Now that the emotional and exhausting midterm elections are over (whew!!) our Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable Steering Committee is ready to get back to our advocacy and education agenda.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED
While many of us were hoping for bolder results, a lot of good came out of Tuesday’s election:
- The change in makeup of the House of Representatives gives us hope that there will now be a check in place to respond to the advancing of the Administration’s agenda on so many social justice fronts. While we wish there could have been increased balance in the Senate, this is incredibly great news.
- In 14 states, Democrats flipped a Congressional delegation, state Legislative chamber, or Governor’s mansion. In-roads were made in several others – like the Pennsylvania and Texas legislatures. A seat in Congress even flipped in South Carolina!
- In California, voters approved both Propositions 1 and 2, creating billions in funding for the construction of affordable housing for the chronically homeless, people with disabilities or mental illness, and military veterans. Voters in Oregon passed two major ballot initiatives to make access to safe and affordable homes possible for 12,000 of the lowest income people in that state. Voters in Charlotte and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and in Bellingham and San Juan County in Washington State also passed housing bonds designed to address affordable housing.
- Voters in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah all overwhelmingly passed measures to expand Medicaid coverage to all low-income adults, a critical tool for ending homelessness and helping hundreds of thousands gain health insurance they do not currently have.
- Several key ballot measures were passed in more than a dozen other states demanding clean energy, improving access to health coverage, giving voting privileges to previously incarcerated individuals, ending partisan gerrymandering, improving access to voting, providing citizen oversight of police (e.g. the passage of Nashville’s Charter Amendment 1).
- 45 million more Americans will live in states controlled by more progressive legislatures.
- We witnessed higher rates of voter participation (especially among our youth and immigrant communities), including records for voting set here in Tennessee.
In addition to several key disappointments, including here in Tennessee, the election reminded us of the deep divide in our country … between urban and rural population centers. Just as significant as were the losses … several national wins are very encouraging. Truth be told, because of our ideological divide, our work is cut out for us. Fear of immigrants and concerns about centralized government interference is strong enough to encourage people to have voted even against their best interests.
Sooooo … with midterms over it is time for us to return to our work at hand. Next Sunday our Steering Committee will meet to set our Roundtable’s course of action for the weeks and months ahead. In our immediate sights are issues addressing the improvement of health care and the adoption of Medicaid Expansion in Tennessee, the welcoming and treatment of asylum seekers and the improvement of immigration policies, limiting access to guns, and criminal justice reform. Our Roundtable has already joined coalitions including NOAH (criminal justice reform and affordable housing), the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Coalition and HIAS (immigration and refugee policy), A Voice for the Reduction of Poverty, the Welcome Home! Affordable Housing Coalition, and other advocacy organizations advancing the work we are most concerned about.
IN THE MEANTIME
Please link on to the Tennessee Health Care Campaign petition calling on Governor-elect Lee to lead our State Legislators in adopting Medicaid expansion. We were encouraged this week to learn that on Tuesday Idaho, Nebraska Utah, and Maine joined those states that already have expanded Medicaid. Tennessee is just one of 14 states which has not, leaving more than 300,000 hardworking Tennesseans without insurance coverage which facilitates access to better health care. You can support the petition campaign through this link: http://www.thcc2.org/action-center#/.