Friday, June 23, 2017

Why Campaign-Finance Reform Should be a Top Priority: Social inequality, wasteful spending, and the destruction of democracy


By Glenn Geher, 6/23/2017

So I’ve recently put my hat in the ring for an elected position. I am running for the position of Ulster County Legislator - 12th District (Plattekill, NY). I wasn’t ever really planning on going this route - but I am someone who cares deeply and proactively about the greater good - and to my mind, the current state of the nation requires that each and every one of us does all that is within our power to get this nation back on track.

Feel free to check out the website for my campaign: www.GeherForLegislator.org
Or to like my campaign’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Glenn-Geher-for-Ulster-County-Legislator-12th-District-373462716389522/

But that’s not my point!

In joining this process, I’ve learned more about campaign financial issues in this nation - and I have to say that what I have learned has been more than a little eye-opening. For county legislature positions, the expectations for financing are relatively small potatoes in the scheme of things. But the other day, I went out canvassing with my friend Sue Sullivan - also a Plattekill resident. Sue is doing something different altogether - she is currently running for Congress. Think about that! Now that is a big deal!  

The Finances of Running for Congress

So we got talking the other day, and we got around to the topic of fundraising. I’m planning to make enough money to make some signs, print some materials, and make some phone calls. She needs to raise, per the policies of the Democratic Party, over $300,000 by next June. Think.about.that.! Of course, Sue is a very hard-working and well-connected individual, and I’m optimistic that she’ll get there. But this issue got me thinking about things in this nation more broadly. In fact, the more I am thinking about this issue, the more I realize that the current system for campaign finance in this nation is the epitome of social inequality - and it is as far from genuine democracy as one could imagine.

Here’s why: Not everyone can raise $300,000 in a year. I bet I couldn’t - and I’m pretty well-connected, I have reasonably high SES, and I work hard all the time. But that number is just daunting for someone from where I stand. To be able to raise that kind of money, it helps to not only be rich, but to be VERY rich and to know a lot of VERY rich people. Now granted, it is certainly possible that someone who is not rich in the elite sense could join the fray - but the odds are, of course, VERY heavily stacked against that person. From an empirical perspective, my guess is that congressional candidates probably come from a very elite socioeconomic background on average - perhaps the top 3% of income in the US. And of course the same goes for the presidency. Sociologists would talk about this as a structural inequality situation. No one is saying that you can’t run for congress if you are just a “regular citizen.” This said, the odds are so stacked against you if you are not super-rich, that the structure of the system essentially screens you out before you even get started. We like to think that this is a democracy that is designed for the benefit of all people. The closer I look at how the politics in this nation works, the more I see that democracy is more of a dream than a reality in our nation. And, of course, me being me, I think we need to take active steps to change this so that leadership positions in our government are based on merit and not on wallet. And I have no problem saying that in a public manner.

The Math of Campaign Finance 

 In this country, there are 435 members of the House of Representatives. Each one comes up for election every two years. There are two major parties - Democratic and Republican. Generally speaking, there are multiple members of each party who primary against one another during each election cycle (although there are clearly conditions in which an incumbent does not have to spend time and money on a primary). But let’s think about the math. So there are 435 positions and two major parties. Let’s say that each cycle, four people run for each of these 435 positions. That could be three democrats primarying against one another and one unchallenged republican, two democrats and two republicans, etc.

Now remember, $300,000 is a minimum standard needed just to be considered by one of the major parties early on. According to a recent news story by MSNBC, the average amount of money spent by members of the House who won in 2012 was as follows:

“According to Maplight, a non-profit, non-partisan research organization that tracks money in politics, House candidates who won in 2012 raked in an average of $1,689,580 in campaign contributions. That’s about $2,315 each day. Those numbers climb substantially if you’re running for Senate. Candidates who won a seat in Congress’ upper chamber each raised an average of $10,476,451. That’s $14,351 per day.” 

