Monthly Two Cents
Postpone the Wegman's Public Hearing
As published in the Local
We are hearing from many residents that they fear they must decide between their health, protecting their homes, and their right to attend and be heard at the upcoming Board of Supervisors’ public hearing for the Wegman’s rezoning application. The Hanover Democratic Committee stands against the suppression of speech and impairment of the right to participate in local government, especially on topics that are important to residents. Since Governor Northam has issued a stay-at-home order until June 10, 2020, it does not seem in line with public safety to hold a public hearing on the Wegmans’ project. There are many residents who deserve the right to attend and have their voices heard. Many residents feel it is important to hear and respond to Wegman’s position at the hearing since its representatives will be present throughout the proceeding. There are no deadlines that require the hearing now and there are no procedures that will allow citizens the ability to attend and fully participate in the hearing process. It seems the prudent thing to do is to postpone the May 6th public hearing on the Wegmans’ project until it is safe for Hanoverians to meet in public.
The Hanover Democratic Executive Committee
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This feature includes different perspectives on who should be the Presidential nominee for the Democratic Committee. We are committed to supporting the eventual nominee. We also believe it is useful to share different points of view.
Progressivism is Necessary to Address Our Current and Future Challenges
By Chance Lee
Thanks in no small part to the work of politicians like Bernie Sanders, ideas with progressive roots like Universal Basic Income and curbing free markets, once considered beyond the pale by moderate voices, have gained firm footholds in the popular imagination. With COVID-19 spreading across the country, these proposals are finally achieving the semblance of political salience. We live under the thumb of a right-wing administration, yet Congress is cutting Americans direct checks while the President’s handpicked economic czar flirts openly with state-owned equity in private business. We live in strange times. This crisis is forcing us to test the limits of our political horizons, and it becomes ever more apparent that progressive change is not only within our reach but a matter of necessity.
At a basic level, progressives propose reorienting our societal investments to empower the real people and workers who create value. One argument, though, has haunted single-payer healthcare, publicly funded universities, and other progressive policies for decades: the proposed cost. Election cycle after election cycle, the same tired rejoinder of “how are we going to pay for it?” rises like a vampire from its coffin and drains Democratic enthusiasm for progressive change. The federal response to the global pandemic at our doorstep finally drives a stake through this Nosferatu’s heart as our federal reserve pumps trillions into markets through record-shattering bond-buying and repurchase agreements. It’s no longer tenable for our leaders to say the alternative course is a financial impossibility.
The situation itself exposes the true cost of our misaligned priorities and how vital it is we shift to a progressive course. None of the measures so far to cushion Wall Street have staunched the bleeding nor has our privatized health system left us with the capacity to address the virus’s human toll. The bets we placed on job creators and big businesses aren’t paying off; instead, we find ourselves relying on increasingly precarious essential workers to keep fragile supply chains intact while the number of nonessential unemployed creeps upwards.
Programs like Medicare for All ultimately put the country in a better position to combat crises, allowing our institutions to be proactive instead of reactive. The current strategy, delivering a one-time stimulus, or proposals to waive COVID-19 treatment costs, won’t prepare us for the inevitable next disaster. Emergency progressivism can’t fix the structural failures that lead us to this moment and facing the challenges the future holds requires us to tackle these problems with a comprehensive progressive agenda.
Why I’m Ridin’ With Biden
By Ethan C. Lynne (PHHS Sophomore)
Courage, that is the word I would use to describe Joe Biden. That cannot be said for most normal politicians, but Joe is not a normal politician. After being elected as the youngest U.S. senator ever at 29, he got sworn in in his son’s hospital room after losing his wife and daughter in a car accident. He served in that capacity for decades, giving him the much-needed government experience that is extremely helpful to become the President. When you’re president, you have to have a lot of allies, both in the country and around the world, and Joe already has that. In 2008, after agreeing to serve as Vice-President on one of the most historic presidential campaigns in history, he fully immersed himself in the political world. He has been a Democrat his whole life, never switching to an independent, unlike Senator Sanders. After seeing his margins on Super Tuesday winning almost every county in most states, and his huge percentage of the African-American electorate, it is clear, the candidate who can win is Joe. We must choose the Democrat with courage, and experience over the independent with widely controversial promises.
