, to keep the networks and the alliances intact, for the affirmation and
validation that the marchers give to one another. And because 2020 is right
around the corner.
Indeed, the greatest
threat to the Women’s movement is complacency (and fatigue) after the hard-won
victories of 2018.
“We must be fearful that
people have become comfortable, because that’s what happened in 2016 – we were
the popular vote, we still are the popular vote, we don’t want to get
comfortable and let the crazy seem like the status quo & normal,” said
Freedom Shannon, a member of the board of WMA which describes itself as “a nonprofit alliance of human rights
supporters who seek to close the social, political and economic gender divide.”
“We are changing what it
means to be a woman in our society. We have marched to being one in five in Congress,
but we need to come out January 19 to honor those who have come before us, to
show those in countries that cannot assemble, what democracy looks like, and
pave the way for future generations,” Shannon said. “On January 19, we will unify our voices so we amplify enough to be
heard by the people in power and soften their hearts so they can act without
The organizers at a
press conference introducing the event stressed that WMA is completely separate
from Womens March Inc. which organized the Washington March in 2017 and is
holding a rally in New York City also on January 19. That organization raised
controversy of being anti-Semitic when leaders expressed support for Louis
Siemionko noted “We
are a local grassroots team of volunteers hosting this event for the third year
in a row, and we do not have nor have we ever had an association with Women’s
March, Inc. or its founders.”
She continued, “Our mission is to include and advance women regardless of
faith, sexual identity and preference, race, cultural and religious background
or political affiliation.”
Siemionko was firm on
insisting that WMA is inclusive, and that like all the other sister marches
that took place in 2017 and 2018 in cities across the nation, all grew
organically, as local grassroots organizations reflecting their communities.
She stressed how WMA
went out of its way to accommodate the Jewish community, including organizing
the march so it would start within walking distance of a large segment of the community
on the Upper West Side. “We wanted to honor those Jews who want to honor Sabbath without taking public
transportation, but can march to support women’s rights.” In addition,
Siemionko will be participating in a panel on January 17 at the Stephen Wise
“The confusion happened
when Womens March Inc, the official march of DC, decided to break ground here
in NYC. Unfortunately that happened at time when irresponsible wording was used
to insult different communities.
“One of the reasons we
became part of WMA since its inception is that anti-Semitism, racial discrimination,
LGBT discrimination had no place here, especially in New York City, the most
diverse place in the nation, in the world,” said Debra Dixon Anderson, director
of operations of the New York City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and a WMA board
member, “and we appreciate all different walks of life.”
WMA is the only
organization that has a permit from New York City for a march on January 19.
Enter at 72nd
Street to Central Park West, or enter from Central Park. There will be a
15-minute kickoff at 11 am (not a rally), then the march will get underway at
11:15, go south past Columbus Circle, east on 59, then south to 44 Street.
Check the site for details.
There will be a female Indian chief to bless the march, female drum bands, brass bands, acrobats, DJs, and activists.
In conjunction with
the event, people will have a chance to see “Eyes of the World,” a giant, collaborative mosaic, 5 ft tall and
18 feet wide, produced by thousands of contributors since the first Women’s
March on New York City in 2017. that is on view at the Newburger Gallery in the
lobby of SUNY Optometry (33 West 42nd Street), across from Bryant
Park, noon to 9 pm.
“’Eyes of the World’ is
a tangible and permanent reminder to the United States government that our eyes
are constantly watching to ensure all policies embody human rights, advance
civil rights, and promote the highest degree of equality,” write Joanne and
Bruce Hunter, artists and creators of public art.
The message of the 2019 Women’s March should be: We won. Now act.
Judging by the Women’s Marches – 280 of them around the country that drew 2 million activists on behalf of women’s reproductive freedom, health care, workers rights, DACA, climate, gun control – the Democrats were headed for a rout in 2018.
Now, pundits are questioning whether the government shutdown – and then the capitulation by Democrats – will jeopardize the Democrats’ chances of taking back the Senate and even the House.
And sure enough, the Republicans have proved yet again they are so much better at message manipulation – the signature talent of every autocracy.
It is a curious thing because the 2013 government shutdown, forced by Republicans who held Obamacare hostage and the many instances of Republicans coming to the brink of endangering the full faith and credit of the United States by threatening the debt ceiling, nonetheless won victories in the 2014 midterms, even taking over the Senate.
