Grateful to Nonprofits in the Age of Trump

From a Google image Search – Biz Tech

It’s a new year and a new decade so it’s a time for hope and looking for positive signs that should buck us up in these fraught political times in the age of Trump. Sometimes it seems that no one loves you if, economically, you are not in the top 10%. We are constantly chastised for our lack of gumption and enterprise. We are told that we are valued by our bank account and that most of us have failed at the ‘game of life’. It seems as if the government wants no part of caring for us because we can’t afford to pay and they don’t want to pay. These seem to be days of callous disregard for the fortunes of fate. No recognition is to be given to the inequality of opportunities that come with where and when you are born. 

But even as our government dwindles in size and cuts services we have reasons to be grateful to a long list of nonprofits that choose a mission or task, raise money, and work tirelessly towards fulfilling that mission. These organizations try to fix the problems humans face and the problems we create that affect the environment around us. 

If the federal government disappears from our every day lives as they would like to, would a web of organizations keep us all functioning. Of course, that would be possible only if we had jobs and could still support these nonprofits with our donations. I’m not sure why there seems to be a denial of how much we are all interconnected, as if wealthy people can separate from ‘life’s losers’ and exist in their own luxurious world. Without consumers it seems to me that their luxurious world would eventually collapse. Without consumers, of course, these not-for-profits would soon have to cease functioning also. This would be a great disadvantage to everyone. 

So in a new year such as this, when nonprofits offer us a value for our dollars that is not under the thumb of the federal government, these organizations offer us a certain independence in case government becomes totally divorced from reality. Time to be grateful to people who labor on our behalf. Thanks to all these valuable nonprofit organizations and any that are not in this list. This list does not pretend to be complete but all is available out on the web. (I sometimes resent all the mailers I get requesting donations, but that is just because I cannot give to as many organizations as I would like to.) 

Environmental not-for-profits are filling an essential role as this administration rolls back environmental protections and pretends that science is superstition. There are many such organizations each filling a vital niche. Here’s a partial list:

Environment

Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club Foundation, Rocky Mountain Institute, Greenpeace Fund, Center for Biological Diversity, National Parks Conservation Association, Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, Defending Wildlife, World Wildlife Fund/Federation, Rainforest Alliance, World Resources Institute, Conservation International, Green America, Humane Society, ASPCA

Birds

Audubon Society, Cornell Labs

Oceans

4Oceans, The Ocean Conservancy, Conserve Our Ocean Legacy, Oceans Futures Society, Marine Conservation Biology Institute, Global Coral Reef Alliance, Sea Web and so many more

Fight Disease

Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Society, American Heart Association, America Kidney Fund, American Lives Foundation, America Lung Association Arthritis Foundation, Autism Speaks, and that is just the ones that begin with the letter ‘A’. Since I get a lot of mail from St. Jude’s Hospital and Doctors without Borders I had better mention them. Access a more complete list here:

http://www.rochesterhealth.com/health_resources/nonprofit_disease_organizations

Social Justice

Black Youth Project, Fair Immigration Reform Network, Fight for $15, Indigenous Environmental Network, Muslims for Progressive Value, National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, Task Force for Global Health, Southern Poverty Law Center, Transgender Law Center – Civil Liberties – ACLU Foundation

Global poverty

The Borgen Project, ONE Campaign, Global Giving, UNICEF, Partners in Health, Give Well, Care, Life in Abundance, International Rescue Committee, Shot@Life

Poverty in America

Feeding America, Children’s Defense Fund, Heartland Alliance, The Salvation Army, Food Banks, Children’s Hunger Alliance, Oxfam America, The Hunger Project, Meals on Wheels, No Kid Hungry, Habitat for Humanity and many more. Access a longer list here:

https://mswonlineprograms.org Ask for hunger and poverty programs

*The Red Cross is a nonprofit but is not totally independent of the federal government since 1905.

You could go farther and research groups that protect science and education in America.

Without these nonprofits it is possible that we would be far more affected by recent government policies that favor withdrawing services and benefits that protect our environment and the poorest among us. Give if you can and remember that there are people all around us who perform important and often unrewarded tasks without which things would seem far more hopeless than they do. Happy New Year 2020.

Foreign Policy and the 2020 Election

Biden in Munich - CBS

Will we look for a President in 2020 with foreign policy roots close to the post WWII approach? Will we stay with Trump’s approach of isolationism and of undoing all the post-war organizations and alliances? Or will we look for a totally new approach to foreign policy?

On Tuesday, 2.19.19, when Mike Pence, the American VP said he was speaking at the Munich Security Conference on behalf of Donald Trump, the President of the United States of America, he waited for applause from the gathered world leaders after he passed on the greeting that Donald Trump had sent to his peers. There was only silence.

