Category: Issues (Page 1 of 129)

Why We Oppose Constitutional Amendment #1

Vote NO on 1

This fall, Virginians will vote on a constitutional amendment that could enshrine political gerrymandering in our state constitution. If you prefer a Virginia where voters choose their politicians with a truly independent and non-partisan redistricting commission, we must vote NO on Amendment 1.

The rationale for Democratic Voters

At first glance, the amendment looks good: it establishes a bipartisan commission to draw redistricting lines. But there is a “Poison Pill” in the full text of the amendment, which is not included in the explanation on the ballot. This “Poison Pill” establishes a redistricting process that makes political gerrymandering legal in Virginia and is much worse than what we have today.

What’s a “Poison Pill”? It’s a little provision in a big law that undermines the overall intent of the law. In this case, the poison pill provides that a mere 2 members of the 16-member commission can veto the State plan, then the Commission is scrapped and the VA Supreme Court takes over to draw the lines. What’s wrong with this?

• The VA Supreme Court is highly partisan. Currently, it has 6 Republicans and 1 Democrat. The Court is appointed by the majority party of the Legislature in Virginia. Thus, the Amendment continues to have the political majority draw the lines. This seems like what we have now, but it is much worse because …

• The Amendment overrules the new Anti-Political-Gerrymandering law passed this year and does nothing to ban political gerrymandering. The Amendment provides no rules or objectives governing the VA Supreme Court’s redistricting. No objective to keep geographical communities together. No objective to represent the political makeup of the voters. Under the Amendment, it will be perfectly legal for the VA Supreme Court to draw redistricting lines with the sole purpose of making both houses of the legislature a Republican majority — no matter how crazy the maps end up looking.

• There is no requirement of fairness, transparency, or justification of the lines drawn. We will never know the rationale behind the lines the Court does not have to justify its decision. The sister of a sitting Republican Senator is on the Court, and she will be empowered to draw the lines of her brother’s district in favor of her brother. This will be completely legal.

• The VA Supreme Court’s map will be unchallengeable because there is no higher court to appeal to. The Amendment overrules the Constitutional system of checks and balances as relates to redistricting.

• And the worst part of all is that this Amendment will likely result in a perpetually Republican legislature and Supreme Court regardless of the changing political demographics of the State. Under the Amendment, the Republican Court can legally draw the lines to favor its own party thereby guaranteeing a Republican majority in the Legislature. The Republic majority in the Legislature, in turn, will continue to appoint Republican justices guaranteeing a Republican majority in the Supreme Court. This would be completely legal under the Amendment.

In essence, the Amendment establishes a system whereby the VA Supreme Court, as it exists in 2021 (6 Republicans and 1 Democrat) will choose the majority party of the Legislature in 2021 and that majority and the Supreme Court’s majority will be locked-in forever.

The amendment is opposed by the Democratic Party of Virginia, the Democratic Black Caucus of Virginia, founding board member, and former president of OneVirginia2021 Linda Perriello, among others.

Vote “NO” to the Constitutional Amendment #1

The rationale for ALL voters – Republican and Democrat

• The Amendment does nothing to ban political gerrymandering. Instead, it overrules the law that was passed this year to ban gerrymandering in redistricting in 2021;

• The Commission is not independent or non-partisan. Its membership is limited to those chosen by just four politicians: the party leaders in each house;

• The Legislature will set the rules for redistricting that the Commission has to follow, so the Legislature remains in control of the process;

• The “citizen” members are chosen by the two political parties, so they will be loyal party members;

• The Legislators on the Commission can veto the work of the citizen members. The Commission is a sham attempting to hide that fact that the power will stay in the Legislature;

• The timeline in the Amendment is untenable, guaranteeing the failure of the Commission and guaranteeing that the Supreme Court, which is chosen by the Legislature, will draw the district lines;

• The Amendment locks in the 2-party system because there is no representation of other political parties or independents;

• This Amendment has too many flaws to enshrine it in our Constitution. A Constitutional Amendment is too important to get wrong.

