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Virginia Voters’ Choice: Forward with Voting Rights Champ for Governor or Backward With Team Trump

Sound familiar? On one issue after another, voters can contrast Youngkin’s unproven claims with McAuliffe’s proven record.

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A young black man with his I voted sticker after voting in an election./iStock

Virginia’s voters will pick the state’s next governor in November. The choice couldn’t be clearer and neither could the national implications of this race in a bellwether state.  Not only is the Virginia election a curtain-raiser for the midterm elections of 2022, it’s also the biggest test so far of whether the Trumpified GOP can win major races.

The Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe, had a successful term as governor. The Republican candidate, Glenn Youngkin, is a super-wealthy businessman trying to buy his way into power.

Sound familiar? On one issue after another, voters can contrast Youngkin’s unproven claims with McAuliffe’s proven record.

Take voting rights. During his 2014-2018 term, McAuliffe overcame Republican resistance and Jim Crow-era voting laws to restore voting rights to 173,000 Virginians.

What about Youngkin? He refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s victory for months—until after he won the GOP nomination—and has helped promote false right-wing claims about voter fraud that are being used by Republican legislators to justify restrictive voting laws around the country.

Just last month, Youngkin spoke at an “election integrity” rally organized by a Trump supporter who was outside the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection. No wonder Trump has so enthusiastically endorsed Youngkin.

Youngkin promotes himself as if Virginia needs him as some kind of savior to pull the state out of the “ditch” he claims it is in. The Washington Post’s editorial board said Youngkin’s claim is “flatly contradicted by a tsunami of evidence to the contrary.” That sounds like a polite way of saying Youngkin is lying. The state has a budget surplus, lower-than-average unemployment, and a AAA bond rating. This summer CNBC declared Virginia the top state in the country for business.

The real danger of the state dropping into a ditch comes from Youngkin himself. His desire to abolish the state’s income tax would slash the state’s ability to provide services to its residents.

When McAuliffe was governor, he was so successful at attracting economic development and generating new jobs that he was named “Public Official of the Year” by “Governing” magazine in 2017.

The magazine honored McAuliffe “based on his success navigating an opposition Legislature, creating new jobs, and persevering in restoring the civil rights of more than 168,000 Virginians.” McAuliffe credited his team for helping him “build a stronger, more inclusive Virginia.”

In his previous term as governor, McAuliffe also oversaw record spending on education and created the country’s first workforce training program to help people without a college education get access to jobs in high demand. He is pledging to build on that track record by raising teacher pay above the national average, expanding access to preschool, and getting all students online.

Meanwhile, Youngkin’s search for ways to fire up right-wing voters has led him down another divisive road paved by Trump. Youngkin has joined Trump, Fox News, and right-wing activists who are trying to stop schools from having honest conversations about racism in our history, culture, and institutions. They’re hoping to inflame conservative white voters to drive up turnout, and Youngkin has made it the centerpiece of his campaign.

His dishonest comments about Virginia schools show us that he will say or do anything to get into power, no matter how much damage he does along the way.  Youngkin fails another test that is of vital importance to Virginians’ health and economic future: dealing responsibly with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Youngkin opposes vaccine mandates and doesn’t think schools should require students to wear masks. He said he would follow the lead of Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, whose irresponsible policies have encouraged an upsurge in hospitalizations and deaths. McAuliffe knows that you can’t rebuild the economy if the pandemic is allowed to ravage the workforce and disrupt our lives and jobs.

Virginia voters rejected Donald Trump twice and I believe they will reject Trump’s pick for governor. McAuliffe, whose successful record as governor reflects his commitment to a Virginia that works better for everyone, deserves Virginians’ votes, and the nation will be watching.

Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way.

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Activism

Ask County Supervisors Not to Spend Millions in Tax Dollars on Oakland A’s Real Estate Deal

Please attend the meeting Tuesday, October 26 and express your opinion; call or e-mail your supervisor and Keith Carson, president of the Board of Supervisors, through his chief of staff Amy Shrago at (510) 272-6685 or Amy.Shrago@acgov.org

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A rendering of the proposed new A’s ballpark at the Howard Terminal site, surrounded by port cranes and warehouses. Image courtesy of MANICA Architecture.

The East Oakland Stadium Alliance (EOSA) and other groups are asking local residents to attend and speak at next week’s Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting to oppose a proposal to spend county residents’ tax dollars to pay for the Oakland A’s massive multi-billion-dollar real estate deal at Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland. 

Please attend the meeting Tuesday, October 26 and express your opinion; call or e-mail your supervisor and Keith Carson, president of the Board of Supervisors, through his chief of staff Amy Shrago at (510) 272-6685 or Amy.Shrago@acgov.org

The Stadium Alliance urges community members to “let (the supervisors) know that Alameda County residents don’t want our tax dollars to pay for a private luxury development. This proposal does not include privately funded community benefits and would harm our region’s economic engine – the port- putting tens of thousands of good-paying jobs at risk.”

 

“The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.”

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Coronavirus

Colin L. Powell, former Secretary of State, 84

Colin L. Powell, the first Black man to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and first Black Secretary of State, died Monday of complications of COVID-19. The 84-year-old was also diagnosed with and being treated for a form of blood cancer and Parkinson’s disease. 

