DA Global Veterans & Military Families Caucus Leadership:
Vol. 2, No. 2
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Letter from the Editor
These days it seems like there are more than enough worries to wake us up in the middle of the night. Autocratic regimes around the world are growing and democratic institutions in America are being threatened. Many anxieties are interfering with our restorative cleansing from deep sleep.
One worry is that overturning Roe v Wade would be the culmination of a half-century-long legal campaign by the GOP singularly focussed on that outcome. However, although 19 states have proposed or passed abortion restriction bills, there are clear signs that overturning Roe and restricting abortions is far from being an end in itself for the GOP. If (when?) the Supreme Court overturns Roe, the GOP would launch even more ambitious agendas, namely getting fundamental moral issues out of the realm of federal constitutional rights and under the control of the states.
A common argument for overturning Roe is that it should be states who resolve the issue of abortion for themselves, rather than by having a federal resolution imposed on them.
If Roe is overturned, what other more ambitious agendas might the Republicans launch? There are a series of federal decisions currently held that prohibit states from banning contraceptives, from criminalizing gay sex, and from recognizing same-sex marriage. These cases are now controlled by federal laws, not under the control of states. The more impactful effect of Roe being overturned is that it would grant power to the states to make laws that affect some of the most intimate aspects of people’s lives, and not be controlled by Federal laws passed by the Supreme Court.
In recent weeks, in anticipation of a Mississippi decision banning abortions, various Republican senators have questioned a law which struck down a state ban on contraceptives, a law which required states to recognize same-sex marriage, and a law which invalidated a state law which banned bi-racial marriages.
So beyond the GOP goal of overturning Roe is the goal of weakening the federal government’s power and shifting the power to the states.
If Democrats acknowledge the long-term ambitions of the GOP, and the current 6-3 conservative Supreme Court, and are armed with the fact that 80% of Americans think that abortion should be legal in all or some circumstances (here), then Democrats should be able to motivate their base to get out and vote in the upcoming midterms. The GOP aggressive attack on Roe and their plan to grant states the power to rule on personal behaviors could backfire for the GOP, if we reach out and engage our base. This is how Democrats can maintain the House and the Senate in November.
Let’s do everything we can to educate our family and friends on the GOP’s long-term ambitions, and support and motivate Democrats and the politically non-aligned Independents to vote. Our sleep will depend on it.
Yours Democratically, Bob Gould (Editor, DA-UK)
Vol. 2, No. 1
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PRIMARIES -- WHO CARES?
I Do. How About you?
Hello Members and friends, I want to admit to you that for much of my life I ignored primaries. It felt like too much effort, and what would it matter anyway? I woke up a little in 1980. I was raised Republican but there was NO WAY I was voting for Ronald Reagan. I liked John Anderson, the Independent candidate and I was furious that even though he earned enough primary votes to be in the League of Women Voters presidential debates, everyone I knew said, “There’s no choice”, my first realization Americans are chronically binary.
In 1984 and 1988 I was really excited to be for Jesse Jackson in the primaries. I finally voted for a winning president in 1992 -- even though I’d worked for Jerry Brown in the primaries. You may notice that I am only mentioning presidential primaries! Sad but true most of us just wait for the November election run to pay attention to US Senators, US Congressman, Governors, Attorney Generals, State Representatives, Judges, on and on.
I know, it’s a heavy lift. We all have enormous demands on our time and brain. But, I’m sorry to tell you: We must do better. And, we can. Love her or not, AOC - Alexandria Ocazio Cortez (US Rep NY11) taught us that with inspiration and foot power, a novice can knock-off a long term establishment candidate. Her 2018 win was followed by a few other surprises in 2020 and many more challengers who rattled cages. None of us can do EVERYTHING but each of us can do SOMETHING.
I encourage all of us to look at our state here and find out our primary dates. Twelve are in May, the bulk in June and August, with lonely Louisiana running the primary with the November 8 election. This election season there will be over 50 open seats in the House and 7 in the Senate. It is more important to get involved in these primary races to elevate our best candidates to qualify for the November race. Pick one race to care about, it doesn’t even have to be in your state. Send in a bit of money, or make phone calls, or send postcards, or contact people on the ground there and ask what they need. Be AWAKE to the fact that primaries are before the big money. Bet on a young, new horse to shake things up. It’s not like we don’t need new blood! (How’s that for double negatives?)
Democrats Abroad does not endorse primary candidates. But you can! FIRST go to votefromabroad.org to make sure you’re registered and find out when your primary is. Then go to Ballotpedia or some other site to see all the candidates running in your state. Or listen to friends or relatives. Pick some candidate to care about and .... do what you can. As Americans overseas, I think we really see that democracy is in trouble.
Be well and keep the faith,
Robin H. Rafaelidys (Co-Editor, Greece)
Improve the VA: In the previous newsletter we asked what 3 improvements you would suggest for bringing significant improvements to the VA. How could the VA be reformed to make life better for you as a veteran overseas? Email your suggestions here. Thank you!
Trouble Using Your GI Bill Benefits? Please reach out to us if you or someone you know is having trouble using the GI Bill benefits at a foreign school or university. We are in contact with congressional offices, urging every senator and representative to immediately address this issue. GI Bill and/or VR&E educational benefits are EARNED benefits, and we will not rest until the Dept. of Veterans Affairs' policies are changed to work in favor of veterans, servicemembers, and military family members - not against them. Here
Deportation of Veterans: This remains a top priority for the Global VMF Caucus which is pressing Congress to address the issue. The Veteran Deportation Prevention and Reform Act would prevent some our nation's veterans being deported, ripping American families apart and sending shockwaves throughout our communities, and would mend promises initially made by the Federal Government. VMF urges all Americans to contact their representative to cosponsor and support H.R. 1182 in the House, and contact their senators to cosponsor and support S. 3212 in the Senate.
VOTING…it is what we are all about!
- Have you registered?
- Have you requested your absentee ballot?
- Can you get involved in GOTV in other ways, maybe learn how to phone bank? Go Here
More resources about Primaries and Midterms in your state are linked here.
WHAT’S CONGRESS UP TO?
The House Passes Bill to Automatically Enroll Vets in VA Health Care Eligible veterans would be automatically enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care system under the Ensuring Veterans' Smooth Transition, or “EVEST Act”. The bill passed with a vote of 265-163, falling largely along party lines, but 44 Republicans joined Democrats. Here
In addition, both chambers are moving forward on legislation addressing veterans' health care needs due to exposure from toxic burn pits. The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee recently passed S. 3541, the Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act, and the House Veterans' Affairs Committee recently passed H.R. 3967, the Honoring Our PACT Act. Keep an eye out for early March 2022 hearings when Veterans Service Organizations arrive on Capitol Hill to testify on what pro-veteran legislative priorities remain for the rest of the year."
DEMOCRATS ABROAD ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS
Check out all the Global Democrats Abroad Activities happening this month by clicking here.
Click this link to find our VMF Health Care information and resources on our webpage. Here.
Here is the link to the webpage for Transitioning and Jobs: Here.
Click here for Spotlight, “Josephine Baker Inducted Into the Panthéon”
ARTS AND EDUCATION
Click here for our Podcast & Social Media Recommendations
Click here for our Poetry Corner
Click here for our Brain-Zone Quiz
Click here for our Educational Resources
Click here for our Film and Book Recommendations