ME has spent most of his retirement from service to the United States studying, thinking, and writing about the country he served.
Our "Big Check" Goes to a Good Cause
How We Got Here
There are many roads, some well paved, some not so much that led Florida's Bradford County Democratic Executive Committee (BDEC for short) to start the We Care Initiative to try help feed people of our county who were left behind by our federal and state governments.
First, let's be clear - the fundamental cause for the predicament we are in today is the result of something we cannot see, feel, touch, taste, or smell. In fact, many people lose their sense of taste and smell as a result of contracting it. It is a virus, specifically the SARS-CoV-2 1 and its latest variants.
For you nerds out there (to me, that is a compliment) "SARS" stands for "Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome" and the "CoV" is for "Coronavirus" while the "2" means it is the second form of SARS-CoV. The first was the 2003 version. More fun facts:
- There are many different types of coronaviruses out there, some of you get them every year. You might know them as "the common cold" or a much more deadly type called MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome)
- The flu, influenza, is not a coronavirus, it just feels the same sometimes and can be just as deadly to unvaccinated people.
The bottom line is that if it weren't for the Covid-19 virus, there would not be a BDEC We Care initiative.
Now we turn to man's (writ large) involvement. I am talking about all men and women above the age of where they can make informed decisions, not just politicians. In my opinion, the blame for the BDEC having to take this We Care humanitarian action falls in this order of priority - as it pertains to the United States.
First, it wasn't China's fault. That country was unlucky enough to be where the virus first appeared. It wasn't even their initial failed response to the this brand new contagion. True, parts of the government hid the seriousness (or even existence) of it for a while, but by the time they came more or less clean in December 2019, it had already spread to Europe and America. So the story starts here, with us. All of the imbecilic attacks on Asians and Asian-Americans in this country is just another manifestation of the long-standing xenophobia that lies just beneath the surface of American society, just like racism does.
Donald Trump, et al
In my opinion, the initial fault lies with Donald Trump and his reaction to the on-coming catastrophe. Millions of people and politicians take their cue from what he says, does, and tweets. It wasn't that he ignored the seriousness of this pandemic, it is that he fought hard to minimize it - and that, I think, is a crime. It is extremely well documented and verified that he lied to the American people about how deadly this virus was, he lied to the American people about how wearing masks and social distancing was ineffective in slowing down the spread of the virus, he encouraged people to do exactly those things that would make coronavirus spread more quickly.
Then, foreseeably, state leaders like Florida's Ron DeSantis, Texas's Greg Abbott, and Georgia's Brian Kemp took up the narrative, parroting Trump's lies and bad actions. They were slow to take action and, worse, many of their actions, such as throwing the doors to indoor dining wide open too soon, made everything much, much worse. This is why these three states have done so poorly in protecting their citizens from Covid-19.
Next in line come everyday Americans 2. Collectively, we did not use the brains God gave us to parse the lies being thrown at us by certain politicians or to simply listen to the experts (those that were allowed to talk) and think through problem. Long ago (like March 2020) it became very evident that wearing face masks was the best way to control the spread of this very deadly disease, even better than a vaccine, even though it didn't exist at the time 3. The next best thing is social distancing, but we don't do that either. The third thing is not to gather in large groups indoors and the finally thing is to avoid large groups outdoors - but we failed there as well, especially during holidays. It almost seems like so many Americans have a death wish.
Now, when I say "we" I don't include those people who actually took coronavirus seriously and did most of the right things most of the time. But because of the, let's face it, stupidity (or simply lack of caring) of others, some of those good people got really sick or died as well. There is no question millions of people tried to protect others, and themselves, by wearing their masks. But, with so many on the Right giving us our daily dose of disinformation, there were so many millions more who did not, either because they listened to Trump, or, they simply didn't care.
The net result of all of that bad behavior is, as of this writing, 29 million Americans who have contracted the virus and over a half million dead (of which 30,000 are Floridians). The crime is that but for all of the anti-coronavirus disinformation by Trump and the Right, but for lack of policy actions by Trump, but for actual acts to make things worse by Trump, and but for apathy by so many people that most experts now say that up to 90%, or roughly 400,000 Americans, died unnecessarily!
With so many people sick and therefore out of work and with so many more people out of work because of preventative measures being taken by various companies or because of State mandates, the economy went into recession - it had no choice. Tens of millions of people were thrown off the payroll and had little or no source of other income to put food on the table and a roof over their head. Beginning in April 2020, people started to go hungry.
There was a time in America's history, in fact prior to 1933, where the leaders in the federal government thought it was not their responsibility to help people out who had fallen on hard times through no fault of their own. In fact, in one famous case where Congress saw fit to help Texas farmers out during a massive, long-term drought with a little seed, then President Grover Cleveland vetoed the bill infamously saying:
“I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the government, the government should not support the people.”4
Does this sound familiar with things you have recently heard?
The theory then was friends, family, and charitable organizations were enough to see people over hard times. The Great Depression of 1929 proved that urban myth totally wrong. The fact is, never have local resources been sufficient in times of great need. But it took President Roosevelt 5 to finally get the federal government to do the job our founders envisioned when they wrote the Preamble to our Constitution.