But it is different for Republicans who want to tear down government, and Democrats, who actually believe that government can be and should be a force for good.
But what did the Republicans actually win besides the message game? A few days reprieve? When instead the government shutdown over a failure to follow through on the deal to reauthorize DACA so clearly demonstrated the dysfunction, dishonesty, bad faith and sheer cruelty of Republican domination?
And is it wise for Trump to crow that Schumer “caved,” for Pence to go to the Middle East and lambast the Democrats as enemies of our soldiers, for the OMB Director Mike Mulvaney to mimic the phrase being hyped by Russian bots, #SchumerShutdown, and the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee to show glee that Schumer is “feeling the heat from the left, with #SchumerSellout trending on social media and Democrats who supported reopening the government are being branded as traitors”?
And how cynical is it for Trump to issue a reelection campaign ad blaming Democrats in advance if anyone is murdered by an illegal immigrant, yet taking no responsibility at all for 33,000 gun deaths a year (a woman is shot and killed by a current or former partner every 16 hours. 10 kids and teens are killed each month in unintentional shootings) and the ease with which terrorists can buy guns because of Republicans’ refusal to adopt reasonable gun control measures?
After all, this is yet another temporary spending measure, which Democrats and some Republicans have decried as no way to run a $4 trillion government since the military, municipalities and agencies can’t do long-range planning or contracts, and we will be right back here on Feb. 8. Fool me once….
Schumer and the Democrats really had no choice but to withhold the votes needed for cloture (the filibuster) which triggered the shutdown, and no choice in coming to this temporary arrangement to reopen government.
Let’s be reminded though: it’s not Democrats who caused the shutdown – five Republicans voted against the CR while five Democrats voted with the Republicans (by modern standards, that’s called “bipartisan”).
Indeed, Trump was rooting for a government shutdown. “The country needs a good shutdown” he said months ago, and referred to this shutdown as “a nice present” –because he believed Democrats would be blamed and weakened and (cherry on the cake) hoped it would get Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to trigger the “nuclear option” and end the 60-vote threshold for cloture (the filibuster) so that Republicans could rule without any Democratic input whatsoever.
But for the entire first year of the Trump nightmare when Republicans were in full control of all the levers of government, they chose to rule as if a monarchy, shutting out Democrats entirely, and manipulating votes so that they only needed 50 instead of 60 – on several occasions, needing the Vice President’s vote to get to 51 to pass legislation opposed by large majorities of Americans. The only mechanism for Democrats to have any say whatsoever, and get CHIP and DACA reauthorized was to withhold their votes on the short-term spending bill.
For decades, now (when Democrats are in the White House), “populists” have been decrying the dysfunction in Washington, looking to demagogic characters from outside Washington (they are only “outside” until they are “inside”) to break the logjam and get things done. That’s what many Trump voters said they liked about Trump. They fell for his con: he isn’t disruptive, he’s destructively dysfunctional.
But look to the source of the dysfunction: it goes back to Newt Gingrich and the “Contract for America” ( “Contract on America” is more apt) – 1994 was the first time the Republicans used a shutdown as extortion. And it goes back to the Hastert Rule, named for the pedophile who was the longest-serving Speaker of the House, that bars the Republicans from passing any legislation that is not supported by the majority of Republicans, rather than the majority of the House or the American people, a tough thing to do with the Tea Party fringe and now the Trumpers.
It is because of the Hastert Rule that we do not have affordable health care, sensible gun violence prevention, immigration reform, campaign finance reform, environmental protection – all supported by huge majorities of Americans – and a tax code and federal budget that help uplift people rather than steer this country to unsustainable income inequality that is so dangerous for a democracy.
Add to that the end of earmarks – championed by none other than Senator John McCain who felt they were the source of corruption in Congress – and you have no bargaining chips whatsoever to forge a compromise. (Trump wants to bring back earmarks, so he can turn a $1 trillion infrastructure plan into a political slush fund.)
But Democrats – or rather the extreme left wing championed by Bernie Sanders – seem determined to shoot themselves in the foot, and instead of cheering Schumer for getting 12 Republican Senators to pledge to take up legislation to protect DACA recipients before Feb. 8, they blasted him for capitulating.
