democrats

the good guys

Tweet of the Day 04.04.14

 

Martin Luther King Jr
15 Jan 1929 – 4 April 1968

 

[077] HB2U! Obamacare

Obamacare, aka ACA – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama four years ago. It was an historic political and moral victory in this country, a goal that had eluded presidents of both parties for the entire 20th century.

HB2U.Obamacare

It has also been the single most misunderstood thing in American history. Opponents like to call it “government-run health care” – a claim which only underscores their ignorance, or reveals them to be liars. Obamacare can accurately be described as government-mandated health care insurance reform.

poorpeopleBasically, the federal government told the private health care insurance companies that they wouldn’t be allowed to continue with their most shockingly immoral practices, such as dropping customers when they get sick, annual and lifetime caps, non-coverage of ‘pre-existing conditions’ – including the condition of being female. It also limits these insurers to profit margins of no more than 20%, requiring refunds of premiums paid by customers if payouts for medical care fall below 80% of premium revenues. To compensate the insurers for cutting into their margins, the government promised millions of new customers to any insurers who wanted to participate in the state-based exchanges (or the federal exchange for people in states which don’t set up their own exchanges). The government set these private companies loose to play by the rules within the framework of the exchanges and compete for new customers. The insurers set their own premiums for policies offering various levels of coverage. The consumer is able to compare ‘apples to apples’ when shopping for the coverage they need at a monthly premium they can afford. There are no government hospitals, no government doctors, no government ‘death panels’.

Beyond this, the ACA also provides funding for preventive care, and market incentives for much greater efficiencies in the delivery of health care, with a major emphasis on digitizing medical records. And it vastly increased the funding available for states to expand their existing Medicaid programs to enable access to health care for millions of Americans who still cannot afford to buy private medical insurance.

put the white backThe Republican Party has taken a very principled stance against Obamacare and its author. They cannot abide any success for the nation’s first black president. And yes, it really is that horrifyingly simple. They really haven’t even tried to hide it, except for the fact that they wear their white sheets under their business suits.

The Republican-led House of Representatives has taken fifty votes to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. They know the Senate will ignore them. And even if a bill were to somehow reach the president’s desk, he would veto it. The most telling aspect of this flailing around by Boehner & Co. is this: the GOP never gets around to the “replace” part of the deal. They don’t want to replace Obamacare with anything. They just want it to go away… along with every other progressive accomplishment of the past century, including voting rights, women’s rights, gay rights, unions, etc.

confed.gopAfter the ACA was passed in 2010, the extreme right wing in this country went insane. Lunatics in tricorn hats flooded the primaries to challenge GOP incumbents who had failed to derail Obamacare. Many of them won, and went on to win in the general election that November, displacing more moderate Republicans and a fair share of Democrats. And so the ‘Tea Party’ gained a chunk of seats in the House, which switched over to GOP control. Nowhere near a majority… but overnight they became the tail that wags the Republican dog. So, for more than three years, the neutered Speaker of the House, John Boehner, has scheduled vote after vote to “repeal” Obamacare. And nothing else. He has presided over the least effective Congress in American history. And that is a crime, especially when you realize that President Obama inherited an economy that had almost completely collapsed under the Bush administration. Every other word out of Boehner’s mouth is “jobs”. How many jobs bills has the House GOP championed in the past five years? Zero.

Now here we are, 5 years after Obama was first inaugurated… 4 years after Obamacare was signed into law… 2 years after the national embarrassment of the 2012 Republican presidential primaries… and a year after Obama’s second inauguration. The upcoming 2014 midterm elections will determine whether Obama has a hostile or a cooperative Congress for the last two years of his presidency. Democrats should be BRAGGING about their accomplishments: saving the country and the world from economic catastrophe, saving the auto industry and what’s left of American manufacturing, rescuing all Americans from unscrupulous and immoral health insurance practices and widening the availability and affordability of health insurance for millions, ending two wars that have consumed thousands of lives and trillions of dollars… But instead, we are treated to a defeatist attitude predicting losses in the House and the possible loss of the slim majority in the Senate. Losing seats in the House would guarantee more-of-same, and that would be bad enough for the country. But a GOP majority in the Senate would embolden the right wing crazies and I cannot imagine the damage this nation would suffer.

