A Moral Failure

Written by Eric Kearsely, Willow Street. This piece was first published here, the LancasterSpeaksUp.com blog, on February 11, 2021 with permission from the author. It has been submitted to LancasterOnline/LNP for consideration as a Letter to the Editor. 

NOTE: Update from the author added on February 16, 2021.

Vaccines are being distributed throughout the county by relying on private institutions such as hospitals, pharmacies, and retirement communities, all institutions one would think were committed to the well-being of the public. 

Unfortunately, as we learned in Sunday’s LNP, some of these same institutions have chosen to vaccinate their own employees, regardless of the type of work they perform, rather than working to ensure that the most vulnerable receive the vaccine at the earliest possible time.  It was shocking to learn that all three hospitals in this county have provided the vaccine to “their employees, including those working remotely.”  The owner of a local pharmacy is even planning to hold a “friends and family vaccination event” while presumably turning away needy individuals. 

On Thursday, January 28, Willow Valley Communities (2400 residents, 1400 employees) announced that they had made the vaccine available to its employees, not just those who provide support in their healthcare buildings.  This action bypasses residents in independent living, many of whom are well over 75 years of age with many chronic illnesses qualifying them as the most vulnerable.  I hope the LNP will investigate and report those institutions that have so flagrantly failed us in this way.  

Update: Shortly after this letter was shared with Willow Valley executives, they repeated their policy that all 1400 Team Members, regardless of the jobs they hold (e.g., marketing, management, etc.) were considered healthcare workers and were considered to be immediately eligible for the vaccine.  However, for the first time, they began to offer the vaccine to a large group of independent living residents.  They also announced their goal of completing the first round of vaccinations for the rest of Willow Valley residents by February 19.

©️2021 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

Judicial Districts Aren’t Logical

Written by Steph Schreyer, New Holland. This piece was first published on January 30, 2021 in LancasterOnline/LNP. Reprinted here with permission from the author.

I am really scratching my head when it comes to state House Bill 38, a proposed amendment to the state constitution to organize the state judiciary into geographic districts and further provide for residency requirements.

It’s been a while since my civics class, but I believe our state legislators are the ones who are supposed to reflect their constituents. I am not a legal scholar, but I believe judges decide cases to resolve controversies in accordance with the rule of law. They are supposed to interpret and apply statutes passed by the legislative branch and determine whether those acts violate the state’s laws or constitution.

I think the measure of a good judge is not where they come from in the state or if they are similar to me in any way. Judges are supposed to be unbiased experts in the rule of law. This is not the best analogy, but when you are really sick, it doesn’t matter where the doctor is from. What matters is the doctor’s competence and expertise.

State House Bill 38, sponsored by state Rep. Russ Diamond, is, in my view, an insult to the citizens of the great state of Pennsylvania.

According to the National Center for State Courts, only two states use these sort of regional, partisan elections that Diamond is proposing — Illinois and Louisiana. Only two! Pennsylvania is considered the birthplace of our nation’s democracy. Write your representative and tell them Pennsylvania can do better than this!

©️2021 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

The Heir Apparent to Donald Trump Is…Somewhat Surprising

Written by Laurie Hess, Warwick Township . This piece was first published here, the LancasterSpeaksUp.com blog, on February 2, 2021 with permission from the author. It has been submitted to Harrisburg Patriot-News/PennLive for consideration as a Letter to the Editor. 

Let’s just say this: Donald Trump will never hold public office again. His base was not enough to deliver the presidency to him in 2020, and his support is shrinking. All his opponents would have to do is show a video of the riot at the Capitol building on January 6. Independent voters who may have approved some of his policies would run, screaming, in the opposite direction.

This leaves a power vacuum in the Republican Party. Donald Trump’s populism appealed mostly to non-college-educated white men, a dwindling but still powerful demographic.

Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, and others are currently attempting to fill that role. Still, none of them have the swagger, the charisma, the…bona fides to inherit the mantle of the anti-elitist kingpin.

The person best suited to assume the role of heir apparent is…Bernie Sanders.

It may sound crazy. On the face of it, the two men could not be more different in temperament, morality, demeanor, or their place on the political spectrum. 

But, one of the reasons Donald Trump got elected in 2016 is because of his outsider status. People wanted a president who was not a politician. Someone who would tell it like it is (even though Trump was a notorious prevaricator).

And there is this – Donald Trump purported to represent the best interests of the working class; Bernie Sanders really does. Bernie has long been an advocate for strong labor unions, a higher minimum wage, Medicare for All, and creating an economy that works for everyone, not just the few. All of these policies would benefit the working class far more than the Trump tax cut of 2017, which actually benefited the investment class. 