Answers to some of the questions that may be asked:

What will happen if the Amendment fails?

Last year, the Legislature passed a law that outlaws political and racial gerrymandering for 2021 redistricting. If the Amendment fails, the Legislature would be obligated to draw fair districting lines and their plan would be challengeable in court if it is politically or racially unfair.

I hear that OneVirginia2021 says that Democrats have changed their minds because they want their chance to gerrymander the State in favor of Democrats. The Democrats have always supported an independent commission for redistricting and OneVirginia2021 used to support this same goal. It’s OneVirginia2021 that has changed its mind.

If this is true, how did the Democrats let this Amendment get on the ballot? The Republicans inserted the “Poison Pill” at the last moment, and Legislators had only 20 minutes to review everything before the vote. Many Democrats felt it was a “good start” but now admit they made a bad mistake.

 

Learn More about Fair Districts and Why to Vote NO on Amendment #1
8:00 PMTuesday, September 29, 2020

The 2020 Democratic Party Platform

The proposed platform was considered by the 2020 Platform Committee at its meeting on July 27, 2020, and is recommended for approval by the delegates.

PREAMBLE (link to full document below)

America is an idea—one that has endured and evolved through war and depression prevailed over fascism and communism, and radiated hope to far-distant corners of the earth. Americans believe that diversity is our greatest strength. That protest is among the highest forms of patriotism. That our fates and fortunes are bound to rise and fall together. That even when we fall short of our highest ideals, we never stop trying to build a more perfect union.

When the American people go to the polls this fall, we will be choosing more than a candidate. Character is on the ballot in this election. The character of our President, yes, but more than that: the character of our democracy, our society, and our leadership in the world.

The challenges before us—the worst public health crisis in a century, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the worst period of global upheaval in a generation, the urgent global crisis posed by climate change, the intolerable racial injustice that still stains the fabric of our nation—will test America’s character like never before.

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare deep-seated problems in our society—the fragility of our economy and social safety net, the risks posed by growing inequality, the impacts of racial and economic disparities on health and well-being, and the profound consequences of deepening polarization and political paralysis.

The bill has come due on the Trump Administration’s hollowing out of our public institutions: the sidelining of experts, the rejection of science, the underinvestment in research, and the gross corruption and abuses of power. President Trump’s dereliction of duty has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans, the loss of tens of millions of American jobs, and lasting harm to our children’s education and future.

And it has revealed, at tragic economic and human cost, the emptiness of the Republican Party’s “America First” foreign policy. Under President Trump, America stands alone. Friends and foes alike neither admire nor fear President Trump’s leadership—they dismiss and ridicule it. The Republican Party under President Trump has made America small—when we are a people called to do the greatest things.

Democrats will fight to repair the soul of this nation. To unite and to heal our country. To turn this crisis into a crucible, from which we will forge a stronger, brighter, and more equitable future.

We must right the wrongs in our democracy, redress the systemic injustices that have long plagued our society, throw open the doors of opportunity for all Americans, and reinvent our institutions at home and our leadership abroad. We do not simply aspire to return our country to where we were four years ago. We know we must be bolder and more ambitious.

We must once again stop another Republican recession from becoming a second Great Depression. President Trump and the Republican Party have rigged the economy in favor of the wealthiest few and the biggest corporations and left working families and small businesses out in the cold. Democrats will forge a new social and economic contract with the American people—a contract that creates millions of new jobs and promotes shared prosperity, close racial gaps in income and wealth, guarantee the right to join or form a union, raises wages and ensures equal pay for women and paid family leave for all and safeguards a secure and dignified retirement.

We must guarantee health care not as a privilege for some, but as a right for every single American. For a century, Democrats have fought to secure universal health care. In the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump and the Republican Party are trying to tear health care away from millions of people who depend on it for survival. Democrats will not allow that to happen. We will not rest until every American can access quality health care and affordable prescription drugs.

