Alabama Hospital Association highlights importance of expanding Medicaid

News Analysis by: John Zippert, Co-Publisher

The Alabama Hospital Association, a statewide trade organization representing 100 hospitals in the state is launching the ALhealthmatters campaign highlighting the importance of expanding Medicaid. The Association says If Alabama expands Medicaid, almost 300,000 uninsured Alabamians would receive health insurance coverage, an estimated 30,000 jobs would be created, and $28 billion in new economic activity would be generated.  Alabama would also save millions of dollars on current state services.  “On average, almost one out of every 10 hospital patients does not have health insurance, resulting in more than $530 million annually in uncompensated care,” said Danne Howard, executive vice president and chief policy officer of the Alabama Hospital Association.  “Currently, 75 percent of Alabama’s hospitals are operating in the red, meaning the dollars they receive for caring for patients are not enough to cover the cost of that care.  Expanding Medicaid would be a significant investment in the state’s fragile health care infrastructure and would help maintain access to care for everyone.” “In Greene County because we are a poor county, one in three patients do not have any insurance, which means we provide an average of $100,000 in uncompensated care per month. Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would help people in our county whose earn less than 138% of poverty (approximately $20,000 annual for a family of four) to secure affordable health insurance coverage,” said Dr. Marcia Pugh, Administrator of the Greene County Health System. Howard adds that hospitals and other health care providers are a critical piece of the state’s infrastructure.  “Alabama’s hospitals employ about 90,000 individuals and indirectly support another 96,000 jobs,” she said.  “Not only are they often one of the largest employers in their communities, but hospitals also have a huge economic impact on their local economy.  Statewide, the annual economic impact of Alabama hospitals is nearly $20 billion, not to mention the pivotal role access to quality health care plays in recruiting and keeping new businesses.” The Alabama Hospital Association statement indicates the importance of expanding Medicaid but does not endorse the state’s Democratic political candidates who support Medicaid expansion. Walt Maddox, Democratic candidate for Governor, in the November election, says, “ I will expand Medicaid for Alabama during the first hour of the first day that I am Governor. We will find the resources to pay our part of the costs to pay for this critical life-saving service from our people.” Incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey has not expanded Medicaid and does not intend to because of cost. State Senator Hank Sanders said, “ It is clear that on the one issue of expanding Medicaid, there is a clear distinction between the candidates for Governor on the ballot in November.

Democratic candidate Walt Maddox will expand Medicaid and help save lives in Alabama as well as expand our economy in every county, while Kay Ivey will continue to oppose this program for narrow political reasons.” Since 2010 when Medicaid expansion has been available under the Affordable Care Act, Alabama has lost $7 billion in Federal support under the program. For the first three years of the program, there was no cost to the states to participate. This has increased by 2.5% a year until it reached the maximum 10% this fiscal year. In addition in coming years beginning in 2020, the disproportionate share reimbursement rate payment to rural hospitals will decline because the program assumes coverage for low-income people in the state by Medicaid expansion under the ACA. Rural hospitals in states like Alabama, that have not expanded Medicaid, will begin to take a “double-whammy” for not expanding Medicaid – more patients without insurance coupled with lower reimbursement rates. Howard notes that a recent study showed that hospitals in expansion states were 84 percent less likely to close than hospitals in non-expansion states.  “Alabama has had 12 hospitals close since 2011, and more are on the verge of closing if something doesn’t change,” she added. “Plus, the economic impact in other states has been tremendous; Louisiana has added 19,000 jobs; nearly 50 percent of new enrollees in Ohio have been able to receive mental health and substance abuse treatment, and the state has seen a 17-percent drop in emergency department use; Kentucky has seen an increase in state revenues of $300 million.” The AHA study says, “Investing in the rural health care infrastructure is critical as Alabama works to improve rural prosperity.  Alabama’s rural hospitals are an anchor in their communities‒creating jobs, providing critical care, and supporting other industries.   ​“When a rural hospital closes, other mainstays in the community often follow … local pharmacies, physicians, banks, and grocery stores to name a few. When a rural hospital closes, it’s very difficult to attract new business. “ ​Throughout the next few months, hospitals will be talking with business, civic and government leaders to stress the importance of expanding Medicaid in Alabama and to share quantitative results of the positive impact it is having in other states.  For more information on the impact Medicaid expansion could have in Alabama, visitwww.alhealthmatters.com.