Now think about that! So suppose we have about 4 candidates per House seat running in one year - and they each commit to spending $1,689,580 for the duration of the campaign. Well then for one race (out of 435 total races), we are looking at $6,758,320.

Remember that show The Six Million Dollar Man? Well a typical race for one congressional seat these days will apparently pay for a bionic man - with change left over …

Of course, the math gets much more dramatic, because this 6+ million dollar figure we are talking about assumes a single race. Well heck, there are 435 members of congress. So let’s look at our estimate for one race and see how that extends 435 times. 435 X $6,758,320 ~= $2.94 Billion Dollars. Yup, BILLION. And remember, senate races are much more costly - as are presidential races. The estimates provided here make one point clear - an outrageous amount of money is spent on just campaigning each year in this nation. Billions and billions.

Campaign Money as Wasted Resources 

Based on my estimations in the prior section, when you include elections at all levels in this nation each year, we must be talking between 5-10 Billion Dollars a year - if not more. So now let’s stop and think about how that money is used compared to how it could be used. That kind of money could transform the schools of New York State. That kind of money could fully repair the infrastructures of some of our older cities. That kind of money could probably go a long way to better understanding diseases and other health issues. That kind of money could pay for college tuition for many many bright and hard-working young adults. And so forth.

But where do campaign monies go? Well … they go to campaigns. And they are not really legally allowed to do much else. They pay for advertising, personnel, and equipment for campaigns. And so forth. They go poof - into the machine.

The Two Travesties of Modern Campaign Finance Systems in the USA 

To sum up, it seems to me that there are two inter-related problems associated with campaign financing in this nation. First off, it is downright unfair! This is not a country where any citizen has the capacity to emerge as a leader of our nation! To do that, you need money. Tons and tons of money. Or you need to know a lot of people with tons and tons of money. Most of us just don’t run in those circles! High elected offices are for the privileged elite - and this fact owes fully to issues of structural and systemic inequality. This is NOT what democracy looks like!

Second, to put it simply, what a waste of money! It would be so much better to take all the money that goes to campaign finance and put it back into the state or the nation. Or, heck, give it to people as tax refund. I wouldn’t have a problem with that!

As it is now, that money, which is raised as a necessary part of our current processes, simply cannot be used for anything else. It is a travesty of epic proportions. When schools all around the nation are hurting. When millions of people in this nation are receiving inadequate health care. When college tuition costs families of modest means thousands and thousands of dollars a year - then we’ve got a problem. Want to Fix this Nation? I say we start with campaign finance reform. Not only will effective campaign finance reform put us on a fast track to genuine democracy, but it could help save money on a national level - money that is less like to just burn during yet another American political campaign.

If ever there was a time to become politically active and rise up, that time is now. Here is to the uprising.

Join the uprising at www.moveforwardnewyork.org

Note that the views expressed herein are expressly the views of the author and are not necessarily the views of Move Forward New York as a collective entity. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Democrat? Interested in the future of our nation? Vote at every opportunity.



by Glenn Geher, a founding member of Move Forward New York

If you’re like me - a lifelong Democrat who has been simply horrified at the direction that our nation is taking in the post-Trump-actually-got-elected era, you are probably thinking “what can I do to help get this nation back on track?”

As a founding member of Move Forward New York, I have been privileged to meet many great governmental leaders from our party - folks who make a living trying to help all of us move toward the greater good. And I will never forget what NY Assemblyman Cahill had to say on this front. He made the point that over the next four years, we have NO CHOICE but to be politically active AT EVERY LEVEL - from town school boards on up to Washington, DC. Local politics matters more than ever right now. If we can flood town, county, and state governmental positions with people who stand with our values (which are, to my mind, the truly American values, by the way), we will buffer ourselves against the insanity in DC. Further, doing so will help make sure that we have the infrastructure in place to take over Congress - which will  ultimately have the capacity to stop Trump in his tracks - at least as best we can.