Don't Let the Perfect be the Enemy of the Good
By Ashley Hall
Let us not forget ... if we get a progressive Democrat in office, we can move him more to the middle. If we get a moderate Democrat in office, we can move him more to the left. We can call, we can march, we can shine a light on issues important to us, and these issues will fall on Democratic ears and the ears of their Democratic advisors. Not the case if Donald Trump wins a second term. So when it’s time to volunteer, time to call, time to vote, the Democrat on the ballot may not represent everything you want or need at the moment, but whoever it is, they are a HECK of a lot closer to your ideals than the current President in office. It’s a cliché, but clichés can be true. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
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Why I’m Ridin’ With Biden
Ethan Lynne, high school sophomore
Courage, that is the word I would use to describe Joe Biden. That cannot be said for most normal politicians, but Joe is not a normal politician. After being elected as the youngest U.S. senator ever at 29, he got sworn in in his son’s hospital room after losing his wife and daughter in a car accident. He served in that capacity for decades, giving him the much-needed government experience that is extremely helpful to become the President. When you’re president, you have to have a lot of allies, both in the country and around the world, and Joe already has that. In 2008, after agreeing to serve as Vice-President on one of the most historic presidential campaigns in history, he fully immersed himself in the political world. He has been a Democrat his whole life, never switching to an independent, unlike Senator Sanders. After seeing his margins on Super Tuesday winning almost every county in most states, and his huge percentage of the African-American electorate, it is clear, the candidate that can win is Joe. We must choose the democrat with courage, and experience over the independent with widely controversial promises.
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The 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary Will be the Most Significant in More Than a Century
By Tom Hicks
I am not one for the dramatic, but the 2020 presidential election decision will be the most consequential in several generations. Accordingly, the predecessor decision involving the selection of a Democratic party candidate to challenge President Trump will be similarly momentous. As one Democratic candidate recently stated, “we can’t screw this up.”
The circumstances driving this significance involve the fear that our country could experience another four years of a president that has caused grave damage to the office of the presidency, abused his power for his own self-interest, denigrated long-standing government institutions, strained relationships with allies, fostered ethnic and racial divisions, and promulgated Russian initiated conspiracy theories about election meddling. A second term for President Trump could bring our country to the breaking point. Given that the president was acquitted in the impeachment trial, the 2020 election is the only mechanism remaining to end this executive office travesty.
This means that the Democratic party choice for our presidential candidate is all that much more important. The good news is that when the primary process started, we had a large number of highly qualified Democratic candidates with noticeable variances in background, experience and policy proposals. The bad news is that this large selection of candidates made it more difficult for many primary voters to focus in on a preferred choice. This perceived indecision was cited as the reason for two late entrants into the race in December. The important message here is that we Democrats need to take the time to educate ourselves regarding what each candidate offers. This presidential primary race might be the most significant any of us will ever experience and it deserves our heightened attention.
The televised debates are a useful tool to assist in our decision-making process but they only provide a small window, a snapshot, into each candidate’s suitability, strengths and weaknesses. To effectively screen the candidates more time is necessary to review speeches, voting records, editorials, and policy proposals. We owe it to each other to put in the research time, pick the best candidate, and rally to support that candidate in 2020. The stakes are enormous. History will look back at this critical time and pass judgment regarding our decision. The media has often simplified the Democratic party’s choices as two paths: revolution or gradual improvement. I believe the choices are more subtle.