Newsier : . Nobel Peace Prize shared by two who help rape survivors in the midst of war

Dr. Denis Mukwege

Oct. 8, 2018 (GIN) – “For 15 years I have witnessed mass atrocities committed against women’s bodies and I cannot remain with my arms folded because our common humanity calls on us to care for each other.” Those were the words of Dr. Denis Mukwege, a physician working in one of the most dangerous regions of the world. Now, Dr. Mukwege, founder of Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nadia Murad, an Iraqi survivor of sexual violence, are this year’s co-winners of the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. Known as the rape surgeon, Dr. Mukwege has helped care for more than 50,000 survivors of sexual violence even as he himself is at risk and attacks against women are on the upswing. “I’m sorry to say that three years ago the situation was better but now many armed groups are growing again and the number of women who are raped is increasing again,” Dr. Mukwege told the BBC. The 63-year-old Congolese gynecologist set up the Panzi hospital nearly 20 years ago, shortly after his first experience treating a woman who had been raped and mutilated by armed men. His crusading work has seen him honored on many occasions, receiving the Olof Palme Prize in 2009, the Sakharov Prize five years later, and the Seoul Peace Prize in 2016. He has been nominated for the Nobel award on numerous previous occasions. He has also been recognized by the United Nations, which he addressed in 2012, criticizing the Congolese government and neighboring countries for pursuing “an unjust war that has used violence against women and rape as a strategy of war.” Panzi hospital now cares for more than 3,500 women a year. Sometimes Dr. Mukwege performs as many as 10 operations a day. It has grown to be a major health facility in eastern DR Congo with over 300 doctors, nurses and support staff. U.S. playwright Eve Ensler wrote: “He has not only saved lives, he has also travelled the world to bring attention to these women’s fate, everywhere from the UN to the European parliament to Washington DC. He – together with women survivors – has woken the world to the use of rape as a tactic of war and armed conflict in DRC and elsewhere.” “City of Joy,” a documentary which spotlights the survivors and Dr. Mukwege’s work, is available on Netflix.

Newswire :  Center for Responsible Lending calls for firing of fair lending official who used N-Word