I’m a pretty proactive person - and in this current climate, I’ve actually become convinced that I should run for office. And toward that end, I am running on the Democratic ticket for Ulster County Legislator. You see, in my district (Ulster County District 12), we have a Republican incumbent - who has been in office for about 10 years. I don’t know him personally, but I know a bit about his voting record - which is consistently aligned with the right. To my mind, this is exactly what we do NOT need at the county levels in this nation right now! When my friend Debra Clinton, founder of Move Forward New York and activist sine qua non, told me that this guy was about to run unopposed in MY district, I quickly looked in the mirror and was like, Glenn -  you got this.

Of course, it’s not going to be a gimme - and county-level politics is not exactly the same as the field of education - which is where I usually live - but I am so deeply concerned about the future of this nation and about making sure that I take every step possible to help, that I feel a strong calling on this one.

Voting in Off-Year Elections

Odd-numbered years are considered off-year elections. For instance, in 2015, we had the opportunity to vote for an Ulster County Legislator position and for the Ulster County Executive Position - and for a few other things that, at the time, I didn’t quite understand or think much about.

Well it turns out that in my town of Plattekill, NY, even though we have nearly even numbers of Democrats and Republicans, the Republican Legislative candidate won (by about 99 votes). Pretty close actually. But get this: Only about 30% of Democrats in my town came out to vote - while about 37% of the Republicans came out to vote.

You don’t have to be Einstein to realize that if these proportions flipped - and 37% of Democrats came out while only 30% of Republicans came out, the incumbent Republican legislator would have been unseated.

If you are a Democrat, you better think about this fact. Because that was then, and this is now.

Republicans Control the Ulster County Legislative Chamber!

So to see in even more detail how tragic this all is, think about this. In Ulster County, according to the New York State Board of Elections, about 68% of registered voters are Democrats, with close to only 30% being Republicans. With a proportion like this, you would think that Democrats would control the legislative assembly, right? And you would be WRONG! Think again.

Of the 23 legislators in the assembly, 12 are Republican and 11 are Democrats - so Democrats make up 68% of the registered voters in this county, yet their representatives make up only 47% of the legislature. Seriously.

If you’re like me, you immediately see connections with national-level politics here. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, won the popular vote by about 3,000,000. Yes, that is THREE MILLION! Yet the White House and both houses in congress are flooded with Republicans.

I see this all as a lesson in when democracy fails. When our representatives end up mismatching the interests of the majority of the people - and when this happens at all levels of government, then we’ve got a problem on our hands. And we are not functioning like a democracy.

Are You Planning to Vote in the Next Off-Year (2017) Election?

If you are a Democrat and are outraged by the direction that this nation is taking, as I see it, you don’t have the luxury of sitting back and hoping that someone else fixes the problem. There is WAY too much at stake. My wife and I have two kids - and I know full well that it is up to me to take any and all steps possible to help make sure that they and (one day) their kids have the extraordinary opportunity to live in the United States of America. With this in mind, we cannot let the values that form the foundation of this nation fall by the wayside.

And we need to grab this country by the grassroots - and take advantage of each and every opportunity we can to get this nation back on track.

Do I think I’m going to win the election for Ulster County Legislator, District 12 on November 7? Well I sure hope so. But this said, I will say that I am optimistic. Sure, I think I have a good set of experiences and skills and I know that my heart is in the right place. But to be honest, I don’t think that all is going to get me the seat in Kingston.

What is going to get me that seat is the groundswell of Democrats who have been awoken by the current national situation. It is the uprising that is going to get me to Kingston. The same uprising that flooded Washington, DC and municipalities around the world for the Women’s March. The uprising that flooded SFO, JFK, and airports throughout the nation in protest of a highly xenophobic and anti-American travel ban. The uprising that got scientists, who are largely introverted, out to march in political rallies from sea to shining sea.

https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/8fa5872e8c00d3d4abdfe2c23a86a9aa34e7ca32/c=365-0-5217-3648&r=x408&c=540x405/local/-/media/2017/02/20/Poughkeepsie/Poughkeepsie/636232037986853258-pc022017-new-paltz-rally-3.jpg 
Not My President's Day Rally, SUNY New Paltz; February, 2017

Bottom Line

As I’ve written about in the past, the Tea Party was very successful in flooding seats at all levels of government with Republican and conservative candidates. Well guess what? That was then - and this is now. And to my mind, the Uprising that we have on our hands now makes the efforts of the Tea Party look like kid stuff.

