I must admit – up until this year – celebrating the Fourth of July had more to do with great grill recipes, craft beer and the illegal fireworks my husband loves to sneak back across the border. This year is different. I’ve been thinking a lot about liberties lately – their value – what it took to gain them – and how they are being taken away. Even if it’s not blatant (like the attempts to take away our access to health care), there are continual passive-aggressive actions to dismiss our freedoms that separate our society from those living in dictatorships.
‘Oh Stephanie – you’re being so dramatic’ – I can hear skeptics say. I’ve been known to circle around in some dramatic descriptions here or there – but this is not one of those instants.
Our forefathers arrived to this country in search of freedom of ideas, of action, of home, and speech. While it’s important to acknowledge their method was and continues to be harmful to Native Americans – what drove them here remains important to remember. And here we are – more than 200 years later – watching leaders of our country stripping away our independence.
!. Healthcare. Our elected members of Congress are plowing ahead with steps to reduce access to affordable care for millions. On top of that, their efforts threaten equal access to care for women and people with pre-existing conditions.
- Water. The Trump administration on Tuesday launched its repeal plans for the Clean Water Rule, sending ripples of concern throughout the conservation community about protecting drinking water, in North Carolina and across the country. Here in North Carolina – our rivers, lakes and streams aren’t just sources of drinking water, they’re recreation and even provide a staple for our brewing industry, that employs thousands and generates millions of dollars for our economy.
- Speech. Journalists are being arrested for asking questions. We’ll only have 30 days to comment on the repeal of the Clean Water Rule because of a provision introduced in the bill. Reporters are being locked out of White House press briefings.
- Education. North Carolina lawmakers pushed their budget through yesterday that still doesn’t restore income for the state’s teachers to pre-recession levels when adjusted for inflation. School systems are making tough choices to eliminate arts and music education to keep up with state mandated testing.
So back to my Fourth of July plans. I still plan on enjoying great food, beer and fireworks, but I’ll be thinking about the freedoms we’ve lost in the last year and how we must reclaim them. We must fight for them in words and in actions. Social media posts and rantings among friends fan the flames, but let’s remember this as we approach 2018. We must say “never again” and mean it.