Election Day is close. Ballots have been mailed. Voter registration reps roam the entrances of supermarkets with clipboards ensuring passersby’s are registered for one of the most important elections of the new century.
Are you ready?
Colorado has some of the most progressive voting laws in the country. You can vote by mail, or register and vote on the same day.
What could be easier?
Despite the ease of this process, some people still don’t vote. They don’t feel their vote will count, or the candidates don’t express their exact views. President Barack Obama currently has a 57 percent approval rating, the highest of any previous president at this point of his term with 10.7 million jobs created and 20 million people with health care who did not have it before.
A Good Ground Game
To make sure you vote for continued progress, Democratic Party surrogates have hit the road. Social media worked for Barack Obama, but Democrats such as former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb knows there is nothing like a good ground game to get out the vote.
Democratic Chairperson Donna Brazille, a frequent commentator on CNN, is campaigning for Hillary Clinton, along with Colorado U.S. Senate incumbent Michael Bennet, U.S. House Rep. candidate Morgan Carroll and other democrats.
The Louisiana native has been a political organizer over 30 years. She first met Webb in1982, and had the opportunity to work with former Colorado House Rep. Pat Schroeder.
“I was a student who benefitted from Title IX,” Brazille explains. “Pat Schroeder was such an amazing lawmaker. She represented us well. Pat Schroeder, Bella Abzug, Shirley Chisholm, so you can imagine my roots when it comes to equal rights; when it comes to Civil Rights, and when it comes to making sure that this country will never go back on the commitment to ensuring that every American citizen will have equal rights and equal protection under the law.”
Brazille has experienced nine presidential campaigns, and forher the stakes couldn’t be higher.
“We have to keep the White House,” she says, “because that is the house that will give us all a roof over our heads, and give all our children a head start, and it matters that Hillary will become the 45th president of the United States of America.”
Although some may question Clinton’s integrity, Brazille trusts her implicitly. “I trust her with every part of my life. I trust her to make sure that every child has a head start. I trust her that workers and organizers and students can go to school. I trust her to build the infrastructure in this country to keep America safe and strong.”
Clinton’s passions and levelheadedness confirms Brazille’s endorsement and advocacy. “She went down to Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi to serve disabled children and poor children,” Brazille says, “and to help them have a school and get a head start. That is why I trust her to continue to do what is right and what is just.”
What Else is at Stake? How about Supreme Court appointments?
For Brazille, now is not the time to turn back time in areas where we have achieved progress, often viewed as limited.
“And whether you are for voting rights, gay and lesbian rights or worker’s rights,” Brazille says, “we have to demand that we have justices that will make sure all Americans will not facediscrimination, and that we will not go back to the days when you cannot marry the person you love. So I trust that Hillary Clinton will make good appointments to the Supreme Court of the United States.”
This election is about looking forward. Historically Democrats have been more willing to put forth progressive and moderate initiatives for the benefit of everyone, yet the needle hasn’t moved much because of politics. The obstruction that President Obama has faced is unprecedented, and Clinton will need able allies for needed change.
Brazille’s background is no different from many other hard-working Americans. She was born to a janitor and a maid. Her father later joined the service, and they put at least eight children through college.
“My father was a veteran,” she says, “and I care about our nation’s veterans. I’m 56 years old. So this is for all you millennials. I love you. I am giving back and paying it forward. I want towin, because it is so vital that we don’t turn back the page of history. We have come so far.”
Before you sign thatmail in ballot or pull the lever in the polls, remember that this critically important election is about the future, your future and the future of your families and children.
“This election is too vital for us to sit back and to not help out all of our candidates from the courthouse all the way to the White House,” Brazille explains. “Whether the issue is about the environment or raising the minimum wage – which I stand for 100 percent – we must turn this election into a referendum on the future and know which candidate and which political party believes in the future and will fight for the future. It doesn’t if you are a poor child in the Bayou of Louisiana or a middle-class worker on your second shift, we need everybody to get out and make sure that everybody registers and votes.
“Let’s send these great people to the state house so that the governor has two more years to make a lot of progress and a lot of change Brazille adds. “Let’s send these great women to congress. And let’s put a woman in the White House. This election is about our future. To some of you I have said this before. I have lived long enough to see a Black president of the United States, and thanks be to God, I am going to see the first woman elected. So there is no stopping us now. I want to see the first Hispanic, the first Asian-American. I want to see the first openly gay American, the first Muslim American and the first Jewish American. We have no more boundaries in this country. There is no ceiling high enough, because we are going to soar this election day.”
The work to get voters out in Colorado continued by numerous, people, including Denver East High alumni, actor, producer, director Don Cheadle, and some perhaps not so well known like Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who has been a Democratic political soldier for years.
“Colorado is a state that is critical,” says Barbara Lee who has been representing California’s 13th district that includes the city of Oakland. “People here are very politically aware and astute and I am here not just to help push the vote out for Secretary Clinton, but also for our congressional candidates as well. I am cautiously optimistic about taking back the house. Hillary Clinton as president will need a democratic House of Representatives.”
Actor, producer, director, and Denver East alumni, Don Cheadle returned to Colorado to work with young volunteers in Denver to get out the vote.
“We are under 100 days and it is very important that we all do what we can to energize this movement and make sure people get to the polls and avail themselves of the right to have their voices heard,” Cheadle says.
Known as a political fighter on a world scale, being an advocate for social justice in Africa, Cheadle adds, “We’re a battleground state no matter what anybody else tells you. It’s really important because the polls are getting closer, and closer. We want to make sure that we get that gap larger and larger. Make sure that young people understand how important this is. And with this election, I can’t thinkinrecent history of any more stark contrast between two candidates.”
