Pressuring Obama to Make the Right Decision on Health Care is AlterNet's Top Campaign of the Week
Although pressure for a public health care option continues to emanate from all corners of America (72 percent of citizens now support a public option; 85 percent agree that our system needs a radical overhaul), it's still unclear whether the Obama administration will use its immense political capital to do what's necessary.
President Barack Obama's approval ratings remain at a strong 62 percent, but his rhetorical waffling continues to cast doubt on the future of America's most important domestic issue.
Last Tuesday, Obama sent his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to the Senate, carrying the message that the president is "open to alternatives" other than a public option. Meanwhile, so-called moderate Democrats like former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle and California's Sen. Dianne Feinstein, rather than throwing their support behind a plan that three-fourths of the country supports, have tirelessly concocted doubts and bankrupt "alternatives."
It's clear that the only thing standing in the way of meaningful reform is a bloated lobby -- one accustomed to steering the conversation in whatever direction it deems fit.
Allowing this monopolistic control to continue is not just financially unsustainable -- it contradicts our country's claims that democratic consensus overrides elite interests.
We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to a system that, if unchanged, will leave 52 million people uninsured by next year. We cannot let a lack of coverage be the reason 22,000 more people perish before 2010. Above all else, we cannot continue to drop our hard-earned dollars into a swirling drain of bureaucratic greed and ineptitude.
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is among the many in support of a public health option, and he has put together an organization designed to mobilize progressive support. Standwithdrdean.com allows citizens like you to urge policymakers to vote down any health care legislation that doesn't include a public option.
"Legislation rises and falls," Dean argues, "on whether the American public is allowed to choose a universally available public option or not." Standing with Dean, who also is a physician, means joining nearly 400,000 others who refuse to wallow in the mires of "middle ground" politicking.
This won't happen without your support. After all, Obama's "urge to compromise," Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman notes, "will lead him to negotiate with himself, and give away far too much." It's up to us to see that he doesn't.
Here are the rest of our Take Action campaigns for the week:
II -- End Mountaintop-Removal Mining
Mountaintop-removal mining is an environmentally devastating process that strips forests bare, displaces families and empties millions of gallons of toxic sludge into usable waterways.
The Obama administration has done much to roll back mountaintop-removal mining's devastating advance, but the recovery process is still in its nascent stages. It's imperative that you join the fight.
Join what Robert F. Kennedy Jr. recently called "the first broad congressional initiative aimed at reversing the Bush administration's eight-year effort to savage our national waterways and the popular laws that protect them."
Write to your senators and tell them that no source of energy is worth the price we're currently paying. You can do it here.
III -- Demand Justice for Troy Davis
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to consider a last-ditch hearing on Troy Davis' case. There are only two days before the court takes its summer recess.
Despite there being no physical of evidence of his guilt -- despite seven of the nine eyewitnesses who testified against him reversing their testimony -- Davis is about to have his last chance. If the appeal is denied, his case will fall back into the hands of District Attorney Larry Chisolm in Savannah, Ga., who ran on a platform to "increase the sense of fairness" in his office.
Join Amnesty International and the NAACP in their call on Chisolm to do everything he can to reopen Davis' case.
IV -- Don't Privatize Foreign Aid Water
The Water for the World Act of 2009 has set the goal of bringing clean water to 100 million people, but there's a catch: Tucked into the bill is a provision that would encourage public-private partnerships, which have been used before to privatize water reserves abroad.
We need to make sure the U.S. does not use this bill to exploit poor countries. Tell Congress to make sure no strings are attached.
V -- Help Ensure Everyone Gets Paid Sick Leave
Everyone is aware of the importance of paid sick leave; it's a crucial benefit for working people all across America. But did you know that around 40 percent of all workers in the private sector do not receive paid sick leave?
That's 86 million Americans -- most of them already working for low wages. It's up to us to lend a helping hand. Urge your senators to support the Healthy Families Act, which would require employers with 15 or more full-time employees to provide at least seven paid sick days a year.
VI -- Stand Up For the Marriage Rights of LGBT Couples
The right for gay, lesbian and transgender couples to marry has already been codified in Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. The battle for this important civil rights issue continues to rage on in New Jersey, New York, California and Oregon, and many other states have begun to take encouraging steps.
We're gaining ground, but we must voice our support for this human right. Join thousands of others who have made marriage equality their fight as well. Be on the right side of history.
VII -- Pledge Your Support For Women's Health Providers
With the slaying of Dr. George Tiller at the center of a new surge in right-wing hate crimes, the fight for women's reproductive rights remains extremely important. We must be strong in our support for those courageous enough to continue providing safe, legal abortion services. More than that, we must support these doctors, nurses and health care workers in their continuing fight for what's right.
Please join Ms. Magazine's pledge to thank and support abortion providers. You can do it here.
VIII -- Stop Global Warming
With the Obama administration moving in the right direction on climate-change issues, it's important to remember who's ultimately responsible for halting global warming's foreboding onslaught: us.
Be one of more than a million people who have joined the virtual march to stop global warming. Together, we can tell our leaders to freeze and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In this fight, no one is free from the responsibility. But no one's voice is left out. Make yours heard.
IX -- Pass the DREAM Act
Every year, roughly 65,000 young men and women -- star athletes, aspiring teachers, homecoming queens -- graduate high school only to run into problems. Because they were brought into the country illegally as babies or young children, they risk being barred from jobs and even colleges.
These people have every right to reap all the benefits of the United States available to ordinary citizens. It's senseless for them to be penalized for a decades-old crime they didn't commit.
You can help: Though our immigration laws currently have no mechanism to consider the special equities and circumstances of students like these, the DREAM Act would eliminate this flaw. It's time to tell Congress that these people have every right to be here. Tell them to pass the DREAM Act today.
X -- Save California's State Parks
Here are some fast facts about the California state park system (courtesy of California's Sierra Club):
Fact: The General Fund budget that state parks receive accounts for less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the entire state budget.
Fact: Last year, there were more than 80 million visitors to state parks, and all indications are that this year was going to be even higher.
Fact: For every dollar that funds the parks, $2.35 is returned to the state's General Fund through economic activities in the communities surrounding the parks.
This Wednesday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is planning to slice the state parks budget in half. Then, in 12 months, he's looking to eliminate funding for state parks altogether. This means that 220 state parks will shut down -- 80 percent of California's entire system.
The economic consequences of this move will be dire. In addition to sucking much-needed tourism revenues from local businesses, the decision will lay off thousands of state park employees, many of whom have put in years of service.
Join the Sierra Club in stopping this outrageous move. Tell the governor and state legislators you want to keep the parks open.