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It was a tough week | Three Things Thursday

Three Things Thursday covers the top three stories in the week of reform.

Brett Maney
Sr. Communications Manager
August 27, 2020

I’d like to begin Three Things this week with a question: 

Have you been watching the conventions? 

I personally don’t have the stomach for them. What started as an opportunity for party delegates to come together to discuss and debate the platform  of their party and pick their candidate has long since become a four-day collection of performative theatre for the press.

Right now, the American people aren’t concerned with convention soundbites. They’re busy evacuating their homes as a hurricane makes landfall, worrying about their neighbors as wildfires sweep their state, protesting in the streets to ensure justice for all, and yes… still waiting on Congress do its job and pass additional economic relief measures

Our politics are about so much more than the parties’ parties. Our politics is supposed to be about solving problems for the people.(“Supposed to” being the operative term).

Country over party should be more than a phrase. 

Here are three things:

  1. The battle for racial justice starts at the ballot box. 

Some of the most important decisions about representation in government happen behind closed doors, without any media or public present. Legislative maps hold an incredible amount of power, yet in many states, how those maps are drawn is left up to the very legislators who stand to benefit. Partisan gerrymandering is all too real, and so often has the effect of minimizing minority voices in a community. 

With a census coming up, the fight to control who draws these maps is already kicking into gear. As The Hill’s Reid Wilson writes, “The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and the Republican State Leadership Committee are both raising record sums, and each side has an outside group dedicated solely to redistricting: The National Democratic Redistricting Committee on the left, and the National Republican Redistricting Trust on the right.”

How you can fight back: independent redistricting commissions take power out of the hands of self-interested politicians, and instead empower an independent commission of citizens to draw fair maps that represent the people, not the parties. Right now, Fair Maps Virginia is fighting to ensure that Virginians get a chance at fair representation. Check out their video explaining why Virginians need to vote #Yeson1!

  1. LaRose should make Ohio proud

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: pulling off an election in the middle of a pandemic is no small feat. In our polarized climate, we should call out those leaders who are brave enough to cast aside their partisan ties to put voters first -- and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) is one such leader. 

Under LaRose’s guidance, Ohio has become the seventh best prepared state to vote at home -- trailing only the six states that already had vote at home systems. He’s led a Ready for November Taskforce designed to help local clerks ensure their preparedness ahead of the election. LaRose has embodied putting voters first by making sure all voters will have the ability to cast votes securely and safely by mail, early, or in person on Election Day. 

This week, Unite America’s Tyler Fisher and The R Street Institute’s Marc Hyden break down what exactly has made Ohio’s leadership on vote at home so special and how the state can go even further before November. Check it out here. 

  1. Remember, reform unites

Finally, if you haven’t already, check out The Swamp this week on HBO. The film, which follows three GOP congressmen working in DC, is reviewed this week by our own Beth Hladick, who describes the film as such:

“While many of the underlying themes in the film aren’t new, the pressure to fundraise, conform to the party platform, and cede power to lobbyists and special interest groups is no less shocking. But looking past the toxic partisanship lies a glimmer of hope: in an increasingly divided Congress, bipartisan consensus on how to fix the system exists.”

In one powerful exchange, Rep. Gaetz (R-FL) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) go back and forth to articulate a reform agenda that includes a lifetime ban on lobbying for members of Congress, nonpartisan redistricting commissions, term limits, and a ban on lobbyist contributions to candidates. They’re right to believe they could unite the country and run on that agenda, together.

If you’re in the path of the hurricanes, stay safe. If you’re in the path of the wildfires, stay safe. If you’re out in the streets, stay safe. 

Remember, we’re stronger united.