Also in today’s post, a powerful Bill Moyers video interview with civil rights activists James Cone and Taylor Branch, another quote from MLK, Jr. on the importance of bold progressive action, and an update on our advocacy plans in this session.
MLK, Jr. Inspiration for Urgent Advocacy, Before It’s Too Late
From MLK, Jr: We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The “tide in the affairs of men” does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on…” We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.
We must move past indecision to action…
Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter — but beautiful — struggle for a new world. This is the callling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.
— Excerpt from The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City.
MLK Jr. has offered about the best response imaginable to those who will say we should not press Biden as urgently as possible to be bold. Certainly, the struggle will be difficult to achieve Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, an end to the mass incarceration, immigration reform, and tax reform that will fuel development of a sustainable economy and begin to rectify the obscene wealth gap.
Here in New Mexico, even before the legislative session has begun, we are hearing from legislators: “we must be wary of unintended consequences,” “the devil is in the details,” and “we’ll look at it, but it may be that we need to study this first,” or more often amend the bill to do industry’s work and undo the intended consequences of the legislation Our response must be that there are unintended consequences for inaction, too, and that on a daily basis, the status quo and our state and nation’s inaction quietly does violence on communities of color, on immigrants, on the poor, on women, and on the Earth. But the worst offense inaction commits is upon our youth, for it is these youth who will pay the consequences and they will ask us: Why?
And so, it is time for all of us to set aside time over the next eight weeks to use the information we’ve developed to communicate with our legislators and urge deliberate, bold action during this legislative session.
Find out more about our Senate District Advocacy Teams and join one. Click here. Attend our weekly Friday, 3:30-4:30 Strategy Session, where you can find out more about how you can add your voice to the chorus seeking justice in NM. We have teams, coordinators, tools, and plans. Please join us. Click here to register for the Friday meeting. To examine the bills we support, click here. And if you haven’t signed up for our Legislative Alerts, now is the time. They will give you all you need to effectively raise your voice. Sign up here.
2021 Legislative Priorities Survey Results
Below are the results of over 1,100 respondents to our 2021 Legislative Priorities Survey.
In the first column is the bill/issue name. (To make this table fit on the screen, we had to use short abbreviations.) If you are viewing this on your phone, please know that it is far easier to view on your laptop or tablet.
The survey asked respondents to indicate if they strongly approve, approve, need more info, oppose, or strongly oppose. Columns 2 and 3 provide the percent of respondents strongly approving and approving.
The survey also asked respondents to rank the bills from top priority through 8th priority. This question elicits a better understanding of respondent priorities — with the approval responses, people could indicate strongly approve for all 15 bills and the result would not be very discriminating. We created a weighted average of those rankings and this weighted average is presented in the far right column. The lower the number, the higher the priority. Bills are listed according to their average ranking.
You’ll see that Abortion Decriminalization and the Health Security Plan and Design were at the top the list of Transformational Bills, with Increasing Permanent Funding for Early Childhood and the Green Amendment close in the 3rd and 4th position. Legalizing Cannabis and creating a Public Bank were virtually tied for the fifth and sixth ranking. It is worth noting that bills on our list are ranked “approve” or “strongly approve” by a 76-92% of respondents. We know what we want; now we need to tell our legislators to do it.
|Tax & Rev||56||26||4.69|
|Paid Sick Lv||54||20||4.79|
|Work Fam Tx||58||12||4.95|
|Food & Ag||64||20||5.35|
The Power of Personal Stories in Your Advocacy
From Retake volunteer Jeff Silesky, who passes along this message from Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign
Today the session begins, and for much of the legislative session we will focus our work on specific bills we are supporting and how you can help.
As you might be aware, the proposed Health Security Plan (HSP) has been ranked among the top priority bills for this coming legislative session in the recent Retake survey and on a district by district basis as well. One of the most powerful ways to share both an understanding and need for this proposed bill is through personal story telling.
Below is a brief description of the New Mexico Health Stories Project. The NMHS Project was started by a group of citizens in support of the NM Health Security Plan (HSP).
We are seeking stories from New Mexicans about their hardships, suffering, morbidity, and even mortality experienced as a result of the all-too-common inadequacies of the current healthcare system, COVID-19-related or not.
We are looking for ”storytellers” and testimonials. We’d like to invite you to connect us with patients and providers you may know who might agree to being video-taped or making a video of their own. Audio and written stories are also appreciated.
The group has built a repository of stories of real New Mexicans from across the state. Visit our website, http://newmexicohealthstories.com/ where the public can sign up to record their own stories and access recorded stories. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a story to tell.
The repository of stories will be used for outreach and education and include commentary about how specific provisions of the Health Security Plan would improve on the issues brought into focus by personal testimonies.
The Health Security Plan is a long term, viable alternative to the current system. The HSP would ensure affordable, quality, comprehensive health coverage for all New Mexicans. Based on a cooperative model, one that would provide freedom of choice of doctors, providers, and hospitals, and no networks. For more information about the Plan visit the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign website; https://www.nmhealthsecurity.org/
The group believes in the power of storytelling. Sharing stories can influence others, build empathy, inspire action, and transform opinions. Please help us in our efforts to bear witness to the truth and tragedies of those among us who have suffered from a broken healthcare system, and to further efforts for real systemic change.
Jeff Silesky, Volunteer Coordinator NMHS Project
Consider the message from MLK, Jr and our commentary that follows. Many of our neighbors are being forced to weigh whether to protect their health or their savings. Many are delaying testing or treatment due to cost, imperiling their lives. They do this because a broken system has been sustained in place for decades due to indifference at the Roundhouse, with the constant cry: “We have to be wary of the unintended consequences….we need to study this.”
Well, three different studies over the years yielded the same result: New Mexico can deliver universal healthcare coverage and save money.
Tired of being told by legislators that “we still don’t know enough,” Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign has crafted a bill that will create a board to study every last detail of how the HSA will operate. They will cross every “t” and dot every “i” and return to the legislature with a specific design outlining how the HSA will operate, what it will cost, and how it will be paid for.
There can be no excuses in 2021; the consequences of inaction are too great.
If COVID has done nothing else, it has laid bare “the fierce urgency of now.” Hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans must make these decisions between their health and their checkbook. At some point we must acknowledge that their plights are the intended consequences of legislators who prefer to listen to insurance and big pharma lobbyists over their constituents.
In the video below, Moyers, Cone, and Taylor describe how in his last year, MLK, Jr had begun to focus on the economic consequences of systemic racism and launched a Poor People’s Campaign demanding an end to poverty. That was fifty years ago and today we continue to experience the consequences of indifference and indecision. Two and a half minutes into the video, a clip is offered of MLK, Jr. describing the two Americas. Those two Americas still exist today. This is well worth your time.
In solidarity and hope,
Paul & Roxanne