One of the hardest working public servants of this campaign for democracy is former Atlanta mayor, Shirley Franklin. Franklin recalls her last visit to the Mile-High City was during her campaign. She had never run for office and had met with then Denver Mayor Wellington Webb in a downtown hotel.
“He sat me down and said, ‘You know you are going to lose this race if you don’t change what you are doing.’ So he gave me some great political advice,” Franklin recalls. “I remember to this day, he said, ‘You have to meet the people wherever they are and however few or many there are. Voters are not going to come to you. You have to go to them. That really kind of shifted my campaign a lot. I think it is a model we have to use. You’ve got to go where the people are however many or few so we can make sure we are inspiring for this important election.”
Eye on the Future
Author and social entrepreneur Wes Moore says who we elect this election cycle is going to be incredibly important. The decorated U.S. Army officer explains that while late in the campaign, there are distractions, talk of conspiracy theories, and little discussion about the issues.
“It’s almost easier to say what’s not at stake because there is not a single issue where we don’t have long-term implications as we are thinking about it,” Moore says. “There isn’t a single issue that the next president isn’t going to be wrestling and debating with, and I think that adds a level of seriousness that we have to take with this decision.”
Surrogates such as Marcia Fudge have their eye on the future and are mindful of the past accomplishments of Democrats that must be sustained. Fudge came to Colorado to address a group from the Delta sorority as a guest of former Colorado Senator Hon. Gloria Tanner. Fudge is a U.S. Representative from Ohio, another crucial swing state. Working in the House, she has a keen understanding of her colleagues, what is lacking, and what is needed.
“First I think the thing that is at stake is we would have a president that would get the respect of the rest of the world. Certainly we need a president that needs to understand the significance of public education, as we find ourselves in situations where schools are becoming more segregated and they are continuing to take away resources for public education. What is important is that we maintain Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, as we know it. And that we would not allow Social Security to be privatized, because as you look at it the fact that more than 50 percent of all Black women that have retired are on Social Security. And if it were to be privatized a large portion of them would go into poverty almost immediately.”
On the Road to the White House Right Wing Drift
Political soldiers who have long fought for justice economically, educationally, and socially understand the need to shape our own destinies given the opportunities that we have been afforded. Representing the 6th District in South Carolina James Clyburn is the 3rd ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives. A founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), his roots are deep in the Civil Rights movement as he completes his 24th year in Congress.
“Most people are aware of the rightward drift that is taking place in this country that came rushing forward after Barack Obama was elected in 2008. Or the advent of the so-called Tea Party in 2010, and the Republicans took over the congress. They have been working hard to repeal not just the Affordable Care Act. But if you look at all the bills that they propose it is cutting away at things like the Civil Rights Act of 1965. The Supreme Court has given almost a death knell to the most effective part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But while folks are looking at the Supreme Court they aren’t looking at what the Congress is doing to the Civil Rights Act.”
Fiery and Feisty Rock Star
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has rock star status in the Democratic Party. She made a swing through Colorado in October appearing on the Auraria Campus with Sen. Bernie Sanders and later stopped by the field office in Aurora. Warren exemplifies what Democracy is about. She got right to it in her address which can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube. “I am proud of the debate Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have had in this campaign,” she said. “I am proud that we have the most progressive Democratic platform in American history.”
Warren questions Donald Trump’s plan to win the presidency, based on fanning the flames of fear and hatred and getting fellow Americans to turn on each other. His words make her furious, and Warren said she doubled down that he would never be the President of the United States. She commented that Hillary Clinton has been standing up and been on the receiving end of attacks for 25 years. “But she doesn’t back down.” Clinton is fightingeveryday says Warren for children, health care, for women, for human rights, for and level playing field.
“She has brains, guts, she has thick skin, steady hands and most of all basic decency whichis what this country needs, and that is why I am with her!”
Big Shot Advice
NBA legend Chauncey Billups, aka Mr. Big Shot who hails from Park Hill dunked his support for Hillary Clinton saying she is the best person for the job but she is the only person for the job. “She has the temperament we all need in this country, her fairness to women and what she stands for has always been contagious and she has and extensive track working for working with families in need. We have to ensure that she makes it to the White House.
As an athlete and one who has spent a lot of time in locker rooms, Billups says her opponent is unfit to be president and denounces his disrespect and lewd comments about women and the locker room banter. “I stand here as a product of being raised by so many strong women right here in this neighborhood , my mother, my two grandparents and a host of aunties that served as grandparents. So when I hear his comments on women it touches me.” As a proud father of three daughters, he wants them to be afforded the opportunities that everyone has, that he has as a man. “I don’t think they will have a fair shake with Donald Trump, the main reason I am voting for Hillary Clinton. I think she can lead us to the next step.”
The NBA ESPN analyst says, “I am not a politician but I am conscience citizen and because I have been blessed with a little bit of influence, it is important to me to be able to let people know where I stand. And just to have the right to vote is important; it would be disrespectful for me and my ancestors not to vote. A non-vote is a vote for Donald Trump – so get out and vote.”
Good effective government most often requires bold solutions. It also requires agencies that protect us as a whole like the EPA and more recently the CFPB.Yes these must be funded, but what happens if these safety nets and agencies are not available for us or our families? As a citizen, it is more than a right; it is your duty to stand for democracy and what you believe in by voting in leaders from the statehouse to the White House who will represent your interests. Democracy requires the vigorous participation of an enthusiastic electorate. African-Americans put Barack Obama in the White House. Clyburn noted in his remarks that the expectation from the other side is this year’s the turnout will be similar to the one in 2004, which wasn’t great.
Prove them wrong and dispel the hype. Let’s turn out and vote for Democrats in November in the same numbers that elected Barack Obama in 2008, and re-elected him in 2012.