Really, what was Schumer supposed to do? Republicans were weaponizing the government shutdown, rather than being embarrassed that Trump, The Greatest Dealmaker in the History of the World, was shown to be an emperor with no clothes (he fidgeted while the capital burned) with no actual grasp of policy or long-term impacts so that he could be swayed and steered by the most virulent, anti-immigrant advisers (Steven Miller and John Kelly), and the Republicans being shown as being incapable of governing on behalf of the people instead of just their donors (the 1%).
Now it is likely that no matter how the Senate is reminded they are supposed to be an institution based on compromise and rational deliberation – and that Congress should realize it doesn’t have to wait for Trump at all, but pass reasonable legislation on its own – my prediction is that Speaker Paul Ryan in the House will kill any DACA legislation or any immigration legislation as he did in 2013, tabling Comprehensive Immigration Reform that passed the Senate by a significant majority.
Or that Steve King, Tom Cotton, Steve Miller and John Kelly will come up with something so draconian – legalizing the Gestapo-like roundup and deportations of 11 million undocumented immigrants, throwing out green card holders, shutting borders to refugees and severely curtailing legal immigration for anyone but white people with money to invest in Trump properties – that Democrats won’t be able to vote for it. Ha ha, the irony.
But my money is on the Women’s Movement – no longer a march, but ongoing activism that will result in a major voter registration drive, record number of women running for elected office (390 for House, 49 for Senate, as many as 16,000 for state and local offices), and to get out the vote in the 2018 midterms. #PowertothePolls.
Some 200,000 took over the streets of New York City for the Womens March, exactly one year after Donald Trump gave his dystopic inauguration speech and one year after the first Womens March that brought out millions in the largest single day of protest in history.
The Government shutdown kept Kristin Gillibrand away. It also overshadowed news coverage.
No matter. The women had already learned that the change we need, the rights we want, are up to us. It was important to be together, to see comrades in arms, to be amid a sea of people – 200,000 was the official count in New York City – who despite the fact there were 280 other womens marches taking place across the country including Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago with about 2 million turning out – still came from all over the country, all ages and walks of life.
They marched for the Womens Agenda, which includes a score of vital issues: an end to sexual harassment, assault and extortion is one; reproductive rights and the right to self-determination as well as Equal Protection is another (somehow always get overshadowed and put on a back-burner of priorities). But the list encompasses access to affordable health care, gun violence prevention, environmental protection, protection for Dreamers and rational, humane immigration reform that keeps families together and ends the torture of insecurity. They marched for justice and fairness: political, social, economic, environmental and criminal justice.
There was definitely a change in attitude from last year, when people marched to show their despair over the selection by the Electoral College of Donald Trump as president, despite Hillary Clinton, the first woman to be a serious contender for President, winning 3 million more popular votes, and they marched to put the Republican majority in Congress on notice which they didn’t heed. This year, the Womens March was ramped up on anger and a new jeer, courtesy of Trump himself: “Shithole” is what marchers yelled as they passed Trump International on Columbus Circle, his incarnation; otherwise placid grey-haired suburban women giving the middle finger.
Anger and determination. It doesn’t matter whether or not the news media covered – in this case, the conundrum, “if a protest happens but no one reports it, did it happen?” doesn’t apply. The marchers aren’t asking permission, they are marching to register voters, launch the candidacy of a record number of women (390 for House, 49 for Senate, as many as 16,000 for state and local offices), and get out the vote in the 2018 midterms.
Hillary Clinton tweeted, “In 2017, the Women’s March was a beacon of hope and defiance. In 2018, it is a testament to the power and resilience of women everywhere. Let’s show that same power in the voting booth this year. #PowerToThePolls”
Instead of Trump and the Republicans heeding the message of the 2017 womens marches, the year has been one long travesty – the news didn’t bother to report – about stripping away women’s reproductive freedom (441 rulings limiting access just since Jan. 1), access to health care, their children’s health care, rolling back the regulations that protected the environment and public health and safety, launching reign of terror against undocumented immigrants, a tax code that literally robs working people to further enrich the already obscenely rich and undermines the ability to reach the American Dream and threatens Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP.
“The 2017 Women’s March unleashed a collective energy for change that continues to this day,” Laura McQuade, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of New York City said at a pre-march rally held by New York Planned Parenthood. “President Trump and Congress have spent the last year pushing policies to take away our hard won rights, roll back our ability to make decisions about our own lives, and block access to the fundamental health care we need and deserve. And we’ve responded with the largest grassroots movement in a generation. New York must be a leader in this fight. We have the momentum behind us and we won’t stop fighting until ALL New Yorkers have the ability to live the fullest lives they can.”