DEMS LOSENote to state and national leaders of the Democratic Party:

Do you know why Barack Obama won two consecutive presidential elections? Because love is stronger than hate. People were drawn to his candidacy. So please stop talking about how bad and evil and terrible and horrible the GOP is. It’s all true! But that truth (sadly) is not going to motivate Democrats to go to the polls in November. You’ve got to give people something positive, something to fight for, something to defend. Give them something to be proud of. Run on your record, trumpet your accomplishments. Show people that Democrats work for them and their families. It’s all true!

Note to Democratic voters:

Get off your asses and vote in November! In the recent special election to fill the vacant House seat in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, the Republican won by 3,500 votes… in a district where 140,000 registered Democrats did not vote. That kind of apathy in November will do incalculable harm to this nation. All you have to do is cast your vote for the party that represents your best interests. Something the Republicans would stop you from doing, if they could.

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Obamacare – brought to you by the Democratic Party – makes me happy.

Day 077 #100happydays

 

Why Democrats Lose

The political media is on fire today with arguments and explanations for Sink’s loss to Jolly in the special election to fill a vacant Congressional seat in FL-13.

But there is only one reason why the Democrat lost this election.

There is only one reason why ANY Democrat EVER loses an election, and that is:

Democrats – who are already registered to vote – Do. Not. Vote.

DEMS LOSE

So, Alex Sink (D) lost to David Jolly (R) by less than 3,500 votes.

140,000 registered Democrats didn’t bother to vote.

That’s all you need to know. And that’s all the powers-that-be in the Democratic Party need to learn from this defeat. Will they? Debbie Wasserman-Schultz @DCCC… are you listening? Harry Reid… Nancy Pelosi… are you listening? President Obama… do you really want your last two years in office to include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joining Speaker Boehner?! Where is your vaunted OFA get-out-the-vote ground game?! They could get a black-Muslim-Kenyan-communist-community-organizer elected – TWICE! – but they can’t win with a well-known Dem in Florida running against yet-another-moronic Republican? In a district that YOU carried in 2012? WTF?!

22% of the electorate in FL-13 is 65-and-older. That equates to potentially 100,000+ voters. How many of them are registered Democrats? How many of those registered Democratic seniors had mail-in ballots for this election? All of them? No? Why not? It’s not like you don’t know their names and addresses! They are r-e-g-i-s-t-e-r-e-d D-e-m-o-c-r-a-t-s.

Democrats left thousands, tens of thousands of votes laying on the table in this FL-13 election. The media is already calling the November midterm elections for the GOP.

Here’s the good news. You get a REDO in FL-13 in November. That’s right. Rep. Jolly has to defend his newly won seat in the fall. (Along with every other member of Congress and 1/3 of the Senate.)

And let’s not forget Wendy Davis in Texas. She’s got a tough road ahead of her, eh? That’s what we hear. Gee, if only we had the actual results of the last two elections in Texas… Oh! Here they are now:

TX.2010.2012.2016

Texas has a non-partisan voter registration system, so we don’t know how many TX registered voters are (D) vs (R). But what is obvious from this graphic is that there were plenty of non-voting registered Dems in 2010 to swamp Perry’s margin of victory… if only they had turned out to vote. Wendy Davis… are you listening?

We hear so much about the Republicans gaming the system with gerrymandering districts, blah blah blah. That’s just an excuse used by lazy Democrats! If (already registered) Democrats actually voted in the November 2014 midterms, we would EASILY keep the Senate and take back the House.

