The media have been complaining about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s failure to communicate her policy stances. She gave them an earful last week when she accepted the inaugural Barbara Jordan Public Private Leadership Medallion at Texas Southern University and gave a very detailed account of where she stands on voting. She favors early voting, automatic registration at 18 years of age, restoration of the protections in the Voting Rights Act that were nullified by the Supreme Court, and less restrictive voter identification laws. She blasted the Republican Party for their ceaseless campaigns to restrict voting for people of color and young people—segments of the population they fear would provide additional political clout for the Democratic Party.
The former Secretary of State went so far as to name four governors—Christie in New Jersey, Walker in Wisconsin and former governors Perry in Texas, and Bush in Florida—who she believes have been particularly egregious in their actions to limit voting opportunities. The bottom line for her is that we need to be doing everything possible to get more people voting, not putting up roadblocks and barriers. She proposed the implementation of the recommendations of the 2013 bi-partisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration co-chaired by the general counsels of the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns that would expand online voting, modernize and upgrade the technology of voting systems, and expand opportunities for voting.
Texas Southern University provided Hillary Clinton the ideal stage from which to launch her ambitious electoral agenda. This was the home of the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan—the first African American woman elected from the Deep South. She served three terms—her time in the House cut short by a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Jordan was a hero to Hillary Clinton so she was very comfortable among her hosts. She knew them well. She knew that voting rights was a paramount concern and she attacked the issue with fervor. She also knew that she would be speaking to millions more beyond the audience in front of her. She and her advisors knew that the media, right-wing cut-throats, and progressive skeptics would be parsing her every word for their own purposes. So she gave it to everyone full blast. What this country needs is more people voting, she demanded. I could not agree with her more.
For social workers, politics is the latest battleground in the pursuit of social justice. With virtually unlimited money allowed in the political arena, the only counterbalance is for more people to exercise their right to vote. Those with an agenda and those fully committed to the status quo will make their way to their polling places. Those weighed down by adverse circumstances often find it inconvenient and believe it’s an exercise in futility. As Hillary Clinton pointed out in her speech, roadblocks are constantly being erected to discourage people of color, young people and low-income earners from exercising their right to vote. Republicans—who are much whiter, older and more conservative than Democrats—fully understand the need to keep these voters out of the political process in order to maintain their agenda of supporting the wealthy and corporations at the expense of labor and less fortunate Americans.
I support Hillary Clinton. I campaigned for her during her run for the Senate—standing on freezing corners of the upper West Side in Manhattan. I think she was an effective Senator from New York and I think she will be one of the better Presidents this country has seen in recent times. I will be supporting her as an individual. CRISP has not endorsed a candidate. I know may social workers who are skeptical of Hillary Clinton. Every person has to decide who he or she will vote for. There is no guarantee that she will be the Democratic nominee. We still have a long way to go.
Written By Charles E. Lewis Jr., Ph.D
Hillary Clinton Calls for Expanding Voting Opportunities was originally published @ Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy » Charles Lewis and has been syndicated with permission.
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