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By Ken Bronstein.

The conventions are coming! From July 18-21 in Cleveland (Republican) and July 25-28 in Philadelphia (Democratic), delegates will confirm their Presidential nominees—Trump and Clinton. They will also confirm the vice-Presidential running mates. Their other important business will be to write and ratify their party’s platform. Pay close attention to it—for yourself and for NYCA.

It’s not just about what happens now, or in the next four years. What makes this election particularly critical is that our next President stands to nominate at least two Supreme Court Justices during his/her term. They will determine the outcome of every High Court decision for the next several decades. One seat still remains empty, with Congress refusing to confirm, or even to meet, any candidate for it until after the new President is inaugurated next year. Additionally, Justices Ginsburg and Kennedy are octogenarians and Justice Breyer is in his late 70s.

If the Republican candidate wins the 2016 election in November, he will surely nominate extremely conservative Justices, like Scalia and Thomas, to fill these vacancies. How critical is that? Just remember: President George H. Bush replaced Thurgood Marshall with Clarence Thomas 25 years ago; we are still living with the negative fallout. So, with this scenario, we can count on losing the battle for the separation of Church/State and a great deal more, perhaps for generations.

The only way to change this outcome is to be a single-ticket bloc voter in November. This time out, we must vote a straight Democratic ticket—not just for the Presidency, but for every open seat in the House and Senate as well. Our rights depend on the next President’s choices for the Supreme Court and on the power of a Democratic Congress to confirm them and to shape future legislation. Period!

Yet voting is not enough. We must also get involved now in the primaries and stay involved right up to November 8th! We’ve developed strategies to use the candidate scorecards, data bases, and mailing lists we’ve created since January to take fast, effective action. Members will be assigned responsibility for leading the plans forward.

If you’re interested in joining this initiative, please email me at nycatheists@gmail.com right away.

You’ve put your shoulders to the wheel to make this happen. But, since we first talked about gearing up for the election, there have been developments we could not have predicted; they underscore the urgency of our efforts. To strengthen our clout, this is the moment to employ our resources to reach every Senator and Representative in Congressional office, and candidates who are running for office. Note that in 2016 the entire House is up for re-election, and one-third of the Senate as well.

We know the Separation of Church/State is our primary mission. Electing a Democratic President and working to build a Democratic majority in Congress is the only way we can achieve and secure it in the current political climate. And we have company: according to the Wall Street Journal, 23% of American adults already have no religious affiliation. They are mostly Democrats, and NYCA should seek them out. So the coming elections are where our work begins—the first steps in reaching that goal.

If you still hesitate for any reason to embrace the task at hand, just consider some of the likely scenarios should a Republican President be elected and Congress again be ruled by a Republican majority.

Let’s begin with a few of special interest to NYCA: The line between religious institutions and government support for them with taxpayers’ dollars will be eroded further by new Church subsidies, faith-based initiatives, the extension of tax exemption to those only indirectly connected to the church, and—most troubling of all— “Religious Freedom”, which really means that anyone, if he claims his religious beliefs mandate it, can legally discriminate against anyone else, even if his actions go against existing antidiscrimination laws.

But there’s more—much, much more. Beyond our own mission lie issues that are vital to our future as a country. President Obama’s executive orders (issued after some very steep uphill climbs) will be reversed; think Dreamers and the undocumented parents of US citizens; a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour for Federal jobs (with hires free from discrimination on the basis of race, sexual orientation or gender); health insurance affordable for all; women’s rights; reversing the damage of escalating income inequality; safeguarding the environment and slowing climate change.

These are all pressing items worthy of support, perhaps close to your heart. But the environment and climate change already have considerable support from around the country, and considerable funding (government and private) as well. Your efforts and your vote in 2016 are crucial to our mission and future because we’re establishing our base for the struggle ahead.

Your vote has greater impact on our behalf right now than what you can do do to support other causes, however worthy.

Throwing our support wholeheartedly into the separation of Church/State in this 2016 Presidential election year requires that we do first things first: elect—as single-ticket bloc voters—a slate that will provide a legislative and judicial arena in which our beliefs receive the respect and support they deserve going forward. There is simply too much political volatility, and too much at stake, for us to hesitate. We must take decisive action now to thrive and be heard in the future. Once that goal has been reached, we will shape our long-term strategy: to become single-issue bloc voters, seeking out legislators who will safeguard the principals of Separation from 2017 on. What’s most important right now is for us to develop our teams and schemes to achieve our immediate goals for the outcome of November 8th. With the structures and heavy lifting in place, moving on to our long-term strategies will be both easier and more effective.

In our next Newsletter, I will be sharing the specifics of our ongoing legal challenges, focusing on the most egregious economic and social examples of how America is losing ground in the struggle to keep religion out of essential medical care (hospitals, pharmacies, clinics); schools; textbooks; and outrageous government-subsidized favors for religious groups. Winning these challenges will be part of our agenda for the future.

In the meantime, be a Democratic single-ticket block voter on November 8th. We can talk about it afterwards.

Copyright 2015 NYCA
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