What Was Our DC Lobby Day?

the hill at night

The College Democrats of Maryland recently held their annual Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. It was a brisk, cold morning when students from chapters across the state met outside the Capitol Visiting Center on November 16th. Members from Salisbury, Towson, and UMBC split up into three groups and met with several different U.S. Congressmembers.

My group, for instance, met with staffers from Rep. Elijah Cummings, Rep. John Sarbanes, and Senator Claire McCaskill’s offices. We discussed legislation dealing with climate change, healthcare, college tuition, and campaign finance reform. My two group members and I stressed how important some of these issues were to us. We also asked the staff we met with how they found themselves working on The Hill and what their day-to-day jobs involved. One group of students ran into Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez!

After my group had lunch in the Rayburn Cafeteria, we met up with the rest of the College Democrats for an hour-long tour of the Capitol Building. Then, we took one last group picture outside and went out for dinner. On the (very long) car ride back to Salisbury, my friends and I swapped stories of our days. While we all had slightly different experiences, we all agreed on one thing: we would definitely be back again next year.

 

– Carissa Antonis, CDMD Secretary

George H. W. Bush

George HW Bush and al of the Presidents'

We send our well wishes to the Bush family today as the country mourns the loss of President George H.W. Bush.

He knew that to be a public servant one had to be willing to fight for America in every aspect from the front lines to the offices in Washington.  He dedicated his young adult years to enlisting in the Navy and continued on to serving in the House, working in the UN, and running the CIA, among other things.  He is one of the most qualified Presidents we have had, and America will miss his wisdom and knowledge in the future.  He stood up for what he believed in while also being cordial and respectful and maintaining the idea that we can disagree while still remaining Americans.

President Bush embodied the respect and professionalism necessary in the White House.  In the end of his term, he sent this letter to incoming President Bill Clinton:

—–

Dear Bill,
When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.
I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.
There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.
You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.
Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.
Good luck—
George
—–
Despite the fact that his successor was of a different political party, President Bush knew that in the end, we are all trying to do what we think is best for the country.  We may be on opposing sides in a debate, but after the session is called we are all Americans at heart and in intentions.  We will miss his level head and wisdom.  Thank you.

Women’s Caucus

The leadership of the College Democrats of Maryland’s first established caucus, the Women’s Caucus, is thrilled to be beginning their work for the new school year! As it embarks on its first year as an assembled caucus, one of the primary objectives of the Women’s Caucus is to promote local and national political candidates who uphold women’s rights; the leadership and membership of the caucus intends to highlight and support candidates who make women’s economic, personal, and social liberation a central focus of their campaigns. As the midterm elections come to a close and the Democratic Party looks ahead to 2020, the Women’s Caucus will focus on electing Democratic female candidates to all levels of political office.

The Women’s Caucus is currently recruiting members for its general body. The general body membership and caucus leadership will work together to advocate for women at campuses throughout the state of Maryland. Some of the objectives of the Women’s Caucus for the 2018-2019 academic year include organizing events and information tables at universities throughout Maryland, participating in canvas days, and collaborating with local organizations that champion women’s rights. If you are interested in becoming a general body member, please fill out the general membership form on the College Democrats of Maryland Women’s Caucus information page. If you have any questions about the caucus or its objectives, please contact womenscaucus@mdcollegedems.org. It will be an exciting year promoting the advancement and empowerment of women!

Rebecca Vincent, Caucus Chair

On Brett Kavanaugh

We stand with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and all survivors of sexual assault. We respect Dr. Ford while she continues to persevere through insults and attacks on her character, from the general public, Senators, and our President, as she speaks her truth. As our country changes how we talk about sexual assault, it is important to cultivate an environment that welcomes reporting and does not discourage it.  Scrutiny from our highest offices sets an example on the national stage, but we must not let that shape the way we treat survivors and other human beings. Soon empathy will defy party lines and find its way back into politics again.

We condemn the behavior of all lawmakers who approached confirming Judge Kavanaugh with a purely partisan lens, as that is not the role of the Senate in this process. The American people trust Senators to consider every single aspect of a nominee’s qualifications and demonstrated behavior, especially when that nominee will serve a life sentence in our highest court.

We have to push for more respectful dialogue from both sides.  We have to demand respectful treatment of sexual assault survivors in the future. Remember the behavior of our lawmakers during the Senate confirmation hearings when we go to the polls in November.

MD Gubernatorial Debate

Image result for ben jealous debate 2018

On Monday, Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Ben Jealous faced off against Republican Governor Larry Hogan in a debate that showed who has the plans lead our state forward. Although Jealous has proposed 5 debates between the two candidates, Monday night was the only date Larry Hogan has agreed to. And the debate revealed exactly why.

