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Stepping Up Big Time Print E-mail
Written by Charles T. Williams   
Tuesday, 28 August 2018 08:00

Charles T. Williams, retired in 2007 from NEA Research. He previously served NEA as director of Human and Civil Rights and of Teacher Quality. Chuck is a long-time volunteer with the Meridian (Michigan) Democratic Club where he has contributed analyses of political parties and elections, protest actions and votes, and union history. His motto is “Never go to sleep at night NOT having confronted injustice.”

Rarely has there been a time in our history that the American people so desperately need a political party to step up big time to provide experienced and quality leadership, restore the principles of democracy, and advocate for and achieve social and economic justice for the working class.

Stepping up means dealing with a multitude of problems: the dismantling of our public schools through the semantic fraud of choice, charters, and vouchers; the conflation of the interests of big business with that of small business, causing real harm to families and workers in those small businesses; the hypocrisy and disrespect for the Constitution’s separation of church and state by the empowering of select, right wing Evangelical leaders and others who impose their brand of Christianity on women; the callous disregard for reproductive freedom; and the embezzlement of our democracy through voter suppression and extreme gerrymandering.

Added to these are the proliferation and use of weapons in the US and games of chicken with other countries that have nuclear weapons; the trillion-dollar tax cut for corporations and the rich and the struggle to save the social safety net from being cut to pay for it; and the extreme protectionism of the Trump tariffs that have boomeranged, with retaliatory tariffs harming American industry and agriculture. In addition, racist and discriminatory immigration laws continue, and the plight of the Dreamers worsens. And susceptible Americans are being insidiously manipulated to exhibit their darkest fears and worst demons: racism, sexism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, homophobia, and elitism.

So, given all these problems and given that we’re getting so close to the mid-term election, how shall we manage our time and energy to restore democratic processes and advance the prospects of the middle class and working class

The answer is Get Out the Vote.

Chuck Williams’s Go-To List for Getting Out the Vote

  1. Give your name and contact information to the local Democratic Party and, if you are so inclined, to progressive community organizations that have GOTV campaigns. These include RedforEd, Fight for $15, and women’s, civil rights, and education and other union groups.
  2. Participate in the phone-banking and canvassing training that is offered and then do those things in the precinct. You could also help set up a committee to prepare and deliver food to volunteer workers and paid temporary staff at campaign headquarters.
  3. Help to prepare, assemble, and distribute voting packets that contain pre-checked sample ballots and literature about Democratic Party-endorsed candidates and supported ballot issues.
  4. Help to organize and/or participate in a car pool to take residents to the polls on election day. In a large urban area, help to raise funds to buy bus and metro tickets to enable residents to get to the polls.
  5. Attend the post-election debriefing to find out what worked and what didn’t in your local mid-term election operation so you’ll be even better prepared for the next election.
  6. As an addendum—Be aware, as you speak and interact with your neighbors and other residents in your precinct of the expressed intention by some to register protest votes. These are not protest actions, such as in the Civil Rights Movement, Black Lives Matter, and the 2018 Women’s March in which people demonstrated against behavior and actions that harm particular groups of people. Rather, those who cast protest votes are really expressing their disdain for one candidate by voting for his or her opponent. Or they express displeasure by not voting at all. This type of voter is susceptible to manipulation as by the NRA to vote for one candidate because the other favors gun control near schools or an assault weapons ban, or by the Republican Party to vote for one candidate because the other supports the Affordable Care Act or Roe v. Wade or immigrant families separated at the border or public over private schools.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 August 2018 08:20
 
NEARO 2017 ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND 2018 GOALS Print E-mail
Written by NEARO   
Wednesday, 28 March 2018 20:51

Accomplishments

  • NEARO is measurably stronger; including increased membership, participation in coalitions, innovations (such as electronic voting) and more frequent membership communicatio
  • Our participation in member meetings has strengthened and we have established more active committees.
  • Increased engagement and coalitions with allies (such as NSO).
  • Increased participation and recognition by NEA in our oversight of NEA Retirement Board.

2018 & Beyond Goals

  • Membership Engagement -  Continue to expand membership to all plan members, focusing on state affiliate retirees as well as NEA retirees.
  • Communication/Connection - Update our technology for greater effectiveness, in order to expand our ability to communicate with members, provide timely information and receive their input.
  • Advocacy - Continue our advocacy for all retirees in the NEA Retirement Plan, and strengthen the voice of NEARO, whose members represent the majority of plan participants.



