What Alec Baldwin got right — and wrong — about the power of art at the Emmys.

Alec Baldwin is getting a lot of press following the jabs he took at President Donald Trump in his acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series at this year's Emmys.

GIF via CBS/YouTube.

During Trump's time hosting "The Apprentice," he was nominated for two Emmys but never won. Trump has often detailed his grievances with the award show, saying, "The Emmys have no credibility"; arguing that he didn't win because of politics; and, in 2012, even blaming the show's "bad ratings" on the fact that he wasn't nominated that year. But Trump's inability to lose graciously is not what we need to talk about right now.


In the closing moments of Baldwin's speech, he kinda missed the mark on something vitally important.

Baldwin wrapped his speech with a message of hope about the power of art, but in doing so, downplayed something else (emphasis added):

"I always remember what someone told me — that is when you die you don’t remember a bill that Congress passed or a decision the Supreme Court made or an address made by the president. You remember a song. You remember a line from a movie. You remember a play. You remember a book. A painting. A poem. What we do is important. And for all of you out there in motion pictures and television, don’t stop doing what you are doing. The audience is counting on you."

Baldwin accepts the award for his portrayal of Trump. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

The power of art is a nice sentiment, especially at an award show celebrating just that, but downplaying the significance of legislation and court decisions is a luxury many cannot afford.

While Baldwin may be right — a poem or TV show may stick in our brains more than a piece of legislation — it's pieces of legislation that truly have an effect on our lives and can alter everything from our quality of living to how long we live. A Supreme Court decision may one day determine once and for all whether or not it's legal to deny me housing, employment, health care, or access to public accommodations protections simply because I'm transgender. Legislation being proposed in Congress could gut access to health care for low-income individuals who rely on Medicaid or any number of other social programs.

Recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protections may be pulled away from the only home they've known if legislation doesn't soon grant them a more permanent status in America. Some members of Congress are moving to turn the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into a shell of what it once was, making the world a lot less accessible to millions of people. As Robyn Powell of Rewire wrote of the proposed ADA changes, "Never in my life as a disabled woman have I been so terrified of losing my civil rights as I am now."

Even the songs, movies, plays, books, paintings, and poems Baldwin championed in his speech are at risk of losing funding, depending on what moves the government makes when it comes to budgeting.

Government legislation matters, and good legislation affects our lives in ways that aren't always apparent.

For instance, during a July debate between conservative commentator Tomi Lahren and comedian Chelsea Handler, Lahren unwittingly admitted that she benefits from the Affordable Care Act.

Asked whether or not she had health insurance, Lahren replied, "Luckily, I am 24, so I am still on my parents'." That's thanks to a provision in the ACA that allows people to stay on their parents' plans until they're 26. Millions of people benefit from that change, and it's such a commonsense, helpful bit of legislation that it's easy to forget things haven't always been this way. It's not something we should take for granted.

Baldwin speaks at January's "We Stand United" rally outside Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York. Photo by Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images.

It's not as though Baldwin is aloof here, and he would almost certainly agree that things like court rulings and pieces of legislation can affect us in both positive and negative ways — even some that we might not be immediately aware of. Baldwin, famously, is open about his personal politics. He's been an outspoken proponent of addressing climate change and even protested Trump's inauguration. There is no doubt that he understands the power of government — for good and for bad. It's safe to say that his speech was not meant to downplay those effects.

The truth is, however, that there are people who wonder why everything has to be about politics lately. The answer is simple: Millions of lives hang in the balance. Art is important, but we can't forget the lives that can be drastically affected by various court decisions and legislation.

Watch Baldwin's acceptance speech below.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

via Pixabay

Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

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