For many of us, the first week of January is spent ruminating on the experiences of the past year, fretting over unrealized resolutions and broken promises to ourselves, and then intently focusing on a whole bunch of new resolutions that we promise, indeed, that we must accomplish. It’s a typical “set up for failure” approach, and although I’ve fallen victim to it in the past, I try my best not to fall into that trap any longer.
So, the first week for me now is to reflect on the past year’s events, celebrate my successes, learn from my failures (which are only feedback, after all) and focus on what lessons I can take forward with me as I create a new set of goals for the coming year — goals both large and small that I feel I will accomplish as I progress through each step to reach them.
I generally start with one or two goals in mid- to end of January, and as I move forward throughout the year, I make adjustments and add others to the list. I do this for a few reasons, but most importantly (and as I wrote above), I do it so that I don’t overwhelm myself with resolutions at the top of the year — usually so many that is nearly impossible for any mortal to achieve, even the most resolute.
One of my biggest successes this year was starting this blog. It was at the top of my goal list, and although it can be a quite a challenge at times, I'm so grateful that I've been able to sustain it for 42 weeks — and counting — with an ever-growing readership. So, Thank You!
And to be clear, I do not intend this blog to be an activist’s diary, full of ranting and raging at the new establishment and their dubious policies and stances. But, it’s also my duty to call it as I see it, and a few of my posts have directly addressed issues that have been front and center over the past year, mostly due to the presidential impact of one Donald J. Trump. These include:
- The Importance of Tomatoes
- I’m No Aryan from Darien
- A New Culture of Hate? This is My Line in the Sand…
- And probably my favorite (and the most popular with my readers), What if Women Did Disappear?
The annual Person of the Year named in the December edition of Time magazine was a surprise to many, but in retrospect, it was a clear and obvious choice. “The Silence Breakers,” including the founder of the #MeToo Movement, were recognized as the greatest influencers of the year calling them the voices that launched a movement. “These are the brave women (and some men) who came forward with stories of sexual harassment and assault and helped force a nationwide reckoning.”
But there’s another group of people who have also inspired me over the past 12 months and I’d like to recognize them today. They are the Indivisible groups — a nationwide collective of grassroots activists who have worked tirelessly to influence, delay, or stop policies that go against the spirit of America and threaten the true intention of our governmental system.
Their mission is to fuel a progressive grassroots network of community groups to resist the Trump administration’s agenda. In every congressional district in the country, people have created these groups and are leading impactful actions. I was introduced to this collective by my friend, Cindy Lindenbaum, who is involved in a local chapter, NYCD16-Indivisible (New York City District 16.)
We were at a New Year’s Day brunch at the Union Square Café with two other friends, enjoying pre-brunch cocktails, when Cindy began feverishly typing on her phone. Apologetically, she explained that she was writing final edits for her chapter’s New Year’s Bulletin and the “send” deadline was in a matter of minutes. Once it was out the door, she read a few highlights to us, and it was then and there that I knew I wanted to share those highlights with you.
Since too much focus has already been placed on the negative political outcomes of 2017, I’m focusing today on the positive:
The 2017 Year in Review
- As of today, there are thousands of grassroots resistance organizations that formed in the past year, with at least two Indivisible groups in every congressional district.
- Millions of Americans — especially women — have significantly increased their political engagement and activism.
- The Affordable Care Act, though wounded, remains in place.
- The Obama administration’s financial regulation overhaul (Dodd-Frank) also remains.
- House Speaker Paul Ryan’s dream of destroying the social safety net that supports low-income Americans has not yet come to pass. And “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spent his year-end press conference pouring cold water on Ryan’s dreams, noting realistically that once Doug Jones (D-AL) is seated, the GOP’s razor-thin majority will have difficulty moving any large, contentious bills.” [Vox]
- Gains in LGBT equality achieved during the Obama years have mostly been retained.
- Despite his boasts to the contrary, Trump has signed fewer bills than any of his recent predecessors and has gotten nothing at all done that requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.
- The Clean Air Act remains intact, and the Supreme Court decision ruling that the EPA is obligated to regulate greenhouse gas emissions remains the law.
- The expansion of Medicaid that Obama enacted seems to be too politically robust for Republicans to kill — just as they are not going to:
- Scrap marriage equality
- Bring back Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
- Undo the Obama-era law that let the FDA regulate tobacco for the first time
- Fully roll back Obama’s diplomatic opening with Cuba or Iran
- Repeal the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, or
- Rescind the consumer protections the Affordable Care Act added to job-based health plans. [Vox]
- Trump’s very first official action — the travel ban — is still partially on hold in the courts after many rounds of cancellation and modification.
- There are too many protests to list, but after the incredible global turnout at the Women’s March in 2017, protests and marches continued throughout the year.
- The 2018 Women's March is a follow-up to the 2017 Women's March and is scheduled to take place on January 20th and 21, 2018. Demonstrations and rallies are expected nationwide and globally.
- The tax bill — though admittedly of major impact — is not destined as a lasting legacy. There is absolutely no political or logistical barrier to some future majority repealing the law’s unpopular business tax cuts, and in fact, the logic of the Senate’s Byrd Rule means that a future repeal of the Trump tax cuts can be used to pay for progressive priorities.
- Most of all, the resistance is ensuring Republicans pay a price at the polls for their support of Trump (or lack of defying him). No guarantees, of course, but so far grassroots activists appear to have set the stage for a massive anti-Trump backlash in the 2018 midterms, just as we saw with the special election of Doug Jones in an overwhelmingly “Red” state.
Considering my fearful presentiment from last January, it’s an empowering list. But vigilance and action are the “call for the day.” Without the support of ALL of us who care about our democracy, who care about the American people, and who care about preserving the laws of the land, our rights may be frittered away one by one. Please think of joining or, at the very least, supporting your local Indivisible group. And if there isn’t one in your location, go ahead and start a chapter!
Have a Happy, Safe, and Successful 2018!
Cooking for Joan
This week’s recipe is inspired by my “activist” topic. As I was looking for something suitable, I came across Julia Turshen’s lastest cookbook, Feed the Resistance, which was written as her awareness of political involvement grew after the 2016 election. The book is a collection of recipes designed to feed and nourish “folks who are too busy resisting to cook,” interspersed with essays about community involvement, activism, and food-related issues. She tapped community organizers, food writers, and activists for their recipes and stories about getting involved in local causes — too bad she didn’t know about Cooking for Joan!
This particular recipe is from Chicago author and baker Jocelyn Delk Adams. She writes, “In my family, we make pound cakes for celebrations and life’s most unsettling times. It is our way of coping and evoking comfort when our spirits most need it.”
It's is a hearty cake with flavors of nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and, best of all, rum! Perfect for a post-Women’s March refreshment — think of it as self-care for the belly and the spirit!
Pound Cake to Help You Cope
Prep Time: 30 min | Cook Time: 1 hr | Makes: 10 | Difficulty: Easy
- Nonstick baking spray
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 2 tablespoons rum
Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.
Spray a 10-cup Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray.
Place the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and mix on high speed until light and fluffy, 5 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until well incorporated.
Slow the mixer to its lowest speed and carefully add in the flour in intervals of 1 cup.
Add the sour cream and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.
Mix in the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out moist but mostly clean, 65 to 75 minutes.
Cool the cake for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack, and cool to room temperature.
Whisk together in a small bowl, the confectioners' sugar, molasses, rum, and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until smooth and pourable.
Drizzle over the cake and serve.