Are Americans Are Sleepwalking?
Tom Nichols writes in The Atlantic (September 18, 2023) that the media is normalizing dysfunctional and reactionary rhetoric, “pretending that all is well while charlatans, aspiring theocrats, and would-be authoritarians set fire to American democracy.”
Examples normalizing of this dysfunction include:
- Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama holding up hundreds of military promotions for months
- The impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden
- The governor of Florida and his vaccine-skeptic surgeon general telling people under 65 not to get boosted against COVID
These are some of the instances of the media normalizing authoritarianism, “pretending” that one dysfunctional party is not part of a reactionary, anti-constitutional, and sometimes violent movement. Nichols concludes that Democrats should focus their energy on promoting Biden’s positive legislation and its impact on the country, versus defending his fitness to serve
Planet Earth on Fire: Birds at Risk
According to the Audubon Society, birds are as impacted by climate change as humans. Warming temperatures in Michigan (up two to three degrees in the last century) have caused “uncertain Great Lakes water level fluctuations, stronger storms, [and] harsher droughts,” which have affected the birds who breed there. For example, the Great Lakes Piping Plover, who relies on the lakes’ beaches for breeding, is threatened with extinction, as is the Black Tern, who breeds on the wetlands of St. Clair Flats. Drainage problems, chemical runoff, and overfishing have affected the population of these species. Stabilizing world temperatures through de-carbonization is urgent for the health and survival of our planet and our flying creatures. Although some blame alternative forms of energy such as wind turbines for bird deaths, research claims otherwise: According the MIT’s Climate Portal, “A 2012 study found that wind projects kill 0.269 birds per gigawatt-hour of electricity produced, compared to 9.36 birds killed per gigawatt-hour of electricity from fossil fuel projects.” The long-term effects of fossil fuels (such as air pollution, acid rain, destruction of habitat, and mercury contamination) have had a much greater impact on bird survival than wind turbines. Moreover, scientists have found that just painting one of the blades of the wind turbine black reduces bird mortality by 70%.
There’s room for more hope. Michigan’s Osprey, pictured below, neared extinction in the sixties, poisoned by DDT. But in 2009, thanks to the efforts of environmental groups, it was taken off the list of threatened species.
Events and Opportunities
America at a Crossroads Virtual Series hosted by Jews United for Democracy and Justice
- Thursday, October 26. What’s Going On With Democracy, the Law, and Trump’s Legal Issues? Former U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal with Larry Mantle: “Trump, The Law, & The Future of Democracy.” (Register Here) 8 pm
- Wednesday, November 1. “Ours was a Shining Future: What’s Happened to the American Dream?” Pulitzer prize-winning NY Times journalist David Leonhardt in conversation with Warren Olney: (Register Here) 8 pm
Saturday, November 4—Tuesday, November 7. NEXTGEN’S “Final Four”
It’s a push to get out the vote in Virginia and Pennsylvania. SIGN UP HERE. The final four days leading up to an election are so important! We’ll have multiple shifts a day, so choose what works best for you and we’ll see you then!
Now through Tuesday, November 7. GET OUT THE VOTE WITH NEXTGEN
In Pennsylvania, a Supreme Court seat is up for grabs and abortion is a key issue. With one candidate set on protecting reproductive rights and the other on erasing them, this election could have a lasting impact on the state for years to come.
In Virginia, every seat in the General Assembly is up for election this November. This is a chance to flip the Republican majority Virginia House and both protect and add to the Democratic majority in the Virginia Senate.
- Call Young Voters in PA and VA to GOTV (Get Out the Vote) – sign up here!
- Text Out the Vote in Pennsylvania & Virginia – sign up here!
- GOTV w/ the Social Team – sign up here!
Serve on a Board or Commission for Michigan
Our state government is listening! Be heard in a major way by applying for one of the 100 open appointments on various committees and boards. Search the online portal by interest area here.
More things to do, read, watch, and listen to
Gerrymandering: Who has the Advantage?
Gerrymandering definition: a political manipulation tactic involving the deliberate drawing of electoral district boundaries to favor one political party or group over others. It involves reshaping these boundaries in a way that diminishes the voting power of certain groups of voters (often Blacks or other minorities), ultimately undermining the principle of a fair and representative democracy.
States typically update congressional maps once a decade, after each U.S. census. Legal challenges from liberal groups diminished the Republican gerrymanders. Some states, like Michigan, Illinois, and Oregon were able to redraw their maps. The redistricting, at least in Michigan, greatly impacted the outcome of the states’ 2022 election.
The U.S. Supreme Court forced officials in Alabama to redraw the map to add one majority Black district. In New York, Democrats are trying to redraw the map to flip several seats, and in Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana, other legal challenges could help Democrats. If the above challenges succeed, the Democrats could pick up ten House seats. However, Republicans still have the opportunity in North and South Carolina to maintain a Republican advantage. The article provides the forecasting of upcoming district maps.
The Protection of Equality in Government (P.E.G.) newsletter strongly supports fair and representative elections.
Get out the VOTE with Next Gen
In Pennsylvania, a Supreme Court seat is up for grabs and abortion is a key issue. With one candidate set on protecting reproductive rights and the other against, this election could have a lasting impact on the state for years to come.
In Virginia, every seat in the General Assembly is up for election this November. This is a chance to flip the Republican majority state House and both protect and add to the Democratic majority in the state Senate.
Starting on October 9, Next Gen will be calling voters in Virginia and on October 10, we’ll begin our texts into Pennsylvania!
- Call Young Voters in PA and VA to GOT! – sign up here!
- Text Out the Vote in Pennsylvania and Virginia – sign up here!
- GOTV with the Social Team – sign up here!
Governor Whitmer was appointed the new chair of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers, a bipartisan Canadian/American group focused on protecting the Great Lakes and growing the economy of the region. A longstanding defender of the Great Lakes, Whitmer said, “My administration has made historic investments to protect the Great Lakes from pollution, build climate resilient infrastructure, and maintain natural resources.”
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