Talking to author and activist Edgar Villaneuva about “budgets as moral documents” – where we spend money reflects our real commitment to our values – as well as the role of representation in ensuring safety.
… not isolation
This is the fifth in a series of 6 posts, building up to the launch of my book Defund Fear. Each post draws out, from the book and from the wider community, the specific steps the new administration must take in order to prioritize the safety and security of people in America.
To achieve true safety, especially for the most vulnerable, the Biden Administration must defund isolation and instead fund participation.
Right now we’ve got a country that’s discouraging or outright preventing people from voting and other forms of civic engagement. Real democracy expands access to power, choice, and decision-making for everyone. Strengthening the muscle of collective action is imperative so we can hold large institutions and powerful individuals accountable. When we take part in things, when we engage, when we have a sense of choice in the matter, we feel a greater sense of worth, dignity, purpose. All this goes a long way to creating social cohesion, trust, relationships, and accountability and therefore, a greater sense of safety.
#4 Defund Isolation; Fund Participation
- Establish political and democratic accountability through accessible, universal, and automatic voter registration
- Ensure formerly and currently incarcerated people the right to vote; reward states that end their disenfranchisement
- Ensure formerly incarcerated people reentry support: access to housing, jobs, healthcare, education and mental health supports. Use Medicaid dollars to support people coming out of prison with rental subsidies and other communities-based services, in lieu of hospital care
- Restore the Voting Rights Act
- Prohibit prison gerrymandering
- Offer federal incentives for municipalities and states that use participatory budgeting to give people a real say
- Confront disinformation platforms
- Commit to ending the Electoral College
Yesterday we saw the consequences of years of Trump fanning the flames of fear and distrust, and urging his followers to act on these impulses. In my book Defund Fear, I describe Trump as an “architect of anxiety”; someone who tells us not to trust our neighbors down the block, at the border, or in distant lands. Trump used people’s fears to fuel marginalization and dehumanization. He promised to lock up or lock out all those he claims have caused the downfall of the nation.
And since the election, his focus has been on telling us not to trust our country’s democratic process. Our democracy has been compromised by the climate of scarcity, suspicion, and dehumanization that the fear-based model of safety has propagated.
Yesterday was a stark reminder that our work is far from over, that we must continue to move forward collectively and make transformational change for our communities. We must not allow the events of January 7th to overshadow the victory of January 6th, when Black-led, woman-led grassroots community-based organizing in Georgia elected Georgia’s first Black Senator and its first Jewish Senator. Georgia recognized that we are stronger and safer together.
We must continue to stand together and ensure that the new administration will advance our demands for a safer future.