My money says that the Democrats in Plattekill - and in places like Plattekill around the nation - come out in unprecedented numbers in the 2017 off-year election. I sure hope so, because this will allow me to put my money where my mouth is and take direct steps as an elected official to help effect positive change in Ulster County - and beyond.

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If ever there was a time to become politically active and rise up, that time is now. Here is to the uprising.

Join the uprising at www.moveforwardnewyork.org

Note that the views expressed herein are expressly the views of the author and are not necessarily the views of Move Forward New York as a collective entity. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Uprising - Like the Tea Party, but BIGGER AND BETTER


by Glenn Geher, a founding member of Move Forward New York

In about 2009, a large movement emerged in this nation. As far as I can tell, the defining feature of this movement, called The Tea Party movement, was to elect conservative officials at all levels of government - largely as a response to the policies of President Barack Obama, which were considered as too liberal by the many members of the movement.

History tells us that this movement was famously successful, leading to republican takeovers of both houses of Congress as well as congressional units across the states. At the federal level, the result was a Congress that had the capacity to essentially block nearly all initiatives of the Obama administration.

Welcome to the New Age

In case you haven't noticed, there's another grassroots movement going on in this country right now.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/93/Women%27s_March_%28VOA%29_03.jpg/338px-Women%27s_March_%28VOA%29_03.jpg
And it is pretty legitimate. The election of Donald Trump last November, for a plethora of reasons, led to shock and outrage among a large proportion of Americans. Concerns about every last issue that bears on our nation - from the environment to education - from immigration to health care - and more - emerged in the hearts and minds of millions.

This cannot stand! we collectively thought.
Not my president! we cried in the streets.

Thank You Donald Trump
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C5ITjorWIAA3tJq.jpg
https://heavyeditorial.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/gettyimages-6321988461.jpg?quality=65&strip=all&w=780&strip=all

You read that right! You know, like so many of us, I have to admit that I was never very politically active. I guess I've lived a privileged life for the most part. I grew up in a middle class town in northern New Jersey and went on to get bachelor and doctoral degrees in New England. I have a great job, own a house, have a great family, etc. Life's been OK for me. And you know, partly connected with that fact, I'm thinking I never gave politics too much thought.

This all said, I'm in academia and I'm actually in a rock band with three sociologists - so I've been regularly surrounded by activists for years. And I guess I never quite understood why they all cared so much. Well, times have changed - and, ironically, we have Donald Trump to thank for that. The excessively inappropriate background and nature of Donald Trump is too much for me to turn a blind eye.

Waking the Sleeping Giant
https://9xw0h49o7xv2hkoym1wqjuz6-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/np-protest-4.jpg

People talk about civic engagement as a duty. I get it now. A democracy only functions to the degree that citizens engage in the process. Well the election of Donald Trump woke many of us up. We get it now - and I have to say to my lifelong activist friends, please forgive my political apathy of the past!


Modern Grassroots Activism as The Uprising

If you know me at all, you know that I've gone full sail in the political activism front. I have seen many adverse effects of the Trump administration in my own little world - and I am hell bent on making sure that this nation gets back on track.

This said, I suggest that we take a hint from the Tea Party movement. I have to say, that's a fabulous name - and I think the name itself likely played a role in mobilizing the movement.

Well we have a movement on our hands right now. In my little world, we call it Move Forward. Move on and Indivisible also exist. Many folks, such as the formidable Robert Reich, talk about the resistance.

When I've been asked to speak at political rallies, I have come to always start with this phrase: Welcome to the uprising.