By Charlene Crowell ( TriceEdneyWire.com) – Recent and stunning disclosures of racially-offensive writings by a high-ranking official at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has unleashed an escalating barrage of criticisms, including calls for the official to be fired and more probing questions regarding the agency’s commitment to fair lending. Since a September 28 Washington Post article first reported how Eric Blankenstein, CFPB’s Policy Director for Supervision, Enforcement and Fair Lending, used a pen name in blogs dating as far back as 2004, a spate of fury has been unleashed. Disguising his authorship, Blankenstein claimed that the use of the N-word was not racist, and further alleged that most hate crimes were hoaxes. A subsequent New York Times article alleged that people who perpetuated the Obama birther conspiracy are not racist either, and noted that as late as 2016, Blankenstein’s personal Twitter account posted racially charged comments. Keep in mind that Blankenstein was hand-picked by CFPB head Mick Mulvaney. Patrice A. Ficklin, a CFPB career staff member and Director of its Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity reports to Blankenstein and is quoted in the Post article. Ficklin said, “And while he has been collegial, thoughtful and meticulous, I have had experiences that have raised concerns that are now quite alarming in light of the content of his blog posts — experiences that call into question Eric’s ability and intent to carry out his and his Acting Director’s repeated yet unsubstantiated commitment to a continued strong fair lending program under governing legal precedent.” By October 1, Anthony Reardon, National President of the National Treasury Employees Union, advised CFPB of its dissatisfaction with the Blankenstein blogs. “There should be zero tolerance for comments that Blankenstein has admitted authoring and nothing less than swift and decisive action is called for,” said Reardon. “That someone with a history of racially derogatory and offensive comments has a leadership position at CFPB reflects poorly on CFPB management and your commitment to fulfilling the mandate of the agency to ensure that discriminatory and predatory lending practices are stopped.” Two days later, on October 3, the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) publicly called for Blankenstein to be fired. “Mr. Blankenstein must be removed from his post and this must be combined with a demonstrable commitment by CFPB head Mick Mulvaney to fair lending,” said Yana Miles, CRL’s Senior Legislative Counsel. “Thus far, the Mulvaney approach has been worse than inaction – it has been an appalling retreat from enforcing anti-discrimination laws…. The enduring legacy and present-day experience of financial discrimination is the key driver of the racial wealth gap. Vigorously addressing this is a legal and moral imperative.” A second civil rights organization agreed with CRL’s call for Blankenstein’s termination. “Eric Blankenstein’s racist and sexist remarks show that he is not fit to lead the CFPB Office of Fair Lending,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Our nation’s history of financial discrimination is the key factor in the growing racial wealth gap.” “Entrusting Blankenstein given his history of racially derogatory remarks will undermine progress for fair lending efforts to close the gap,” continued Gupta. “If the CFPB is serious about eradicating discrimination, it must immediately remove Blankenstein, and must ensure that it is led by a person with a demonstrated commitment to civil rights enforcement. His writings make clear that Mr. Blankenstein is not that person.” The same day, another pivotal development occurred. A letter signed by 13 U.S. Senators representing 11 states wrote Mulvaney, demanding answers to a series of questions no later than October 22. The questions span Mulvaney’s personal awareness of the writings, the guidelines and procedures used to fill the position, whether a Member of Congress, or an executive branch employee recommended his hiring, what action he intends to take as Acting Director and more. In part, the Senators’ letter states, “We are deeply concerned that you have placed a person with a history of racist writing at a senior position within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau…Mr. Blankenstein was not hired through the competitive service process like most CFPB employers; he is one of your hand-selected political appointees. Further, you have specifically tasked him with overseeing the CFPB’s fair lending supervision and enforcement work at a time when you have decided to restructure the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity.” The letter was signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington State), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Jack Reed (D-RI) Mark Warner (D-VA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Even before the Blankenstein scandal, Mulvaney’s actions and inactions at the CFPB have brought a series of concerns by civil rights and consumer advocates alike. Particularly noteworthy among their stated concerns under Mulvaney include: CFPB has yet to issue any violations of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act; The Bureau declared an intent to ignore the Disparate Impact standard, a long-standing legal test that holds the effects of discrimination, not the intent are legal violations; Personally praised the repeal of anti-discrimination auto lending guidance; Sided with payday lenders in their challenge of the Bureau’s payday rule promulgated under the previous director; Announced the Bureau’s fair lending office would be stripped of its supervisory and enforcement powers; and Relegated the development of regulation on fair lending for minority and women-owned businesses to a low-level concern. It took decades of vigilant struggle for civil rights, fair lending, and consumer protection to be codified in federal laws. It is time to remind the CFPB and all federal agencies that they have a duty to uphold the nation’s fair lending laws – regardless of personal beliefs. Charlene Crowell is the Center for Responsible Lending’s Communications Deputy Director. She can be reached at Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

Newswire :  Investigation into accusations by Rep. Ellison’s ex-girlfriend finds charges “unsubstantiated”