So, what are we waiting for? This country has been gravely wounded by the do-nothing, know-nothing, “I’ve got mine!” Republicans. But the GOP has been gravely wounded by its do-nothing, know-nothing, racist, sexist, bigoted teabagger faction. The time for the Democrats to strike is now. The President’s economic, military/foreign policy and healthcare initiatives have been remarkably successful – in spite of the GOP’s constant sabotage.

Democrats: Stop talking about Hillary and 2016. Stop talking about what an uphill climb 2014 is. Stop talking, period. Start doing. We have seven months until voters will start casting ballots in early voting in the fall. How many mail-in ballots can we get in the hands of registered Democrats? How badly do we want to turn Congress blue in November? And the governorship in TX? And GA? And MI, OH, PA, WI?

What are we waiting for?

Act Up! Fight Back!

It would be difficult impossible to overstate the peril faced by gay folks as the 80s dawned in America. Harvey Milk had been assassinated just two years earlier. Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president. Gay men in New York and California were suddenly getting rare cancers and dying, no one knew why. And it is fair to say that no one much cared. Jerry Falwell and his Christianist hatemongers called the epidemic “God’s wrath”. Reagan would not even say the word “AIDS” until seven years into his presidency – while tens of thousands of Americans died. There was talk of quarantining – or even tattooing – people with AIDS.

Sorry for the gloom, but it’s important to set the context for what happened next. (After all, this is ancient history for some who will read this.)

I referenced “gay folks” above; not the “gay community” or the now-ubiquitous (necessary and dreadful) “LGBT”. That’s because we hadn’t yet coalesced into a single community; and the all-purpose acronym was still years away. The Ls and the Gs were off doing their own things in their own zip codes. The Bs were busy doing, well, everyone. The Ts had Renée Richards going for them, but not much else. Though much had changed in the decade since Stonewall, queer life was still Balkanized.

So, when gay men started getting terrible infections, diseases, cancers and dying in rapidly increasing numbers… When governments and gods showed themselves to be untroubled by our immense human suffering and the horrifying death toll… a community was born.

WeWereHere film posterWe Were Here is a powerful, heartbreaking, uplifting testament to the response of the nascent gay community (and its allies) to the public health crisis of AIDS in San Francisco. The history is told through on-camera interviews with five people who recall the love, the loss, the victories – and the irresistible force of a community that is fighting for its life. This film is available via Netflix and Amazon. Click on this image to link to the We Were Here website where you can stream a rental for $3.99.

Who should see this film (which was released in 2011)? Everyone. But especially all the good people who want to stop the gun insanity death toll in this country. All those “Moms” and “Mayors” who give tv interviews… who fill our inboxes with petitions to sign and emails asking for money so they can do… more petitions? There have been 30+ school shootings since Newtown. Another 10,000+ gun homicides. Do you think you’re working hard enough? You haven’t even started.

If that makes you angry, good! You should be angry. You can’t even send your kids off to school in the morning, or to the mall in the afternoon, or to a movie in the evening, without wondering if they’ll be next. So get angry! And channel that anger into real, direct action. You say “there are 80 million Moms in America!” Really? I don’t think I’ve seen 80 women (or men) gathered anywhere, doing anything, since Newtown. Have you?

1.lighting candles

Begin…

As the first anniversary of the Newtown massacre came and went, I heard a tv discussion about our failure to achieve gun control in this country. Someone suggested that if you want gun control, then look at how the gays fought for marriage equality and equal rights. It’s not a bad idea.

Gun control is (still) way more popular than gay rights. But we have marched in the streets, raised money, campaigned for like-minded politicians and relentlessly lobbied lawmakers, filed lawsuits, rallied voters, discussed it in polite (and not so polite) company.  We have done this for years, without losing our nerve or our hope. We have kept up the pressure, we have fought ignorance with intellect, cowardice with courage. And we are finally turning the tide. It’s been some time since we lost a battle, and we’re well on our way to winning the war.

