Have you been in an information blackout? Are you a single-issue voter? Well, no more. The stakes are too high for all of us. Here’s a list of what’s on the ballot.
Without a doubt, our country is in crisis. Almost every worst-case scenario short of nuclear war has transpired as a direct result of the actions of the Trump administration. The rights of women, immigrants, black and brown Americans, and members of the LGBTQ community are being stripped away one congressional vote and executive order at a time. Environmental protections have become a thing of the past, workplace protections nearly non-existent, and the global tariffs enacted against our allies in the name of “America First” has our economy teetering on the brink of collapse.
And yet, the truth is, we’re anything but powerless. In fact, we’ve never been more powerful, nor have we ever been poised to make such crucial progress. For the first time in history, white men will comprise a minority of House Democratic nominees, and primary turnout for this unprecedentedly diverse class of Democratic nominees is almost double what it was in 2014.
Our nation’s destiny will not be decided by Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell, but by us: the voters. But we must mobilize—show up at the polls this November, register others to vote, and make the midterms count. We have to vote like our lives depend on it, because for many Americans, they do. Allow us to explain:
1. Donald Trump is a threat to American democracy. Long before the notorious Helsinki press conference in which the President of the United States affirmed his trust for a known dictator over U.S. intelligence agencies, Trump has frequently dismissed extensive reports about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, and repeatedly threatened investigations into credible allegations that his campaign colluded with Russian officials. Without these necessary investigations and direct actions as a result of them, the integrity of future elections—perhaps for generations—could be in jeopardy. This November, remember that democracy is on the ballot. It’s critical that we vote for House and Senate candidates who support the ongoing investigation into collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, and legislation like the bipartisan Secure Elections Act.
2. Trump has changed the makeup of our courts. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh isn’t our only threat. One-eighth of the judges who essentially decide which cases will be heard by the Supreme Court are likely receptive to Trump’s agenda of misogyny and bigotry. But there’s a way to stop this going forward: Vote for senators who will reject Trump’s judicial nominees. And while you’re at it, vote for state-level lawmakers who won’t support the harmful, dangerous, and often intolerant legislation that’s so often disputed in the courts.
3. The free press is in shackles. From coining the term “fake news” to labeling journalists as “the enemy of the people,” Trump has actively worked to rob reporters who dare to check his power, of credibility and safety. But there’s a way to fight back against this dangerous rhetorical war and its terrifying real-world consequences: VOTE. And, specifically, vote for lawmakers in the House, the Senate, and local government who pledge to stand up for the First Amendment, and protect the free press, a critical cornerstone to our democracy.
4. Let’s ensure that voting rights are for all Americans. States across the country have spent the past decade enacting racist, discriminatory laws meant to exclude voters from participating in elections, and drawing districts to disproportionately disempower minority voters. And just this summer, the Supreme Court upheld laws to allow voter purges and discriminatory gerrymandering; in 2008, the high court also upheld voter I.D. laws as constitutional. This November, the onus is on voters to elect House members and senators who would facilitate a modern renewal of the Voting Rights Act to close dangerous loopholes; senators who would reject Supreme Court nominees hostile to voting rights; and state legislators who would roll back discriminatory laws and proactively defend voting rights.
5. Abortion access faces an unprecedented threat. In the event that Kavanaugh is confirmed and as early as 2019, the Supreme Court accepts a case about abortion rights, it’s time for us to brace for the worst: the reversal of Roe v. Wade, which would open the door for states to ban and even criminalize abortion. Already, 13 lawsuits involving state-level abortion restrictions, from a law effectively banning medication abortion in Arkansas to hospital admitting requirements in Louisiana that would decimate clinics, are in the courts and could be accepted by the Supreme Court next year.
That means this November, it’s absolutely crucial that we show up to the polls to ensure that we elect pro-choice candidates up and down the ballot who will reject attempts to defund Planned Parenthood and other women’s health organizations, and defend a woman’s constitutional right to bodily autonomy at all costs.
6. Contraception and common-sense sex education are at risk. When Trump announced the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate last year, state attorneys general coalesced to file lawsuits against the administration, while pro-choice governors hunkered down to protect coverage of birth control in their states. The mandate previously saved women $1.4 billion annually, and granted 255 million American women access to free birth control.
Meanwhile, Over this past year, the Trump administration has increasingly prioritized funding for religious-backed, abstinence-only groups and education programs, at the expense of comprehensive youth sexual health education, which has been proven to lower rates of unintended pregnancy and STDs among young people. In contrast, states with abstinence-only sex-ed programs are correlated with higher unintended teen pregnancy rates and poverty among young and single mothers. In some classrooms, students are told having sex equates them to chewed candy, and receive no information about contraception, consent and safety. The health and safety of future generations demands that we do better.
7. The Affordable Care Act is still under attack. Last summer, the Affordable Care Act narrowly survived a GOP-led attack that would have stripped millions of life-saving health care. But that hasn’t stopped Trump and Republicans in Congress from scaling back the ACA’s protections and promises, from the Trump administration’s repeal of the contraception mandate last October, to the GOP tax bill’s slashing of the ACA’s individual mandate framework. Without the ACA, an estimated 18 million Americans could lose access to health insurance within the first year of its repeal. As of March, more than 40 million Americans still lacked health insurance, even with the ACA in place. Twenty percent of Americans have at least one medical debt, and are taking out money from retirement to survive.
Republicans in Congress and the White House are already reportedly planning a second full repeal attempt. It couldn’t be more clear what’s at stake if you don’t show up at the polls to vote: our lives.
