Winter (2018) is Coming

It would be impossible in a short post to list all the implications of the 2016 election on the people served or represented by the nonprofits we serve. Suffice it to say that virtually every issue and group we work with will be seriously impacted. The new president, under pressure from his constituents, will be aided and abetted by extreme right conservatives who control both houses of Congress.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that federal funding for health and social programs here and abroad is on the chopping block along with Obamacare, which they have vowed to end. But you can also expect a renewed effort to privatize Social Security and Medicare, too. Major policy shifts will likely impact immigration, race relations, and access to justice and government surveillance, to name just a few.

I urge you to look ahead two years and remember there is an opportunity coming in the 2018 mid-term elections to reshape the congress at a time when the party of first term presidents generally loses seats. The time to lay the groundwork for that is now. Through organizing and engagement of key constituent groups and public education about the impacts of various appointments and policies the nonprofit community can contribute to a more informed electorate that might demand an actual policy debate or two in advance of the election.

How to do it? A few suggestions:

• Start educating people now about the impact of yesterday’s election on real people that you serve. You have a cause with a real enemy that can be used to organize.

• Gear up for bruising battles on Supreme Court and cabinet appointments. These have proven to be valuable “teaching opportunities” in the past.

• Get your research together on the impact average Americans of, say, deregulating the financial services sector again – more predatory lending, bankruptcies and homelessness.

• Bring back stories that document the crises of the uninsured and the health and financial challenges they faced before Obamacare.

Trump’s election is proof of the power of emotion over reason. No amount of reason could overwhelm the hunger of his voters for a transformational figure, no matter his shortcomings. Progressive nonprofits need to build a powerful emotional case, too, but this time on the side of justice and better lives for real people.