Voting. Issue III Part II

The importance of voting, why you need to vote, dissecting candidate platforms, and voter suppression and how to combat it.

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Pete Buttigieg

“Running for office is an act of hope. You don’t do it unless you think the pulleys and levers of our government can be used and if necessary redesigned to make the life of this nation better for us all.” 

Pete Buttigieg, former two-term mayor of South Bend, Indiana and Lieutenant in the Navy, is the youngest and first openly gay candidate in the presidential election. As a gay, millennial veteran, his goal is to create generational change from addressing climate change to building a stronger community among all Americans. Buttigieg intends to stop the federal government from using private prisons and eliminate private prisons all-together. He also plans to eliminate the mandatory minimums, which were established during the “War on Drugs” era and required minimum sentences for drug possessions. He supports restoring voting rights to reentering citizens upon their release from prison under the 21st Century Voting Rights Act which will make Election Day a national holiday, make voter registration automatic, and restore the right to vote to reentering citizens with no restrictions or costs. About law enforcement, he promotes a policy to set a national standard of police force including de-escalation training and limiting lethal force. He also plans to legalize recreational marijuana and scrap all past marijuana convictions. Buttigieg does not support a federal gun registry and agrees with leaving the gun-buying age at eighteen (he told The New York Times, “If you can join the armed services at 18, you should be able to buy a gun at 18.”). He plans to raise the federal income tax rate, especially on the upper class, to fund infrastructure improvements and invest in the climate crisis and making changes to the health care system (but opposes Medicare-for-all). He plans to increase teacher pay, commit $50 million to HBCUs to expand pell grants to cover the cost of living and invest $100 billion in K-12 education. He wants to make pre-K free for low-income families and, while he doesn’t support canceling student debt, he wants to improve the existing student loan programs and make public colleges tuition and debt-free. Instead of setting a national rent control cap, Buttigieg supports helping local city governments in developing affordable housing that works for citizens and their unique housing markets. 

Again, I didn’t know much about this candidate, except he is the first gay candidate to run and received zero support from Black voters in both primaries. So, what did he do as mayor and why aren’t his Black constituents of South Bend not supporting him? To give you an idea of South Bend, it is in the Rust Belt, which voted differently after being historically supportive of Democrats due to not feeling heard by Democratic candidates, and South Bend has remained racially segregated and there is no urgency to remedy racial inequalities. In 2012, when Buttigieg was mayor, he fired the city’s first Black police chief, Darryl Boykins. Boykins wanted to bring the police departments racism to attention, so he taped white officers using inappropriate and racist language. While he fired Boykins, he failed to punish the white officers who made the racist remarks. He has a history of not holding his police department accountable. In July 2012, Michael Anderson died under suspicious circumstances with the South Bend Police Department. After looking for a stolen vehicle, officers apprehended and arrested Anderson. Officer Dave Johnson noticed Anderson was choking on a plastic bag containing marijuana and inserted a 12-inch hard plastic straw, which is not a police-issued tool, into Anderson’s mouth and throat. Anderson was said to have died of asphyxiation. Witnesses say officers used a taser on him multiple times and treated him roughly, only calling paramedics fifteen to twenty-five minutes after they arrested him. The victim’s family filed a lawsuit against Buttigieg, the interim Chief of Police, County prosecutor, and others due to negligence for use of excessive force and failing to provide first aid or call paramedics in a reasonable time. Buttigieg failed to address the situation or take ownership of his negligence as mayor. In July 2012 as well, 17-year-old DeShawn Franklin was asleep in his home when police officers, Aaron Knepper, Eric Mentz, and Michael Stuk, entered his home and beaten, tased, handcuffed, and dragged him out of his bed into the back of a police car. They mistook Franklin for a suspect in a domestic violence crime and none of the officers were ever disciplined. Then, for years later, a federal jury ruled that Knepper, Mentz, and Stuk violated Franklins’s constitutional rights against unlawful search and seizure and the officers owed the family one dollar each for the Fourth Amendment violations, totaling in eighteen dollars, but the jury did not find them liable for battery of unlawful arrest. Buttigieg did nothing in 2012 after the incident and after the news came out about the jury’s decision, he said that the city made the family five offers to settle the case, including one offer of $15,000, and pointed out that the officers had recognized their own mistakes and reported the situation to superiors before any complaint was filed. Then, just last year, Eric Logan died at the end of a gun. Police Sgt. Ryan O’Neill confronted Eric Logan in an apartment complex parking lot after a call about car break-ins happening in the neighborhood. O’Neill said to had seen a man in a car with a purse wedged in his clothing and a knife in his right hand. It was said that Logan ignored multiple orders to “drop the knife” and approached O’Neill with the knife raised so O’Neill backed up towards his care and fired two shots, one which hit Logan’s abdomen. O’Neill called an ambulance but another officer, who arrived after the shooting, said to not wait and to rush him to the hospital. O’Neill’s body camera was not on, there were no working cameras where the incident happened, and O’Neill was the only witness, there are only scanner recordings from the incident. Buttigieg left him the campaign trail after the murder to attend a protest addressing the concerns of the lack of safety and support for Black citizens in South Bend. Many of the protestors asked for change and questioned his intentions, as a woman asked, “are you here because you care about blacks, or are you just here because you want to be the president?”, especially after more than half a dozen police misconducts have happened since Buttigieg took office. To mention, South Bend’s police force is only 6% Black while the population is 26% black. There is also a racial wealth divide, the Black citizen’s poverty rate is twice as the national rate, the unemployment rate is twice as high for Black people, and Black people earn half of what their white counterparts make. 