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United States Army General Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/ Wiki Commons

Colin L. Powell, the first Black man to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and first Black Secretary of State, died Monday of complications of COVID-19. The 84-year-old was also diagnosed with and being treated for a form of blood cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

A four-star general who also served on the National Security Council, Powell was born in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican immigrants in 1937. He attended public schools in the Bronx, where he grew up, and would graduate from City College of New York before joining the armed services in 1958 as a second lieutenant because of his participation in ROTC.

He was a professional soldier for 37 years, including two tours in Vietnam, rising steadily through the ranks until achieving 4-star general status in 1989 and, later that year, became the youngest and the first Afro-Caribbean to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense.

Powell was an exceptional military leader.  He earned the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the Soldier’s Medal for heroism.

A moderate, the lifelong Republican was well liked by both political parties, but he ultimately decided against running for public office himself.

He was selected in 2000 to be Secretary of State, transforming General Powell from soldier to statesman.

He became known for persuading the American public and world leaders that Iraq was creating weapons of mass destruction when he ultimately agreed with President George Bush’s administration determination to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. 

It would turn out that the allegations of weapons of mass destruction were not true and Powell would consider the war and loss of life a blot on his record the rest of his life. He returned to private life in 2005 and became an acclaimed speaker in high demand.

He broke rank with his fellow Republicans when he supported then-candidate Barack Obama’s bid for president in 2008. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice.

Powell earned the trust of U.S. presidents, foreign leaders, diplomats, and the American people.

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of General Colin Powell. I send my sincere condolences to General Powell’s wife, Alma, his family, his friends, and all of his loved ones” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

“General Powell was a trailblazer, serving as the first Black Secretary of State,” Lee continued. “I was fortunate enough to travel with General Powell during my early days in Congress to monitor elections in Nigeria and was moved by his kindness and expertise. I witnessed the close friendship between the late Congressman Ron Dellums, Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, and General Powell.

“Their relationship was a powerful example of a mutual admiration and respect between public officials despite their different opinions on policy. Despite our disagreements on some issues, General Powell was steadfast in his commitment to racial equity, diversity and our democracy. General Powell served this country with decency, integrity, and showed respect to everyone he encountered.

“May he rest in eternal peace and power,” Lee concluded.

Powell is survived by his wife, Alma, and three children.

Sources for this story include various news sites, Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s press office and Wikipedia.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

 

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Commentary

A Politician’s Shameless Bigotry

Witness North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson. He abuses his position of authority to insult and demean people. But when he gets criticized for making harmful comments, he whines that he’s the real victim. 

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There’s an old saying about bullies: they can dish it out, but they can’t take it.

Witness North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson. He abuses his position of authority to insult and demean people. But when he gets criticized for making harmful comments, he whines that he’s the real victim.

People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch recently began reporting on Robinson’s cruel and offensive comments. This summer, Robinson told one audience that Christians must take control of public schools because “there’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be teaching any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth.” In another speech, Robinson mocked transgender people and denounced the transgender rights movements as “demonic” and “full of the spirit of antichrist.”

Fortunately, a lot of people have called Robinson out. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called Robinson’s comments “abhorrent.” The White House called them “repugnant and offensive.” Multiple state legislators have called on him to resign.

Robinson should be ashamed of himself. But he’s not. He is puffed up with pride about promoting bigotry. He is promising to “double down.” And that’s dangerous. Robinson’s comments send a message to students and everyone else that trans people are not worthy of being treated with respect or dignity.

Robinson’s comments are part of a long and ugly history of politicians smearing LGBTQ people as threats to children. Those smears promote hatred and violence. Deadly violence against transgender people, especially Black trans women, has been on the rise in recent years.

Robinson’s attacks are also part of a broader right-wing campaign to demonize public schools for teaching about racism and promoting acceptance of LGBTQ students. Robinson says schools are teaching students “how to hate America” and “how to go to Hell.”

He has defended himself by claiming that inappropriate materials are being “forced” on children in classrooms, but his charges don’t hold up to scrutiny. Some of the books that he complains about are reportedly not being taught in classrooms but are available in some high school libraries.

 

More importantly, Robinson claims to oppose “indoctrination” in public schools. But in his remarks to right-wing political activists in September, he said that school shootings would be prevented if public schools taught students, “Jesus Christ is the way and the light, and only through him can you receive salvation.”

In fact, Robinson has a message for the millions of Americans who are not Christians: they don’t belong. At a gathering of religious-right political activists in September, Robinson declared that the United States is and always will be a Christian nation. He added, “If you don’t like it, I’ll buy your plane, train, or automobile ticket right up out of here. You can go to some place that’s not a Christian nation.”

I am a Christian. I revere the role the Black church has played in moving the U.S. toward justice. I am proud to be working side by side with religious leaders who are bringing their moral authority and prophetic voices to the struggle to defend voting rights. I was proud to be arrested alongside these leaders recently as we demonstrated at the White House.

But I don’t want public schools to teach religious doctrine. And I don’t want public officials misusing religion as an excuse for using cruelty to divide us.

Like a lot of politicians, Robinson clearly has a very high opinion of himself. At a political conference in September, he compared himself to Jesus Christ and John the Baptist. He also made it clear that he would like to be North Carolina’s next governor. That’s the last thing the people of North Carolina need.

A politician who uses their office to promote bigotry doesn’t deserve to hold office.

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