Persistence + Resistance
These are challenging times for political life across the globe.
In the U.S., we have a president who has upset all norms of governing and the role of the United States in the world. Mired in ethical problems, the administration struggles to provide leadership, relying on appointees with limited governing experience. Thousands of government positions remain unfilled.
We have a Congress that oscillates between partisan gridlock and partisan action, short-circuiting debate about what’s best for the country. Too many of our leaders remain silent—in the face of radical transformation of our political life and in the face of hateful speech and violent actions directed towards Muslims, immigrants, African Americans, and other groups. This silence encourages those who want to deny civil rights and religious freedoms.
For people of faith and conscience, the call to resist has been loud and clear. Across the country, millions of people are protesting, lobbying, writing, and speaking out. FCNL advocates have been re-energized to work for policy change, resisting harmful policies and advancing a positive vision.
- Almost 1,700 people have lobbied with FCNL in the first half of this year—already nearly as many as in the whole of 2016.
- We’ve launched Advocacy Teams in more than 60 communities across the country. These volunteer advocates are building meaningful relationships with their members of Congress while lobbying to rein in Pentagon spending.
- Close to 1,000 people have taken part in our new online advocacy training, which gives people the tools, knowledge, and confidence to lobby effectively.
- We know that constituent advocacy matters. From health care to climate to budget priorities, we see time and again that grassroots lobbying affects whether members of Congress support a bill or take the lead on an issue.
Today, much of this work is defensive as we advocate against attempts to gut environmental protections, ban refugees, cut funding for peacebuilding policies that prevent war, and destroy the safety net for those who fall through our country’s economic cracks. We are leading efforts to oppose Pentagon spending increases and tax cuts for the wealthiest people in our country at the expense of the health and well-being of millions.
Yet, as necessary as it is to work against dangerous policies, it isn’t sufficient. Even while we are opposing proposed policy changes, we are working for our principles and vision, upholding the idea that our government can and should protect freedom, opportunity, liberty, and justice for all. And, in this time of disorientation and disruption, we are finding new openings to advance peace and justice. Fresh voices and leaders are emerging—in our communities and in our political offices—who are heeding the urgent call to speak out and lead. FCNL’s approach to advocacy, based on listening and building relationships across difference, is encouraging members of Congress to reach across party lines.
Thanks to persistent constituent advocacy and FCNL staff lobbying, dozens of Republicans are speaking out on climate change—even as the administration retreats (pg. 8). Bipartisan groups in the House and Senate are pushing for legislation to enhance U.S. leadership on preventing atrocities and genocide (pg. 6). Advocates are raising concerns with members of Congress on issues from immigration (pg. 4) to health care (pg. 5)—and it‘s making a difference.
This work takes patience and a commitment to remain connected to a prophetic vision of a more peaceful and just world. It takes a community of creative, supportive people who can hold each other up over the months, years, and decades it takes to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice.
We must stay true to our essential values, while being willing to leap into new relationships and pursue new strategies that propel those values forward.
In these challenging times, the FCNL community is continuing a long Quaker tradition of advocacy. The nearly 75 years of FCNL’s history is part of this larger stream of principled action, using the often imperfect mechanisms available to us to pursue these ends.
This work is also an act of faith. We are called to act for what is right—even when the results can’t be predicted and the odds seem impossibly long. We must stay true to our essential values, while being willing to leap into new relationships and pursue new strategies that propel those values forward.
Today, we seek to open the hearts of elected officials to new perspectives and encourage them to look beyond their political self-interest. We are tapping the commitment and passion of our growing network around the country, and members of Congress are listening. This approach is making a difference, even in a political environment whose landscape is shifting under our feet.