Monthly Two Cents

It is big, really big.

Let’s be #38!

By

June Bohrer

When the Virginia General Assembly convenes in January, we will celebrate the 400th anniversary of legislative deliberations in Virginia.  Pretty impressive. However, we need not be too self-congratulatory as there is much work to be done. Education, health care, criminal justice reform, energy, and the environment all are major issues.

In this important anniversary year, Virginia has another opportunity to make history.  Let’s be #38. Let’s be the final state necessary to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The amendment simply states “Equality of rights shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on the account of sex”.  It will provide a permanent, uniform, national standard for eliminating sex discrimination at all levels of government. Note it does not refer to the female gender in any way. This is about equality, not special treatment for women.  

Why is it necessary?  Antonin Scalia said it best.  “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.  Nobody ever thought that’s what it meant.” Ruth Bader Ginsberg spent most of her career trying to get the Supreme Court to see gender in the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment but was never successful on that point.

The votes for passage are there in both the Senate and the House; the sticky wicket is the leadership in each chamber. Speaker of the House Kirk Cox, (delkcox@house.virginia.gov) is key.  He can put HJ 579 directly on the floor without assigning it to Committee. Please urge him to do this. In January of 2018, the legislation failed to be reported out of the House Privileges and Elections Committee on which Buddy Fowler (delbfowler@house.virginia.gov) sits and the Senate Rules Committee of which Ryan McDougle (district04@senate.virginia.gov) is the chair. Please let them know that we are watching and that we care about this vote.  

You can also help by going to varatifyera.com and signing the petition urging ratification. The organization it working toward 20,000 signatures statewide and 200 from each house district by January 9, 2019.  The website is loaded with great information and political strategies. Follow varatifyera.com on Facebook for events and track HJ 579 on lis.virginia.gov.

The Verdict is Guilty

by Steve Johnson

Remember the immigrant children incarcerated in cages at the border? Neither do I. That was so … June ago. Events move at the speed of light these days; under the current administration, some new outrage greets us almost every morning, distracting us from whatever incensed us the day before. Snub a centennial veterans’ remembrance in France? Shift the focus to allegedly incompetent firefighting in California. A caravan approaching the southern border? Break out the tear gas on women and children to show them we don’t stand for their nonsense. FBI raid Michael Cohen’s office? Shift the focus to NFL players kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem.

And on it goes, day after day, until the brains of even the most civic-minded of us are fried like morning bacon. There’s a strong suspicion that this is either a designed or instinctive Trumpian strategy — throw it all against the wall until you can’t stand to look or smell the wall anymore. Which makes it all the more important that we turn back to the kids on the border. Fifty or 100 years from now, historians will look back on the United States and be considerably less impressed by debates over corporate tax rates or sentencing guidelines than they will by the way officials reacted to immigrant children coming from Mexico and points south, including cutting loose tear gas on them, a chemical banned on the battlefield.

To refresh your recollection, more than 2,500 children were separated at the border under the administration’s zero-tolerance policy, announced in April. Despite a court order, more than 500 children were still apart from their parents as of Labor Day, with about 300 of those cases involving children whose parents were deported without them. Not long before Election Day, 245 children were still without their parents, according to the ACLU, which initiated the court action against the administration. But, as one humanitarian volunteer asked the New York Times in October: “Where are all the cameras now? The kids are still in there.” And immigration lawyers continue to uncover new separation cases that administration representatives justify using specious claims against the parents — Catholic Charities found at least 16 new, little-publicized cases.

I would submit that the family separation policy — and especially the way that it has receded from public consciousness — will leave a trail of horror for future generations. Some political analysts have compared it with the relocation and forced internment of some 110,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II. That’s an apt analogy, though families were not separated or broken through deportation in the way that the Trump policy did. Recall President Reagan signed a law in 1988 that apologized for the internment and authorized $20,000 in reparations to each survivor of the camps. I don’t think it’s beyond the realm of possibility that an embarrassed Congress and president in the distant future might feel it necessary to take the same action for families split apart at the border.

