So the President's Volunteer Service Award is a thing—it's a thing that's been around since 2003, it's a thing that subtly reinforces the conservative nostrum that private charity can replace government programs*, and it's a thing I'd never heard of before this morning. But I'm guessing the Trump administration has revised the text on the President's Volunteer Service Award's website because I can't imagine anyone in the Obama administration would've signed off on this copy:
Presidential recognition sets you apart from your peers. It is a tremendous honor. Even though you may not seek recognition, your example can deliver a powerful message that encourages others to take action... Along with the ultimate honor of presidential recognition, recipients will receive a personalized certificate, an official pin, medallion or coin and a congratulatory letter from the president of the United States.
Savage Love reader and ITMFA backer Matthew M. writes...
Thought I'd share something: my workplace participates in the President's Volunteer Service Award, which recognizes employees for their volunteer work over the course of a year. So I've been logging all of my time working for Pride groups, Indivisible groups, and anything else that the current regime would hate, determined to hit the 100-hour milestone, and it paid off: Yesterday I received a congratulatory pin and a lovely letter bearing Darth Cheeto's signature, thanking me for my hard work in opposing everything he does and is. I'm debating what to do with the letter, but the pin has found its rightful place on my lapel, beside an appropriate symbol of my patriotism.
Congrats, Matthew, on this tremendous honor! More and more people are recognizing it as the ultimate of honors!
And, hey, if anyone else out there has won or is about to win a Presidential Volunteer Service Award and would like to display beside an ITMFA lapel pin—or a button or to wear it an ITMFA t-shirt or hat—you can order your ITMFA gear at www.ImpeachTheMotherfuckerAlready.com.
* The PVSA was established in 2003, during George W. Bush's first term, in partnership with the Points of Light Foundation, an organization founded in 1989, during George H. W. Bush's first (and only) term. It's named for a line from George H. W. Bush's first (and only) inaugural address:
"Points of Light is an international nonprofit, nonpartisan organization headquartered in the United States dedicated to engaging more people and resources in solving serious social problems through voluntary service," says Wiki.
The overarching idea here—what George H. W. Bush was subtly pushing
in '89 and what George W. Bush was openly pushing throughout his administration—is that volunteers and volunteer organizations can take the place of government programs. Who needs the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka Food Stamps, when there are churches out there running food banks? Who needs public housing or housing vouchers when there are, um, churches out there running homeless shelters? Who needs unemployment insurance or Social Security when there are—you guessed it—churches out there running food banks and homeless shelters? (So, hey, maybe instead of funding the social safety net, we can just funnel federal dollars to churches instead?)
The idea that private charity can replace the social safety net has been pushed by conservatives from Ronald Reagan to both Bushes to Paul Ryan to Tony Perkins to Donald Trump and it will be pushed by post-Ryan/post-Trump rightwing assholes. But it won't work—it's such a bad idea that even Forbes, that ol' capitalist tool, has called bullshit on it.
But Republicans don't care whether it works. They just want the government to do less so that they can heap more tax cuts on the wealthy. That's the point of every zombie Republican policy idea.
UPDATE: Of course the Trump administration has been messing around with the PVSA—and like everything else, they had to make it all about him:
Effective October 1st, certificate packages will feature letters from President Donald J. Trump, and Lifetime Awards will bear his signature. The design of the awards remains consistent, and we're producing new awards to keep up with demand.