Buttigieg has a history of failing his Black constituents in South Bend as mayor and I can only imagine what he would do on a presidential level. Not to mention, in a debate, when asked to respond to a comment by Kamala Harris, Buttigieg tried to say he understood the plight of Black people because he was gay, saying, “While I do not have the experience of ever having been discriminated against because of the color of my skin, I do have the experience of sometimes feeling like a stranger in my own country, turning on the news and seeing my rights come up for debate, and seeing my rights expanded by a coalition of people like me and people not at all like me.” While I am in full support of him being the first gay, millennial to run, his history as mayor and how he hasn’t supported his Black constituents is frightening as well as him relating him being gay to being Black; Those are not the same. I have no trust or faith that he will have the best intentions of Black Americans at heart if he were president. 

Tulsi Gabbard

“I will end this insanity because it doesn’t have to be this way. I will end these wasteful regime-change wars.”

Tulsi Gabbard, a four-term House representative for Hawaii and major in the Hawaii Army National Guard, has kept a relatively low profile during her time in politics and the presidential race. With her background in service, foreign policy has been the largest issue she discusses, hoping to get the US out of foreign wars, focus on peacebuilding, and stopping a nuclear arms race before it gets here. Gabbard supports ending private prisons, tweeting in March 2019, “We must stand up against for-profit, private prisons and a criminal justice system that favors the rich and powerful and punishes the poor, locking up people who smoke marijuana and ignoring corps like Purdue Pharma responsible for thousands of opioid-related deaths.” She also plans to end the mandatory minimum and restoring the right to vote to reentering citizens. She also supports legalizing recreational weed on a federal level, cosponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act in the House. Gabbard supports the federal government giving everyone a universal basic income and while she cosponsored the Raise Minimum Wage Act, she did not vote when the bill was presented in the house. She intends to make four-year college free for low income and middle-class families, make community college free for all, and lower student interest rates. She also wants to incentivize businesses to help pay off their employees student loans. Gabbard supports the federal government producing and selling generic drugs at low prices as well. 

There weren’t many responses (or not in-depth responses) to issues such as gun control, health care, etc. Again, her platform is based primarily on addressing foreign policy. 

Again, Gabbard has kept a relatively low profile as a House representative and during her presidential run. However, in the 2000s, she worked for her father’s anti-gay organizationThe Alliance for Traditional Marriage, testified against legalizing same-sex civil unions, and backed conversion therapy. Now, while she has apologized and voiced her support for same-sex marriage and ending the transgender-ban in armed services, some believe her personal views haven’t changed and she’s only showing her support to please voters. In the fifth round of the debate for the Democratic presidential candidates, Kamala Harris (who has dropped out of the race) addressed Gabbard for choosing to spend four years on Fox News criticizing President Obama and then meeting with the Syrian president, Bashar Assad, but refusing to call him a war criminal. Then, during the impeachment hearings, she voted “present” (meaning she abstained from being for or against) on the articles of impeachment. Other Democrats, and the American public, voiced their disapproval of the vote and unfavorability rating rose from 23% to 30%, making her the most disliked candidate among the Democrats. 

Keeping a low profile is not the best choice for any platform or nomination, especially, when the most coverage you get is for negative news. I don’t feel like I know Gabbard. I don’t know her politics, because she has devoted her platform to mostly fixing foreign policy, and I don’t know her. Her record is hard to find and what I did find, I don’t agree with, nor would it serve me, the rest of Black America, or all of America in general. 

Amy Klobuchar

“It is time to organize, time to galvanize, time to take back our democracy.”