Oh, there are problems with this, I know. There is a sizable component of Donald Trump’s base that has either overt or subtle racist views. They would have to be convinced the people ahead of them on the economic scale are more of a threat to their wellbeing than the people below them. 

And, OK, I know Bernie Sanders is 79. The chances of him running for president in 2024 or 2028 are slim to none. But what about someone who was in Bernie’s camp? Someone who endorsed Bernie? Someone younger who espouses similar views?  What about someone with the populist swagger of Donald Trump without the bullying tendencies? 

What about a big, tattooed motorcycle-riding type of guy with limited government experience? 

John Fetterman for President, anyone?

©️2021 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

Steph Schreyer, New Holland

Steph Schreyer is currently the Director of Customer Experience at a Lancaster employee-owned software company where she has been for 15 years.  Prior to that, Steph spent 14 years at Lancaster Laboratories in a variety of managerial roles.  She grew up in Lancaster County, got married to a New Englander and has two amazing daughters.  Steph has previously served on the Board of Directors for President James Buchanan’s Wheatland.  She also has helped with elections and campaigns over the years.   Steph holds an undergraduate degree in Microbiology from Penn State University and an MBA from Lebanon Valley College.

A Letter to Lancaster Christians

Written by Dr. Mary Theresa (Terry) Webb, West Lampeter. This piece was first published here, the LancasterSpeaksUp.com blog, on February 1, 2021 with permission from the author. It has been submitted to LancasterOnline/LNP for consideration as a Letter to the Editor. 

Thank you to all Mennonites who signed a recent one page ad on 01/20/21. But I missed the signatures of other Christians from Lancaster who boarded one of seven buses that took Lancastrians to Washington on Jan. 6th to attend the Stop the Steal rally. I want to ask them why they attended a crowded rally when the Pandemic is raging?

I imagine you may have been thrilled to listen to former President Trump, his family and other supporters speak when he encouraged you to keep fighting for him. Maybe you just believe that attending that rally was your Christian patriotic duty. What happened when the crowd started storming the Capitol building? Did you go with them? Did you watch from a distance, cheer them on, or did you leave early? Do you still believe that the election was stolen now that a new president has been sworn in and is working and living in the White House? 

Perhaps you have mixed feelings like I did twenty-five years ago.  I also followed a charismatic leader and joined his group of Christians persuaded to live in an intentional community he founded. His words were spellbinding. I believed he spoke for Jesus. But he didn’t. Instead, although he was married, he was having illicit affairs with those he was counseling. At first, I didn’t believe it when he was exposed; then, I felt betrayed. Finally, the truth set in when I realized what that leader did was contrary to what he preached and what Jesus taught.  

©️2021 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

Investing in Americans Who Want to Get Back to Work

Written by Perry Hazeltine, Lancaster City. This piece was first published here, the LancasterSpeaksUp.com blog, on January 25, 2021 with permission from the author. It has been submitted to LancasterOnline/LNP for consideration as a Letter to the Editor. 

In 1932, Americans were desperate. Hoover’s stubborn refusal to stimulate the economy trapped people in poverty.  Working people rallied around the New Deal and elected Roosevelt despite the charge by Republicans that he was a socialist.  

This shows that our country can mobilize the political will to create big and bold programs.  New Deal programs bettered working people’s lives and eradicated the poverty that plagued the elderly. Programs, like the FDIC and social security, have outlasted the Great Depression and remain popular.

Yet, political scientists have observed that when considering big programs like the Biden Stimulus Plan, Americans tend to support specific items but not the program overall for fear of government spending. Yet if there is ever a time to stimulate the economy with strategic spending, that time is now. 

Like the New Deal, the stimulus plan aims to restore the economy with deficit spending. Economists call this a “good deficit”—getting money in the hands of unemployed people and struggling businesses in the middle of a financial crisis caused by a health crisis. By contrast, the 2017 tax cut during an economic boom was a “bad deficit.” 

 Amid the pandemic’s economic toll, Americans face desperation similar to that of the Great Depression.  The Biden Stimulus Plan will alleviate the financial hardship faced by people who want to work. Let Senators Casey and Toomey and Representative Smucker know it’s time to stimulate the economy by voting for the Biden Stimulus Plan.

©️2021 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

The Trumpism Movement

Written by Dr. Mary Theresa (Terry) Webb, West Lampeter. This piece was first published here, the LancasterSpeaksUp.com blog, on January 17, 2021 with permission from the author. It has been submitted to LancasterOnline/LNP for consideration as a Letter to the Editor. 