To me, what we have on our hands here is nothing short of an all-out uprising. Resistance implies that our goal is to stand our ground against an adversary. Based on the inspiring work I've seen out of millions of my compatriots - people who have flooded the airports, marched by the hundreds of thousands in Washington, made daily phone calls to government officials, I'd say that we are part of much more than a resistance. We are doing way more than just standing our ground.

We are an uprising. We are moving up and moving forward. And, come hell or high water, we are going to take back this nation.

I have to give credit to the organizers of the Tea Party - they accomplished quite a bit. But when you look around at the magnitude of the current movement, it becomes pretty clear that the Tea Party movement was minor league stuff.

The Uprising is huge. It is here. And it is not going away until our goals are realized.

This is still our country - the sleeping giant has awoken - and from sea to shining sea, we are not messing around.

 https://www.midhudsonnews.com/News/Images_events/NMP_SNP_wide-20Feb17.jpg


Bottom Line

The election of Donald Trump to the most important leadership position in the world was a wake-up call of epic proportions. If you are fortunate to call yourself a citizen of the United States of America, then it is your civic obligation - and nothing short of that - to play an active role in our democratic process. We have First Amendment rights - such as the right to criticize the government publicly when warranted - and I say that it is the obligation of each and every one on us to exercise these rights to protect our nation - and world - for future generations.

To all of my sisters and brothers in the thousands of grassroots groups across the nation (Move Forward New York - and beyond) - I say this: Deep appreciation for all of your work. And please consider joining me in framing this national movement that is so dear to us with this appropriate name - what we  have on our hands is nothing short of THE UPRISING. Here is to the future.



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If ever there was a time to become politically active and rise up, that time is now. Here is to the uprising.

Join the uprising at www.moveforwardnewyork.org

Note that the views expressed herein are expressly the views of the author and are not necessarily the views of Move Forward New York as a collective entity. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Shame on NJ Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen


Below is a letter that I sent to Congressman Frelinghuysen, who recently pressured a member of a political activist group, NJ 11th for Change, to resign from a high-powered job in the banking industry. Please join me in exercising our first amendment rights on this one. This is our democracy. And Congressman Frelinghuysen’s actions are not acceptable.



5/16/2017

Dear Congressman Frelinghuysen,

I have become aware of the recent situation regarding Saily Avelenda, who lives in my hometown of West Caldwell, NJ. According to several news sources, she was pressured to leave a high-power job in the private sector largely as a result of a letter that you wrote to her representative, indicating your concern that she is a member of an activist political organization (NJ 11th for Change). I am perplexed and concerned by this fact for several reasons.

I am a founding member of a similar group, Move Forward New York - Congressional District 19. And my activism as part of this group is, to my mind, indicative of my taking the democratic process seriously. Individuals from any part of the political spectrum who dedicate their time and efforts to working for political causes that they deem important should be commended for going above and beyond and for engaging in the foundation of our democracy. Such groups largely are all about exercising their first amendment rights - and I would think that a congressman would be highly supportive of individuals who take their time and energy to  do exactly that.

The world is a scary place right now - and the fact that millions of Americans are standing up to participate fully in our democracy is exactly what is needed to help get our nation back on track during this time.

I hope and trust that in the future you will consider these points in your behaviors regarding citizen actions groups - as such groups are comprised of volunteers who are going the extra mile on behalf of our future. For my money, there are few things as commendable - and if I were in your shoes, I would write Ms. Avelenda a letter commending her for her work. Clearly she has other things she is doing in her life - and clearly she is engaging in the political process because she cares about OUR nation's future.

Don't hesitate to contact me with any questions. And many thanks for your attention.

Genuinely, Glenn Geher, Graduate of James Caldwell High School (class of 1988); Founding member of Move Forward New York


Note: I grew up in West Caldwell - I currently reside in New Paltz, NY
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If ever there was a time to become politically active and rise up, that time is now. Here is to the uprising.

