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Get involved: Change starts with you

By Bill Delehunt

By default, this weekly column became focused on politics. This final installment will be the same. However, instead of focusing on a particular issue, like that the Keystone Pipeline would be built with American steel (it won’t, Donald Trump lied to you on that), or that Trump Towers were being wiretapped (Donald Trump lied about that, too), or that Susan Rice committed a crime while doing her job to protect America (Donald Trump lied about…well, you get the picture) – this column will be about the readers.

Get involved. Momentous change abounds in the country and around the world. It’s insufficient to say this is the most auspicious moment in history – every period in history is fraught with peril and filled with hope. Today is not Dec. 7, 1941, with the greatest human disaster hours away. Nor is it September 11, 2001, with a nation in shock. Our era is both mundane and vitally important.

Get involved. The healthcare industry accounts for one sixth of our economy, and it’s guaranteed to impact your life as you age. The Republicans are trying, so far without success, to erase the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Almost assuredly they will try again later this year, and one way or another, the ACA will be modified. It has to be, though most people like the provisions of this law, particularly the ones that allow people to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26 and  guarantee health care despite any pre-existing conditions. However, some re-writes of the bill try to sweep away those popular parts of the existing law. You need to watch carefully, because everyone will need health insurance sometime in their lives. Pay attention or you might be hurting under any new healthcare legislation.

Do you need another reason to get involved? There is an ongoing investigation of the President of the United States by the FBI. That probe by the FBI has been going on since last summer, because members of Donald Trump’s team were in contact with Russian operatives. This is extraordinary and could very well lead to both criminal charges for high ranking members of the current presidential administration and a constitutional crisis. On behalf of The Minaret, I wrote to the federal officials representing the UT area, and received responses from both Senator Bill Nelson and Representative Kathy Castor. They are quite concerned about the apparent Russian connection and have promised to continue the investigation of those within the White House. All it took was an email to their offices to let them know that citizens are concerned, and you could send one in less time than it takes to walk from Vaughn to Sykes.

Get involved. Donald Trump, without consulting with Congress, fired dozens of missiles into Syria. It was an action Trump himself warned against in tweets from 2013: “Again, to our very foolish leader, do not attack Syria – if you do many very bad things will happen and from that fight the US gets nothing!” “What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.” (Be careful what you send out in 140 characters, because Tweets can come back to haunt you.) The consequences of that act of war are still to be seen, but it will take the involvement of the entire populace to keep the country on an even keel.

Get involved. These are not the darkest days our country has seen, but they are certainly not benign. This is normal, or what will be normal for many years to come. It is easy to get caught up in your personal narrative – “What will be on the final?” “Will he call me?” “Am I going to pass?” “Will she say yes if I ask her?” “What comes after graduation?” All of those are incredibly important issues which require your attention. But so does the larger world around you, since it will impact you every step of your journey through life. Spend five minutes a day listening to the news, or better yet, reading some news online or gasp picking up a newspaper. Find a publication that is middle of the road, or read separate opinions of the same events so you can judge for yourself where the truth lies. Talk to your friends twice a week about current events. Take a 10 minutes once every month and write to an elected official, telling her or him what you think and what is important to you. There are plenty of apps, such as Countable, which explains what bills are under consideration and gives you direct access to contact your lawmakers and express your opinion on legislation.

These are not the best of times nor the worst of times, but they are our times. Get involved.

Bill Delehunt can be contacted at william.delehunt@spartans.ut.edu.

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