Things That Matter

Latino Voters Could Decide The 2020 Election, So Why Did Only 5 Presidential Candidates Show Up To A Latino Issues Forum?

Only five of the remaining eighteen Democratic candidates attended a presidential forum on Latinx issues at Cal State Los Angeles over the weekend. Secretary Julian Castro, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigeg, and billionaire Tom Steyer attended. Notably absent were other leading candidates like Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Cory Booker, and Senator Amy Klobuchar. 

According to a November 13, California statewide Latino Decisions poll, 31 percent of voters planned to vote for Sanders, 22 percent for Biden, 11 percent for Warren, 9 percent for Castro, and 9 percent for Harris. A whopping 74 percent of registered California Latinx voters said they would be voting in the Democratic primary. 

The 90-minute forum sponsored by the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles, the California Latino Legislative Caucus and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, according to ABC 7, whose news anchor Marc Brown moderated the discussion. A panel of journalists asked the candidates a few questions about issues facing the Latinx population in the United States. Here’s what went down. 

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro

“I’m running for president because it’s time for new leadership because it’s time for new energy and it’s time for a new commitment to make sure that the opportunities I’ve had are available for every American,” he said.

Castro said he would reform our current immigration system and undo the policies imposed by the Trump administration. He emphasized support Dreamers and their parents. 

“No matter what happens in the Supreme Court with DACA, if I am elected president I will immediately, by executive order, find a way to protect our Dreamers and also to protect their parents, and then immediately push for fixing our broken immigration system in Congress,” Castro said. 

California Senator Kamala Harris

“When elected I will take executive action and reinstate DACA protections but I’m not going to stop there,” Harris said. “I also intend to fully extend DACA protection to parents and siblings.”

Harris says she would address the student loan debt crisis by offering free community college and forgiving loans of families earning less than $100,000 annually. She also said she would make student loans interest free. 

“We have to invest in the people of our country and one of the smartest investments we can make is in our students and in our young people who want to get an education after high school,” said Harris. 

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders

Sanders emphasized that undocumented immigrants would be covered by Medicare for All. 

“When we talk about Medicare for All—A-L-L—it means all,” the U.S. senator from Vermont said. “It means every man, woman and child in this country including the undocumented. Medicare for All means that there are no longer any premiums, no longer any copayments, no longer any absurd deductibles and no longer any out-of-pocket expenses.”

The Vermont Senator also discussed the hardships young Latinxs with undocumented parents go through in the U.S. 

“I have talked to a lot of young people who are scared to death that when they come home from school their mom or their dad may not be there,” Sanders said. “Kids who are living with trauma and under great emotional distress.”

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg 

“The Latino voters that I speak to are extremely concerned about health care, about the direction of our economy, about immigration policy and about something that’s deeper than any policy issue – which is the way people are being treated, singled out and told they do not belong,” Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg said as president he would invest $430 billion into housing when asked about rising costs.

“Part of what we have to do is make sure our economy actually works for us, not just numbers on a page or the stock market, but what we earn—what you earn as you emerge into the working world—rises as quickly as those costs,” Buttigieg said.

Billionaire Entrepreneur Tom Steyer

Steyer said he would ensure that the rights of asylum seekers were recognized and would end the family separation policy. 

“As a value-driven country that wants to be partners with other countries around the world in solving our common problems, including in this hemisphere, I think it’s absolutely critical that we be dealing fairly with these people, both for their sake but also to project who we are so that we can be a trusted and decent partner for countries and people around the world,” Steyer said.

Steyer says he does not support Medicare for All, but rather a public option where some could keep their private insurance. 

“It’s a public option where everyone has the right to health care,” Steyer said. “But we don’t ask the 160 million Americans, including tens of millions of union workers who have negotiated to get their health care through their employment, to give it up by law.”

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Georgia Delivers Control Of Congress To Democrats Thanks To This Incredible Coalition Of Voters

Things That Matter

Georgia Delivers Control Of Congress To Democrats Thanks To This Incredible Coalition Of Voters

In what seems like the never ending 2020 election cycle, we can finally say that the votes are in. And the results out of Georgia are truly worth celebrating as a diverse coalition of Georgian voters helped deliver both U.S. senate seats to Democrats.

Thanks to a well organized voting apparatus, a record-breaking number of voters hit the polls and helped elect the state’s first Black senator along with the youngest senator in nearly sixty years.

The results out of Georgia help put the Senate under control of the Democrats, handing President-Elect Joe Biden a major tool in helping to implement a progressive agenda once he is inaugurated on January 20.

Georgia elects two Democrats to the U.S. Senate with history-making votes.

Democrats have swept both seats in Georgia’s critical runoff elections, giving the party control of the Senate and removing a major roadblock for President-elect Joe Biden.

Democrat Jon Ossoff defeated Republican David Perdue in Tuesday’s election, while networks had earlier called Georgia’s other race for Democrat Raphael Warnock over GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

The results are a rebuke of President Donald Trump, whose supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol Wednesday to try to stop Congress from counting the Electoral College results.

The Senate will now be split 50-50, but Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris will be able to cast tie-breaking votes, putting Democrats in charge of the legislative agenda, committee chairmanships and Congress’ confirmation and investigative powers.

Black and Latino voters deserve recognition for their hard work in making this possible.

Senator-Elect Warnock is the pastor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s former church in Atlanta. He will be the first Black senator from Georgia and only the 11th Black senator in American history. He won, in part, thanks to astronomical Black turnout.

Many are praising the work of Stacey Abrams and groups like Mijente, who helped register a record-breaking number of new voters. In fact, Mijente helped knock on the doors or call every single Latino resident in the state of Georgia to help get out the vote.