The mob that desecrated the Capitol building, ending with destruction and death on the 6th of January, did so because they believed Trump when he told them that the 2020 election was fraudulent. Incited by Trump’s words, they marched and stormed the Capitol. We witnessed the Trumpism movement at its worst. 

Among those at the rally proceeding the break-in at the Capitol building, along with MAGA hats, American and Confederate flags, were signs proclaiming “Jesus Saves.” Seven buses from Lancaster County in Pennsylvania attended that event. These well-meaning Christian folks believed that Trump was ushering in a Christian revival. Many others responding to Trump’s Twitter calls were from other towns and communities. Tragically, most of them have been in pathological bondage to Trump’s cult-like personality. His words and actions deceive them.

Shofars and “my pillow” promotions notwithstanding, Trump-thumping tweets and events, including the Washington “Save America” March and “Stop the Steal” rally exposes the Christian nationalistic part of Trumpism. This finally culminated when Trump encouraged his loyal troops to go to the Capitol with strength, while Trump, his family, and enablers watched it unfold from their tent at the White House. His loyal troops marched to his orders and six were killed, along with police officers, and many injured. 

In their book, Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers, Bob Altmeyer and John Dean describe Trump followers as having a preference for strongly hierarchical and ethnocentric social orders that favor them, or are those like themselves, and who reject political establishments.  Waving their American flags and Trump banners, they consider themselves to be true American Patriots left behind as society changes around them. They want to be winners like Trump, but resent the fact that they’re not. Like him, they lack empathy and many grew up in abusive households like his and become abusers themselves or its victims. These Trump believers are prone to conspiracy theories, magical thinking, and scapegoating. Trump has become their god-like savior. Like him they won’t wear masks or keep socially distanced. Instead, they congregate in large groups to pray endlessly for and over Trump because God has given them visions to do so.  Their leaders, such as James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Franklin Graham of Samaritan’s Purse, have been frequent visitors to the White House to lay hands on President Trump.  Influenced by these leaders and supportive pastors, they live in rural areas and worship in local conservative churches, which have been infiltrated by Dominionists. 

In the 1980s, a form of Conservative Christian Dominionism took over the Southern Baptists. Frederick Clarkson defines Dominionism as a “theocratic idea that, regardless of theological camp, means, or timetable, God has called Conservative Christians to exercise dominion over society by taking control of political and cultural institutions.”   Those influenced by this theology believe that America was founded as a Christian country. Because the country has fallen away from these roots, Christians are needed to run for and to be elected to public office. In addition, they encourage and recruit elected politicians to attend their bible studies and fellowships. In America, Christianity has been hijacked by this false theology.   

When Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine, that was the beginning of the melding of the Christian faith with political and cultural institutions. Popes and emperors consorted and fought wars together, eventually leading to the disastrous crusades and the Spanish inquisitions.  Sometimes referred to as Right Wing Christian Evangelicalism, Christian Nationalism, Christian Reconstructionism or, more recently, The New Apostolic Reformation, this kind of church and state mixed theology has found its way into American evangelical and charismatic denominational congregations in both the South and the North, especially in more fundamentalist and charismatic churches. This theocratic theology contrasts with historic Christian polity, based on the life and teachings of Jesus who espouses a domain called the Kingdom of Heaven, different from and challenging to the governing entity leading the country. In Jesus’  day that was the Roman Empire. Today, that has been a kind of American Empire recently led by someone who considers he is the greatest, an emperor or a king. He has used and abused his Christian followers.

The Trumpism movement can also be called a white religious conservative populism.  Such movements in America are not new. In the late 1880s William Jennings Bryan and the People’s Party exemplified biblical populism; in the mid-19th Century the Know-Nothings spouted conspiracy theories and anti-immigration rhetoric; in the 20th century McCarthyism was both nationalistic and racist in its origins. Trumpism has roots in the Tea Party Movement with its conservative Christian underpinnings and White Nationalism. Today, Tea party affiliated elected politicians have been caught up in following the Trump cult. Many of them were the Senators and Congressmen who objected to authorizing the Electoral votes for Biden and Harris, the lawful winners of the 2020 election.

 How do we break the strangle-hold of Trumpism? Dr. Brandy Lee, in her new book, Profile of a Nation: Trumps Mind, Americas Soul, provides a prescription that includes removal of Trump from power and his ability to influence including impeachment that keeps him from running for office again, prosecuting him under the full extent of our laws for criminal and treasonous behavior, and diminishing his social media platforms.  This is now in process.

However, what can each of us do to help Trump’s followers? We can reach out to try and build relationships and provide emotional support, accepting that some will resist, be angry, and will not be persuaded by facts. Our task as true American patriots will be enhanced by Christians willing to stand up as Jesus did and confront the hypocrisy of both the leaders of this American theocratic movement and also love its followers back to being true to the teachings of Jesus. 