 By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor I

Rep. Keith Ellison

Ellison An investigation regarding alleged abuse claims by the ex-girlfriend of Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, who is now running to be Minnesota’s Attorney General, have been found to be “unsubstantiated.” Attorney Susan Ellingstad conducted the investigation into the claims. Ellingstad is a partner at the same Minnesota law firm as Charlie Nauen, the lead lawyer for Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor party. “Addressing this allegation has been especially challenging given the important national moment we are in. I believe women who come forward must be heard, and to have their allegations fully investigated,” Rep. Ellison said in a statement. Shortly after the accusations by his ex-girlfriend were made public, Ellison said in a statement that, “Karen and I were in a long-term relationship which ended in 2016, and I still care deeply for her well-being.” A draft report investigating the claims of Karen Monahan, who dated Ellison for three years, was obtained by The Associated Press. Monahan’s claims first surfaced on August 11 via her son, Austin Aslim Monahan, on Facebook shortly before Ellison appeared on the ballot in the Minnesota primary on August 14. Ellison won the primary by a sizable margin. Ellison’s case has become a political football as right-wing media has been quick to amplify the story. In 2007, Ellison became the first member of the Muslim faith ever elected to the U.S. Congress. In 2017 he became Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee after losing a close race for Chair to former Obama DOJ official Tom Perez. Austin Monahan, followed by his mother Karen, asserted that video footage of the alleged incident in which he claimed his mother was dragged her off a bed by her feet by Ellison existed. To date, no video of such an incident has been made public. For various reasons since August 12, Karen Monahan has refused to provide the video to reporters after repeated requests. Ellison stated in August soon after the accusations were first made that no video would be found because no such incident ever took place. During an interview on a local TV show, Karen Monahan talks to host Ahmed Tharwat about the #MeToo movement but no physical abuse at the hands of anyone. The video has an upload date of December 2017 and Monahan currently has the video pinned to the top of her twitter account.

Polls conducted for the Attorney General’s race show that Ellison is holding a slim lead.

Newswire : White Chicago cop convicted of shooting to death, Laquan McDonald, a Black teenager, shooting was captured on police dash cam video

 By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet.Today

 

 Laquan McDonald

Last week, a jury today found Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The shooting was captured on police dashcam video and showed that police and city officials initially engaged in a coverup. Van Dyke sat motionless as the jury fore person repeated “guilty” 16 times for aggravated battery, and once for second-degree murder. The jury found him not guilty of official misconduct and first-degree murder. Before the jury issued its verdict, Leighton Criminal Court Building employees and employees of businesses in downtown Chicago were told to go home early should trouble erupt if the jury found Van Dyke not guilty. CLTV in Chicago televised the entire trial. Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times as he lay on the ground, posing no threat to him. McDonald was carrying a pocket knife, but the other police officers on the scene did not pull out their guns because they did not consider the teenager a threat. The deadly shooting occurred on October 20, 2014. Van Dyke whispered to his lawyer, Dan Herbert, after the jury completed reading the verdict and left the courtroom. Herbert patted his client on the shoulder. Van Dyke then stood up with his hands behind his back as though he had been handcuffed. He hadn’t been. He walked out of the courtroom flanked and followed by Cook County Sheriff’s Deputies. Outside the courthouse, a small crowd chanted “Justice for Laquan.” Some members of the crowd carried placards that read, “Black Panther Party” and “Stop Killings by Racist Cops.” Motorists driving by the criminal court’s building honked their car horns to show their support for the verdict. Otherwise, both the crowd and courtroom relatively quiet. Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., who attended at least one of the court sessions, said “a measure of justice has been rendered.” Others said they hoped the jury would have found Van Dyke, 40, guilty of first-degree murder. Cook County, Illinois, prosecutors charged Van Dyke with murder, aggravated battery and official misconduct. Van Dyke is the first on-duty police officer in 40 years to be charged with murder and convicted. Initially, Van Dyke claimed McDonald threatened him and other police officers with a pocket knife, but the case took a dramatic turn when a freelance journalist and a community activist learned of the video that showed the entire shooting. An unnamed whistle-blower told the two about the video. The police dash-cam video showed that McDonald walking away from Van Dyke when he shot him. The repercussions from the deadly shooting claimed the career of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who unexpectedly announced last month that he would not seek a third four-year term. Mayor Emanuel lost support among Chicago’s black voters when his office withheld the dash-cam video, leading to allegations of a coverup. Before the video’s release, police ruled the shooting was justified. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan wrote a letter, telling the police department it could not withhold the video, On November 19, 2015, Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama ordered the video to be released to the public no later than November 25, 2015. The city did not appeal the judge’s decision. On November 24, 2015, after a press conference, the video was released that showed Van Dyke fatally shooting McDonald as he walked away. The video sparked a series of major demonstrations throughout the city, including along posh North Michigan Avenue, with protestors chanting “16 shots and a coverup.” The video’s release also claimed the career of Cook County States’ Attorney Anita Alvarez who supported withholding the video. Alvarez lost her bid for re-election in March 2016 to Kim Foxx, who became the first black woman elected Cook County State’s Attorney. Alavrez won only 26 percent of the vote. Mayor Emanuel fired Chicago Police Superintendent Gerry McCarthy, who stripped Van Dyke of his police powers, but was prevented from firing him because of the city’s contract with the police union. Van Dyke is no longer a police officer. McCarthy is now a candidate for Chicago mayor. The trial lasted three weeks. The 12-person jury deliberated five hours Thursday and three hours today before reaching a verdict. Van Dyke could be sentenced to life in prison. This is the second recent conviction of a white cop for murdering a black teenager. In August, Roy Oliver, a former officer employed by the Balch Springs Police Department, near Dallas, was sentenced to 15 years in prison after a jury convicted him of murder in the 2017 shooting death of Jordan Edwards, an unarmed passenger in a car.

