I cannot even pretend to know what this year has in store.
At this point, I’m just wondering what Christmas must feel like for people for whom it isn’t just “the calm before the legislative storm”.
You know that feeling, when you wake up in the morning and remember that something is terribly wrong, and it takes you just a minute to figure out what it is?
I have had that feeling every single day since August 7th.
Here in Kansas, 2013 could be a really, really long year.
But I’m a strengths-based social work practitioner. I am an organizer. An advocate.
And, I think still sometimes, an optimist.
So, instead of predictions about this year just-upon-us, I just have some hopes. Even dreams. And some resolutions, about my small piece in this puzzle.
What are yours? What are your aspirations for 2013? What are you committing yourself to do, in pursuit of them?
And, if anyone does have a crystal ball, will you share?
- that, when our legislature inevitably overreaches, in their ideological zeal, we can get people to pay attention, because I just don’t believe that most Kansans (or, fill in the blank, if your state is headed in that same direction) share a vision of the U.S. in which everyone is responsible for themselves and the commons is put to the curb.
- that the ‘we need to soften the rhetoric on immigration’ rhetoric (let’s be honest, here) translates into real ideas and real momentum for immigration reform, not a reprise of tired and unworkable ideas designed to let politicians say that they’re ‘coming to the table’.
- that we can–in Kansas, at the U.S. Supreme Court, and in states around the country, stave off some of the most permanent policy changes that would mean that even a reversal of political fortunes would have relatively little impact on future policies. In Kansas, we’re looking at the very real possibility that the legislature could amend the constitution, taking out, for example, the requirement that the legislature make ‘suitable provision for the financing of public education’. We can’t get that back.
- that we can reclaim the narrative about work–who does it, what it means, and why it matters–in this country, in sharp contrast to the current debate, where we revere workers except for when they want a decent union contract (when firefighters become freeloaders, inexplicably) or affordable health care.
- that the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, as we move towards full implementation, work in much the same way as then-reviled Social Security, which, once people have gotten used to it, has become not only ideologically palatable but also political untouchable. It’s one thing to hate a program that isn’t doing anything for you; it’s quite another to look a gift horse in the mouth.
- that there is at least a bit of a lull in the federal campaign season, not because I’m anti-campaigning, obviously–I believe that they are essential venues of policy contest–but because I think our polity needs a bit of healing, and I don’t see that happening if we immediately pivot to 2014, and beyond.
- that the U.S. Supreme Court rules that arbitrary restrictions on who can marry are as anathema to our constitutional protections today–when it’s gender at stake–as when we based the limits on race. Ultimately, the parallels between where the GLBT equality movement and the civil rights movement for people of color are, in terms of positioning in the electorate and the courts, are limited; I believe that marriage equality is inevitable, while we have obviously still struggled to desegregate with anything resembling deliberate speed, but, still, a shot of adrenaline wouldn’t hurt.
They are dreams. Please don’t hold me to them.
But, to get there, I’m resolving to:
- read more. I am surrounded by words all the time, but I don’t spend nearly as many hours as I would like reading really challenging material that makes me question how and what I think. I need to be more informed, despite a wealth of information.
- actively mentor direct social workers interested in advocacy. I’m not at the point in my career, yet, where I see myself as a ‘mentor’, really, except to my students, but I know that there are social work direct practitioners who want and need guidance on how to weave advocacy into their work, and I think that I can help them, so I’m going to try to seek people out and make myself available, for support and encouragement and some free technical assistance.
- register some voters, apart from a campaign cycle, just because they need to be heard.
- write at least two letters to the editor. I have good luck getting things printed, but it’s been awhile since I submitted anything under my own name, not as a part of my work, just because it matters to me. I’ll get that done this year.
And I need to exercise more, and spend more time with my kids without looking at a screen. And I’d love to get a little more sleep.
Here’s to a new year.