©️2021 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

Time to Cash Out

Written by Rebecca Branle, Ephrata Township. This piece was first published on January 11, 2021 Rebecca’s blog, basicallybeckyblogs. Reprinted here with permission from the author.

Money makes the world go round.

And it makes small people sell their souls, and their country, for more. More money, more power, more money, more power – the cycle of the sick. So if they say follow the money, I say cut off the flow. If those of us who value democracy want to save this country, we’ll put our money where our mouths are…we’ll talk in cash.

Because healing comes in steps, and we can’t break into any kind of stride until we unify in truth. Every single Republican lawmaker needs to say what they’ve known to be true all along. They need to stand together, alongside their Democratic colleagues, and say without reservation that this election was free and fair. There is no evidence to the contrary. Never has been.

So why won’t they, after everything, tell the truth in unison? It seems they should have by now, for the sake of the country. I hear it explained that they’re afraid of losing the 70 million Trump voters, but friends, people don’t come first to these folks, the same way that the country never came first. Money comes first. So if we want to end Trumpism, and I truly believe that a significant portion of those 70 million Trump voters are now done, we have to cut off the crooked. Every major PAC, corporation, billionaire and business needs to loudly and proudly state their intention to stop the flow. No more cash until the truth is told, not a penny more to lawmakers and to their lying megaphones, including FoxNews, NewsMax and OAN.

I know what you’re thinking – how do you get those PACs and businesses and billionaires to care? The answer – money. Always, money. If the seditionists get their way and end our democracy, it won’t mean healthy stock market gains. It won’t bring profitable trade. The smart and rich but morally bankrupt people and entities that propped up this presidency and this party over the past 4 years have to fold their cards now. They got their deregulation. They got their tax cuts. They got so. much. richer. Now, it’s time to call the game. Even they stand to lose if this rebellion wins.

So, let’s do it. Let’s tell the rich to cut the cash. Let’s remind them why it behooves them to do so. And where the rich go, Republican lawmakers will follow. Why? Because it was the rich that funded the propaganda that spread the lies that closed the eyes of Americans who would have been done with this traitorous president years ago. They need that money to fund the rhetoric that will rebrand the party, that will make even the most cynical Republicans get back on board. Without money, the Republican party is over. If the Rebellion succeeds, the rich lose it all. They’re backed into a corner, and we need to tell them we know.

Then, when the money is gone, the traitors will stand alone. The Republicans will need to get on board and do what they know they must – vote to remove and criminally prosecute this president and his cronies, including every lawmaker who voted against certification and every lawmaker who used rigged election and incitement rhetoric.

Is it a perfect fix? No. But it’s a start and we can’t heal until those who are culpable are held accountable, until the confused in our country are told the truth, finally. We won’t get there by asking the lawmakers who enabled the creation of this mess to do the right thing. They don’t speak that language. They speak in cash. So let’s bankrupt the party whose moral compass has been spent for years.

Then, let’s build back better.

Minus the racism.

Minus the misogyny.

Minus Trump.

©️2021 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

A Call For Lloyd Smucker’s Resignation

Written by Laurie Hess, Warwick Township. This piece was first published here, the LancasterSpeaksUp.com blog, on January 10, 2021 with permission from the author. This piece was also published on January 13, 2021 in LancasterOnline/LNP

This is not my first letter to the editors of this newspaper. Most of my letters have been Kumbaya affairs, extolling the virtues of compassion and urging readers to disavow hate.

This one is different.

I would like to add my voice to the call for the resignation of Congressman Lloyd Smucker.

Republican elected officials in general, and Mr. Smucker in particular, have been lying to their constituents since the election, whipping them into a frenzy with tales of voter fraud, a stolen election, vanishing freedoms. 

When speaking to the press, they dressed up their lies with words of concern about election integrity, making it seem as though their intentions were noble. Their real intention was to elevate their political capital by echoing an increasingly unhinged president. 

Words are powerful. People believed these specious arguments. Some of these angry people broke into the Capitol building and temporarily brought the democratic process to a halt.

Incredibly, even after the riot, Lloyd Smucker stood by the lies. He objected to counting Pennsylvania’s votes because his constituents were upset with the way the election was carried out. This is disturbing circular logic. Constituents were angry because they were lied to by the very people who wished to benefit from that anger.

Mr. Smucker, you lied to people who trusted you. You broke your oath to uphold the constitution. You tried to disenfranchise Pennsylvania voters. You do not deserve to represent the people of Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District. It is time to step aside.

©️2021 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.

This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.

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