Welcome Trump the right way

Liberty University has announced its graduation speaker.

The Lynchburg Democratic Committee has been asked to organize or to participate in protests at graduation. We will absolutely not be doing so.

The Lynchburg Democratic Committee is organizing a Day of Action in Lynchburg on May 13, full of community service opportunities for willing volunteers. Rather than waving signs at grandparents attempting to get onto campus, we will be planting flowers, painting and picking up trash elsewhere in the city. We will take our emotions, our energy and our protest to communities most likely to be hurt by the actions of this federal administration.

We will go high. We will stay out of the way so the students can have their day. We were asked, “When will Lynchburg have another opportunity to protest” this guy? The answer is November 2020. May 13, 2017, is simply not about him, nor does he deserve to have it made so.

Graduation is not about the speaker. Graduation is a day to celebrate the hard work, sacrifices, and educational achievement of students. It is their day to celebrate with their families. We will not stand down to this federal administration. We will stand up for these students who have earned a diploma.

To those who feel the need to stand and protest, we acknowledge your Constitutional rights to peaceably assemble. Liberty University students and administration have certainly protested locally over the years. Even acknowledging this history, we have questions: Is your message reaching the intended target? Are you supporting education? Will your actions reflect your values? Are you actually making a difference?

To the graduating students: We have enjoyed having you as volunteers, as campaign interns and as guests of our Lynchburg. Congratulations on your graduation. We wish you the best on this day you have earned. To Lynchburg residents not attending graduation: Get your gloves, brushes, rakes, shovels and other tools, and let’s get some actual work done.

KATIE WEBB CYPHERT

Chairwoman, Lynchburg Democratic Committee

MARIA CHILDRESS, LU Class of 2004

Vice-chairwoman

‘Deaths of despair’ in America

I recently read a study, well the summary anyway, by two Princeton professors that tracked death caused by alcohol, drugs and suicide for non-Hispanic white women and men ages 50-54 from 2000 to 2015 in the United States.

The results were remarkable in a bad way. Both non-Hispanic white women and men with high school or less education were four times more likely to die from those causes than were their college-educated counterparts. Also from the report, “When combined with a slowdown in progress against mortality from heart disease and cancer — the two largest killers in middle age — since the late 1990s, the increase in ‘deaths of despair’ has resulted in overall midlife mortality rates [death by any cause] for working-class white Americans overtaking those of other minority groups for the first time.”

In short, blue-collar white Americans ages 50-54 are dying much faster than anyone else, regardless of cause, not only in the United States but as the report states further also in comparison to Germany, France, Sweden, Canada, Great Britain and Australia.

Question: What do all these peer countries have that we do not? Answer: A strong social safety net system that includes single-payer health care. Is it really a surprise that countries with affordable and accessible healthcare beginning from Day One in the cradle have better outcomes down the road? To put it another way, which car do you think would last longer, one that is regularly maintained or one that receives minimal maintenance? No offense, but this seems to be just common sense.

My brother-in-law Fred, a high-school graduate and retired welder, told me a story about a conversation he had with another retired friend prior to last November’s election. The friend was complaining that blue collar jobs were disappearing and what in the world were younger workers going to do? Fred’s answer was “Learn something new” because the world isn’t going to stop changing and you better change with it.

A large part of America is blue-collar Americans, but to be frank until you’re willing to give up believing the “good old days” are coming back — they aren’t — your future and, more importantly, your children’s future is bleak at best. The working class has spent decades voting in defense of tax breaks for the ultra-wealthy and against their own financial interests.

Consider this, when adjusted for inflation I made more working a part-time, minimum wage, summer job pumping gas in 1970 than anyone making less than $10.25 an hour today. And while politicians distract you with divisive social issues and the false promise of a fantasy “Leave it Beaver” world you gave away, no make that voted away, your family’s future.

Seriously, is restricting who someone else marries or what bathroom they use going to put food on your family’s table, get health care for a loved one or earn you a fair wage? There’s no shame in standing up and voting for your family’s future and demanding universal health care, a “Rebuild America” infrastructure jobs plan, fair wages and job training (especially in the trades). The data in this study reveals the brutal reality of evolve or perish or, as Fred would say, “learn something new” or don’t.

WALTER DANIELS

Lynchburg

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