2.candlelight march

Fan the flame…

I don’t mean to single out the Moms Against Guns. Every liberal/ progressive political goal would be more quickly achieved if leaders stopped the absurd flood of online petitions and solicitations… and challenged their millions of supporters to take direct action. Sometimes, I wonder if the Koch brothers aren’t secretly funding Credo and Move On – to sap any real initiative by giving people a false sense of having done something every time they click the “Sign the Petition” button. That is not participatory democracy. Make some noise! Hit the streets! Act up! Fight back! Not in dribs and drabs, but by the hundreds, by the thousands, by the millions.

If I received an email from the “Moms” asking me to join a gun control march in my city next weekend, I’d drop everything to be there.  But more than a year after Newtown, I still haven’t got that email. And that’s my point.

3.candlelight march

Ignite a movement…

Whether you want to raise the minimum wage, or guarantee voting rights, or protect a woman’s right to control her own body, or reform immigration, or tax the rich and the corporations, etc… Nothing succeeds like excess. Remember ACT-UP? When FDA was taking forever to approve new AIDS drugs, these creative and in-your-face protests drew lavish media attention and focused political pressure like a laser beam. They weren’t afraid to be angry. People were dying. The “die-ins” stopped traffic. The barricade crashing made people uncomfortable. But new drugs and treatments went from a trickle to a fire silencedeathbuttonhose, and many lives were saved.

We gays had to fight for our lives in this country. And as a community of activists, we won. But 650,000 people have lost their lives to AIDS in America since 1980. That is eerily similar to the number of gun deaths during that time. And always, always:  silence = death.

After you’ve had to fight for survival, it’s relatively easy to move on to battle bigotry and ignorance (DADT, DOMA, ENDA, the GOP, the teabaggers and the faith-hurling wackos)… You just have to be alive to do it.

Here we are in 2014, an election year. The entire House and 1/3 of the Senate are up for grabs. Plus many governorships and legislatures and ballot measures. The media will declare the elections ‘over’ before they even begin. Gerrymandering! Voter apathy! The parties are all the same! Voter suppression! Oh look – it’s Justin Bieber!

4.candlelight march sf

Set the world on fire!

It doesn’t have to be that way. Get yourself registered and then help someone else register. (Click on Blog the Vote below.) Think of it as multiplying your vote. Volunteer to GOTV (Get Out The Vote) during early voting and on Election Day in November. Drive someone to the polls. Or offer to babysit. Have a mail-in ballot party. Because the fact is, without an enormous and sustained effort, less than half of the eligible voters in this “great democracy” will bother to cast a vote in November. But that sad fact presents an opportunity. We flip 20 House seats, we take back control of Congress and… a lot of life-saving laws and policies get done in Obama’s last two years in office. If not, we keep fighting like hell. Until we win.

Unless there is something more important you have to do?

BLOG THE VOTE 2

[023] President Obama

As I watched President Obama addressing Congress for the State of the Union, I am so thankful we elected a man possessed of such intelligence, empathy, humor – and passion for the success of this country and its people.

obama sotu 2014

I am also almost overcome with gratitude for what I do not see in this picture. I do not see President McCain. And I do not see President Romney.

President Obama makes me proud to be an American.
Day 023 #100happydays

Mind The Gap

Later this month, a new documentary gives us the insider view of the 2012 Romney campaign. Netflix has been promoting “Mitt” with a clip from Election Night. It shows the Romney family in their Boston hotel suite, slack-jawed in stunned disbelief as they watch President Obama cruise to re-election. Mitt & Co. were (somehow) blindsided by the loss. For those of us who know we dodged a bullet missile asteroid that day, this flick promises to dish up heaping servings of delicious schadenfreude. Butter on your popcorn?

It is generally accepted that Romney ran one of the worst presidential campaigns in memory. His clumsy mimicry of human behavior and idiom was simply unconvincing. But he had a lot of help from his lunatic primary opponents – better known as ‘the clown car’ – and, of course, there’s the Republican Party’s acidic base.

The GOP wasted no time in getting down to some very public soul searching following their election disaster. (Which does beg the question: Where do people without souls go to do soul searching?) Democrats, after all, kept the White House and the Senate – and gained seats in both houses. What went wrong? They commissioned “an autopsy” (their own words) to discover the cause of death.