Polls indicate that the main goal of Democratic primary voters is to defeat Trump although most Democrats also want significant action on healthcare, education, climate change, and infrastructure. Senators Warren and Sanders have spoken out for big structural changes while former President Obama recently articulated concerns that Democrats risk alienating voters if the 2020 primary choice is too far to the left.
After considerable study, my personal choice is Senator Amy Klobuchar. Her experience, intellect, integrity, mid-western roots, and moderate policy proposals indicate to me that she is best suited to take down Trump, unify the country and govern to a brighter future. Some of my Democratic friends whom I respect have different opinions. That’s democracy. But the election process only works if we support our basic civic duty with candidate research. Let’s roll up our sleeves and make posterity proud of our 2020 selection.
Tom Hicks is a resident of Montpelier, Va., a USNA graduate, former nuclear submarine officer, engineering consultant and a former Democratic candidate for Congress in Virginia’s 1st Congressional District. Follow him on Twitter @tomhicksva1
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MY TWO CENTS: Reliance on a Fair Process is not Enough to Protect the Vote
By Chance Lee
The General Assembly has already proved itself a godsend. In just a few short weeks, we’ve seen the passage of the ERA, action on no-excuse absentee voting, and, despite fierce opposition, major movement on commonsense gun reform. More difficult, though, will be the conversation to address partisan gerrymandering. Some of our leaders in Richmond are confident they can craft a fair and durable process while still allowing the legislature to draw district lines. However, a new rulebook will never be enough to uphold free elections if lawmakers retain their grip on mapmaking. And as I wait for the gun control dustup to settle, it occurs to me that the latest specter of right-wing discontent illustrates why a sole focus on process, instead of the people responsible, for its execution is misplaced.
The lone Democratic voice on the Hanover Board of Supervisors, Faye Prichard, spoke with us in December. She described how hundreds of people nearly gave the county fire marshal a coronary by flooding the boardroom to demand the adoption of a gun sanctuary resolution. The measure was a vapid temper tantrum directed against the General Assembly, and it passed 5-1 to the surprise of no one. That the resolution’s intent to “… accept no efforts to change or diminish [gun] rights …” was, on paper, unenforceable hardly mattered.
The lesson to take from Supervisor Prichard’s experience, along with this entire gun debacle, is that process by itself has little consequence. The new legislative majority was less than a month old before our Republican-controlled board decided to flout new proposed rules. More than 100 Virginia counties, cities, and towns similarly laughed off the Assembly’s electoral mandate. These resolutions have galvanized the ugly side of the right, and the powder keg that is the Capitol is a direct result of their contempt for norms.
Process won’t protect itself; that job rests solely with flesh and blood people. Unfortunately for most Virginians, localities across the Commonwealth aren’t interested in safeguarding the proposals of a duly elected majority, and if Facebook posts are any indicator, it’s a possibility our own Sheriff tacitly agrees. What recourse then does process alone have when those charged with the law are skeptical of it? We needn’t look further than the federal level to show us there is none. We’ve watched a venal presidential administration shrug off emoluments violations, break FEC rules, and skip through salacious scandal after scandal. With recent events in Congress, it’s clear any path to accountability ends in a brick wall unless the people in power choose otherwise. My hopes aren’t high knowing Washington’s senators.
Which brings me back to redistricting. A focus on the map-drawing alone mechanism, well-intentioned as it is, ignores the fundamental problem; lawmakers cannot be allowed a choice of voters. The temptation for dishonesty is ever-present. We need an entirely different body responsible for districting, ideally a professional, independent commission with as few political ties as possible. For now, we have a trustworthy Assembly and Governor’s office. The Attorney General, for instance, has enough integrity and simple acumen to recognize there is no legal basis for county gun sanctuaries, but we should understand that characters like Mark Herring are a temporary luxury at best. The next crop of state executives or class of legislators could very well be the sort of Republicans we can’t count on to preserve the processes Democrats put so much faith in. Any redistricting plan that fails to account for that possibility by resting power in the Assembly’s hands should be a non-starter.
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