Two chances this week to advocate for immigrants, one national, one local
- Sept. 21, Love God, Love Neighbor: EPPN’s virtual advocacy training, 12 to 5 p.m.: The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations (OGR) and Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) will share advocacy and messaging tools on immigration policy. At the end of the training, participants will have the opportunity to directly advocate to members of Congress and their staff about protections for refugees, asylum seekers, and all migrants seeking a better life. Register here.
- Sept. 22, Vote via Zoom for Immigrant Community Liaison proposal to Cincinnati City Council, 6 to 8 p.m.: Transformations CDC, a ministry of the Church of Our Saviour serving Cincinnati’s immigrant community, is one of the five finalists in Cohear’s Policy Pitch Event this Thursday, and will present their immigrant community liaison proposal to Cincinnati Councilmember Meeka Owens and other panelists. The panelists will advocate with Council for the proposal with the most votes. Register here.
Transformations’ proposal is that “City Council create and fund the position of Immigration Community Liaison under the City Manager’s Office. This person will work with the community, stakeholder groups, nonprofit and interfaith organizations to establish a strong network to coordinate and connect our immigrant community to services. The Liaison’s primary foci and the city’s funding will 1) ensure safe short-term housing for newly arriving immigrants and immigrant victims of domestic violence and 2) fund legal services for qualifying “unaccompanied minors” resident in Cincinnati.
Two chances NEXT week to delve into environmental policy
- Sept. 28: Faith community input on Cincinnati’s next Green Plan, 12 to 1:30 p.m.: Brainstorm with Cincinnati’s interim sustainability director Oliver Kroner on the update of the Green Cincinnati Plan which guides the City’s rapid progress on its carbon emission reduction goals and its focus on environmental justice. Free lunch! Location: 250 William Howard Taft, 1st floor conference room. Please register here by Sept. 22.
Updated in 2018, the Green Cincinnati Plan presents a comprehensive set of recommendations to advance the sustainability, equity, and resilience of the city. Over the coming year, a new 2023 GCP will be developed with input from many stakeholders and community members. That process is guided by a Steering Committee, comprised of government, corporate, academic, non-profit, faith, and community organizations appointed by the Mayor. The Steering Committee members include Christ Church Cathedral parishioners Eric Kearney of the African-American Chamber and Ryan Mooney-Bullock of Green Umbrella. Read about the Green Cincinnati Plan here.
- Sept. 29: Ohio Public Interest Environmental Law Conference: The nonprofit Ohio Environmental Council is hosting a powerful hybrid conference on the theme “In Pursuit of Energy Justice for All.” Speakers from Ohio local governments, universities, and community-based organizations will address the Energy Jobs and Justice Act (Ohio HB 419), community-based energy justice efforts, climate action by local governments, and corporate climate accountability. Click here for details on the agenda and panelist profiles. Lawyers and staff of non-profits attending in person can earn continuing legal education credits for a very modest fee. The general public can attend in-person for only $20, lunch included. Students attend in-person free. Virtual tickets are free. Register here.
Two threats to US Democracy
In a front-page story, “Democracy Challenged,” in the Sunday Sept. 18 New York Times, reporter David Leonhardt gives a data-rich analysis of reasons American representative democracy is in danger. The first is the threat to the peaceful transfer of power from “a growing movement inside one of the country’s leading political parties – the Republican Party – to refuse to accept defeat in an election.” He cites elected officials and candidates who assert the 2020 election was stolen, and candidates for election oversight roles who may refuse to certify election results they don’t like.
The second “is chronic but also growing: The power to set government policy is increasingly disconnected from public opinion,” writes Leonhardt. I’ve reported frequently about the impact of partisan gerrymandering and the filibuster in blocking policy that the majority of Americans support, such as protection for equal voting rights or gun safety. Leonhard adds data on how recent demographic trends have intensified the impact of the Constitution’s protections for small states, intensifying this counter-majority policy shift.
Because every state has two Senators and urban populations have grown so much greater, voters in the least populous states have increasing impact: “the 50 Democratic senators effectively represent 186 million Americans, while the 50 million Republican senators effectively represent 145 million,” Leonhardt writes. The article provides a graph stating that one North Dakota voter has the Electoral College representation of 18 voters in Michigan or 59 in California. Leonhardt sees this as a reason that Republican Presidents have been able to appoint the majority of the justices on the Supreme Court despite Democratic candidates winning the popular vote in 7 of the past 8 presidential elections.
In addition, the states’ equal number of Senators has contributed “to racial inequality in political representation,” Leonhardt says. “The representatives of small states, granted extra influence by the Constitution, are disproportionately white, while large states are home to many more Asian-American, Black, and Latino voters.” He adds that American citizens in two disproportionately Black or Latino jurisdictions have no Senate representation at all: the District of Columbia (with more residents than Vermont or Wyoming) and Puerto Rico (whose population is greater than that of 20 states).
Leonhardt then describes how increasing wealth gaps between rural and urban areas have made ideological differences between rural and urban areas much stronger than earlier in US history, with each side feeling an existential threat from the other. This urban-rural divide is also a partisan one: Leonhardt feels it exacerbates the impact of partisan gerrymandering. We’ve certainly seen that point raised in the fights over Ohio’s state and Congressional legislative redistricting this year.
I am not sure if the link above will get you past the New York Times’ paywall. If it does, I recommend this article, which cites a number of historians and political scientists as well as demographic data.
Advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a longtime community advocate and member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming. Connect with her at email@example.com