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A reminder that advocates for health and justice are ready to fight [The Pump Handle]

Friday, November 11, 2016 16:49
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Three days out from the election and many of us are still trying to adjust to this new reality. It’s been a very rough week.

And assuming that we take the new president-elect at his word — that we believe the promises he made on the campaign trail — public health workers and advocates, as well as the often-vulnerable people and communities they serve, now face a very difficult four years. Fortunately, public health has plenty of practice confronting and overcoming powerfully entrenched interests for the greater good. Just ask Big Tobacco.

In that vein, below are excerpts from post-election responses from some of the nation’s most influential organizations working on behalf of public health, social justice and the many social and environmental determinants that shape a person’s opportunity to live a long, healthy, happy and productive life.

From the American Public Health Association:

Our mission to improve the health of the public and achieve equity in health status for all is still the noblest of goals and does not change. In fact, its need now becomes more urgent in these times of uncertainty. Character counts, and our core values represent the highest of standards. We need to remember this as we work to create the healthiest nation in one generation.

The gains we’ve made together in recent years in protecting health and improving well-being are remarkable. Sometimes our progress has come in giant leaps. Other times it has come in little steps. Occasionally, we have lost ground. But we’re always committed to moving forward and making progress. That is a hallmark of our work as the American Public Health Association.

Families USA:

We must take Trump at his word, and he has repeatedly said his first act would be to repeal the ACA – even calling Congress into special session, if necessary. This will have tragic consequences for tens of millions of people and we at Families USA are going to be on a total war footing to make sure this never comes about. …

We will fight at the grass roots level and in the halls of Congress to make sure Mr. Trump’s proposed ACA repeal and Medicaid restructuring don’t happen. Millions of people should not have their lives placed in jeopardy through reckless action.

Planned Parenthood:

Planned Parenthood health center doors will stay open and our voices will just keep getting louder. Our determination will keep growing stronger. Our commitment to protecting the rights and health care of millions of people will continue to be unwavering. Together, we are strong. We are powerful. And we are never, ever giving up.

For the past 100 years, Planned Parenthood has been there for those who needed them. That doesn’t change today, tomorrow, or ever. No matter what.

National Employment Law Project on the more uplifting news from the election:

The results on the minimum wage ballot initiatives show that voters are angry and demanding change. Voters in red, purple and blue states across the country decisively backed raises to the minimum wage, delivering badly needed raises for 2.3 million workers.

The Election Day minimum wage ballot wins bring to 19.3 million the number of workers who have received raises because of minimum wage increases in the four years since the Fight for $15 launched in New York City and began changing the politics of the country around wages. The Fight for $15 continued to gain momentum Tuesday, with voters in Flagstaff, Arizona approving the first $15 minimum wage outside of the coasts. Voters in Maine and Flagstaff also delivered historic victories for the growing “One Fair Wage” movement. The wage initiatives passed there will gradually phase-out the unfair subminimum wage for tipped workers—and make them the first state and city to get rid of the tipped wage in more than 30 years.


The President-elect made promises in this campaign—on trade, on restoring manufacturing, on reviving our communities. We will work to make many of those promises a reality. If he is willing to work with us, consistent with our values, we are ready to work with him.

But make no mistake, we can never back down from our values. The presence of racism, misogyny, and anti-immigrant appeals caused damage in this campaign and we must all try to repair it with inclusion, decency and honesty.


One thing is certain: We will be eternally vigilant every single day of your presidency. And when you leave the Oval Office, we will do the same with your successor as we have done throughout our nearly 100 years of existence. The Constitution and the rule of law are stronger than any one person, and we will see to that. We will never waver.

Union of Concerned Scientists:

The bottom line is this: UCS will continue to work toward practical solutions and, regardless of whether or not our elected leaders choose to come together, we will stand up on behalf of science and democracy as we always have, and as forcefully as we need to. We will call out elected officials and other special interests when they ignore science and undermine safeguards that protect people’s health and safety. We will continue to expose fossil fuel companies when they deceive the public and their shareholders about climate change. We will continue to connect members of our Science Network with local groups working to reduce the pollution that make their children sick. We will provide research to communities on the front lines of climate change—threatened with rising seas, wildfire, floods, and drought.


During this critical period of transition, we are now calling upon the next president to speak and act with the moral clarity necessary to silence the dog-whistle racial politics that have characterized recent months and have left many of our fellow citizens snarling at one another in anger and even whimpering in fear. The more than 120 million Americans who cast ballots in this election – as well as the more than 100 million more eligible voters who declined to vote – deserve no less.

The NAACP stands ready to work with a new administration to realize the racial justice concerns that not only compelled millions of people to go to the polls on Election Day but also inspired millions to protest in the streets in the preceding days and months. Depending upon the new administration’s fidelity to America’s ideals of liberty and the NAACP’s agenda for justice, we will either be at its side or in its face. We will not let this election distract or dissuade us; the NAACP will continue to stand strong at the frontlines, advocating for voting rights, criminal justice reform and equality for all.

Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for nearly 15 years.


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