Early in the pandemic, Congress showed a very rare amount of bi-partisanship in the face of what has become the worst crisis in America since the Civil War. They quickly, for them, passed a massive, comprehensive Covid relief package to help what Donald Trump was touting as a short-lived problem. The relief was large, but was scheduled to end by early Summer.
Being the long-term thinkers that they are, Democrats in the House quickly passed a larger follow-on relief package to pick up where the first one ended to carry Americans and American businesses to the end of 2020. Then they sent it to the Senate where Mitch McConnell and the GOP killed it. I guess they believed Trump and thought Covid would disappear in July and no more help was needed.
Beginning in July 2020, when the money ran out, so did people's ability to buy food. Parents and children began to go hungry in the richest nation in the world, and the lines at food distribution centers that popped up here and there grew, some to miles long.
July, August, September, October, and November went by while the Republicans in the Senate chowed down at taxpayer subsidized lunches as the rest of the nation got hungrier and hungrier. It was only after a new sheriff was elected in November did Mitch McConnell and the GOP begin to crumble under the weight of the public outcry (and two Republican Senate seats in Georgia were in jeopardy) that the Republican Senate acted, albeit parsimoniously and grudgingly. Ultimately, a short-term package was approved that provided reduced relief through March 2021.
Bradford County Florida Democratic Executive Committee
As a prolog to this section let me say that while I write a lot about politics, social issues, among many other things, I don't actually participate (other than voting). I was so afraid that the Republican controlled election process was not going to be fair in Florida, I finally decided to do something other than write about it - I got with the local Democratic organization, which turned out to be the Bradford County Democratic Executive Committee (BDEC) to become a poll watcher.
What an interesting and eye-opening experience (which I will write about in a future article) that was. Through this contact with the BDEC, I ended up in helping with a project they started up shortly after the election was over - the We Care initiative.
1 In this article, for variety and confusion, I will use several names, "coronavirus", Covid, Covid-19. But know they all mean the same thing.
2 And this is probably explains why California, who tried to do it right from the get go, did so poorly as well.
3 Just think how many lives would be saved and serious illness that wouldn't happen if we all used masks during flu season.
4 Grover Cleveland was a conservative Bourbon Democrat
5 Roosevelt is probably the first "liberal" Democrat after a history full of conservative to very conservative Democrats (think Cleveland). Even then, he wasn't "that" liberal when all was said and done. Until then, it was GOP who held the social justice bonafides. Boy how things have changed.
The Federal and Florida Governments Refused to Help - So Democrats Help with "We Care"
Shortly after the election, it became clear the Republicans were going to continue stonewalling the Democrats in Congress in getting enough relief to the American people to do some good. So the BDEC decided to do what they could in their own small corner of the world. They started the "We Care" donation project to help the hungry in Bradford County, Florida
So what is the We Care Initiative? It is where a committee of the Bradford County Democratic Executive Committee (BDEC) began a "bundling" operation. Their reading of Florida statutes prohibit political organizations such as the BDEC from donating directly to non-profit charitable organizations - go figure, although there may be a good reason. So the BDEC began soliciting donations from individuals and businesses in December 2020, then "bundle" them, and turn over the checks and cash to a church or food bank or some other enterprise that is providing food or meals to those that need it. It is sort of clumsy, but it works.
To date, the BDEC has given more than $7,700 to such charities as the Starke Seventh-Day Adventist Church, A Place of Grace, True Vine Ministries, among others. Unfortunately, we had to return over $1,000 because the pastor of the ministry the BDEC was coordinating with in January refused the donation.
Why would he do that? Well, one of the things the BDEC likes to do when they make a donation is take a photo where the donors, in their Bradford County Democrats "We Care" t-shirts, and the recipients stand around a "Big Check" brought especially for the occasion in order to memorialize the occasion. I am guessing that because those shirts identify the BDEC as Democrats, the pastor was uncomfortable associating with them, and therefore denied many of his flock who were hungry access to food. Fortunately, this appears to be a unique occurrence.
But even in the face of this opposition, the BDEC pushed on. At the end of each month, the BDEC selects a charity and then asks for donations. Some time during the following month (they are up to March now), a little ceremony is put on and the donations are turned over to that months charity. The goal is to donate at least $1,000 each month 1.
The BDEC plans to keep this effort up until the crisis passes. They have also been in conversations with other local Democratic organizations, as well as the state level party, to export this program in order to help more people. And in that vein, I urge the reader to seek out opportunities in your local areas to do what the Bradford County Democratic Executive Committee has taken upon themselves to help those in need - it is the right thing to do!
1 If you are interested in helping, follow @BradfordDemsFl and leave a message. They (me actually) will respond on who you can write your check out to and where to send it.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Scott Belford
Scott Belford (author) from Keystone Heights, FL on March 05, 2021:
Thank you WBA
email@example.com from upstate, NY on March 05, 2021:
I applaud your efforts, practical efforts such as these do much to create community and help those truely in need.
Scott Belford (author) from Keystone Heights, FL on March 03, 2021:
Thank you Cheryl.
If you feel like following the BDEC, I run their twitter feed for them. It is @BradfordDemsFL
Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on March 03, 2021:
This is truly wonderful