Meanwhile, Stacey Abrams – who had already done so much work in helping turn Georgia blue for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in November – continued her trailblazing mission in the state. Her organization, Fair Fight 2020, helped register more voters than ever before and helped make sure they understood their rights and responsibilities as a voter.

Joe Biden will now have full control of government.

Biden will now enter the White House on Jan. 20 with his party in control of both chambers of Congress, allowing him to confirm his Cabinet and judicial nominees and giving him and a chance to advance his legislative agenda, which would have gone nowhere as long as Sen. Mitch McConnell remained in charge.

Biden and Senate Democratic leaders agree their top priority will be a new round of Covid-19 relief, especially after the president-elect promised Georgia voters this week that $2,000 stimulus checks would “go out the door immediately” if Democrats won the Senate.

Many in the community are hopeful that with control of both the Senate and House, Biden will be able to push through comprehensive immigration reform and undo many of the cruel and inhumane policies put into place by the Trump administration. However, given the legislative filibuster remains in place (requiring a two thirds majority), many question just how much will be accomplished.

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The Georgia Senate Races Are Two Of The Most Important In Modern History And Here’s Why

Things That Matter

The Georgia Senate Races Are Two Of The Most Important In Modern History And Here’s Why

With a runoff election just weeks away that could tip the balance of the U.S. Senate, many people across the United States have Georgia on their minds. And it’s obvious why: the stakes are high.

What happens in January’s dual senate runoff in the state, will directly impact how much of a progressive agenda a President Joe Biden can get through Congress.

Adding to the important dynamic, is the pivotal part that voters of color, in particular Black women, are playing in the races. From grassroots organizing to being members of a key voting bloc that helped lift Democrats to the White House in November, Black, Brow, and Native voters are working hard to turn out the vote.

Georgia’s two senate run off races are two of the most important races in modern history.

Although Georgia went blue for the first time since 1992 by voting for Joe Biden for president, the fight for Georgia is far from over.

This January, there will be two critical U.S. Senate runoff elections, one between Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff, and the other between Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock. The elections will not only decide the state’s representation, but also which political party will have a majority in the U.S. Senate, which could dramatically alter Biden’s upcoming administration.

If we want to see criminal justice reform, compassionate immigration policy, a permanent DACA program, a fairer economy that works for all Americans, and a common sense, science-based approach to the Coroanvirus pandemic – among so much else – what happens in Georgia is critical.

Here’s why the race is so critical for a Democratic agenda to have any chance of becoming reality.

Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

As it stands, following the 2020 election, the new U.S. Senate will consist of 46 Democrats, two independents who caucus with Democrats, 50 Republicans, and then whoever wins these two races in Georgia.

If Democrats win both races, they will have a majority in the Senate (the Senate tie breaker is the Vice President, or in this case, Kamala Harris), giving Biden increased power to pass legislation and move forward on his policy agenda. Otherwise, if even one of the Republican candidates wins in January, the GOP will have majority control.

As the Times reports: “With judicial nominees, a stimulus deal, infrastructure and health care measures, and tax and spending policies all on the line, the Senate races in Georgia are likely to take on an intensity that mirrors the presidential race that just ended.”

What are the issues candidates are talking about?

Although much is said about the elections impact on the Senate and Biden’s presidency, the candidates are also talking issues that affect Georgians.

Joe Ossoff is highlighting Sen. Perdue’s highly questionable stock trades in which the senator seemed to financially benefit from the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, the Daily Beast recently reported that Perdue invested in a company called BWX Technologies that manufactured Navy submarine parts right around the time he became head of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower. Ossoff has also hammered hard on Perdue’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act, and the larger issue of the need for financial relief for those made newly unemployed by the pandemic.

As for Loeffler, reportedly the wealthiest person in the Senate, she too has made some questionable trades. According to published reports, Loeffler and her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, who is the CEO of a company that owns the New York Stock Exchange, reportedly sold $20 million in shares after she attended a closed-door Senate briefing on the coronavirus in January, while also making investments in companies that may benefit from the pandemic.

Do the two Democrats have a chance to flip the Senate?

Credit: ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images

It’s been 24 years since Georgia last sent a Democrat to the Senate, so it would appear that it’s a steep slope in achieving a double win come January. But notably, the last time the state voted for a Democratic candidate for president was in Bill Clinton’s first race in 1992—and Joe Biden changed that this year.

Can Ossoff and Warnock do the same? Recent polls show that both races are essentially even, with Warnock one point ahead of Loeffler, 49 to 48%, and Ossoff and Perdue tied at 49%. But as we know from the recent presidential elections, polls have become notoriously unreliable.

Black and Brown voters – especially women – will likely hold the key to Democratic wins.

Georgia owes it’s history-making switch to blue in part to a large and well-organized coalition of Black voters, especially Black women. Black voters were essential to Biden’s win: of the 160 million people who voted in the recent presidential election, exit polls show nearly 50 percent of registered Black women voters cast ballots. At least 90 percent voted for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-president elect Kamala Harris. 

The shift was thanks, in part, to the tireless work of Black organizers—women like Stacey Abrams and Fair Fight, LaTosha Brown and Black Voters Matter, and Nse Ufot and The New Georgia Project—who registered, educated, and mobilized voters.

If you’re looking for ways to help – even from outside of Georgia – there’s so much you can do.

Even if you don’t live in Georgia, you can still assist from afar. One way is to phone or text bank for the Democratic challengers. Find a handful of upcoming events here and here.

Besides donating straight to the candidates’ campaigns, there are a number of organizations working to get out and protect the vote this January.

  • Fair Fight is a national voting rights organization that promotes fair elections and encourages voter participation and education.
  • The New Georgia Project has both a donation page and an Amazon wish list for its volunteers.
  • Black Voters Matter works to expand Black voter engagement through voter registration, policy advocacy, and more.

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