Monthly Two Cents

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.

“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.