My fellow Americans,
As you all know, we have reached the 2018 midterm elections. Unlike our 2016 coverage, we will not be doing a candidate breakdown. Between the House, Senate, and governor races, there are way too many for our humble group to cover.
I live in Montgomery County, Maryland — so I will be closely watching Governor Larry Hogan take on Ben Jealous while “guessing” who will win my County Executive race. (Spoiler alert: It’s Marc Elrich.)
In the meantime, I would like to give you five events from this year that should remind you of the importance of voting — especially in state and local races.
5) Parkland Shooting
With how quickly the news cycle moves lately, and how much news comes at us, it feels weird to think that Parkland was this year. Just this past Valentine’s Day, a gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and killed 17 people — including students and staff. The alleged gunman was a former student, a 19-year-old apparently looking for suicide by police and motivated by a “demon” to attack the school.
Parkland reminded America about the ongoing concerns for student safety, as well as the overall gun control debate. While school shootings — like all mass shootings — are extremely rare, they are also extremely terrifying and have been on the rise. As of October 29, Business Insider estimates there have been 297 mass shootings this year. Most people would rather prevent them entirely than be survivors and grieve as they bury their ruthlessly slaughtered peers and loved ones. Many gun control advocates rallied around the survivors and helped the students voice their concerns in the March for Our Lives this past March.
But gun rights advocates — especially the NRA — have consistently pushed back on the issue, suggesting armed security at schools rather than stricter federal gun legislation. Others have called several students “actors”, sparking a similar reaction to those who said the same of parents and survivors of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, when a gunman killed 20 children aged 6 and 7. Regarding Parkland, Colion Noir of NRATV suggested that the students were only relevant due to their slain classmates.
4) Justice Brett Kavanaugh vs Dr. Christine Blasey Ford
This is a no-brainer. During the confirmation hearings of now-Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, several allegations of sexual assault were brought to light — the most prominent being those of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. In a post-Anita Hill, post-#MeToo America, this episode inspired some of the most vitriolic political grandstanding we have seen in modern times.
Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats went to great lengths to force Dr. Ford to give public testimony, despite her request for anonymity and privacy. Her allegations were also leaked to the press, forcing her to speak publicly beforehand. By her own sworn testimony, she was not informed that Committee members would have been willing to travel to her. Instead, she was forced to go to Washington, D.C. to be a political pawn. When the time arose, very few had anything of value to ask, and instead crafted moments for their presidential campaigns.
In turn, Committee Republicans hired a sexual assault prosecutor to interrogate Dr. Ford in their stead. And when Judge Kavanaugh took the stand, they stumped for him as if Dr. Ford’s testimony meant nothing. Senator Jeff Flake called for an investigation, but in the end it led to a mostly partisan confirmation of a new Associate Justice (to no one’s surprise).
Dr. Ford was honest, respectful, and cooperative with the Committee. Judge Kavanaugh, on the other hand, was combative, vindictive, and partisan. The political theater was beyond jarring — it was an absolute disgrace from beginning to end. All that was accomplished by this episode was the trivialization of sexual assault allegations — and that infuriates me as I prepare to vote.
I can guarantee you that this will be motivating voters on Tuesday.
3) Migrant Caravan
A “caravan” of Honduran migrants has been en route to the border between Mexico and the United States. Due to the hardline Republican stance on immigration and border security, the migrants have become a talking point of President Trump and other Republicans on the campaign trail.
Democrats and Trump critics have noted the legitimate political asylum aspirations of some of the migrants, while Trump and Homeland Security (DHS) have noted the legitimate criminal history of some of the migrants.
“Our goal is to provide protection to those individuals who qualify for asylum under our laws,” DHS officials stated in a November 1st statement. “Individuals who want jobs or want to reunify with family members in the U.S. aren’t eligible to qualify for asylum.”
Six migrants have filed a class-action lawsuit against President Trump and other administration officials, claiming their 5th Amendment rights would be violated by some of the president’s recent policy suggestions. It should be noted that the Constitution does, in fact, grant rights to all those within US borders or those seeking to enter, within reason.
Whether you support or criticize the president’s approach to this issue, it would behoove you to vote on it.
2) Escalating Political Violence
The last few months have seen an increase in American political violence.
In mid-September, a Virginia man attacked a House Republican candidate with a switchblade due to his anger and frustration with President Trump. In mid-October, another Virginia man was arrested in Las Vegas for assaulting the campaign manager of Nevada’s Republican gubernatorial candidate.
On the flip side, last week, explosive devices were sent to several high profile Democratic politicians and/or donors — including George Soros, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and the Obama, Clinton, and Biden families. Devices were also mailed to CNN offices in New York and Atlanta.
All of these attacks were politically motivated. And I don’t care if I agree with your politics or not — all of these attacks were wrong.
If you want to defeat political ideas, don’t attack people. Vote!
1) Pittsburgh and Kentucky Shootings
Whether they’re used for crime, self-defense, or suicide, guns are commonplace in America. As a result, so are shootings. As mentioned above, mass shootings are both extremely rare and extremely frightening. How could they possibly be made worse?
Hate crimes would certainly further twist the knife in our collective hearts. Within the last week, eleven people were killed in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and two people were killed at a supermarket in Kentucky. The reason? They were targeted for being Jewish and Black, respectively, though the Pittsburgh suspect was also motivated by anti-refugee sentiment.
Hate crime has been on the upswing for the last four years. American citizens have been harassed, assaulted, or murdered due to their race, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) recently found that right-wing extremists committed 59% of domestic extremist killings in 2017 — and 71% since 2007.
“Unlike 2016, a year dominated by the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando, Florida, committed by an Islamic extremist,” the ADL reported, “a majority of the 2017 murders were committed by right-wing extremists, primarily white supremacists, as has typically been the case most years.”
In a post-Charlottesville America, this is something to take note of — especially as white supremacists continue to harm and kill our fellow American citizens and residents. Please be vigilant: Hate crimes have spiked close to elections since 1990.
I implore you to vote against any candidate threatening — or utilizing — violence against Americans.
I’m not here to tell you who to vote for. I’m just here to tell you to vote. Pay attention to your local races, everyone!