Amy Klobuchar, former Hennepin County attorney and Minnesota senator elected in 2006, is one of the more moderate of the Democratic candidates with a bipartisan approach to her campaign to attract more support. She prides herself on being able to “disagree without being disagreeable,” which has brought in support from both parties and helped her pass many bills in Congress. Klobuchar wants to end private prisons and bring a stop to mandatory minimums as well as enfranchise re-entering citizens. She supports legalizing marijuana on the federal level but will allow states the right to make laws that would best suit their citizens. She does not support the idea of a universal income for all citizens and supports only 12 weeks paid maternity leave. She supports raising the minimum wage to $15 and increasing teachers’ salaries and funding for public schools. She is in support of ending public funding being allocated to private and religious schools and supports the pressuring of school districts to desegregate their schools. Klobuchar supports a national law ensuring that pre-K is free for all low-income families. Instead of canceling all student debt, she intends to alleviate the burden in other ways by allowing borrowers to refinance loans, expanding pell grants and making one and two-year community colleges tuition-free. She also supports getting rid of privatized health insurance and supports the Roe v Wade viability standard and co-sponsored the Women's Health Protection Act of 2019which prohibits state bans on abortion prior to fetal viability. She also agrees with making Election Day a national holiday. 

What I found very interesting, is that she has been using Medium, another online publishing platform, to share her political platform and presidential goals. As she is the first candidate I have researched who has shared an in-depth explanation detailing her first 100 days in office.

So, again, I did not know anything about Klobuchar, so I did a quick google search, typing in “Amy Klobuchar” and “Black people” and the first article was from The New York Times discussing how host from “The View,” Sunny Hostin, addressed Klobuchar about her history as a prosecutor. Not only did she not prosecute any of the more than two dozen police officers who killed citizens in the county during her eight years in office, but she mishandled the conviction of a Black teen and disregarded the flaws in the evidence. Klobuchar served as the Hennepin Court Attorney from 1999 to 2006, she was said to be very tough on crime and a “drug warrior.” She handed out harsh prison sentences to nonviolent offenders and called for laws allowing longer sentences, especially against repeat offenders. The Star Tribune, a newspaper in Minnesota, they highlighted her “tough-on-crime platform,” her “police-have-endorsed-me, law-and-order campaign,” and her prosecution of “‘small’ crimes”. And in an essay she wrote, Klobuchar emphasized that she intends to “put repeat and violent offenders behind bars” and “hold judges accountable for sentences.” Sarah Lustbader, a lawyer and writer for the Appeal, referred to Klobuchar’s increase in incarceration as “wrongheaded and cruel.” Klobuchar boasted about how during her time in office, “serious drug dealers” were sent to prison 64% of the time compared to before she took office when it was only 33% of the time. Klobuchar also was a leader for Minnesota HEALS, the state’s version of Project Exile“Both programs were a way to easily federalize ‘felon with a firearm’ cases to obtain much harsher, parole-ineligible sentences.” Project Exile was racially biased and harmed Black men at disproportionally high rates, while Minnesota HEALS aimed to be a “kinder, gentler” version of the program and focused on convincing individuals in gangs to leave the lifestyle and offer support once they left, the program ended up exiling many young Black men to federal prisons miles away from their families and homes. She also made statements about juvenile justice which endorsed the school-to-prison pipeline, claiming there was a relationship between children skipping school and killing people. She pushed for more prosecutions for school truancy without thinking about the other factors, such as poverty and public health that had to do with truancy; In 2003, Black children faced over 60% of Klobuchar’s juvenile delinquency petitions while only making up 13% of the county’s population. She also endorsed Michael O. Freeman to take her place as Hennepin county attorney in 2018, Freeman also victim-blamed Jamar Clark for his murder by police officers and said on air that Minneapolis was a “simpler society” before the Black people moved inThen, in 2002, there was the case of 16-year-old Myon Burrell, Klobuchar eagerly took credit for sending Burrell to prison for life for a murder that he did not commit and in a case where there were prosecution flaws. Since then, the media has reported the many flaws in the case and Klobuchar has now tried to distance herself altogether. (I am absolutely begging you all to sign and share the petition to free him, as he is still incarcerated.) 

Her history is not only jarring but sick. What makes it worse, is she is now vying for the Black vote, as during the New Hampshire debate, she tried to call out systematic racism, but failed to address her own history as a prosecutor nor apologized. She instead stated she was “doing [her] job without fear or favor” in her campaign announcement speech. And her history as a senator is interesting too, she’s been purple in her politics and 30% of the time her votes are in line with the current orange in office. With no minority (Black) support, she claims that people need to get to know her. To be frank, I don’t want to know her. Her history is incredibly disgusting and for her to champion her “feats” as a prosecutor and not apologize when new information has risen, especially in Myon Burrell’s case, which is abominable. I don’t want to get to know yet another candidate with a long political history that has disproportionally harmed and dehumanized Black people and further insinuated that Black boys and men are “super predators.” 

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Would I vote for any of the candidates so far?

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Issue III Part III, featuring the last few candidates and addressing voter suppression, will be in your email inboxes next Sunday. 

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