Jealous, a former president of the NAACP and socially-conscious business leader, laid out his plans for growing our state’s economy, current last in the region, fully funding our schools, which have dropped from #1 to #6 in the nation, and reinventing our healthcare system, which is far too expensive for many who need it. Hogan, on the other hand, made false claim after false claim, pretending that people across our state are not struggling with job insecurity, declining schools, lack of affordable healthcare, and more.

While the governor insisted that Maryland is in the midst of “one of the greatest economic turnarounds in America,” Jealous showed that, for far too many Marylanders, getting a job that pays a living wage or going to college at an affordable price just isn’t possible. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Maryland is behind Virginia, Delaware, and the District of Columbia in terms of job growth. Maryland can do better than a governor who thinks last in the region is good enough.

Jealous also highlighted his plan to revamp our education system which is failing far too many students. It includes universal pre-kindergarten for every child, increasing vocational education options in high schools, and finally raising teachers’ pay so we can recruit the best teachers in the nation. From proposing $144 million in education funding cuts during just his first year in office to supporting vouchers for private schools, Hogan has proven he is no leader on education. Hogan also repeatedly took credit for work championed by the Democratic State Legislature, including a “lockbox” which will ensure revenues from casinos are spent only on education. Maryland can do better than a governor who thinks doing the bare minimum on education is good enough.

Finally, Jealous explained that, under his leadership, Maryland will finally get health care costs under control with a sustainable Medicare for All plan. Premiums under Hogan have risen 120% since he took office, and the governor took two years to declare a state of emergency over the opioid epidemic. For Jealous, a good healthcare system includes “mental health care for all” and ensuring that gun violence is treated as the “public health crisis that it is.” Maryland can do better than a governor who thinks rising health care costs and ignoring the pain of average families is good enough.

Monday’s debate proved that Ben Jealous is the only candidate for governor with the ideas and ability to improve Maryland for the better. College Democrats of Maryland joins with Jealous in calling for additional debates so that all people in Maryland are able to see for themselves which candidate can truly lead our state forward.

One debate is not enough. Larry Hogan is not enough. Maryland can do better.

 

Cameron Walkup

Political Director, College Democrats of Maryland

College Dems Start the Year Off Strong

Image may contain: 11 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoorThe College Democrats of Maryland have been very active since we kicked off the 2018 Academic year. Over the first weekend of school, we went up to Fredrick to canvass for Democrats like State Senator Ron Young, David Trone to be our next Congressman in the Maryland 6th district and to support Ben Jealous as our next Governor. Unfortunately, the rain was so strong, we could not door knock. Instead, we went to the Fredrick Democratic Party office and phonebanked for two-three hours. This was a great first opportunity for kids to get involved in the fight for our democratic values as a country. We had a very strong showing for the first canvass and we want to continue to expand and replicate that.

This past weekend, members of both the University of Maryland College Democrats as well as the College Democrats of Maryland went to the Blue Wave Rally in Montgomery County. This was a kickoff event held to get the democratic base activated and energized as we move into the final months of this election. Our members got to learn from fantastic speakers like Ben Jealous, Sen. Ben Cardin, Rep. John Sarbanes, and Attorney General Brian Frosh were in attendance. It was a great opportunity to hear about not only the importance of the midterm elections in 2018 but also getting involved as well. Rep. Sarbanes compared getting involved to an energy grid. If you knocking on doors in a safe blue area, you are putting energy on the grid that the new volunteers in red states use to knock on doors.

Clubs across the state are having their first meetings and we are seeing unparalleled activity in interest in joining College Democrat chapters. We are really making an all-out push for college students to get involved. Knock on doors, make phone calls, sends texts, write a letter to the editor,  We cannot afford to have anyone sitting on the sideline this cycle. We are really excited to see what the upcoming academic year has in store and how we can help encourage College Democrats throughout Maryland get involved.

Donald Trump is a threat to the central tenants of American democracy. He won the 2016 Presidential election by dividing our country and stoking the flames of fear into our citizens. We want to send a strong message to Donald Trump in the midterm elections that his agenda does not reflect our American values. That starts by having a strong showing in the elections in Maryland. We at the College Democrats of Maryland are working as hard as we can to make sure we can get the millennial energy as tapped into and action-oriented as possible. Feel free to reach out if you would like to get more involved.