We must steel and strengthen our democracy, not distort and debase it. Democrats believe there is nothing to fear from the voices and votes of the American people. We will restore the full power of the Voting Rights Act and stamp out voter suppression in all its forms. We will curb the corrupting influence of money in politics and protect the integrity of our elections from all enemies, foreign and domestic. We will never accept political gridlock as our fate. We will never tire in our fight to deliver results and create an opportunity for all Americans. And we will end the war on a government that has politicized our institutions, denigrated public service, and left the American people on their own instead of working to make them whole.

We must heal our nation’s deepest wounds, not fan the flames of hate. Democrats will root out structural and systemic racism in our economy and our society, and reform our criminal justice system from top to bottom because we believe Black lives matter. We will ensure that our nation continues to prize diversity and compassion, and welcomes those who yearn to participate in our great democratic experiment by creating a humane, 21st-century immigration system that benefits all Americans.

We will give hate no safe harbor. We will never amplify or legitimize the voices of racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim bigotry, or white supremacy. Democrats will protect and promote the equal rights of all our citizens—women, LGBTQ+ people, religious minorities, people with disabilities, Native Americans, and all who have been discriminated against in too many ways and for too many generations. We commit ourselves to the vision articulated by Frederick Douglass of “a Government founded upon justice, and recognizing the equal rights of all.”

We must lead the world in taking on the climate crisis, not deny the science and accelerate the damage. From Houston, Texas, to Mexico Beach, Florida; from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Davenport, Iowa, the last four years have seen record-breaking storms, devastating wildfires, and historic floods. Democrats will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and go further, building a thriving, equitable, and globally competitive clean energy economy that puts workers and communities first, and leaves no one behind.

We must provide a world-class education in every ZIP code, to every child, because education is a critical public good. Democrats believe in universal early childhood education, and affordable, high-quality child care. We will shut down the school-to-prison pipeline, and build a school-to-opportunity pipeline in its place. We will make college affordable again, and give Americans relief from crushing student debt.

We commit to a foreign policy that accelerates our domestic renewal, not undermines it. We will focus on what matters most to Americans—more and better jobs, greater security, a cleaner environment, and a more inclusive and resilient society. Democrats will lead with diplomacy as our tool of first resort and mobilize our allies and partners to meet the tests none of us can meet on our own. We will stand up to the forces of authoritarianism, not aid and abet their rise, and we will speak and act with clarity and purpose on behalf of human rights wherever they are under threat. And we will honor our sacred covenant with our women and men in uniform, our veterans, and our military families who have carried the burdens of wars that must—at long last—come to an end.

Above all, Democrats still believe in the American idea—its principles, its purpose, and its promise. We know that four more years of the crass, craven, corrupt leadership we have seen from Donald Trump and the Republican Party will damage our character and our country beyond repair. We pray, as Langston Hughes did, “O, let America be America again—the land that never has been yet—and yet must be—the land where man is free.” Democrats call on all Americans to come together and seize this last, best chance to restore the soul of our nation—and vote this November to ensure our greatest days are still to come.

 

Download 2020-07-31-Democratic-Party-Platform-For-Distribution.pdf

When Labor Fought for Civil Rights

When Labor Fought for Civil Rights

The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order—memorialized in the classic anthology of that title edited by Gary Gerstle and Steve Fraser in 1989—might be history, but it never gets old. Eighty-plus years after FDR was inaugurated, the New Deal still excites the liberal left imagination even as it, perhaps, stunts it, too. How we got from Roosevelt to Reagan continues to generate conflicting arguments from those who think the New Deal was the “great exception” to American individualism and federalism unlikely to be repeated (Jefferson Cowie); a reluctant capitulation to the white supremacist South which was the best it could do (Ira Katznelson); or, an honorable surrender following the desperate rearguard fight by workers and farmers against the consolidation of corporate capitalism in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries (Steve Fraser).