Last March, the autopsy findings were released. The RNC gave the postmortem a rather upbeat title. “The Growth and Opportunity Project” (get it? G.O.P.) ran to 100 pages, and identified the constituencies they would have to attract if they wanted to win elections going forward.

Republicans found they were in good shape with older, white, heterosexual, Christian men. Everyone else… not so much. The autopsy revealed “opportunities” for the GOP to work harder for the votes of women, Latinos, African-Americans, the LGBT community and the “under 30” crowd.

OK, good plan, off you go… but then, a funny thing happened on the way to the next election. The Republican Party seems to have declared 2013 to be opposite year. At the federal and (red) state levels, Republican politicians pursued policies and enacted laws that can only be described as hostile to the very groups they were supposed to be wooing. Huh?

from The New Yorker

from The New Yorker

Women were given the gift of mandatory transvaginal probes (which meet the definition of forcible rape in many states) and draconian restrictions on abortion providers. Women have also seen cuts to the WIC, SNAP and Head Start programs that their families depend on for luxuries like food and child care.

Latinos were promised comprehensive immigration reform. Instead, they got an about-face from Marco Rubio on his own immigration reform bill, and a lot of nasty talk about “amnesty” and “fences”. Latinos and African-Americans were targeted by laws to prevent (statistically non-existent) “voter fraud” in red states from Texas to Ohio, North Carolina to Wisconsin, Pennsylvania to Florida. Early voting days and hours have been reduced, new voter identification requirements put in place. The Justice Dept is investigating these voter suppression attempts, some of which have already been stopped in the courts.

We gays have never been promised anything by the GOP, except unrelenting hostility to the notion of equal rights. And they send lousy wedding gifts. Witness last week’s freakout in Utah. As far as younger voters are concerned, GOP opposition to raising the minimum wage, balking at fixing the student loan crisis, blocking every job-creation bill, and its curmudgeonly attitudes tell that story. Most people born during or after the Reagan administration have vastly relaxed attitudes about race, gender and sexual orientation. Ruh-roh. Oh, and get this: they’ve even managed to pick a fight with – wait for it – His Holiness The Pope. Wow. I mean, the guy is freakin’ infallible. Do you think he cares what Rush and The Donald and Paul Ryan think about him?

Finally, the unrelenting obsession of the House of Boehner to “repeal Obamacare!” is inexplicable – given that their fifty attempts were dead-on-arrival in the Senate, nevermind Obama’s veto pen. And now that the Obamacare “DISASTER!!” has given way to some really stunning success – with six million people enrolled in new health care plans, and more each month – GOP has positioned itself as the sworn enemy of an increasingly popular and extraordinarily beneficial program. It is the cliché definition of insanity: Do the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.

So, are Republicans insane? The more likely diagnosis is political schizophrenia. The Grand Old Party is split like an old pair of grandpa’s trousers. “Traditional” or “mainstream” Republicans are in the party’s minority – and seem to have lost ground since 2012. The Tea Party / Teabagger / Teavangelical / RWNJ (right-wing nut job) half (3/4) of the party has been in the ascendancy since the 2010 midterm elections gave them a stranglehold on Congress. They don’t have enough votes to pass anything, but they can obstruct almost everything. And they have. You may have heard…

You may also have heard that 2014 is an important election year. The next six months are going to be fraught with what some are calling a Republican “civil war”. Establishment Republicans are being “primaried” by the ultra-right-wingnuts. Remember Senator “I am not a witch” O’Donnell of Delaware? Or Senator “rape is something god intended” Mourdock of Indiana? How about Senator “legitimate rape” Akin of Missouri? Well, the GOP’s Class of 2014 is shaping up to be another bottomless pit of moronic bigotry and ignorance. Stay tuned. And pass the popcorn.

