It's Monday, so it's time to call your Senators once again and tell them to pass H.R. 1, the For the People Act; H.R. 5, the Equality Act; H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act; H.R. 582, the Raise the Wage Act; H.R. 1644, the Save the Internet Act; and H.R. 2722, the SAFE Act. You can find your Senators' phone numbers using the tools in the upper right-hand corner of this page, or the bottom of this page if you're on a cellphone; and you can find Senate Majority Leader "Mob Boss Mitch" McConnell's phone numbers here, though you'll have to scroll down a bit to find them. I mention Mob Boss Mitch, of course, because our House has passed all of these bills, but our Senate hasn't, because Mr. McConnell won't allow any votes on them. Didn't know that was how democracy worked, did you? Anyway, you don't have to tell your Senators why they should pass these bills, unless you really want to -- their staffers are there to take down your will, not argue with you about it. But I'm going to go ahead and describe the bills (and the paltry arguments against them) in some detail, since I haven't in a while, and I want you to get to the phone with the most confidence you can have. If you do, they'll sense that, and if enough of us call them, they'll bend to our will.
H.R. 1, the For the People Act, includes a lot of terrific initiatives -- it would allow national automatic voter registration, require disclosure of large campaign contributions, create a public campaign financing system, make Election Day a national holiday, and mandate that states use nonpartisan commissions to draw up districts. All of these things have large support across the ideological spectrum, and their opposites (making it harder to vote or register to vote, letting state legislators carve out Rorschach-blot fiefdoms, letting corporations spend whatever they want to elect their lackeys) don't. What did Mob Boss Mitch have to say about the For the People Act? He called it "a Democrat power grab," which every right-winger in America would call whining if a liberal said something similar. And if a man equates more access to voting with Democrats getting more power, he might want to think about how maybe Republicans aren't convincing enough people to vote for them. That'd be pull-yourselves-up-by-your-bootstraps thinking, wouldn't it? So your Senators have no excuse to oppose the For the People Act. That's going to be a theme in the next several paragraphs.
H.R. 5, the Equality Act, would amend the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act (among other laws) to extend civil rights protections to gay and transgender folk, who can still get fired, denied housing, and denied credit just because of who they are and whom they love. The objections to the Equality Act are truly ludicrous and, frankly, reminiscent of racist objections to fair housing laws in the 1960s -- haters say they'll be "forced" to hire gay or transgender folk when the truth is the law would force them not to discriminate against them merely because they're gay or transgender, and folks who can't tell the difference between these things may not be cut out for the hard work of civilization. But wait, there's more! Haters pretend employers will be prevented from firing gay or transgender folk for good reasons, which they won't, and that male athletes will get sex changes in droves to compete and dominate in women's sports leagues, which, like, can you see such athletes hanging out with their crew after doing something like that? I mean, duh. The haters are not only wrong, they're stupidly wrong. That's also going to be a theme in the next several paragraphs.
H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act, is not a "boon to trial lawyers" as its opponents say, but merely a bill that would give women more tools to fight pay discrimination. The bill would outlaw clauses in employment contracts that prevent workers from talking about their pay, and would prevent retaliation against employees who do talk about their pay -- and these are important, since talking about your pay is usually how you find out you're being shafted. The bill would still allow employers to pay men and women differently based on bona fide factors like, you know, skill levels and qualifications, but would restrict employers' ability to manufacture a "bona fide factor" merely based on salary. You know, of course he's more qualified, I pay him more, QED? The bill would also stiffen penalties for discriminating against women workers. And somehow all those good things get translated into BUT TEH TRIALZ LAWYERZ!!!!! in the right-wing mind, as if the words "trial lawyers" are a magic spell that transforms all bad arguments into good ones. Ranting about "trial lawyers" is just playing team sports, but our real duty as citizens is to do good works.
H.R. 582, the Raise the Wage Act, would raise our minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $15/hour gradually over the next six years -- yeah, I made sure to put those last six words there, for all the haters who say IT'S TOO TEH FASTZ!!!!! -- and would increase that minimum wage every year thereafter in accordance with the rise in the median hourly wage, so that maybe we'll never have to hear again how some 70-year-old made $2/hour when they were starting out and what's wrong with kids today? When they made $2/hour, it had the buying power of $12-$15/hour, which is, as you see, higher than our current minimum wage. The bill would also hike the minimum wages for tipped workers and disabled workers gradually and close the gap between these and the regular minimum wage -- because you don't think big corporations will try to convert everyone into a tipped or disabled employee just to avoid paying them more? Dear reader, they will. So don't brook these complaints, or any scare numbers about "jobs lost" that either won't actually happen or would amount to a drop in the bucket of monthly job creation numbers, and certainly wouldn't compare with all the good folks a higher minimum wage would bring out of poverty.
H.R. 1644, the Save the Internet Act, would reverse the FCC's 2017 net neutrality repeal and reinstate the FCC's 2015 Open Internet Order which originally encoded the principle of net neutrality in law. Net neutrality, as you know, dictates that internet service-providing corporations should deliver all files to your computer at the same speed and with the same priority -- and this principle alone has made the internet the greatest information-sharing source of all time. But the corporatists at the FCC hated that, because it meant you had the power to determine where you wanted to go on the internet, and corporations had less power to herd you into junk news ghettoes like they do so easily on TV or in print. So don't brook, for example, Justice Kavanaugh's argument that corporations have a First Amendment "right" to restrict whatever internet traffic they like, as if we somehow don't have First Amendment rights to visit whatever website we want! Net neutrality used to be a principle that enjoyed bipartisan support among politicians -- and it still enjoys broad, bipartisan support among regular Americans like ourselves. So, again, our Senators have no excuse not to support this bill.
H.R. 2722, the Securing America's Federal Elections (or SAFE) Act, would mandate voter-verified paper ballots for federal elections. This is a big deal, since (as we just saw in Mississippi) a lot of electronic voting machines don't let you vote for the person for whom you want to vote! Sometimes, when you've been doing something a certain way for hundreds of years, a machine actually can't do it better! Voter-verified paper ballots won't stop unscrupulous politicians from creating boxes of fake ballots, I suppose, but if you want to do that, you have to get a lot of other people to buy in, and only one of them needs to snitch to make your "victory" illegitimate. And you can steal votes a lot more easily with software, particularly when it's developed by some private corporation that'll fire any "snitch" who speaks out about its flaws. The bill would also fund state efforts to update their voting systems, which you know some states "forget" to do in their black and brown neighborhoods. As with H.R. 1, the For the People Act, you have to wonder why Mob Boss Mitch thinks it's just not worth it to make sure everyone can vote. What could he be afraid of?
Speaking of Mob Boss Mitch, he talks a lot these days about "bills we can pass," and acts like taking votes on bills that "can't pass" are a "waste of time." You know that's all rubbish -- even if these bills fail to pass the Senate, forcing your Senators to go on the record against voting rights, civil rights, fair wages, higher wages, internet freedom, and secure elections is certainly worthwhile. But I want you to really think about Mob Boss Mitch's words, and measure the sheer contempt for the popular will they betray: nothing is worth doing unless a group of Senators pass a bill the President will sign. That's nowhere near the way it should work! How should it work? Absent a legitimate Constitutional concern -- and not just the bogus "concerns" of big donors passed off as "legitimate" concerns -- our Reps and Senators should pass the bills we tell them to pass, and the President should sign the bills we tell him to sign. We cannot rest until we have a system that works this way -- and when we get that system, we cannot rest in our duty to conserve that system for future generations, who will then have to work to keep it. But when we can do that, we'll have the "more perfect union" of which President Lincoln dreamed.