8. We must hold abusers accountable. Despite almost two dozen credible allegations of sexual abuse, Donald Trump, who is on tape boasting about behaviors that constitute sexual assault, remains president. And every sitting Republican lawmaker who ignores this is complicit.
Former Rep. John Conyers resigned over allegations of sexual misconduct, but Rep. Jim Jordan, a leading House conservative accused of turning a blind eye to dozens of allegations of sexual abuse while an assistant wrestling coach, remains in Congress, and is preparing to run for House Speaker or Minority Leader. But it’s not just Jordan. Every Republican who has stood by a president credibly accused of abuse by more than 20 women is enabling an alleged sexual predator, full stop. We can’t vote Trump out until 2020, but we have—and must take full advantage of—the opportunity to hold dozens upon dozens of enablers accountable this November.
9. The Violence Against Women Act will expire this September. If Congress fails to reauthorize the landmark federal law, survivors of rape across the country could lose access to resources like free forensic exams, while life-saving resources for domestic abuse victims could be eliminated. Earlier this year, the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Act remained expired for months before Congress finally took action. This November, the representatives we elect could ultimately decide whether domestic violence and rape survivors receive access to critical support and health care.
10. The Education Department is endangering LGBTQ youth. In addition to threatening the rights of campus sexual assault survivors, in February, DeVos announced the Department of Education would no longer investigate complaints involving transgender students’ ability to safely use the restroom. DeVos has a long record of declining to protect LGBTQ students from harassment and discriminatory policies, including funding anti-LGBTQ charter schools and advocating for discriminatory “religious freedom” guidelines.
LGBTQ students are substantially more likely than their straight counterparts to drop out of school, commit suicide, or wind up homeless—and bullying, discrimination, and intolerance are often key driving factors. On every level of government, from school board members to Congress members to governors, the elected officials we vote for have the power to enact crucial protections for LGBTQ students.
11. We need real gun reform now. After decades of mass shootings too often targeting schools, we must elect state and federal lawmakers who will introduce and pass meaningful, common-sense gun safety measures. 2018 has already seen more than 260 mass shootings. And not since the Las Vegas shooting in 2017 that killed almost 60, nor since the Parkland, Florida shooting in February, have we seen any legislation that would effectively prevent more shootings. Most Americans support stricter gun laws, including NRA members. It’s time we see bans on firearms for domestic abusers, universal background checks, the closure of dangerous loopholes on gun show sales, bans on assault weapons, and other basic reforms that have helped other industrialized countries prevent the levels of gun violence that have become so uniquely normalized in the U.S.
12. Police brutality and our broken criminal justice system have gone unaddressed for too long. In 2015 and 2016, more than 1,000 people were killed by police, and young Black men are between 9 and 16 times more likely than any other group to be killed by police. Of course, racist police violence is just one part of an overarching broken criminal justice system, where more than 2 million people are incarcerated as of 2018, and people of color remain disproportionately targeted and jailed for committing the same crimes as white people, and face a lifetime of disenfranchisement upon being released.
On the local level, we can vote for community leaders who will work to hold law enforcement accountable and help communities of color feel safe. And up and down the ballot, we can vote for candidates who will pass legislation to support ex-convicts and address persistent racism in the justice system.
13. Poverty and housing insecurity affects most Americans. The United Nations estimates that 40 million Americans live at or below the poverty line, with women 35 percent more likely than men to live in poverty. The federal minimum wage is still $7.25. Housing affordability has reached a 10-year low this year, and at least 40 percent of Americans struggle to pay for basic needs like food and rent. And the GOP tax bill passed last year promises to worsen existing inequalities. We have the power to elect lawmakers who will raise the minimum wage, and take real action to address the national housing crisis—and related food insecurity crisis—impacting every community across the country.
14. Say it with us: Families belong together. All families. November’s elections could quite literally decide whether people who have lived in America all their lives will be able to continue living here, or be forced to leave their loved ones and return to a country they do not know. It could decide whether anything is done to reunite the hundreds of migrant families that remain separated after fleeing violence and other terrifying circumstances in their home countries. It could decide whether we finally see humane, common-sense and inclusive immigration reform. We owe these human beings our vote.
15. It’s do or die for the environment. Under a president who questions the fundamental reality of climate change and last year withdrew us from the Paris Climate Agreement, and a Congress controlled by a party that’s owned by the fossil fuels industry, this election marks a critical moment for our world. Sea levels are rising. Extreme weather is more frequent than ever. And studies have shown again and again how low-income communities and communities of color are more likely to experience severe, long-term health detriments as a result of pollution or inability to access clean water. The survival and living standards of all of us depends on the officials we elect. That means voting out climate change deniers or politicians owned by the oil industry, and electing leaders who will acknowledge the existential threat of climate change and take action.
16. Trump’s tariffs and tax cuts may destroy our economy. The Trump administration finalized more than $200 billion in tariffs against China this month, effectively setting off a trade war that’s been brewing since he took office and wagged a finger at the rest of the world, screaming, “no fair!” Enacted under the guise of “job creation,” these unprecedented taxes—also levied against Canada, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Turkey, Japan, and Russia—are effectively halting American innovation, eliminating our country’s competitive advantage in the global marketplace, inflating the cost of everything from automobiles to soda cans, and putting American workers, from Silicon Valley to the steel plants, out of work. This xenophobic, nationalistic approach to trade policy has the potential to turn the U.S. from the world’s greatest superpower into a failure. We must elect leaders who understand that we can’t afford to take that risk.
Power is meaningless if you don’t use it: VOTE
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