U.S. ELECTIONS AND LIKELY DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN POLICY
(A version of this article appeared in the November 2020 WILPF Membership News.)
Nov. 7 saw impromptu celebrations and calls of “you’re fired” in U.S. (and Fresno) streets as we expressed relief and joy—at least for one day. And Kamala Harris’ election as Vice President breaks new gender, racial and ethnic ground.
Though addressing the lawsuits Trumpers have filed will take some weeks, these are unlikely to reverse the result. Biden leads across many states, and there is as yet no evidence of alleged fraud. But the Senate will block Biden’s programs unless two special runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5 produce Democratic senators.
Likely Domestic Policy Changes
Biden will first concentrate on effective anti-Covid policies. He has also promised to reverse Trump executive orders: remove the Muslim travel ban, rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, reverse the withdrawal from the World Health Organization, reinstate policies so that “Dreamers” will not be deported, create a path to citizenship for undocumented residents, repeal tax cuts on the super wealthy and reverse rollbacks of public health and environmental rules.
More executive orders must be reversed, such as the policy to erase sexism and racism from the presentation of U.S. history and reinstituting renewable energy policy. Biden supports LGBTQI rights and renewing the Violence Against Women Act, but he opposes defunding police and ending fracking. We’ll be pushing back.
Though he owes victory to Black and Latinx organizers and speaks of dismantling systemic racism, Biden is too likely to compromise Black Lives Matter and other social justice goals through legislation appealing to Republicans.
Democrats’ foreign policy traditions are as imperialistic as Republicans’. Declining empires are dangerous, and both parties are captured by corporate interests. U.S. militarism is bipartisan, extensive and over-funded.
The Obama-Biden administration expanded Presidential war-making powers and supported or initiated coups in Brazil, Egypt, Honduras and Ukraine while it increased U.S. military AFRICOM spending 19-fold.*
Biden claims he wants to end the “forever wars” in Afghanistan and Iraq. Tactically, he prefers deploying Special Forces in assaults rather than invading and occupying.
Biden pledged to renew START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) but needs to be pushed to reinstate the Open Skies and INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) treaties.
This election will not alter WILPF’s advocacy in the streets, legislative offices, the United Nations and elsewhere. In Yemen, where Biden said he wants to stop the war, we’ll push to end U.S. airstrikes and intelligence support to Saudi Arabia, stop selling them and the UAE arms, reinstate humanitarian assistance and pressure U.S. allies to do the same.
Where, given Biden, could our work be most effective? Some possibilities: Work to end punitive U.S. sanctions against Iran, rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement, stop the bombing of Somalia, defund the war on drugs and stop the embargoes on Cuba and Venezuela. Conversely, (to name a few) U.S.-Israel policy, patterns of U.S. interference in Central and South American countries, and a hostile posture toward China are unlikely to budge. We have lots of work to do.
—Janet Slagter, WILPF Alternate Regional Representative for the Americas
*WILPF-US is co-sponsor of a Webinar featuring International President Joy Onyesoh on “AFRICOM and Human Rights in Africa” on Dec. 4, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. For details and to register, visit bit.ly/africom.
Coming to a Mailbox Near You
the first ever
FRESNO WILPF fundraising letter
We are THANKFUL for
our MEMBERS and SUPPORTERS
Hopefully by now you have received
Fresno WIlPF’s first ever
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How to Contribute to Your Community via WILPF Fresno
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Fresno, CA 93755
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WHY DIDN’T REP. JIM COSTA CO-SPONSOR THE EACH WOMAN ACT?
Rep. Jim Costa is one of only a few Democrats who did not co-sponsor the EACH Woman Act. We sent a letter last month to ask why, but have not yet received any answer.
Dear Representative Costa,
As you know, Barbara Lee has introduced H.R.1692—the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Heath Insurance (EACH Woman Act). This bill ensures federal funding for all medically appropriate health care for all those with federally funded health insurance or care. We have noticed that you are an outlier among House Democrats, since there are 183 co-sponsors for this bill and you are not among them.
Perhaps more information will help you decide to co-sponsor this bill:
The Hyde Amendment bans federal funding for abortion. Though it’s often discussed as if it were permanent law, it is in fact a “rider,” or amendment.
For 44 years, this policy has denied insurance coverage for abortion for people struggling financially, who are more likely to be women of color. Although it is difficult to calculate for individual districts, the majority of the people in Fresno County are people of color.
The Hyde Amendment affects many federal health programs. Because annual reauthorization is attached to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ appropriation bill, the Hyde Amendment therefore covers Indian Health Service, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Similar language has also been incorporated into a range of other federal programs that provide or pay for health services to women including: the military’s TRICARE program, federal prisons, the Peace Corps, and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
Following years of concerted advocacy by women of color, eliminating Hyde now has unprecedented support among Democrats. It is wrong to discriminate against women who receive their health insurance or care from the federal government. It is wrong to discriminate against women who are struggling financially. It is wrong to legislate according to personal beliefs to try to prevent women from accessing health care, including abortion care should they choose to do so according to their own beliefs.
We urge you to support and co-sponsor H.R. 1692. We feel that this is a core issue for women’s rights.
We would appreciate hearing from you about your decision.
Yours Very Truly,
The WILPF Fresno page is normally compiled and edited by Leni Villagomez Reeves.
Dec. 10, 7 p.m., online. Watch your e-mail for an announcement and link or call-in number. If you have no e-mail or are not on the WILPF listserv, contact Teresa or Leni by phone for the information.
STIR IT UP–WILPF KFCF 88.1 FM
Dec. 23, 3 p.m. (4th Wednesday of each month)
Jean Hays does outstanding interviews on subjects involving WILPF interests and activities.
COMMITTEES STILL AT WORK
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WOMEN IN BLACK
On hiatus until the new year.
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