Monthly Two Cents

New Activism in the Voting Age

Peyton Guthrie

Lee-Davis High School senior, age 18

There is an outdated misconception that young people are uninterested and uninformed in regards to current events. While little good has come out of the furthering of the polarization of our political climate, it has proved not only that young people are listening to the world around them, but that they have something to say about it. This new activism was shown to be larger than hashtags and reposts when a record-breaking amount of young voters participated in the 2018 midterm election. Yet, despite our presence in the polls, and despite the widespread coverage of movements like March For Our Lives, young Americans are often still regarded as a novelty in politics.

If you know where to look, the passion of new American voters is abundant. Social media has curated breaking news and opinion-sharing into one community. It is now easier than ever to stay informed, and the ease of getting a message across to a large audience has created new digital grassroots movements; the power of which is evident in the size and political clout of movements like #MeToo. Political commentary and discourse now belong in the same spaces as our family photos, allowing for casual activism that young people have made a part of their daily lives. Mistaking the evolution of political involvement for a lack of such is creating a generational gap, reiterating the idea that young people are not politically engaged. If we are to meet young people where they are in this new space of activism, there would be greater unity within the party and greater representation of new perspectives.

The overlooking of digital politics sometimes leads to thought bubbles in which readers and activists are only exposed to one-sided issues, or even “fake news” stories, because mainstream politics is not maintaining its presence or news coverage on these new activist platforms. It has been the exposure to current events and information that has awakened such a drive for change in young voters; the greater care that is taken with appealing to digital audiences creates a greater number of informed voters. The dangers of misinformation on digital platforms is apparent in not just “fake news” stories and yellow journalism, but in the messages conveyed on platforms like Twitter by politicians. Political discourse has clearly moved towards the internet, making it imperative that information does the same to not only create voters but to keep them informed.

In listening to these young voices, there too is a place for older voters and activists to learn from the young. The social media platforms of Instagram and Twitter used by new activists are home to audiences of millions; this provides for a community to share your own thoughts and beliefs, but also to gain a new perspective. Digital activism allows for global thinking in our everyday lives, creating entire networks of people united around a cause. Stories from other users and from news outlets are constantly reinforcing the need for change, bringing forth a new passion in young people, especially as they reach the voting age.

The Hanover Democratic Committee is taking the steps to evolve with American voters. As the head of the new Hanover Young Democrats, I have made a place for the Hanover Democratic Committee in digital activism, giving a voice to the young and future voters of Hanover County. You can join us on Instagram @hanoveryoungdems to keep up with our monthly meetings.

Hanover Black Caucus: Don’t Resign, Gov. Northam.

Sandra Howard

The Black Caucus of the Hanover Democratic Committee met and discussed our state and the serious problems hanging in the balance in Virginia.

First, let us respect each person’s right to have an opinion. Therefore our unanimous decision is that we will not protest against Gov. Ralph Northam.

How Much The Cost Of A Tower?

by Toni Radler

So Trump wants to put a Trump Tower in Russia. But at what cost? The cost of our democracy. 

Trump has done everything to destroy American's leadership in the world...he's done everything to weaken our strength at home...everything to make Vladimir Putin and Russia stronger at our expense. 

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.