Newswire : ‘Morally Wrong’: former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon condemns US for not having Universal Health Care

 By Amanda Michelle Gomez, ThinkProgress

Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon

Failing to provide health care to 29.3 million people is “unethical” and “politically wrong, morally wrong,” said former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in an interview with the Guardian. The U.S. is the only wealthy country without universal coverage — and Ban faults “powerful” interest groups within the pharmaceutical, hospitals, and doctors sector. “Here, the political interest groups are so, so powerful,” Ban said. “Even president, Congress, senators and representatives of the House, they cannot do much so they are easily influenced by these special interest groups.” Ban is hardly alone in his disillusionment with the U.S. health care system and is definitely not the first foreign leader to call the United States out. When President Donald Trump attacked Britain’s health system to slam Democrats running on universal health care, U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt blasted him back on Twitter, saying no one in his country “wants to live in a system where 28m people have no coverage.” It’s a well-known fact that the U.S. is an outlier in the developed world, as we spend more on health care but have worse health outcomes than other countries. Indeed, health spending is projected to rise 5.5 percent, on average, annually from 2017 to 2026 according to the federal health department. And while health spending is expected to make up nearly 20 percent of the U.S. economy in 2026, the uninsured population is also expected to rise. “It seems with Trump just undoing Obamacare, people were not happy first of all,” said Ban about the Trump administration’s reforms that, so far, have undermined the Affordable Care Act (ACA). “Ironically, it might have motivated people to think other ways, and influence their senators, and their Congressman to think the other way.” Ban’s observations hold. A recent poll finds a majority of the public favors single-payer, meaning they’d want to replace the current private-public insurance patchwork system with a single government plan. Support for single payer or Medicare for All became especially pronounced after Republicans tried to repeal and replace the ACA, jeopardizing quality insurance particularly for those with pre-existing conditions. Since Medicare for All garnered critical support from likely 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, health care industry groups launched a lobbying group against single-payer plans. The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future is comprised of major players including America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the American Medical Association, and the Federation of American Hospitals. Ban hopes California and New York will ultimately pass single-payer bills currently stalled in each state’s legislature, sparking a national wake-up call. “It will be either California or New York who will introduce this system,” he told the Guardian. “Then I think there will be many more states who will try to follow suit. I think that’s an encouraging phenomenon we see.” Ban made his comments as a member of The Elders, a peace and human rights organization launched by Nelson Mandela to promote ideas like universal health care. His interview with the Guardian isn’t the first time he’s criticized Trump for undermining coverage and urging states like California to embrace single payer. He recently spoke at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, where he also said, “the good news is that at a state level things appear to be changing for the better.”