“We march to demand full equality for women,” JoAnn Smith, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Nassau County.“We know that 2018 promises to be a pivotal year for women’s health and rights. If 2017 taught us anything, it is that woman are a potent political force in fighting for a just world.”
“The Women’s March tapped into an energy that is even more powerful one year later,” Vincent Russell, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic.“In the past year, we defeated Trumpcare and attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, witnessed voters turn out to make their voice heard with amazing results, and saw victims of sexual harassment speak out and say ‘No more!’ I continue to be amazed by our dedicated supporters who turn out, sign petitions, and march to ensure that each individual is empowered to determine their own reproductive future and have control over their own body.”
“We must step forward to achieve our goals,” says Robin Chappelle Golston, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts. “While the Women’s March started in the streets like many other social movements throughout history, the energy and power must transition into deeper action to create lasting change in policies and laws, to counter this harmful federal agenda. We must march toward seats in the halls of power, call out injustice and push for legislative change locally and on a state level. We must protect our people against discriminatory and damaging policies that impact access to justice, health care and progress in this country.”
At the rally before the march, New York State Attorney General declared, “I’m your lawyer.” He was referring not only to women’s rights including reproductive rights, but the due-process rights of the undocumented, of the Dreamers.
“Equal justice means that there is not one set of rules for the powerful and another for everyone else.
“This is a moment of transformation for the US. All of you here and across the country, showing up, registering and mobilizing, have built a movement to transform the country. You are no longer just the opposition. You are committed to justice and making sure government delivers.
“We believe in unions and the right to organize; that health care is a right, not a privilege; in a woman’s right to control her body and reproductive health care. If not, a woman is not truly free. We embrace a vision of America as one of pluralism and diversity, equal justice. We fight for the rights of immigrants. We are against white supremacy, against male supremacy in all its forms.
“I’m proud to be your lawyer, to fight the toxic volcano of bad policy, to fight for justice, equality, fairness, dignity and respect. We can never go back, only forward.”
Halsey, a Grammy winning Jersey girl, told her story on behalf of the many victims of sexual assault and extortion in the way that best captured the emotion, in a stirring poem:
It’s 2018 and I’ve realized nobody is safe long as she is alive
And every friend that I know has a story like mine
And the world tells me we should take it as a compliment
But then heroes like Ashley and Simone and Gabby, McKayla and Gaga, Rosario, Aly
Remind me this is the beginning, it is not the finale
And that’s why we’re here
And that’s why we rally
Ashley Bennett, newly elected Atlantic County, NJ Freeholder, said she was motivated to challenge her opponent after last year’s March when he said he hoped the women would get back in time to prepare dinner. “Because you marched, I took the first step toward changing my own community… people standing together for equal citizenship, pay, respect. When ordinary people stand for what they believe, for a common purpose, for the betterment of their community, extraordinary things happen…You don’t have to be perfect, just willing.”
The women marched for workers rights, for a living wage, for the right to collective bargaining.
Nancy Kaufman of the National Council of Jewish Woman, working on behalf of civil rights, workers rights, immigrant rights, women’s rights for 125 years, said, “We work to resist racism, sexism, Islamophobia” battling back against the “repeated, relentless assault on the Affordable Care Act, the goal of ending access to healthcare for millions.” The Republicans, she said, were willing to shut down government rather than allay the anxiety of Dreamers, or to reauthorize health care for 9 million children.
“Enough, we’re fed up. Persist and Resist because our democracy depends on it, for us, for our children and grandchildren. Our voices, our votes will count in November 2018 and November 2020. March on, turn passion into action today and every day.”
Ann Toback of the Workman’s Circle, fighting for worker and immigrant rights since 1909, winning the 8 hour workday, child labor laws, worker safety. “As Jews, we know too well the danger of name-calling, threats, closing borders…. The Jewish community is here to say, ‘Never again, the subjugation of women, immigrants, Muslims. All must be welcomed, protected, empowered. The way to victory is for all to stand united and resist bigotry. Attacks on one are attacks on all. Fight back the attacks on women, the deportation of 800,000 Dreamers whose only crime was not being born here – they didn’t cause the shutdown. Trump caused it…. We will rise up, resist. We will win.”