Join the uprising at www.moveforwardnewyork.org

Note that the views expressed herein are expressly the views of the author and are not necessarily the views of Move Forward New York as a collective entity. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Anti-American Arrest of Joel Guerrero: We Cannot Let Trump Tear Apart Our Families

Glenn Geher 03/04/2017

Just yesterday I finished writing an article about several ways in which the Trump agenda is directly having adverse effects on my work as a modern academic. But before that one even hits the press, an emergent situation - on a totally different front - has emerged in our small upstate town. Welcome to the USA in 2017 ...

I’m now feeling obligated to let the world know so as to potentially help with this egregious situation. Be ready to be absolutely outraged.


Joel Guerroro is a resident of my small town of New Paltz. He immigrated here legally from the Dominican Republic. His family moved here when he was a teenager. They came here for the same reason that my ancestors came here about 100 years ago. To have a better life. To pursue the American Dream. This is the United States of America and, to my mind, this is the entire point of the constitution of our great nation.

 Joel Guerrero of New Paltz, NY (Source: Daily News)


Joel works in the field of construction and is married to long-standing resident of New Paltz, Jessica Guerrero. She grew up in New Paltz. She graduated from the same high school that my daughter goes to right now. She took classes at SUNY New Paltz, where I teach. She and I have 10 common Facebook friends. This is New Paltz - this is small-town America. And this is a town full of people living the American Dream. Without knowing Jessica well, I will say this in case it is not obvious: I stand for her and her family and their right to pursue the American Dream.


Jessica is now pregnant with Joel’s baby. They are excited to build a family here in New Paltz. And just hearing their story makes me excited for them.


So you can imagine how up in arms people in my little town are to hear that Joel is now behind bars in a federal immigration detention facility in New Jersey. He was arrested after a routine semi-annual meeting with ICE officials last week. It was a surprise arrest. 

He was not given the option to have an attorney represent him. He is currently behind bars  - with the rationale being that he (a) missed one meeting with immigration officials seven years ago and (b) he had some misdemeanor arrest regarding marijuana possession when he was in his 20s.


Joel Guerrero is married to a native of the USA - she is pregnant with their child. He immigrated here legally many years ago with his family - in an effort to pursue the American dream. And he is behind bars as I type right now. (Details on his story are presented in the New York Daily News here).


I have one question for the new administration of our nation regarding this situation, and it is this: ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND!?!?!?


We all know full well that we are a country comprised almost exclusively of immigrants and relatively recent descendants of immigrants. We all know full well that the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of the openness that our nation has to people from all corners of the world. We all know that the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States ends in “... liberty and justice for ALL.”

When my wife and I moved to New Paltz, New York (USA) in 2000, our plan was to build roots and work toward the American Dream in this wonderful little upstate town. No doubt that the Guerreros have the same plan in mind.


This is still the United States of America, and I am here to tell you that if you are outraged at this insanity (and I hope you are), you have options. Please write to your representatives in Washington, DC. Write to New York State officials. Call Congressman John Faso's office (845-514-2322) and express your outrage. Write to your local newspapers. Use your first amendment rights to the fullest. And express your concern.This is the United States of America, and we have freedom of speech and freedom of the press. As we all work through this difficult time in our history, do not ever for one second forget the guarantees of the First Amendment.


Let the world know that you are a patriot - that you stand for the values of the United States of America. And that you will not tolerate this act of Anti-Americanism for one second.

I stand with the Guerrero family - and with thousands of families around the nation who are dealing with similar instances during this dark time in US history. Let's follow Senator Elizabeth Warren's lead. We, the defenders of the values of the United States, must persist.



If ever there was a time to become politically active and rise up, that time is now. Here is to the uprising.