NBCNews

NBCNews

NBC News recently released the above tidbit of exit polling from the 2012 national election. It shows the harsh electoral reality the GOP has been up against and continues to face: the “empathy gap”. Romney had healthy margins of voters who preferred his vision, values and leadership. (C’mon! Seriously?) But Obama was re-elected because he won the overwhelming majority of people who want their president to care about them. That’s empathy. Barack “Trayvon could have been my son. He could have been me” Obama (like Bill “I feel your pain” Clinton) is swaddled in it. But it is a quality that seems to elude the GOP as a whole. (Or a-hole, to be more accurate.)

empathy.typesetYou’ll hear talk about the Republican effort to “rebrand the party” as a kinder, gentler place for women, blacks, gays, Latinos, 20-somethings, the poor, etc. And then you’ll likely hear laughter – because these old, white men really don’t have the slightest idea how to be relevant to the human condition in the 21st century.

Which is why the elders of the Republican Party have hired consultants to teach their 2014 candidates how to talk to women. No, I’m not making this up. Just Google “how to talk to women”. Go ahead, I’ll wait. OK, did you see the part about “connecting with women on an emotional level”? Uh-huh.

Honey, while you’re making more popcorn, how about bringing us a few beers? 

Get The Red Out: #2014

Here we are. 2014. An election year. What’s up for grabs? All of the House. One-third of the Senate. Governorships. State legislatures. Local ballot measures. The primaries begin this spring. The general election – Election Day – is 11/4/14. Just ten months away. Debates, advertising, social media chatter – the works. If you like politics, it’s a banquet. If you hate politics, you’re in hell.

Whatever your feelings about how this country does its politics, do not let that distract or dissuade you from participating in this democracy. Whether you color yourself blue, red, purple or tie-dyed, you must vote. Why? Because in this nation of 320 million, there are 537 people in Washington who make decisions that affect every aspect of our lives. That’s 435 Representatives in the House + 100 Senators + the President and the Vice President. There are others who wield great power (the Supreme Court justices, the Cabinet, etc) – but we only elect 537 people to run the federal government. A few thousand folks if you count all the governors and state legislators.

We have the opportunity – still rather rare in this world – to choose people who will represent us and our best interests. We open every sports event and every civic gathering with a solemn vow, hands over hearts, remembering those who have fought and died to secure our freedoms.

But every two years, we spit on their graves. Roughly HALF of Americans do not bother to vote. In presidential elections, that may edge toward 60%. In the “mid-term” (non-presidential) elections, it drops to 40%. And in some places less.

With voter participation that low, a close election can mean that only 20% of us choose the winner. 20% is a majority? When did we get so bad at math?!

Here’s a graphic that shows the reality behind two recent elections in Texas. A deep RED state, right? Maybe. Maybe not. But what we do know is that Texas is a deeply LAZY state when it comes to voting. The large gray squares = eligible voters in the 2010 and 2012 elections. The little red squares = the margin of victory for the candidates who won those elections. In 2010, Perry won by less than 1 million votes in an election where NINE MILLION REGISTERED VOTERS DID NOT BOTHER TO VOTE! They were already registered to vote. In 2012, Romney won Texas by 1.2 million votes. That year, SIX MILLION registered voters didn’t vote. You hate voting so much? Fine. But why would anyone bother to be registered if they won’t vote?

TX.2010.2012.2016

I don’t mean to only mess with Texas. (Or the mess that is Texas.) No state has bragging rights over voter participation. But in 2014, we have to save our governments from being run by people who do not believe in government! Texas will be one of the more interesting states to watch, with Wendy Davis running for governor and John Cornyn getting primaried by a certifiably insane RWNJ teabagger for his Senate seat. Georgia is going to be a wild ride too, with brawls for governor and an open Senate seat.

But it goes so far beyond the ‘sport’ of politics. Because Perry was re-elected in 2010, Texas has refused the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, cutting off millions of the working poor from critical access to health care. It would not have cost the state of Texas a dime to implement this. Perry threw his own citizens under the bus out of pure political spite. And had Romney won the election, who doubts that we would now be at war in Syria and Iran?