Actors Veronica Dunne and Rosie Perez spoke to the #MeToo movement and the need for women to mobilize. “This is our time. Power to the Polls. Create the world you want to live in because no one will do it for you.”
Nadina LaSpina spoke up for the rights of those with disabilities. “My body, my choice. We want control over the way our bodies are cared for and who cares for us, choose where care is provided – in home not an institution, not having treatments or drugs forced, never being denied care we need or want, not having strangers grab us, ask personal questions, stare with contempt, view with suspicion of a disability that is not obvious or visible, the assumption that a disability makes us less valuable as human beings. But this is a marginalized group that everyone can join – you never know what will happen. It intersects with all other s- women, color, immigrant, LGBTQ, seniors, poor. Many are forced into poverty by discrimination in the workplace – those with disabilities earn 37% less than persons with equal qualifications. Many are forced into poverty by the for-profit health care system. You have to impoverish yourself to be eligible for Medicare to pay for long-term care. Medicaid is under attack.
Disabled activists were dragged out of Congress and arrested, but stopped a bill that would have taken away your health care. Health care must be equal for all. Medicare for all, and include long-term care.
“We are strong fighters, we’ve been fighting for a half-century. We are not going to let our hard won rights be stripped away by a brutal, vicious administration and Congress. Put an end to this political nightmare. Move forward toward equality for all.”
Sulma Arzu-Brown, an immigrant rights advocate, said, “What 45 has done to this country has taken us back decades, even centuries. I never thought this country would be banning Muslims…. Save the soul of this nation and don’t let 45 destroy what we built. Show up for one another.”
“The Religious Freedom Act has been revived, marginalizing LGBT and repudiating the rights movement. Don’t let them dictate what we do with our bodies, how we choose to live our lives.”
Whoopi Goldberg told the rally, “The only way we are going to make a change is to commit to change.” (See video https://youtu.be/NjpJdF_9JuQ)
On the first anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration and the first Women’s March that was the largest single day of protest in history, women came out in force again in New York City and more than 250 locations around the country.
They marched for womens rights, reproductive freedom, for health care; for #MeToo and #TimesUp to take a stand against sexual assault, harassment, rape and extortion. They marched for gun control and against domestic violence. They marched for families, for immigrants, for Dreamers, for the LGBTQ+ community. They marched for Mother Earth and the environment, for science and facts. They marched for voting rights, for a free press and for truth. They marched to assert basic American values- its better angels – of tolerance, diversity, and for economic, environmental, political and social justice.
200,000 was the official count in New York City – marchers were lined up from 63rd Street to 86th Street, but all along the side streets as well, where it took as much as 2 hours just to get onto the Central Park West march route.
And unlike last year’s march which brought out millions, reflecting the despair of the aftermath of the 2016 election and was supposed to send a message to Trump and the Republicans who controlled Congress and the Courts (they didn’t get it), this day of marches – some 250 around the country bringing out some 2 million – was about action: it kicked off a voter registration drive to add 1 million to the rolls, the candidacies of a record number of women running for office (16,000 women have reached out to Emily’s List for support in 2017), and a Get out the Vote drive for the 2018 midterms.
“My vote is my Super Power,” several announced in their signs. “My Button is Bigger than Yours,” echoed another.
The vulgarity, misogyny, bigotry and racism that Donald Trump brought to the Oval Office came down to the streets, with bursts of profanity in words (“shithole” was a popular one that Trump just introduced to the vernacular only a week ago) and gestures, with marchers giving the finger as they passed Trump International Hotel, the closest incarnation they would ever have. The tone was decidedly more angry, more outraged than a year ago.
“Over the past year, basic rights for women, immigrants, LGBTQ+, the religious and nonreligious, people of color and even Mother Earth have struggled to survive under the weight of the current administration. America’s First Amendment has been challenged and healthcare for millions has been threatened. We must stand together to demand and defend our rights. We will not be silent. We must remind everyone that red, white, and blue are the colors of tolerance,” stated Womens March Alliance.
And they marched with a purpose: to get people to register to vote, to run for office, and to cast their ballot.
“My vote is my Super Power,” several announced in their signs. “My Button is Bigger than Yours,” echoed others.
Hillary Clinton tweeted, “In 2017, the Women’s March was a beacon of hope and defiance. In 2018, it is a testament to the power and resilience of women everywhere. Let’s show that same power in the voting booth this year. #PowerToThePolls”