Join the uprising at www.moveforwardnewyork.org

Note that the views expressed herein are expressly the views of the author and are not necessarily the views of Move Forward New York as a collective entity. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Working with Unions to Address the National Crisis: In Solidarity


(photo credit: Morgan Gwenwald)


Glenn Geher
2/22/2017

I went to my first union meeting at work this evening in about a decade. Since I came to SUNY New Paltz in 2000, I’ve always belonged to the union - and have appreciated the work that the good folks who run the union do on my behalf. Until recently, however, I’ve generally stayed clear of things like politics and unions. Of course, that all changed since 11/8/2016. Like many of us, I now find myself hell-bent on taking steps to address what many of us consider nothing short of a national crisis.

So I now am finding myself playing a highly active role in the progressive organization Move Forward New York, which is dedicated to helping correct the national situation as effectively and efficiently (and peacefully!) as possible. So when Debra Clinton, our fearless leader, asked me if I’d be willing to organize a Not My President’s Day rally on President’s Day, I was all in.

As a long-standing member of the SUNY New Paltz community, I quickly thought of our campus as a venue for such an event. After all, it’s got lots of space, is centrally located in town, and offices were slated to be closed that day. Then I got to thinking - how do you go about booking your campus for an event of this kind - when done under the banner of an external entity such as Move Forward New York? Hmm …

So I got thinking about who on campus might be willing to work with us to make this happen. We needed a formal campus entity to co-host this event. Then it came to me. Let me contact the union!

I’ve been a dues-paying member of UUP (United University Professions http://uupinfo.org/ ) for years now - and I figured that the union might be up for co-hosting this kind of event. I was welcomed, by our chapter president (Beth Wilson) and by the full union president (Fred Kowal) quickly and warmly, with open arms. In short, the answer was “yes, let’s do this!”

Well, long story short, the event was a huge success (see the several media pieces on the event at the bottom of this page) - and it turned out that the synergy between the UUP and Move Forward New York was pretty much perfect.

At the union chapter meeting this evening (just a few days after the rally), both Beth and Fred gave awesome speeches. And both focused largely on the connections between the current national situation and the goals of UUP. You see, as I’d suspected, the leadership of UUP is just as distressed about the current national situation as I am. As evidence of this point, our local UUP Executive Board voted unanimously to support the UUP/MFNY collaboration with what ended up being our highly successful rally.

Further, both Beth and Fred indicated that some UUP members have not been happy with the idea of UUP formally supporting such events as the New Paltz Not My President’s Day rally or the Women’s March on Washington (UUP was the first union to formalize an affiliation with that event!). And I have to say that their responses to these criticisms spoke volumes to me. The union’s take is essentially this: The nation is in a crisis right now - and this crisis is directly affecting SUNY in a variety of ways (e.g., reduced international student matriculation, reduced international attendance at SUNY-affiliated conferences, general concerns about the welfare of public education, etc.). I’m glad to see that my brothers and sisters in the UUP see this situation exactly as I do - and are willing to stand for what is right!


Collaborate with Your Union!

If you are interested in helping fix the current national crisis - and if you are in a union, I suggest that you attend your next chapter meeting. If you’re part of Move Forward New York, or Indivisible, or one of the many organizations that has recently emerged in an effort to help fix things, you might want to see about connecting your organization with your union. Here are some reasons that such a collaboration can be a good idea:
  • There is a good chance that your union is strongly aligned with your take on the current national situation.
  • An existing labor union will have resources (per your hard-earned union dues!) that can help cover fiscal costs.
  • An existing labor union will have qualified personnel (typically including elected leadership) and staff.
  • An existing labor union is typically a formal, long-standing organization that may have helpful things such as liability insurance for hosting rallies in public places and other things that may well come in handy during this long-term struggle. .
  • An existing labor union likely is filled with an army of concerned citizens who are fully committed to the cause.
  • Labor unions are comprised of experienced political activists - skilled individuals who will gladly support your events and your cause.  
  • And if that’s not enough, an existing labor union likely has a bullhorn that you can use at rallies!

Bottom Line

We are currently in a national crisis - and if you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.