Newswire : Cosby’s sentence highlights the nation’s aging prison population

 By Frederick H. Lowe

 Bill Cosby’s mug shot

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the NorthStarNewsToday.com (TriceEdneyWire.com) – Bill Cosby’s sentence of 3 to 10 years after being convicted on three counts of sexual assault spotlights the growing number of elderly housed in the nation’s state and federal prisons. Cosby, who is 81 and legally blind, was escorted by police on Monday from the Norristown, Pennsylvania, courthouse to begin serving his prison sentence at SCI Phoenix, a new state prison near Philadelphia, where the staff will assess his physical and medical needs. “The day has come,” Judge Steven O’Neill told Cosby before sentencing him. “Your time has come.” Cosby was convicted of the 2004 drugging and sexual assault of Andrea Constand, a former Temple University women’s basketball coach, Cosby’s sentence spotlights the nation’s aging prison population. In 2013, there were 131, 500 prisoners aged 55 or older. The nation’s total state-prison population is approximately 1.57 million. Over the last 25 years, state corrections’ spending grew by 674% and the costs are mainly spent on incarcerating the elderly. Those costs are much higher than for younger inmates, according to several studies. “It costs $34, 135 per year to house an average prisoner but it costs $68, 270 per year to house a prisoner 50 and older. Elderly prisoners face several challenges including hearing loss, dementia, cardiac disease, high blood pressure, and mobility issues. Prisons also must be retrofit spaces to accommodate the elderly, including installing ramps, shower handles and hiring nurses to care for the elderly. “Prisons were never designed to be geriatric facilities,” reports Human Rights Watch. “Yet US corrections officials now operate old age homes behind bars.”

Newswire: Applebee’s waitress in Kentucky told ‘we don’t tip black people’ by customers

By Yahoo News Service

Jasmine Brewer was left a racist note instead of a tip.

(Photo: Regina E. Boone via Facebook)

A woman has taken to social media to express her outrage after her daughter, a waitress, was left a racist note instead of a tip. Regina E. Boone of Kentucky posted a picture of the message, written on the back of a napkin, after her daughter, Jasmine Brewer, waited on a table of four at Applebee’s. The note said, “We don’t tip black people.” “THIS IS WHY THEY KNEEL!,” Boone wrote on Facebook, referring to the NFL protests against racism and police brutality. “You think racism does not exist, IT DOES! This was left for MY BABY tonight at Applebee’s in Radcliff, KY” she continued. “I don’t accept or tolerate disrespect! I’m furious but I know there’s a God in heaven who sits high and looks low! Racial and social justice! I kneel at the cross and stand for the pledge but racism is real! Take a look in the mirror. Are you strong enough to stand against it? I AM AND ALWAYS WILL BE!” The post has been shared hundreds of times and has received many messages of support. “This makes my heart sick,” one person wrote. “I pray your daughter isn’t poisoned by this hatred,” another said. “I’m so sad that in this ‘progressive’ world these things still happen,” read another comment. Boone told local news outlet WAVE that the outpouring of support had given her hope. “What it says is that there’s good in this world,” she said. “Not everyone sees color as the first thing they see when they meet someone.”

