What is the Green Party to Democrats?

What is the Green Party to Democrats?

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

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

Larry Hogan Can Be Beat

Larry Hogan Can Be Beat

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Maryland is one of the bluest states in the country, but in 2014 we elected Republican Larry Hogan to the governorship and we are on the verge of re-electing him in 2018. Governor Hogan commands an impressive approval rating at 71% according to the latest Washington Post/ University of Maryland poll. In order for Democrats to take back the Governor’s Mansion in Maryland, we have to showcase how Hogan has failed Marylanders.

After viewing his “Maryland Strong” ad, viewers might be left with the impression that Hogan has singlehandedly brought Maryland forward, but a review of the facts lays credit elsewhere. Hogan’s predecessor, Governor O’Malley, served from 2006-2014 and two years into his term the nation entered the Great Recession. Hogan’s ad cherry picks data from one of the most difficult economic crises in an effort to mislead viewers. His claim that “over 100,000 jobs lost” is actually from 2007-2010, the height of the Great Recession. His claim of over “$1.2 billion in tax relief” includes hundreds of millions of dollars in tax relief passed by the Democratic legislature and already existing programs. The Baltimore Sun notes how that claim even includes “$240 million that the Supreme Court ordered the state to return to taxpayers who were overcharged on their income taxes.” Governor Hogan is deliberately trying to mislead voters and in a time of fake news, the facts matter.

With the understanding that Republicans are outnumbered 2-1 in voter registration, the Hogan Administration has avoided risk and controversy whenever possible. Countless bills have come across his desk and become law without his signature. Marylanders need a governor who will be an active leader in our state.

Governor Hogan sided with Trump in 2016 when he declared he would not be allowing Syrian refugees into our state. This decision was based on factual inaccuracies and fearmongering. Hogan tries to distance himself from President Trump, but has no problem stumping for Trump approved candidates, such as Ed Gillespie of Virginia. Maryland needs a governor who will stand up to President Trump.

On education, Governor Hogan has proposed tens of millions of dollars in cuts to education spending. Cuts that hurt teacher salaries and increase class sizes. While proposing budget cuts for public schools, Hogan has ensured that he will continue the policies of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos by diverting funds away from public schools and into private charter schools. Governor Hogan is not a friend to teachers. He has called teachers “union thugs” and opposed having public school teachers on the Maryland Board of Education.

Governor Hogan also enjoys an A- rating from the NRA and accepted thousands of dollars from the NRA in campaign contributions. Governor Hogan opposed legislation banning guns on college campuses and even common-sense legislation that would ban bump-stocks in Maryland. We need a governor who will support legislation that protects Marylanders from gun violence, especially when Congress remains inactive in this crucial area.

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Ben Jealous is the Governor Maryland needs. Mr. Jealous brings the necessary experience for the job as the former President and CEO of the NAACP and his successful campaigns to abolish the death penalty, expand voting rights, and pass marriage equality. Mr. Jealous will work to promote public education by investing in our teachers and students.  He will fight for every Marylander to have access to healthcare, work towards ending the student debt crisis, and promote strong economic growth in Maryland. I look forward to working with my fellow College Democrats as we talk with voters about issues they care about most and retake the Governor’s Mansion this Novemeber.

Ryan Kirby

President, College Democrats of Maryland