Basking in the Glow
Thousands of women and men who share our democratic values ran in down-ballot races across the country — and many of them won.
by Susan E. Stutz
We have all been glued to our TVs, computers, and phones, waiting for word on who is going to win the 2020 Presidential Election. But while we wait for those results, it bears remembering that thousands of women and men who share our democratic values ran in down-ballot races across the country. And, many of them won. There were also amendments and propositions on ballots nationwide the passage of which impacts tens of thousands of people. So while the ballots continue to be counted in battleground states, let us take a moment to bask in the glow of the down-ballot wins that can make all of us proud.
First up is California’s Proposition 17.
Passed by 59% of voters, this amendment to California’s Constitution restores the right to vote to the state’s 50,000 people who have been convicted of a felony and are still on parole. For returning citizens, the restoration of the franchise is a step towards reintegrating into society and getting a say in the governance of their local communities, state, and country. Reintegration and participation in the democratic process also cuts down on recidivism rates. No matter who wins the presidency, there are 50,000 citizens in California for whom this election cycle was a definite win.
Over the last year or so, we have seen many news stories about taking down confederate monuments and state flags that pay homage to the country’s racist history. Some Mississippians said that the flag bearing the Confederate symbol “represented their heritage and should not be changed.” Bollocks. The old flag paid tribute to a time in this country when people of color were chattel, subject to the whims and violence of their masters. We need to close the books on that sort of tribute and on November 3, 2020, Mississippians voted to do just that by a 70% majority.
Over the past few years, we have witnessed a patchwork quilt of women from different states, religions, sexual orientations, and ethnicities make history, being elected in greater numbers than ever before. This Election Day was no different. One of those amazing women is Charmaine McGuffy, who became the first openly gay Sheriff in Ohio’s history. And what makes her story even better is that she beat the man who she believes fired her in 2017 for being openly gay.
In a landslide victory, Cori Bush, veteran activist in the Black Lives Matter movement, became the first woman of color to go to the hill on behalf of the state of Missouri. In a time when racial inequality is center stage, Ms. Bush is sure to be a fresh voice for women and people of color while she advocates for her home state. Ms. Bush defeated her opponent by 79% to 19% vote.
In December 2018, we wrote about the gerrymandering efforts on the part of the Republican party in North Carolina. In 2019, North Carolina districts were redrawn pursuant to a court mandate, and those changes helped Democrats pickup two additional House seats. And, two more women, to boot. Let’s hear it for the girls!
And last, but certainly not least, our friends in Puerto Rico voted to end their 122 year status as a US territory and become the 51st state in the Union. Puerto Ricans are American citizens and pay into federal programs like Social Security and Medicare; however, they do not hold seats in Congress and cannot cast votes for president. All of the cons and none of the pros of full statehood. Although this is not the first time that citizens of Puerto Rico have voted to become a state, they are hopeful that their time has finally come.
There is an awful lot to be thankful for all over the country and this is just a tiny sampling of the great victories that have happened in cities and counties nationwide.
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What you can do
Millions of people voted by mail and stood in lines for hours, in the heat and the pouring rain in order to cast their vote in recent weeks. Let's make sure their efforts are rewarded by using our keyword count to urge your legislators to make sure that every vote cast is counted.