Monthly Two Cents
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.
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“A Vote is A Chess Move, Not a Valentine”
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.
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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!
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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.
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Why I Support Vangie Williams For Congress
By John Suddarth
As you know, I was one of the candidates for the Democratic Congressional Nomination in Virginia’s First District. Even though I lost to Vangie, I feel very good about her and her candidacy. I support her enthusiastically for three reasons. First and least importantly, I, like the other candidates, committed to supporting the eventual nominee of our party on numerous occasions and I’m as good as my word. Secondly, I’ve gotten to know Vangie quite well and think very highly of her both as a person and as a candidate and think she will make an excellent congresswoman who always votes in our interests and third, it is absolutely essential for the future of our country that we send a Blue Wave of progressive Democrats to Washington to stop the self-aggrandizing and malevolent monster the GOP has become under Donald Trump and his enabling minions like Rob Wittman.
And so I call on you as patriotic, passionate, and concerned Democrats to support Vangie wholeheartedly as well. This is no time to stand on the sidelines. All of us have friends who voted for a third party candidate in 2016, either because they were Bernie supporters who felt he had been treated unfairly or they just did not like Hillary. Some of them smugly thought they were making some type of subtle or sophisticated point by voting for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein while in fact all they were doing is help put Trump in the White House. We can’t afford to let our friends make this mistake again. Our country is in dire straits and this is an all-hands-on-deck moment. We have to take back the House and the Senate.
The primary nominating process, for all its imperfections, is the vehicle through which we select our candidates. Each candidate in the Democratic primary was asked at least 10 times if he or she would support the eventual nominee. Each time asked I replied simply with “Absolutely.” I meant it then and I mean it now. My support for Vangie is total without caveat or qualification. Any participant who does not support the nominee is just a user of the system, not a participant. A party is a team and an organization, a body whose members are obligated to support its objectives and its candidates. But being a good team player is not the only reason I support Vangie.
Vangie and I had over 20 joint appearances together during the course of the campaign and I got to know her quite well as a person as well as a candidate. I always found her to be friendly, sincere, and open and honest, even about some of the personal challenges she faced like her bankruptcy due to outrageous medical bills. Perhaps she was born empathetic to others or maybe she is thoughtful and considerate because she has been through the ringer herself during her long career as a civil servant, strategic planner, and government contractor. Contrast her with Rob Wittman, who remains silent while students are mowed down with assault rifles and President Trump wenches suckling infants from the arms of their mothers, who vote to take away healthcare from hardworking Americans and refuses to invest in our infrastructure while giving tax cuts to the wealthy and lavishing money on the defense contractors who donate to his campaign. This is what Vangie is fighting against as she fights for us.
I’ve also met her husband numerous times and some of her six daughters. She has a wonderful and supportive family, which is a testament to her as a woman, mother, and wife. And she is also hardworking and tireless. After a late Friday night debate in Northern Virginia, we found ourselves scheduled to be in New Kent for another debate early the next morning. There she was when I arrived, having traveled from King George, much further than I, looking fresh and ready to present her views and engage in discussion. She confided in me that she had had only four hours of sleep and even though she was probably even more exhausted than me, no one would ever know it.
On another day, the fledgling Democratic Committee in Richmond County tried to have a debate. Only Vangie and I, and seven or eight citizens showed up and the organizers were clearly embarrassed. Vangie and I conferred with each other though and then asked the participants to just gather around the table so we could have a conversation instead of a debate. We spoke about how our party was dedicated to improving things for the working people and middle class, how we wanted to work to ensure everyone had healthcare, a good education, homes, schools, and workplaces safe from gun violence, equality, respect, a living wage, and a secure retirement with dignity.
The other participants that day told us about their concerns, hopes, and dreams, and how they were even more worried about the future prospects for their children and grandchildren. It was a great discussion which all of us enjoyed. Others might have thought that spending two hours with 8 potential voters a waste of time. Not Vangie. Like me, she saw it as an opportunity to engage with citizens and support our party. And we helped jump-start the Richmond County Democratic Committee.
What I also learned about Vangie on the campaign trail is that she has the personality and temperament to be able to work with others, even those who may be of malevolent intent and difficult to work with. During her long career as a civil servant, contractor and strategic planner, she has had to deal with those who did not put the overall good of the country first and foremost and I know that she has at times faced headwinds as an African-American woman. But she has persevered cheerfully and remained focused on mutually-beneficial win-win outcomes like we will want her to do in Congress.
When I was growing up in an America that still worked to lift the lot of every citizen, we were taught to treat each other with respect and to listen more than we talked. We learned about how our democracy worked and the dangers of populism. There were phrases of speech we don’t hear much anymore. Civic-minded. Can-do spirit. American Know-How. Just being neighborly. Our differences end at the water’s edge. All those things that are no longer true as the rich get richer, our infrastructure crumbles, more and more of us are denied a living wage as our healthcare costs soar, nothing is done to stop gun violence, and our president alienates our allies and refuses to confront a virtual invasion by the Russians. The republicans work to keep their base angry and misinformed because anger motivates voters and anger sells and misinformed Americans to vote against their own interests. We need to convince them to vote for themselves by voting for Democrats!
By sending a progressive wave of leaders to Washington, leaders like Vangie, we can begin lifting the national dialogue above all that mean-spirited nonsense and refocus government on the people’s interests. We can learn again to appeal to each other’s better natures and change the tone and tenor in Washington, to put the people first.
In Vangie, we have a nominee who can mobilize the base with her progressive positions. She is also someone who can appeal to the 20% in the middle up for grabs, the folks tired of the bickering and backbiting and want someone who is objective and logical, who has the proven experience to build consensus, work together to understand complex situations and create win-win solutions.
We have a nominee who is strong and courageous and not afraid to say no to special interests and their money and not afraid to appear in public. When she wins we will have a congresswoman who fixes problems, not who turns every problem to political advantage, a leader who can always be trusted to act in good faith to get America back on the right track for our children and grandchildren. A leader named Vangie Williams. Please join me with your contributions, your efforts, your gifts of persuasion and your vote in getting her elected this November.
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