In the meantime, it would behoove all of us to continue to pay attention to the plight of immigrant children, whether it’s forgoing a slice of pizza to send a few bucks to the ACLU or immigrant rights’ groups; calling or writing member of Congress; or just familiarizing ourselves with the latest count of separated children. "A society will be judged by how it treats its weakest members," said Harry Truman. And as it stands right now, that verdict is guilty.

“A Vote is A Chess Move, Not a Valentine” 

Ashley Hall

This is a quote from the lead singer of the band Cake, and it hasn’t left my mind since I heard it that night. I know for me and I think for most of us, a vote has become a valentine once or twice (or maybe all the time). And why is it, that nothing but supreme infatuation will do when it comes to voting for a political leader? And has that always been the case? 

I don’t think so. There have always been big political movements and fans for certain presidents to be sure. Kennedy and Reagan to name a few, but what about everyone else? I have to imagine people voted for others, not because of frenzied admiration, but because they found them to be the most capable, even by an inch, out of the people that were running. 

Capability, experience, and incremental policy suggestions are no longer sexy. People want to be offered the world even if they know it can’t possibly be true or happen as quickly as they’re being led to believe. People want to be worked up into a froth with every speech, moved to tears with every story. 

They want to be entertained. But your life is not Netflix. Your healthcare, your education, your defense is not entertainment. So why do you need that out of a quality public servant?    

Sometimes the chess moves are easy, sometimes they’re hard. I suspect for most, this November’s elections will be an easy move. But maybe not. The presidential election coming upon us, sooner than we think, might be a harder move to make. But from this November on and for every election here on out,  we will have ample opportunity to play the game. And I hope we all make the thoughtful move. 

Just Vote!

By Sandra Howard 

Chair, Black Caucus of the Hanover Democratic Committee 

Young people losing their lives before they begin, living at the hands of our armed officials.  Our  commander in chief is more concerned about spending our taxpayers dollars on investigating to find a culprit talking about him while migrant  children have lost their parents, probably never to see them again, and we still have not seen the taxes of the highest official in our nation, the someone that has been entrusted to guide and protect our nation, our lives and the lives of our future generations.  This America stands on the edge of deep cliffs that could engulf us at any moment because we have a Congress and Senate, majority leaders, who just do not care and have become a silent "legislature".   This is just an ant's cuff of our problems in our America today.  

People say their vote doesn't count and we stay home on election day or grumble about our leadership. Races are won by a handful of people because of lack of participation.  A race in Virginia last year was won by one (1) vote.  Where do you need to be on "election day"?   I know where I will be and I pray you will be:  At your precinct casting your ballot, protecting your God-given rights and your only hope for a better tomorrow for all of us. That oval mark makes a difference to your health care, your future voting rights, the air we breathe like human beings and our commitment to the care and protection of our children.  Just turn on your tv or radio and look at what we have in our White House, our Congress and our Senate. JUST VOTE, your vote does count. Don't just listen to me, do your homework, check out my facts. Then, vote!

Corey Stewart is the Face of the Republican Party in Virginia

by Stan Scott

Corey Stewart is now the face of the Republican Party in Virginia -- its primary voters chose this defender of treasonous Americans to carry their flag against Tim Kaine. This demonstrates their commitment to using the power of the state to protect discrimination against minorities.  Their support for Corey Stewart says all you need to know about those who control the Republican Party in the Commonwealth.

Corey Stewart, like Donald Trump, is a racist. He defends the honor of men who betrayed their oaths to the Constitution and fought instead for the right of local plantation elites to use the power of the State to protect slavery - the literal power to own human beings. This was no honorable cause, and men like Robert E. Lee deserve no honorable memoriam. 

Virginia conservatives of all types will work and vote for Stewart in the end anyway.  Some simply share his racist views. They want him to use the office to protect them from contact and competition with people of color.

Those who don't will still happily support a neo-confederate racist for election to the US Senate because they know he agrees with them on policy.  Stewart would vote to cut taxes on the wealthy and regulation of corporate power.  He would vote to confirm judges who would uphold voter suppression laws, overturn Roe v Wade, protect corporations from regulation, and protect the right to discriminate on religious grounds.

The Virginia GOP has its nominee for US Senate.  He’s a white supremacist and a racist.  They might as well own it.