Monthly Two Cents

Climate Change is Real

by Carleigh Heckel

Stonewall Jackson Middle School, 8th grade

2030 will arrive in ten years and eight months. That’s how long we have to cut worldwide carbon emissions by over half to keep global warming at 1.5°C.  To do so will require a massive restructuring of industry and the economy. It certainly won’t be easy, but it is possible. Failing to do so and reach net zero by 2050 would most likely result in mass starvation, water shortages, more frequent and intense natural disasters, sea level rise, loss of biodiversity and extinction, and more. What’s worse is that the burdens of these effects fall disproportionately on those who are already disadvantaged: people of color, low-income people, the homeless, developing countries, indigenous people, et cetera.

In addition to the myriad of ethical issues, failure to act on climate change is also an economic burden. It is more expensive not to act on climate change than to take action now. The economic costs associated with giving aid to those affected by natural disasters are tremendous, and it will only get worse. Furthermore, we can’t escape from this. The effects of climate change will continue on for centuries and possibly even millennia. Our society’s actions over the course of the next eleven years will affect billions or even trillions of lives, all of whom will have to pay for our inaction.

In addition, it’s simply wrong not to act. Climate change is now. We are already feeling its effects on rising sea levels, glacier melt, hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and even things as common as thunderstorms and tornados. In 2018 alone, over ten thousand people died as a result of natural disasters. Some of those deaths could have been prevented if we had taken action earlier. The crisis will only grow exponentially worse. We have a responsibility to the people of the world today and to the people of the future to pass on a livable world. I don’t want to be remembered as the people who condemned the future to an unlivable climate.

In short, everyone alive today has an obligation to push the government and our elected officials to take radical, necessary climate action. The fate of our planet has fallen into our hands. It would be foolish to throw that responsibility to the wind and choose to condemn ourselves, our fellow humans, and future humans.

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There is an outdated misconception that young people are uninterested and uninformed in regards to current events.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.