Attack on voting rights is the tip of the spear that can kill what’s left of U.S. social welfare policy

Voting rights are in sharp focus in social work, as well they should be. The coming week features two social work-related forum events – a Wednesday night presentation on the history of voting rights in Mississippi, sponsored by the Social Justice Committee of NASW Mississippi chapter, and a Friday late morning inaugural entry in “The ACT” series, a student-driven initiative of the USM School of Social Work, drawing a bead on voting “rights and policies.”

Action-oriented concern for protecting voting rights has perhaps never been more critical. The right-wing assault on voting rights, voter access, and vote certification has been prolific, spreading as fast and as dangerously as a COVID-19 variant. Despite repeated calling out of new state-level vote-suppression policies for the deliberately anti-democratic, and even neo-white supremacist, conspiracy that they are, the movement to subvert the majoritarian will continues unabated.

As if voting rights alone were not a sufficient cause for serious alarm, social workers and other social welfare advocates should realize that democratic vote suppression is just the start of a long and steadily worsening nightmare. Today’s political right sees an opportunity to seize a prize it has sought ever since the New Deal had the audacity to suggest that government has a responsibility to address the interests of working people (however inadequately), and not merely those of rapacious elites. It longs to overturn decades of progress, however partial, piecemeal and deliberately minimalist, in providing a social welfare policy safety net.

If we thought a first Trump presidency was a bad, wait until a second (whether it’s Trump himself at the helm, or a MAGA movement successor) moves to reinstate the equivalent of a pre-Progressive Era oligarchy intent on dismantling what remains of provisions for working people and the less fortunate. Bye-bye government-run Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Bye-bye all but the most meager measure of unemployment insurance. Bye-bye any form of “welfare” not designed to drive recipients into the low-wage workforce. Bye-bye what’s left of consumer and environmental protections. Bye-bye any chance of responding rationally to the climate crisis. Bye-bye public responsibility for public welfare. Bye-bye democratic accountability.

If we’re not “woke” yet, it’s well past time to wake up. We can start here:

National Association of Social Workers-MS Chapter is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: The Fight for the Ballot: A Century Long Freedom Struggle in MS

Time: Oct 27, 2021 05:30 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us06web.zoom.us/j/86289467025?pwd=R0MrQWpZbGJHNW80WndxREVaeUFMZz09 (Links to an external site.)

Meeting ID: 862 8946 7025

Passcode: 389777

If you can’t make that (or even if you can), catch this one on Friday at 11:30 a.m. at the USM Joseph Greene auditorium:

In-person attendance is encouraged
For those interested in attending virtually you can do so via the Zoom link below:

https://usm-edu.zoom.us/j/84070329274…

ZOOM ID: 840 7032 9274

PASSCODE: 95769404

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