Also on Tuesday, 2.19.19, Joe Biden was interviewed live at the same Munich meeting. He is something that Trump is not. He’s nice; not soft-nice, but calm and nonconfrontational, unless confrontation is called for. What would happen if a President Biden was introduced at a Munich meeting? First of all, he would most likely be present at the meeting. Would there be applause? There was plenty of applause. Perhaps we should apply this test to each of the many candidates for President running as Democrats. What will their foreign policy be? How will they be received by our allies and our closely-held enemies?

When it comes to Joe Biden, I believe that we would find him continuing the post-World War II alliances and working with Europe to ensure peace; at least peace in Europe. I am not backing Joe Biden. He isn’t even running yet. But he could be expected to follow traditional guidelines for foreign policy. These policies are older than Biden and he knows the policies and our allies well.

After World War II Europe became ground zero for a tug of war between Russia and America, between capitalism/democracy and communism. For the past 70 years it seemed that America and the other world proponents of capitalism and democracy were winning nations over to these ideologies. We did not have a new war, but neither did we have peace. We ended up in a ‘Cold War’, that apparently did not end when the Iron Curtain parted.

As early as 1945 Churchill warned us that after WWII our temporary and very valuable ally, Russia, had turned its back on Western Europe already, taking most of Central and Eastern Europe with it. America and Russia conducted opposing campaigns to win new recruits to either communism or democracy. While the US offered economic prosperity and military security, Russia offered weapons and oil. For a while it seemed we were winning but now, not so much.

The USSR died a mostly economic death and split back into the satellite nations it had sucked up after World War II. These newly released nations had been split along unnatural geographic lines that divided the cultural groups which had learned to live peacefully within old national boundaries. Once released from Russian domination old hostilities that had festered since WW II, and while behind the Iron Curtain, reared their ugly heads and we had things like what happened with Croatia and Bosnia. This release of pent up hostilities was similar to what we saw in Iraq.

Our own President seems to back authoritarian states in Europe (while he tries to topple them in South America), and he smiles on Putin in Russia and makes us very nervous. There is also a huge backlash against capitalism in America on the left which complicates the outcome of the democratic/communist war for ascendancy even more. It looks like the future of the world may be authoritarian. Some leaders seem to want to bring back the monarchy. Others back a very loosely defined socialism.

There are many factors which have contributed to this decline in democracy and capitalism. With the more aggressive ideology of a newly empowered Putin who wishes to create a new Russia that looks a lot like the old USSR, with the arrival of the Great Recession which hit Europe rather hard, with the angers of people from austerity economies, the disruptions of terrorism, the waves of immigration as people escape cruel war in Syria, and the military moves by Russia in Georgia and the Ukraine, ‘strong men’ have begun to look attractive as chaos seems imminent. Authoritarianism, as we have seen, is on the rise. Will these new authoritarian states align with Russia or with the United States? Given that even president Trump seems to be more interested in aligning with Russia than any past President, the order imposed on the world after WWII, which never took into account the rise of the USSR, could easily dissolve.

Many have been critical of America’s aggressive moves to turn Europe towards capitalism and democracy. They have felt that our control in Europe has been antithetical to the values of a democracy and that we have often had selfish goals, as opposed to more altruistic ones. In fact, some even express horror and grief at mismoves we have made in our supposed diplomacy, although perhaps our worst moves have not occurred in Europe. Perhaps we did go off the rails a bit, but wanting a future that is democratic – is this still a goal people have? Capitalism, on the other hand, has become so rapacious that it will be overthrown if capitalists continue to refuse regulation. Although democracy is in more trouble at the moment, younger people are poised to exert pressures that may shift the target to capitalists.

What will happen in the world if we back off the agreements reached at the end of WWII? Is the UN obsolete? Is it weak and ineffective or secretly plotting a new world order? Which thing is true? Are we done with NATO? Should we loosen the bonds made after Hitler almost turned Europe into a white supremacist dictatorship? What will happen to the 70 years of “relative” peace our leaders forged after WW II? Were these protections essentially training wheels and the world is now ready to take them off? With “illiberal democracies” multiplying like flies this hardly seems like the moment to pull US bases out of Europe and make nice with Putin in Russia.

Will we look for a President in 2020 with foreign policy roots close to the post WWII approach, will we stay with Trump’s approach of isolationism and of undoing all the post war organizations and alliances, or will we look for a totally new approach to foreign policy? If so, what will it be? I want to hear each of the Democratic candidates on this topic. Should one person be able to set America’s foreign policy? We used to have a strong Department of State and a Congress that weighed in (sometimes too much so). How will foreign policy be handled in the future? Will we elect a person who will be applauded in Munich? If we don’t want an authoritarian future how must we proceed?

Photo Credits: From a Google Image Search – CBS