Kerry Billings

Chief of Staff, Cllege Democrats of Maryland

Conditions in Baltimore City

DSC_0011

During the 2016 election, a headline that addressed the conditions of Baltimore were quickly buried by the everchanging news cycle at the time. This headline ranked the conditions of some Baltimore neighborhoods worse than that in urban Nigeria. In 2014, the areas of Hilltop and Little Italy had at least 20 out of 1,000 infants die before their first birthday, a statistic which was not only higher than the West Bank, Honduras, and Venezuela, but also war-torn Syria and oppressive Uzbekistan at the time. Such conditions for the largest city in the state of Maryland show the remarkable ability to disregard a portion of the population who require the most assistance.

Most of my time in Maryland has been spent in Northern Baltimore County in Hereford. Despite being less than an hour from Baltimore City though, the disconnect of these two regions within the same county grows by the day. The school I went to, Hereford High School, is nationally ranked and yet just a short drive south and one sees some of the worst schools in the country. It is hard not see this issue in terms of black and white when you look at which resources and investments are directed to regions designated more important.

As some kid who grew up in the suburbs, I know I don’t have the answers to address the multitude of issues that impact those living in the inner-city of Baltimore. I do however know that the ignorance and disregard for those within our own state, from both sides of the political aisle, creates a foundation for these inhumane conditions. I would ask you for this upcoming election to vote for individuals who not just represent your personal opinions, but someone who can benefit the entire state and its entire people.

Riley Gee

Vice President, College Democrats of Maryland

What is the Green Party to Democrats?

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing, cloud, sky, tree and outdoor
Andrew Barnhart for Delegate (right) and his Brother, Michael Barnhart (left) in Annapolis.

In a time of immense divisiveness, who is the Green Party to Democrats? In Washington County, Democrats are setting a potentially monumental precedent in their decision to ally with the party against Republican incumbents William Wivell and Neil Parrott. The United Democrats of Washington County have supported Andrew Barnhart of the Green Party as a delegate for district 2A in Western Maryland. Barnhart, a 26-year-old Hagerstown native, graduated with his B.S. in Biology and Philosophy from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2014 and proceeded to earn his M.A. in Bioethics & Society from King’s College in London in 2015. He returned to Hagerstown in 2016 and began teaching at Frederick Community College, where he also represented faculty in the Faculty Association and College Senate.

Unlike previous candidates such as Bernie Sanders, an Independent who ran on the Democratic ticket, Barnhart seeks to make it clear that he is not running as a Democrat, or even as a Democratic back-up. He is running for the Green Party and its values of sustainability. He rejects the current two-party system, believing that a democracy is healthiest when multiple party perspectives are incorporated into elections.

For many Democrats, this comes off as a threat to our party, but does it necessarily have to be? While there has been much controversy in recent years as to the issue of “splitting the vote,” this race is unique in that there is no such risk; there is no Democrat running. We may not always agree, or even outright oppose one another sometimes, but when facing Republicans like Wivell and Parrott, it is important to recognize our similarities, especially when it comes to the planet. We know that climate deniers must be stopped and that corporations should not have the ability to demolish entire ecosystems.

It must be made clear, however, that the Democratic Party and Green Party are not the same. The Green Party falls on the side of one-issue politics in its focus on the environment and sustainable development; it has many stances on policies beside this, but the environment is their primary concern. They do not support Democratic Party leadership, which is where I and other Democrats disagree. The Green Party may share many values with us, but I still believe that the Democratic Party is best suited to bring about progressive legislation and elect those who will defend such laws.

So, if there was a Democrat running, would I vote for them? Yes. But there isn’t. Barnhart may not be running as a Democratic back-up, but it cannot be denied that his views on environmental sustainability, equality for all, and an economy that works for everyone is very similar to that of Democrats. It would be a mistake to refuse his candidacy based on the lack of a D next to his name. Both Democrats and Greens can agree that we cannot survive under the GOP.

While this race is unique and new, it will not be the last like it. With Trump energizing the most extreme members of his party, it should be evident in races like these, where the Green Party and Democratic Party are not running against each other, that we need to support the other regardless of affiliation. In a race where both a Democrat and Green are running, there will almost certainly be tension. However, in the face of such greater threats, we will all lose if we are at one another’s throats constantly. Democrats cannot and will not win every election, and the same is true about Greens.

Western Maryland cannot wait. From the floods that are increasing in occurrence every year to the proposed TransCanada pipeline going under the Potomac, our main water source, Maryland needs leadership that isn’t under the thumb of the Republican Party. It is important that the Democratic Party of Maryland does not forget those who are furthest from the Bay, because the right certainly hasn’t.

On Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination

In the days after the 2016 election, it was common to feel shell-shocked. After so long fighting to avoid the worst-case outcome, it had come anyway, and while no one knew for sure what was going to happen next, we could all guess that it would be catastrophic. That feeling returned on the twenty-seventh of June when Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement.

