Our Most Fundamental Right, Our Most Solemn Obligation

September 23, 2012 at 10:30 am | Posted in civil rights, Education, elections, Michelle Obama, Voting Rights | Leave a comment
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And make no mistake about it, change absolutely starts at home. We know that. It starts with each of us taking responsibility for ourselves and our families. Because we know that our kids won’t grow up healthy until our families start eating right and exercising more. That’s on us. We know we won’t close that education gap until we turn off the TV, and supervise that homework, and serve as good role models for our own kids. That’s on us. We know that.

But while we certainly need to start at home, we absolutely cannot stop there. Because as you all know better than just about anyone, our laws still matter. Much like they did 50, 150 years ago, our laws still shape so many aspects of our lives: Whether our kids have clean air and safe streets, or not. Whether we invest in education and job training and truly focus on the urgent challenge of getting folks back to work, or not. Whether our sons and daughters who wear our country’s uniform get the benefits they’ve earned, or not.

See, these are the types of decisions that are made by the folks in our city halls and our state legislatures, by folks in our statehouses, in our Congress, and, yes, in our White House. And who’s responsible for selecting those public servants? Who is ultimately responsible for the decisions they make — or don’t make? We are. That’s our job. As citizens of this great country, that is our most fundamental right, our most solemn obligation — to cast our ballots and have our say in the laws that shape our lives.

Michelle Obama
September 22, 2012
Congressional Black Caucus (Earthquake) Awards Dinner

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The Most Powerful, Nonviolent Tool We Have To Create A More Perfect Union

September 7, 2012 at 2:28 am | Posted in civil rights, elections, politics straight up, Voting Rights | Leave a comment
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John Lewis being ushered into a police patrol wagon during a racial demonstration in Nashville, Tenn., as a number of people watch. c.1964

John Lewis gave a speech on Thursday night, in the first hour of the convention, that almost nobody saw, which is too bad, because it summed up the great unmentioned subtext of this year’s election — namely, that, between the new torrents of money that are overwhelming the system, and the rise again of voter-suppression legalisms in the various states, which are in many cases products of those same new torrents of money, the election is coming perilously close to becoming a puppet show. The Republicans didn’t mention that, because they have taken in so much of the new money, and because Republican governors and legislators in the various states are behind the new voter-suppression laws, and everybody knows that. The Democrats are caught in a bind, because they have to play in the new universe of campaign finance, too, and because they’re trying to keep up with a symphony of well-financed propaganda that seeks to make voter-suppression into a good-government initiative. John Lewis is not fooled. John Lewis has seen this before. And John Lewis told the convention what he’s seeing rising in the country out of his own past.

If I were running the president’s campaign, I’d shut the hell up about Simpsonp-fking-Bowles and put John Lewis on an airplane and let him tell his story in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and everywhere else this atavistic authoritarian nonsense is going down. There’s more at risk here than anyone knows.

If you did not hear John Lewis’s convention speech, you can do so at C-Span.

Wow.

May 6, 2009 at 1:20 pm | Posted in civil rights | Leave a comment
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State capitol building (Maine State House), Augusta, Maine. Plan of octagonal drum.  Drawing by Charles Bulfinch, architect, circa 1829.

State capitol building ("Maine State House"), Augusta, Maine. Plan of octagonal drum. Drawing by Charles Bulfinch, architect, circa 1829.

(BangorDailyNews) Gov. John Baldacci on Wednesday signed a gay marriage bill passed just hours before by the Maine Legislature.

Baldacci made his announcement within an hour of the Maine Senate giving its final approval to LD 1020. The Senate voted 21-13 in favor of the measure after a short debate.

“In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions,” Governor Baldacci said in a written statement. “I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.”

The House of Representatives gave its approval on a 89-57 vote Tuesday.

This may not be the end of the issue in Maine, however, as it could be brought to a referendum to be decided by voters. Let’s hope that the voters in Maine are as intelligent as their governor.

UPDATE: Sadly, the referendum was defeated.

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