Vote with your feet this Saturday

Vote with your feet this Saturday

Photo courtesy of Phil Fonville

It’s hard to believe, but the 2020 presidential election process is in full swing. The Iowa caucuses kicked things off last night and four weeks from today is “Super Tuesday” – the day on which presidential primaries will be held in North Carolina and 15 other locations. Within six weeks, well over half the delegates to the two major political party conventions will have been selected and, amazingly, we could well know who the Democratic challenger to President Trump is likely to be before spring officially arrives.

Here in the Tar Heel state, the plot grows only thicker as voters will be selecting a U.S. Senator, Governor and all of the other nine Council of State offices, all 13 representatives to Congress, all 170 state legislators and numerous appellate court judges.

So, given this extraordinary state of affairs, what is a caring and thinking person to do? Voting is an obvious “must” for all of us, but surely there is more to influencing and advancing the national policy debate in the new decade than simply showing up at one’s polling place on the first Tuesdays in March and November.

Here’s one suggestion: get off of your couch or computer chair and engage in the substantive debate of over policy and ideology. Polling indicates that American public opinion leans more progressive on a host of key issues than it has in decades, but there’s often a big difference between what people think and the policies that candidates back and, ultimately, that find their way into law.

Public opinion, for example, overwhelmingly supports strong laws to rein in billionaires bent on rigging the political and economic systems, control gun violence and guarantee a woman’s right to access abortion services, but even if progressive candidates fare well in the 2020 election, there’s no guarantee that forward-thinking policies in those areas will result.

The same is true for numerous other topics – from tax policy to public school privatization to the climate crisis.

To secure real and lasting change, voting is absolutely essential, but so too are sustained activism and engagement – both to shape the electoral debate and the policy making that takes place afterwards.

That’s where this Saturday’s 14th annual HKonJ Moral March on Raleigh comes in. In our still maddeningly segregated and economically stratified society, the opportunities for average people of all races and colors to come together to push back against the powerful few who rig our politics and economy are much too few and far between.

By joining with thousands of committed fellow progressives this Saturday, marchers will get the opportunity to: a) enjoy the inspiration and esprit de corps that comes with shared activism, b) hear inspiring messages from important progressive leaders like the Reverends William Barber and T. Anthony Spearman, and c) directly lift up an unapologetically progressive policy agenda just weeks before the March 3 primary. Among the items included in or referenced by that agenda:

  • making good on our state’s long-neglected constitutional requirement to provide every child with access a sound basic education,
  • raising the state minimum wage to a living wage,
  • ensuring that every family has access to quality, affordable childcare,
  • addressing the climate crisis and its increasingly severe impacts,
  • ensuring that all workers have access to workplace benefits such as paid sick days,
  • expanding Medicaid and working toward a system that will guarantee healthcare access for all,
  • addressing the ongoing crisis in our treatment and placement for persons with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities and substance abuse problems,
  • saying “no” once and for all to voter suppression tactics like discriminatory photo ID requirements,
  • expanding early voting and same day registration hours and locations and improving oversight of voting rights protections,
  • reviving the public financing of elections,
  • resisting the ongoing far right effort to undermine the UNC system while lifting up HBCU’s,
  • dramatically increasing the state’s investment in affordable housing,
  • ending the war on immigrants by assuring that that all graduates of North Carolina high schools are eligible for admission to state universities and community colleges at in-state tuition rates, calling on federal lawmakers to adopt responsible, comprehensive immigration reform and ending destructive practices by local law enforcement,
  • championing true equality for all LGBTQ North Carolinians,
  • rejecting any and all efforts to expand predatory lending practices,
  • abolishing the death penalty, and
  • effecting a significant overhaul of the state’s underfunded and frequently discriminatory criminal justice and corrections systems.

Marchers will begin to gather for this year’s event at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning at the corner of Wilmington and South Streets in downtown Raleigh. The weather forecast calls for temperatures in the 50’s. The march will begin in earnest at 10:00 a.m. Click here to access all of the Saturday details as well as information about a number of pre-march events that will take place all throughout the week.

Hope to see ya’ there.