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:

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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
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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.

Make Your Voice Heard

We are less than a week away from one of the most important elections of our lifetimes where there are more women, first time candidates, and people of color on the ballot and it is time to turn #IWillVote into #IVoted. This election will determine which party controls the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Maryland Governor’s Mansion, Maryland Attorney General and Comptroller, the House of Delegates, the Maryland Senate, and countless local races. Each of these offices will have a direct impact on our lives over the course of the next 2-4 years.

Control of Congress is up for grabs and it is essential that Democrats take back at least one chamber to provide an adequate check on presidential power which Republicans have failed to do. Retaking the majority is essential to supporting factfinding investigations about the countless Trump Administration scandals that have gone unchecked under Republican leadership. Maryland needs to support the phenomenal Democrats running for Congress to protect Maryland from the next two years of the Trump presidency.

The Governor’s Mansion and General Assembly are incredibly important to ensuring we enact progressive policies that will benefit the lives of every Marylander. I am incredibly proud of the Democratic campaigns running across the state that have led positive campaigns promising positive change in Maryland, rather than the fearmongering we have seen from the Maryland Republican Party. Ben Jealous, Susie Turnbull, Brian Frosh, Ben Cardin and candidates across the state will work tirelessly for Marylanders and their values. This year, they need your support and are counting on you to show up at the polls.

As college students, our demographic tends to be ignored because we are less likely to show up at the polls, especially in a midterm year. If there is anything that I have learned when talking with our chapters across the state it is that students are fired up for this year’s election. There are countless issues that will affect each and every one of us. The Republicans in Congress have shown us how they really feel about the #MeToo movement and supporting women when they chose to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Governor Hogan showed us how he really felt about public schools when he called teachers “thugs” and has proposed countless cuts to public school funding.

This year college students and millennials as a whole have the power to shift this year’s election by supporting candidates who share our values. College students will change the political dynamic by exercising their right to vote and taking control of their future. The policies and decisions of today have the power to affect our future for not just the next four years, but for decades to come. The stakes are too high in this election to simply sit on the sideline.

To ensure you are able to cast your ballot, here are some helpful tips for Election Day.

  • Check your polling place at IWillVote.com
  • Check your schedule and figure out the best time for you to go, whether that is before class, after work, or on your way home.
  • Make sure you have a ride and if don’t there are a number of free or discounted rides that can help get you to the polls
  • Bring friends! Be sure to remind your friends, classmates, and family members to vote too by texting, calling and bringing them to the polls!
  • Last chance to volunteer! Sign up here to help remind others to cast their ballot too!

The only way to ensure your voice gets heard is to elect candidates who share your values and will put Maryland on the right path. There are countless Democrats across the state who are excited to fight for you, but they need your support on November 6th!

By: Ryan Kirby

President, College Democrats of Maryland

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

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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

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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

CDMD’s First National Convention

This past weekend I had the privilege to attend the 2018 College Democrats of America National Convention with other students from Maryland who represented Towson University, Salisbury University, and University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). The Maryland delegation was attended by the College Democrats of Maryland President and Treasurer, as well as the UMBC President and Vice President. To my knowledge, this the first National Convention we have attended, and I am so happy we were able to make it. We had the opportunity to hear from incredible speakers about their vision for both the Democratic Party and College Democrats.

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Overall, I had a fantastic time at the College Democrats of America National Convention and am glad I got to go before graduating. The College Democrats of Maryland will continue to attend future National Conventions and, hopefully, grow the number of chapters represented. We owe a huge thank you to the College Democrats of Illinois and the University of Chicago College Democrats for hosting the National Convention. A big thank you is also owed to the previous College Democrats of America Executive Board for all their hard work this past year and for putting on such a great Convention. I also want to extend congratulations to the newly elected College Democrats of America Executive Board as I look forward to working with you in the coming months as we work towards electing Democrats up and down the ticket.

The National Convention provided our federation with opportunity to spend time connecting with other College Democrats from across the country. I loved hearing all the different challenges, strategies, and stories that each state federation and chapter leader had. Being from a predominantly Democratic state, it was very interesting to hear the experience of Red State Democrats fighting for Democrats, such as Senator Heidi Heitkamp. I also found it incredibly valuable to hear outside perspective on some of the Maryland races that people had been following. These perspectives and stories will be incredibly valuable throughout 2018 and I look forward to keeping in touch with everyone throughout the election and beyond.

Over the course of the weekend we attended training sessions about various topics in order to better prepare ourselves as active citizens and campus leaders. These breakout sessions were very informative and allowed us to learn about various topics ranging from marketing and digital strategy to fundraising techniques. I want to work the Maryland Democratic Party and DNC to ensure we continue training college students in Maryland to prepare them for current and future campaign work.

Throughout all our conversations, trainings, and speeches the one thing that stuck out most to me was the relatively limited mention of President Trump. Of course, his ridiculous antics were not ignored, as it would be nearly impossible to ignore the colossal Russian elephant in the room, but he was not the focus. Instead, we focused on what we can do to get Democrats elected up and down the ballot. We had conversations about local races and what we can do to get involved. I could not be more excited to hear that.

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Midterm elections are often viewed as a measure of the party in power, but Democrats are not the party of anger. We are most certainly fired up about issues coming from the White House but being angry isn’t what our party is about. Democrats need to provide a positive message for voters to latch on to. We must show how our policies will be successful in making the lives of working people better. The National Convention focused almost exclusively on ways we can improve our message to truly reach out to voters and let them know we are fighting for them.

One of the other key aspects of the National Convention that left me fired up was talking about the future of the Democratic Party. Our generation truly is the future of our party and our country. We are all too familiar with being told we are “too young” or “too inexperienced” to do something. Countless speakers reminded us that being “too young” is no excuse to be overlooked. We heard from Jason Rae, the youngest ever DNC Officer, and Hadiya Afzal who is running for DuPage County Council at the age of 18. It was incredibly inspiring to hear their stories and be reminded that if you want a seat at the table, you have to take it.

Young people are the life blood of political campaigns. High school and college students volunteer and intern countless hours on campaigns at every level of government, from city council to presidential campaigns. Campaigns and Democratic Party officials should also be aware of just how much they rely on our generation and future generations. Party and campaign platforms should reflect the values and interests of our generation. If those platforms don’t reflect our values and ideas, then it is upon us to change them by voting and running for office ourselves. President Obama understood the importance of the youth activism and on the 50th Anniversary of the Selma March, President Obama stated,

“It is you, the young and fearless at heart, the most diverse and educated generation in our history, who the nation is waiting to follow.”

The 2018 National Convention was a fantastic opportunity to engage with likeminded individuals who are equally driven to fight for progressive values. With the most important election of our lives less than 100 days away, getting engaged is no longer an option; it is a necessity.

By Ryan Kirby

President, College Democrats of Maryland

What is the Green Party to Democrats?

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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.