Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Call to Action for Election Day: Time to Turn Your Outrage into Votes - “When We Vote, We Win”

Tom contributes to Wendy's "A Call To Action" series, and he has an extremely important ask of BTRTN readers.

Just 51 weeks ago, about 66 million Americans found out, to their horror that they would have to endure a Donald Trump presidency.

Since then, that horror has evolved to a tsunami of outrage as the Trump presidency has unfolded.  Rallies, marches, demonstrations, debates of all kinds, on the Internet, in local bars, across family dinner tables, set off by countless inane tweets, America First madness, and Dark Age policies.  Trump has dominated casual conversation, and if you are reading this, you have doubtless participated mightily in this rage-a-thon.

But until now, you have had precious little opportunity to translate that outrage into something tangible.  That time has come.  Here we are, days before Election Day, November 7, 2017.  Time to cast some votes that will send a message to Donald Trump, to make sure he understands that his actions have consequences, and that outrage can and will translate into political might.

An off-off year election?  No elections that “matter”?  Wrong.

Your outrage means little if you do not work, at least a little, to fight back.  Right now.  And important elections are happening across the country.

And I don’t mean just voting on Election Day.  I assume you will do that.  I am asking you to do more.  No matter where you live, something on your ballot is a referendum on Trump.  We can bemoan the divide in our country, but it exists, and Election Day is when we determine which side of that divide has won the day.  What good is it to moan endlessly about Trump and the far right if you don’t lift a finger to do something about it? 

It’s not hard.  Maybe you are not into going door-to-door, or putting up signs.  But anyone can make calls.  Take one hour.  One hour to channel all your anti-Trump vitriol to get out the vote and send him a message.  Please don’t say you can’t be bothered.  It all matters.

If there are no local or state elections that float your boat, take up the charge for someone else’s.  Here is an easy one – there is a gubernatorial race in Virginia that is very close.  Democrat Ralph Northam is running neck-and-neck with Republican Ed Gillespie to succeed current Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, who is stepping down due to term limits.  The Democrats can’t afford to lose any more state houses.  They control the keys to the redistricting that will occur after the 2020 elections; yes, that means more gerrymandering, the tactic the GOP has mastered to control the U.S. House of Representatives.  Time to make that our turn.

In our backyard, we are consumed by the race for Westchester (New York) County Executive, which pits the incumbent Republican Rob Astorino against Democratic challenger George Latimer.  In this off-off-year election, this is one of the most visible and highly contested races in the nation, and thus a perfect bellwether on the national temperature.  Astorino is not your garden-variety New York State Rockefeller Republican; he is a flame-throwing arch conservative who parlayed a modest radio career into his current position.

Astorino ran for Governor in 2014 and lost to Andrew Cuomo, and it is no secret that he has his eye on Albany again.  He has whiffed on affordable housing; allowed gun shows at the County Center; allowed Nazi paraphernalia to be sold at those same shows; is pro-life; and just accepted $1 million from Robert Mercer, the Breitbart/Bannon-backing billionaire who once claimed that African-Americans were better off before the Civil Rights movement.  He is aligned with Donald Trump on issues up and down the line, and has stood check-to-jowl with Trump at many a podium.

The Mercer money is significant.  Mercer and Bannon clearly see Astorino as a candidate with a future, a win here a springboard to New York State Governor, with another run right around the corner in 2018.  A defeat in this election would spell the end of that effort, so the checkbook is out.  The money is being used to run personal ads against Latimer that twist facts and have nothing to do with Astorino’s candidacy or the issues.

Latimer was born in a poor neighborhood in Mount Vernon and has served for decades, first as a County Legislator and currently as a State Senator.  He has decided to return to the county – arguably a step-down and a sacrifice – because he believes Astorino can be defeated and he can do it.  He is a voice for all of those left behind by Astorino, and the disastrous policies that have left the vulnerable at risk. 

Today we saw Senator Chuck Schumer come to Westchester to endorse Latimer, and listened as he forcefully described what he, Latimer and we are all fighting for in the Age of Trump.  Latimer spoke movingly about the Trump budget and what it will do to the Bee Line bus service in Westchester, decimating this vital link that provides the only means of transport for many workers to make it to their jobs.  He spoke about the severe shortage of affordable housing, and expanding child-care subsidies to help working parents.  He talked of his own parents (“that’s not my name on the signs, it is their name”), who worked hard to send George and his sister to college.

Westchester is known as an elite enclave of the wealthy, but it is actually very diverse.  Forty percent of its residents are African-American or Hispanic, and 10% of its million residents live in poverty, in such communities as Yonkers, Mt. Vernon, Mt. Kisco, Peekskill, New Rochelle, Port Chester and White Plains.  It is a “swing” county; both Democrats and Republicans have held the County Executive position, and the race is always contested.  This election is important.  Latimer candidly said he is not running for those in the more affluent communities in Westchester – he is running for those whose voices are not heard. He said the race was about the message, not him – he is only the messenger.

While two-thirds of Westchester registered voters are Democrats, they do not vote in the same numbers as Republicans.  Because of that fact, this election will come down to turnout.  The polls show the race is as close as can be.  Wendy and I have made calls for Latimer, written postcards for Latimer, contributed to Latimer, and implored our friends to vote for Latimer.  We will do more of this right up until the polls close at 9 PM on November 7.

We realize that, in retirement, we are in a better position than most to volunteer.  But we need everyone to chip in.  An hour of calls, multiplied by many, WILL decide this election.

PLEASE help us get out the vote.  If you live here, WORK for George Latimer.  If you live elsewhere, WORK for your candidate or cause.  If there is no local cause or candidate on the ballot, WORK for Ralph Northam in Virginia. Stop yapping about Trump.  Do something about it!  Get out the vote!

Here are some links to help you make that happen.  The “get out the vote” efforts will be in high gear from here on in, particularly from Friday night on.   Find your free hour to help.  As Democrats always say:  “when we vote, we win.”

Calls for Ralph Northam:

Calls for George Latimer:

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