Each night when I switch over from cable TV to local TV I am assaulted again and again by an ad against a Democratic candidate from a neighboring district. This ad has a suburban mom with long blonde hair admonishing Andrew Brindisi for not accomplishing anything in Congress. Obviously this woman is lying because almost 400 bills have been passed in the House of Representatives and Anthony Brindisi has voted his little heart out, but all of these bills are sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk, or in his closet, or in his circular file. This means that the reason Mr. Brindisi has not accomplished anything is because the Republicans won’t let him. Then Mrs. Suburban American throws in that fine old chestnut admonishing Brindisi to “secure the border.” How 2016….OK, you say all is fair in love and politics but I say “you get what you pay for.”
This ad is sponsored by a group with lots of money, obviously, because the ad plays over and over again, sometimes 10 times a night. Yet the ad time was purchased by American Action Network, a nonprofit with a 501c4 tax exempt status (religious). These groups only get to keep this status if they don’t put their thumb on the political scales in an election. These groups are not being held to the rules of nonprofit status because the Republicans fought a battle of intimidation with the IRS in which they accused the IRS of being partisan. Surprisingly the IRS backed off and the Republicans won, so now religious groups break the rules of nonprofits with impunity. I’m thinking that poor Anthony Brindisi doesn’t stand a chance of being reelected in 2020.
Once again Republicans make a disingenuous argument. Nonprofits are allowed to educate so they pretend that their very partisan ads are intended to educate. This is what happens to language these days. Words are slippery. They mean different things to different people. Nonsense, but dangerous nonsense.
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:
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
Audubon Society, Cornell Labs
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
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:
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
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:
*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.