Politics

Voter Drives Attempt to Push Blue Wave

The Congressional Black Caucus said President Donald Trump and his administration have done profound damage to the African-American community and the country over the past two years.

In a new statement, the CBC spelled out what voters should recall and act on.

“Do you remember how you felt on November 9, 2016? That’s a good reason to vote on November 6, 2018,” the group wrote.

The CBC’s call isn’t original, but it does count among the ever-growing number of voter registration drives aimed at helping Democrats gain power in either or both chambers of Congress this fall.

Preceding Kanye West’s roundly panned visit with Trump at the White House, many celebrities and superstars had already revved up their fan base. Taylor Swift told her tens of millions of social media followers to vote Democrat in the midterms, while Eva Longoria opened her wallet and reportedly tossed more than $40,000 behind Missouri Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Susan Sarandon gave about $30,000 to Democratic PACs that support candidates in New York, West Virginia, Hawaii and Texas, while Rosie O’Donnell also gave nearly $30,000 for candidates in New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and Iowa. Jimmy Kimmel, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck also tossed cash behind Democrats.

Muriel Bowser
D.C, Mayor Muriel Bowser conducts a walkthrough on the Minnesota Avenue corridor in Northeast, talking with neighborhood citizens about their construction concerns for the area. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

“I think midterms are always important, but the Democratic Party, in particular is pushing hard this election,” said Justin Holmes, an associate professor of Political Science at the University of Northern Iowa’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

“Republicans have the presidency, both houses of Congress, and the Supreme Court is now a solid conservative majority, so Democrats are pushing hard this election to try to get some of the power back,” Holmes said. “On the Republican side, President Trump sees this as a referendum on his presidency and recognizes that he’ll have a harder time getting his agenda passed if Democrats control even part of Congress.”

NextGen America, Women’s March, the NAACP, CBC and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) are among the many that are participating in or encouraging massive voter registration efforts across the country.

“It’s a payback year,” said NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.

Although non-partisan, AARP also has presented a list of 10 ways the midterm elections will affect older Americans.

“This is one of the most consequential elections of our lifetime,” political scholar Norman Ornstein told AARP editors, who noted in their October edition, “We wholeheartedly agree.”

“We are at a moment in which important decisions need to be made on many matters key to the lives of older Americans,” AARP editors wrote. “Some are obvious, like the future funding and structure of Medicare and our health care system. At the same time, many states are grappling with issues related to worker discrimination, retirement savings, underfunded pensions, Medicaid, caregiving and more. Those we put in office could shape the resolutions of these issues for decades to come.”

It’s very important that minority voices are heard in the midterm elections next month, especially given the negative consequences that minority communities have seen as a result of the Trump administration decisions over the past two years, said Melissa R. Michelson, a political science professor at Menlo College in California.

“Black turnout was lower in 2016 than in 2012, not surprisingly, because there was no Black candidate at the top of the ticket,” Michelson said. “But the last two years under Trump have brought a string of negative consequences for the Black community, including not just consequences stemming from his administration’s decisions — on health care, on affirmative action, on taxes — but also from a new cultural atmosphere that encourages hate crimes.”

Black turnout, especially turnout among Black women, made the difference in some close elections in 2017 and a surge in Black turnout can make the difference in close races this November, she said.

Further, midterm elections are always a referendum on the incumbent president.

“The surge of efforts to encourage voter registration and turnout this year are a reflection of the degree of disapproval of President Trump and the strong desire by many organizations and individuals to harness those attitudes into action at the ballot box,” Michelson said.

“Voting next month is a way for folks to say that they don’t like the direction that this country has been going and they want Congress to put a stop to the policies and programs promoted by this administration. It’s a way for minority communities to fight back against the hate and the negative impacts they have suffered for the past two years,” she said.

The electorate that normally turns out to vote in midterms is typically older, Whiter and more affluent than those who cast ballots during presidential elections, Holmes said.

President Barack Obama’s campaign was very effective at mobilizing young and minority voters in 2008, but in 2010, his party lost a large number of seats, not because voters changed their mind about supporting Obama and Democrats, but because many of Obama’s backers didn’t vote in the midterms, Holmes said.

He also noted the prevalence of voter suppression.

Voters should be sure to check their registration status and make sure they have proper ID if their state requires ID to vote, Holmes said.

“If you have moved since the last time you voted, you need to re-register,” he said. “If you haven’t voted in a while, some states will cancel your registration so be sure you are up to date because you can’t vote if you aren’t registered, and only some states have same-day registration.”

Also, several states have done “questionable things this week with registration. Indiana purged their rolls, and Georgia appears to be slow walking new registrations,” Holmes said.

“Both of these appear to disproportionately affect minority voters,” he said. “You have a right to vote guaranteed by the 15th Amendment and Voting Rights Act. If you feel your voting rights are being violated, contact the Department of Justice.”

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Stacy Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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