As for white unionized workers, despite all of the stories about how pissed off they are at neoliberal Democrats and how they were attracted to Donald Trump’s trade message, the fact remains that white men in unions have still voted for Democrats at a rate of about 20 percent higher than their non-union counterparts. (This pattern likely did not hold this year. Exit polls from the 2016 election indicate that Clinton carried the union vote by 51–43, the lowest margin for a Democrat since 1984.)

Two recent books about the New Deal order, one by political scientist Eric Schickler and the other by legal historian Reuel Schiller, complement each other in their attention to the relationship between unions and the movement for African-American civil rights. But while Schickler writes a story of liberal ascension, driven largely by the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), stopping in 1965 after the monumental legislation of the civil rights era, Schiller chronicles a liberal declension, ending with deindustrialization in the 1970s and tension between labor and civil rights activists. Both books end at roughly the same historical moment. Schickler sees in it labor liberalism’s triumph—the CIO and then the civil rights movement pushing to bring racial justice into the mainstream of the Democratic Party. Schiller, on the other hand, sees the labor movement and those fighting racial injustice, despite their many efforts to work together, as chained to separate legal protocols, doomed to “[talk] past each other.” To paraphrase Bob Dylan, for Schickler, labor liberalism is busy being born at the same time, according to Schiller, it is busy dying.

https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/eric-schickler-racial-realignment-reuel-schiller-forging-rivals-review

Republicans: Men shouldn’t have to pay for prenatal care, but women should have to pay for men’s Viagra prescriptions

In the 27 hours the House Energy and Commerce Committee spent debating Republicans’ Obamacare revision plan, a handful of moments stand out.

This is one of them.

So, as a middle-aged childless man you resent having to pay for maternity care or kids’ dental care. Shouldn’t turnabout…

Posted by Democrats of the 5th Congressional District of Virginia on Friday, March 10, 2017

 
Health insurance, like all insurance, works by pooling risks. The healthy subsidize the sick, who could be somebody else this year and you next year. Those risks include any kind of health care a person might need from birth to death — prenatal care through hospice. No individual is likely to need all of it, but we will all need some of it eventually.

ACTION ALERT: 5th District Town Hall

On Sunday, Feb. 26, more than 1,200 people attended the People’s Town Hall at the MLK Performing Arts Center.

Our moderators, Saad and Kibiriti, did an incredible job. Dozens of you shared powerful stories and important questions, and we raised more than $3,000 for Amnesty International. We’re very disappointed that Congressman Garrett chose not to attend, but we recorded the whole event for his (and your) viewing pleasure.

Since our event, Rep. Garrett announced that he will be holding a “town hall” in Charlottesville for 135 people on March 31. That is absurdly inadequate, especially in light of the huge response we saw with the People’s Town Hall. We’re asking Rep. Garrett to plan a real town hall at a venue that can accommodate the thousands of concerned citizens who want to meet with him. If he moves forward with his tiny event, we’ll hold a rally to show him what democracy looks like.

We’re going to deliver that message to Tom Garrett directly this Monday, March 6, at 1 p.m.!

Monday is a District Work Day, and Garrett is scheduled to be at his Charlottesville office to meet with constituents. So this week, we’ll be having Monday with Tom, and we know he’ll be there to hear us! Gather outside of the Daily Progress (685 Rio Road West in Charlottesville) at 1 p.m., and we’ll walk over to Garrett’s office (686 Berkmar Circle) together. Bring a poster with your question or concern for the congressman!

[intense_alert margin_bottom=”20″] Call Congressman Tom Garrett (202-225-4711) and ask him to hold a real town hall meeting, not a tiny lecture. We expect our representatives to be responsive to our concerns. Tom Garrett can’t represent us if he doesn’t meet us.  Click here for a script[/intense_alert]

If you are able, please try to park in the surrounding area to make room in the Berkmar lot for those with appointments or others who work in the area. We want to respect the other businesses and not block entrances.

Thank you again for your tremendous support. The People’s Town Hall was a monumental success, but it’s not the end of the road. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re standing indivisible, and we’ve got this!

In solidarity,

Patrick for Indivisible Charlottesville

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