Last Updated on Monday, 25 June 2018 12:34
 
THE FIGHT FOR VOTING RIGHTS! Print E-mail
Written by Joel Packer, NEARO President   
Tuesday, 28 August 2018 07:37

Joel Packer, NEARO President

As we approach election day, it’s important to remember that, for over two hundred years, Americans have been lobbying, litigating, demonstrating, rallying, marching, and sometimes dying for the right to vote. It’s been a long, slow process to ensure that everyone, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, or disability can exercise their right to vote.

The Constitution as drafted in 1787 left voting issues to the control of individual states. Most states allowed only white, property-owning males to cast a ballot: not African Americans (most of whom were enslaved), not women, not those between 18-21 years of age, not Native Americans.

The first group of Americans to gain voting rights were actually white men—specifically working-class and poor white men who did not own property. By 1856, white men were allowed to vote in all states regardless of property ownership.

However, it took the Civil War to expand voting rights to nonwhites.

In 1868, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution granted full citizenship rights, including voting rights, to all men born or naturalized in the United States. Then in 1870, the 15th Amendment mandated that U.S. citizens could no longer be denied the right to vote based on "race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

Tragically, discriminatory laws, poll taxes, literacy tests (along with grandfather clauses that exempted white, male voters), and violent intimidation were adopted by most southern states which all but completely suppressed Black participation in elections until the 1960s.

The women's suffrage movement began alongside that of poor whites and African-American men, but it took decades longer to achieve. The 19th Amendment, which is completely identical to the 15th except that it includes women, officially become part of the Constitution on August 18, 1920, when the Tennessee legislature narrowly approved it.

Between the Civil War and World War I, Native Americans were forced to give up their tribal affiliations or join the military in order to vote. The 1924 Indian Citizenship Act redefined the language of the 14th Amendment to include Native Americans and granted full U.S. citizenship to nearly 300,000 indigenous people (about a third of the native population at the time). However, some Native Americans who were granted citizenship rights under the 1924 Act did not have had full citizenship and suffrage rights until 1948, due to restrictions imposed in seven states.

Other key voting rights expansions prior to the 1960s Civil Rights movement include the Magnuson Act (also known as the Chinese Exclusion Repeal Act of 1943), which gave Chinese immigrants the right to citizenship and, thus, the right to vote; the 1952 McCarran-Walter Act, which granted all people of Asian ancestry the right to become citizens, and thus vote; and the 23rd amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1961, which granted citizens of Washington, DC the right to vote for President (although DC residents still do not have voting representation in Congress).

Although African-Americans technically gained the right to vote after the Civil War, only a small percentage of southern African-Americans were allowed to perform their civic duty until the 1960s. In 1964, the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, eliminating poll taxes nationwide. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 included some voting rights protections. But, the key piece of legislation was the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which prohibits every state and local government from imposing any voting law that results in discrimination against racial or language minorities. Since its original passage, the Voting Rights Act has been amended five times to broaden its scope of protections, such as the 1975 requirement for districts with high non-English-speaking minority populations to provide bilingual ballots and voting materials.

The 26th Amendment, ratified in July 1971, lowered the minimum voting age for federal, state, and local elections to 18. And in 1984, The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act required polling places to be accessible to people with disabilities.

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (also known as the Motor Voter Act), mandated that citizens be offered a chance to register to vote when renewing their driver's license. The 2002 Help America Vote Act addressed improvements to voting systems and voter access that were identified following the 2000 election.

Today, advocacy groups and public officials are making strides to improve voting accessibility to homeless voters, those with physical disabilities, and former felons. Nationwide, about 6 million Americans can’t vote as a result of a felony conviction. About half have fully completed their sentences, another quarter are in the community under probation or parole supervision, and a quarter are still incarcerated.

Sadly, several states are moving backward by having enacted or trying to enact new restrictions on voting, including expanded purges of voting roles, more restrictive voting ID requirements, making it more difficult to register, limiting or eliminating early voting, and closing and consolidating voting places. Overall, since 2010, 23 states have new restrictions in effect.

The fight goes on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 August 2018 08:14
 
2018 NEARO Officers, Board of Directors, Ex Officio Print E-mail
Written by Editor   
Monday, 04 April 2016 00:00

 


Officers:

Joel Packer, President *

Gloria Constant, Vice President *

Betty JeungBetty Jeung, Recording Secretary

Tomás Saucedo, Membership Secretary *

Martinez Steven Martinez, Treasurer


Board of Director members:

Carol Adams

Mona Ball *

Edith JeffersonEdith Jefferson

Pat OrrangePat Orrange

Rafael Rivera *

John Thurston *

Teresa Rankin, Immediate Past President

* term expires 12/31/2018, all others expire 12/31/2019


Lynn Coffin, Ex Officio - Outreach Editor

Last Updated on Friday, 15 December 2017 15:48
 
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