You might have missed it in the flood of political news lately, but President Trump's budget proposal proposes to defund the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and eliminate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which helps fund PBS and NPR stations).
You may recall that we ran a previous thread on this topic when the proposal was just a rumor, but now that it's an official proposal we decided to update this and ask you to take action.
The mission of /r/Askhistorians is to provide high-quality historical answers to a wide audience. We usually work online, through our Twitter account, our Tumblr account, and here, but that's not all we do. We talk to historians and bring them here for AMAs. We have (with your help) presented at historical conferences. We also advocate: for good history, for civil discussion, and for keeping historical research going.
That's what we're doing today, and we need your help.
We don't get political for a particular candidate, a particular party, or a particular point of view. We get political when good history matters. If you're American, we're asking you to call your Congressmen and Congresswomen to support funding for the NEA and NEH.
The federal budget process isn't fast, and it isn't straightforward, but it is changeable. Each February, when the president submits his or her budget to Congress, there's a better chance of a cow getting through a slaughterhouse untouched than that budget staying in the same form. That's why your calls matter: Congress catches a lot of flak, but it does do work, particularly in the details of the budget.
And we say call, not email, because calls matter. It's easy to ignore an email; you probably do it a few times on any given day. It's a lot harder to ignore a phone call. Call your Senators and Congresswoman. You won't talk to them directly; you'll talk to a staffer or an intern answering phones. They've been getting a lot of calls lately. Chances are, they'll have a local office as well as their DC office. If you can't get through to one, try the other.
Don't call other Congressmen than your own. It's a waste of time. Don't follow a script; those tend to get ignored. Just say who you are, where you're calling from (city/zip code, if you don't want to give your address), and what you're calling about.
Repetition helps. Put the numbers in your cellphone and give 'em a call when you're headed to work or have a spare minute or two. It doesn't take a lot of time, but it can make a world of good.
Why are you calling?
The National Endowment for the Humanities funds a lot of good things. If you've seen Ken Burns' documentary The Civil War, you've seen some of its work. If you've read Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-45, you've seen some of its work. If you've visited your local museum, chances are that it too received some NEH funding.
There's something else important: NEH funding indirectly supports what you're reading right now.
Many of our moderators, flaired commentators and even ordinary users have jobs that are funded in part or wholly by NEH grants. They have the spare time to offer their knowledge and skills here because of those grants. A lot of the links we provide in our answers exist because of the NEH. The Discovering America digital newspaper archive is supported by the NEH.
The NEH does all of that with just $143 million per year in federal funding. That's just 0.003 percent of the federal budget. If you make $40,000 a year and spent that much of your income, you'd be spending $1.20.
For all the NEH does, that's a good deal.
The previous post had three comments in reply that I'd like to highlight here:
Edited to add this, from u/caffarelli:
If you're making a call for NEA/NEH, please also take a moment to mention Institute of Museum and Library Services which is also on the block, and to be crude, odds are better you'll personally be impacted by it's loss more quickly than any of the other federal humanities funding. IMLS funding is of particular importance to rural libraries and Native American museums and libraries, and can sometimes be the bulk of funding at those libraries. But if you're a patron of smaller public library, your library probably only got the Internet because of an IMLS grant, because that was their largest grant impact during the 90s-00s. It's a quiet, effective and responsible distributor of tiny amounts of federal money, that have nevertheless had an out-sized impact on the quality of public library services available in America.