As my boss and Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote in Editor’s Cut, The Nation‘s “definition of patriotism is fighting to make sure your country lives up to its highest ideals.” In that spirit, here are five measures worth supporting on this Fourth of July. All would help us form a more perfect union.
1. Health Care for All
More than 47 million Americans are now living without health coverage, and even if you have health coverage you’ve still got a great chance of getting screwed, as anyone who’s seen Michael Moore’s Sicko knows. Representative John Conyers’s United States National Health Insurance Act (HR 676) would create a single-payer healthcare system by expanding Medicare to every resident. Pledge your support and get involved to help pass HR 676.
2. End Torture, not Habeas Corpus
Presidential candidate Senator Chris Dodd has made defending our Constitution a focus of his campaign with the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007, S. 576. The bill addresses the egregious wrongs of last year’s Military Commissions Act. It would restore habeas corpus–the right of any person held in US custody to appear before a court to determine whether imprisonment is lawful. It would require that the United States live up to its Geneva Convention obligations on torture. And it would hold any government official accountable for torture and abuse–whether in an interrogation room or handing down orders from on high. Contact your representatives and ask them to co-sponsor Dodd’s bill or the House version (HR 1415). You might also ask Dodd’s fellow-presidential candidates–Senators Clinton and Obama – why they haven’t signed on yet.
3. Voting Representation for DC
The House of Representatives passed legislation that would give approximately 600,000 Washingtonians a voting representative in Congress for the first time. Now, the Senate has the opportunity to help finish the job by passing the DC House Voting Rights Act (S. 1257). Contact your Senator and urge support for this critical legislation.
4. The Right to Organize
The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) would strengthen workers’ freedom to organize by requiring employers to recognize a union after a majority of workers sign cards authorizing representation. It would also create stronger penalties for management violations of the right to organize when workers seek to form a union. The House approved EFCA, but the legislation couldn’t get past Senate Republicans who–as Ari Berman recently posted–have the Senate “in a state of permanent filibuster.” So today, help elect a Democratic Senate that is filibuster-proof, and a Democratic President who won’t veto this legislation if it does get passed. As Senator Sherrod Brown said of the EFCA effort, “We will keep coming back, year after year after year.”
5. Save Internet Radio
Internet radio has become a tremendously popular source of news and views plus music. In just the last year the online radio audience increased from 45 million to 72 million listeners each month. The founding fathers couldn’t have anticipated the wonders of the electronic world. But I think it’s safe to say that the democratic free-for-all of internet radio would have met with their approval as a crucial part of the fourth estate that Jefferson held was critical to a functioning democracy. Unfortunately, the future of Internet radio is in doubt as royalty rates for webcasters have been drastically increased by a recent ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board. The only hope is that sufficient grassroots pressure can be applied in support of the Internet Radio Equality Act, recently introduced by the unlikely duo of Senators Ron Wyden and Sam Brownback. The bill would put internet radio on par with satellite radio and undo a prohibitive $500 per channel royalty fee. Please implore your senators and reps to co-sponsor and vote in favor of the Internet Radio Equality Act (HR 2060) and ask your friends to join the coalition to save internet radio.
Watch Bruce Springsteen sing what he calls the “greatest song ever written about America”–Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land.