S.E. Williams | Contributor
“We can and must move U.S. politics forward by means of committed participation.” – Paul Wellstone
Sometimes it is challenging to ‘keep it real’ and still have your voice heard when, as reporters, we now compete with so much disinformation filling every communications channel open to the public 24 hours a day. Yet, we must persist in our efforts.
During this time, when stress levels are elevated, uncertainty abounds and fear hovers over the nation like a low-hanging cloud, citizens are hungry to break through the usual biased rhetoric in order to glean pearls of credible information about the COVID-19 pandemic essential to keeping themselves and their families safe.
One hoped, during this crisis, the president’s daily “press” briefings on the status of the nation’s response to the pandemic would be a source of truth, and to some extent, comfort. Yet, many among my peers who courageously suffered through a few of them, have turned away, feeling—for lack of a better term—unsettled.
There continues to be brutal criticism of the White House daily briefings and I am almost certain few would argue with me regarding how the president has strayed in his presentation from the realm of Huh? What did he say? To HUH!? WHAT DID HE SAY!?
Many have learned to take the president’s bizarre ramblings with a grain of salt and look to the experts—doctors, scientists and researchers—to guide their thinking through this crisis.
The good news here in the inland region—and more broadly in the state of California—is we have a team of elected officials who appear to be working with earnest sincerity in the best interest of their constituents during these trying times.
It also appears however, this may be about to change—at least among our national representatives in Congress—who too often lose focus on the needs of those who voted them into office and instead, place the majority of their attention on the wants and desires of their funders and party leaders.
The two political parties are now about to square off as they prepare to consider whether to provide emergency funding to assist cities and states during this unprecedented crisis.
Even before the onset of COVID-19, there were a sprinkling of cities in the inland region wrestling with tight budget considerations and now, most cities are being stretched daily. To hear Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, proclaim, “I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route. It’s saved some cities, and there’s no good reason for it not to be available,” was unsettling.
Certainly, citizens in the City of San Bernardino can bear witness to the bankruptcy process being “no cakewalk.” Having recently survived bankruptcy, those who made the tough decisions to lay some city employees off to protect essential service workers like firefighters, police, emergency medical technicians, etc., may still feel the sting of those decisions; but certainly not as intensely as those who were laid off.
McConnell has made his position known on this issue, calling any effort to send emergency dollars to states and municipalities as a “Blue” state bailout.
Let us be clear, California contributes more in federal tax dollars than any other state in the union. What makes McConnell’s comments so galling is the state he represents, Kentucky, is rated the fifth (5th) most dependent state in the nation. This makes his ‘let them eat cake’ type comment about “Blue” states not only disingenuous, it also flies in the face of bi-partisan efforts to date regarding the COVID-19 crisis including efforts to date by Congress to act in the best interest of the country over party.
The question now becomes what will the House Representatives from the inland region do? Some are Democrat and the expectation is they will fight to secure funding support for this region; others are Republican, who will be called upon to make a hard choice. Will they follow the dictates of their leader McConnell, or will they vote in the best interest of their community… our community?
It is still relatively early in the legislative process related to this and there is time to let our representatives in both parties know what we expect on this issue. It is important not to assume they will do the right thing and/or vote the right way when the time comes. We all know what happens when we assume.
We should engage with this issue early on. Everyone is encouraged to reach out to our U.S. Senators and Congressional representatives by email or telephone as frequently as possible until this is settled. These are unprecedented times and we expect our legislators to do the right thing for our state, our cities, our communities, our families and ourselves.
Contact Senator Kamala Harris’ office at (202) 224-3553 or email at www.harris.senate.gov/contact; You can email Senator Dianne Feinstein at www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-me or reach her office by phone at (202) 224-3841. You can reach out to your Congressional representative via the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121; or enter your zip code here to confirm your representative’s name and get a direct telephone number to his/her office. ‘We the people’ have a lot of work to do as the country continues to move through this crisis.
Of course, this is just my opinion, I’m keeping it real.