 
Tonight, Donald Trump announced that 53-year old Maryland native Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh would replace Justice Kennedy. J.D. Vance, the author of the “economic anxiety” bible Hillbilly Elegy, said that Kavanaugh “deeply believed in the constitutional separation of powers as a means for ensuring governmental accountability and protecting individual liberty.”

 
It would be a fun mental exercise to argue that surely Kavanaugh would defend a woman’s “individual liberty” to make her own medical decisions, or his belief in “governmental accountability” would lead to him curbing the Trump administration’s authoritarian tendencies. But this is hardly time for fun mental exercises.

 
For years, Kennedy has served as the court’s swing vote on crucial cases. His legacy is mixed– he is well known for his critical vote in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage. He also protected access to abortion in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt. However, Kennedy ruled to strike down part of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, and, was the deciding vote in the now infamous Citizens United case that allowed unlimited campaign spending.

 
The 2018 Supreme Court session saw Kennedy serving as the swing vote on a number of important cases–upholding the Muslim travel ban in Trump v. Hawaii, gutting public sector unions in Janus v. AFSCME, and protecting fake reproductive healthcare centers in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra. We will likely be seeing the fallout from these decisions for centuries. And then, in the same day that the Janus decision came down, Kennedy retired, handing another Supreme Court seat to the ultra-conservative Trump administration. This will be his legacy–a man who knew what the right side of history looked like and willingly turned his back on it.

 
It is difficult to overestimate the scope of the danger that social progress in America faces right now. The Supreme Court is the final word on issues ranging from access to abortion to voting rights, and it will now have a firmly Republican majority. I use the word “Republican” deliberately because it is utterly fallacious to pretend that the court is anything resembling nonpartisan. For decades there has been a concentrated and well-funded movement by conservatives to roll back advancements America has made towards equality using the law, ever since courts proved a challenge to the conservative white male order. This was the mission of William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan, and we are finally seeing it come to completion now, spearheaded by groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Liberty Counsel, and the American Center For Law and Justice.

The tragedy of the Voting Rights Act was a canary in the coal mine. So was Citizens United. And then, in 2016, Mitch McConnell refused to even hold a hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, ignoring the will of the majority of Americans who chose Obama as their president and the rules set out in the Constitution. The knowledge that the Supreme Court hung in balance drove evangelicals out en masse in 2016, even as progressives refused to vote for the “lesser of two evils.”

 
Understandably, activists are demanding action from the Democratic Party. While this is not a complete waste of time, the Democrats have limited ways of blocking Kavanaugh. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer can’t stop his confirmation because McConnell eliminated the filibuster. To stop Kavanaugh, two Republicans would have to break party lines. On a chance to guarantee a conservative Supreme Court. The chances here are slim to none

Here is what you should think of when you think of Kavanaugh. When Jane Doe, a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant detained by the U.S. government, sought access to an abortion, the Trump administration–the administration responsible for her detention– tried to keep her from getting the procedure, forcing her to have a sonogram and receive religious counseling. When the D.C. Circuit Court ruled in her favor, Kavanaugh disagreed, stating that the ruling created “a new right for unlawful immigrant minors in U.S. Government detention to obtain an immediate abortion on demand.”

I don’t have a hopeful note to end this on. What is essential in moments like these is to draw on the past for strength. Our generation is not the first to face seemingly insurmountable threats to social progress–the arc of the moral universe never bends on its own. We stand on the shoulders of people who saw tragedy and didn’t give up, and we can’t give up either.

On the twenty-seventh, Congressman John Lewis tweeted: “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” In the coming months and years, when things get difficult, remember his words.

Julia Byrne

Communications Director, College Democrats of Maryland

Official Statement on School Shooting in Parkland, Florida

Baltimore, Maryland – On February 14th, 2018, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School experienced one of the most horrific incidents possible at their school. Our hearts are with the victims of the shooting and all residents of Florida. We proudly stand with the Florida College Democrats and Sunshine State as they recover from this traumatizing event.

While today we take the time to grieve and  mourn the loss of loved ones, tomorrow must lead to action. Offering thoughts and prayers is not enough. Action must be taken to prevent these horrific events from continuing  in the future.

Our generation cannot and will not be defined by the violence that plagues our country. No parent, sibling, or loved one should have to worry if their child will come off the bus that afternoon. Our government, and our legislators, have failed all of us by choosing not to address our nation’s  gun laws.


Extending condolences cannot be the limit to our action. Words are just words and we must not allow legislators at the local, state, and federal level to remain inactive in addressing much needed reform. We must act now, to prevent the violence of tomorrow.

###

For more information or inquiries, please contact our Director of Communications, Mai Do, at CollegeDemocratsofMaryland@gmail.com