Newswire :  The unfulfilled power of the Black vote

 News Analysis By: Dr. Ron Daniels

 

 

Black voting protest

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – For decades I have been hammering home the point that in a low voter participation environment, the group that effectively educates, mobilizes and organizes its voters to turn-out on election day will wield power disproportionate to its numbers in the overall electorate. Put another way, a relatively small group that registers and turns out a high percentage of its potential voters will exercise greater influence than a much larger group that fails to register and turn-out a high percentage of its potential voters. This is a Daniels political axiom. And, as Frank Watkins, Advisor to Rev. Jesse Jackson puts it, “a organized minority is a political majority.” The United States has the lowest voter participation rate of any of the western democracies. I have suggested somewhat facetiously that the biggest political party in the U.S. is not the Democrats or Republicans but non-voters. A voter turn-out in this country in the range of 50-55% of the eligible electorate is hailed by political commentators as spectacular. This is absolutely abysmal when compared to western democracies where voter turn-out is routinely 80% or better. But, the reality of this low voter participation environment creates a major opportunity for Black voters to exercise power disproportionate to our numbers in the electorate. We may be out-numbered by Whites, but a large percentage of Whites don’t bother to vote. It is not by accident that Republicans are openly implementing polices to suppress or disenfranchise Black voters. They fear the Black vote. The forces of reaction realize that if Blacks maximize voter registration and mobilize/organize large voter turn-outs, it is a threat to their retrograde agenda. Rev. Jesse L. Jackson has relentlessly urged Black folks to register and vote in massive numbers to maximize our political power. At a session during the recent Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference, he shared data that illuminates the unfulfilled power of the Black vote. He noted that there are still 8 million Blacks who are not registered to vote, 4 million in the South. In 2016 some 2.5 million Blacks, who were registered, failed to vote in an election which was determined by less than 100,000 votes total in key battleground states with a large concentration of Black voters! Rev. Jackson’s point is that a potent key to political resistance and transformation is in Black hands, the ballot. The challenge is to organize/mobilize and turn-out the unorganized, Black people who, for whatever reason, do not believe that voting matters as a means of changing their lives. There is increasing evidence that a new generation of Black leaders, particularly women and young people, understand the potential of the Black vote as foundational to coalitions that can beat back the conservative tide of Trumpism by advancing people-centered, progressive policies. Stacey Abrams has an excellent chance to become the first Black Governor of Georgia by educating and inspiring hundreds of thousands of unregistered, “improbable” Black voters to register and turn-out in massive numbers on election day. Ben Jealous has launched a grassroots campaign to employ the same formula in Maryland. The polls in Boston showed Ayanna Pressley trailing long term Congressman Michael Capuano by 10 points among “probable” voters in the Democratic Primary. She won by more than 10 points because she organized/mobilized the unorganized; the improbable voters showed up in massive numbers as the anchor of her progressive coalition. Rev. Jackson points out that in Florida Andrew Gillum, who shocked the pundits by winning the Democratic primary for Governor, can win because there are more than 1.8 million Blacks who are eligible to register in that state coupled with more than 300,000 recently arrived Puerto Ricans who fled the Island in the wake of Hurricane Maria. When the improbable voters from these constituencies are energized to march on the ballot box, there is a very high probability that Gillum will become the first African American Governor of Florida. It is important to note that in the instances cited above, only 15 percent – 20 percent of forward-thinking White voters are needed to achieve victory. The Daniels’ Axiom applies: In a low voter participation environment, where large numbers of Whites will remain unregistered or will not vote, all that is required is for the unorganized, the improbable voters in the Black community and our allies to mobilize/organize and turn-out in massive numbers to achieve victory! So, the mandate is clear; Black leaders must devise strategies to educate, motivate, inspire and energize millions of unregistered, improbable Black voters to burst into the arena to become the cornerstone of progressive coalitions. These coalitions of the improbable have the potential to fundamentally alter the political landscape in the U.S. by ushering in an era of resistance to Trumpism and more importantly advancing progressive policies which can create a new America! Dr. Ron Daniels is President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer Emeritus, York College City University of New York. Dr. Daniels can be reached via email at info@ibw21.org