Looking for help in addressing the problems that surround us today? In addition to looking toward such groups as Move Forward New York, Indivisible, Move On, etc., I suggest that you connect (or, as in my case, re-connect) with your union if you are a member of one. For a whole host of reasons, my guess is that you will be welcomed with open arms - with an army ready to work with you - as we all work, together, to reclaim our great nation.

If ever there was a time to become politically active and rise up, that time is now. Here is to the uprising.

#UnionYes #UUP

In Solidarity, 
Glenn Geher - proud member UUP and of Move Forward New York

Join the uprising at www.moveforwardnewyork.org

Note that the views expressed herein are expressly the views of the author and are not necessarily the views of Move Forward New York as a collective entity. 


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Media Coverage of New Paltz’s Not My President’s Day Rally

Full video (via Amy Dooley Mosbacher) of event:










Saturday, February 18, 2017

djt is not for me!



Patricia Haidaoui
2/18/17

I’m about to attend my first President’s Day event and it happens to be a “NOT my president” rally. In full disclosure, I’m not just attending this rally, I was one of the first to suggest that Move Forward New York should hold a local event, similar to the one happening in NYC. I knew immediately that speaking out on President’s Day was important, even before I could articulate why.

What is it about THIS president that makes me feel this way? Is it just the person, the policies, BOTH? I’ll admit I have a hard time understanding what folks didn’t “like” about Barack Obama. I can understand disagreeing with a policy, I didn’t always agree with him (heck, I didn’t even vote for him in the 2008 primary). But some people had (and continue to have) truly hateful things to say about him...that continues to confuse me. What did he do (besides be HIM) to warrant such negativity? Nothing, as far as I can tell.

Those thoughts have me examining my own visceral response to djt. For some reason, I can’t even fathom attaching the title “president” to the person I call “djt.” It literally makes me physically ill! Why? I know darn well I’m not a “sore loser.” I also know that this isn’t “partisan politics” either. I was a democratic Deputy Town Supervisor working for a Republican Supervisor. I have voted for local Republicans, when their policies were favorable for my town and/or region. I lived thru Reagan and two different Bushes, and never once did I feel like this. I disagreed with their policies, but was not deeply offended by them as people. Sure, I wouldn’t have wanted to go hunting with Dick Cheney, but come on, GW seems like the kinda guy you could sit next to at a BBQ and actually enjoy for a while. They didn’t frighten me! They didn’t REPULSE me!

Republicans will say “get over it” and “move on” and, worse, lately people have said that “this” is the “new normal!” But I can’t “accept” this blasphemy, this desecration of what should be a revered position. I’ve interacted with djt voters who have said their “main concerns” were jobs and the economy. For some reason, they believe that a serial swindler has the “golden touch” and will ….. do what? That’s where they lose me! But what about “all that other stuff,” I have asked them, “how can that be overlooked, even IF he was the business genius he says he is?” Personally, there is no way I CAN overlook any of it! Not the grabbing, the mimicking, the disrespect, and the tantrums. Not the cronyism, and collusion, nor the destruction of the basic tenets our country was founded on, like civil and human rights!

No, djt does not represent me…both in that I could NEVER get “on board with” any of the things he stands for, and, in that he clearly, based on all the things he has said and done, is not interested in being “my” president. As a woman, as an educator, as the spouse of an immigrant, as a Muslim, as someone who has spent a lifetime supporting the rights and freedoms of others….no, djt is simply NOT FOR ME, and you know what? That’s ok, maybe he isn’t “for you” either. WE don’t have to lower our standards, or our expectations. We can stick together, and vow to do our collective BEST to push-back against oppression, to shine light where it is dark and to show love where there is hate. WE are the citizens of this great land, who, with truth and justice as our guiding principals, will come together to stand against tyranny where ever it blocks our way!

If ever there was a time to become politically active and rise up, that time is now. Here is to the uprising.

Join the uprising at www.moveforwardnewyork.org

Note that the views expressed herein are expressly the views of the author and are not necessarily the views of Move Forward New York as a collective entity.