Elections have consequences. Not voting does not exempt you from the consequences. It merely makes you a cog on someone else’s wheel. Get yourself registered. And when the time comes, vote.

You can start by registering here at Rock The Vote:

https://register2.rockthevote.com/?partner=25659

The Easiest Resolution You’ll Ever Keep

Quit smoking? You should. I did. But that’s another post. Lose weight? Get in shape? You should. I’m trying. But that’s another post. Follow Steve’s blog? See how good you are at this?!

Most of the resolutions we make are difficult to keep. We are almost doomed to failure. We know that going in. We forgive ourselves in advance for not making it. There is one New Year’s resolution, though, that you’re not making. No one ever picks this one. But it’s incredibly important. Patriotic. Responsible. Necessary. Oh, and it’s bizarrely easy to do. Failure is damned near impossible. It’s free (in most places). And it feels good.

Register to vote. easy

That’s right. Get yourself registered to vote. If you are an American who has reached the age of 18 and who is eligible to vote, then you have absolutely no excuse whatsoever for not being registered to vote. At the end of this post is a link that will get you registered. You can register online; it only takes a few minutes. I was already registered, but I just re-registered (so I could recommend this way of doing it). I live in Los Angeles, and all that I needed was my Driver’s License (or State ID) number, the last four digits of my Social Security number, my address and date of birth. Presto. Done. I instantly received an email from the California Secretary of State confirming my shiny new status as a registered voter. Different states have different rules, but the Rock The Vote website whisks you through your state’s process. How’s that for an easy-to-keep resolution? You’re welcome.

I’m guessing most who read this blog post are already registered to vote. Once you’ve registered, you’re good to go until you move, or if you want to change your party affiliation. If you’re like me, you vote in every election. Every year, Election Day is the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. We elect presidents every four years. We elect all of Congress and one-third of the Senate in even-numbered years. There are state and county and municipal elections for candidates and ballot measures every year, along with the odd special election to fill vacant seats. And in the months leading up to the General Election in November, there are all those lovely primaries where the parties get to pick their candidates for the final contest.

So, you love to vote and wouldn’t miss it? You find something sacred in this most secular of rites. Whether you live in a sprawling city or tiny town, you love the unique coming together in your ‘polling place’ – the school gymnasium, church hall, fire station or library. You actually wear that “I voted” sticker proudly on your lapel or your smartphone case. Maybe you’re even a bit of a political junkie? Great. But you’re not off the hook. Here’s a resolution for the (small d) democratic overachievers like you: Find someone you know who is not registered to vote, and help her get registered. (You cannot legally do it for another person, but you can walk her through the process.) And then resolve to help her cast that vote in the upcoming primaries and on Election Day. Or in early voting. Or by mail.

Are you reading this and wondering whether or not you are registered to vote? My advice is to assume you aren’t and go through the quick process to register. Even if you were registered, the new filing simply ‘overwrites’ the old one. Can’t hurt. So go ahead, get yourself registered. And then go the extra mile and help someone else you know who needs to register and vote in this year’s elections.

Whatever your politics, whatever your priorities, the 2014 elections WILL have a significant impact on YOUR life and on those you love. I won’t tell you which way to vote. That’s another post. In 2012, 130 million Americans voted for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney for President. That’s a lot of people… but still only 58% of the people who were eligible to vote.

2014 is a so-called “off-year election” because it’s not a presidential contest. It’s “only” the entire House of Representatives, 1/3 of the Senate, governors and legislatures in many states, and ballot measures to determine everything from your sales taxes, minimum wage, women’s reproductive health care, voting rights, gun control, who can marry, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, et cetera. These are not small questions, nor dull topics. Whether you like it or not, you’ve got one or more horses in this race. But voting patterns for off-year elections are long established, and if they hold true in 2014, only about 40% of Americans who are eligible to vote will bother to cast a ballot.

votetwiceThink about that. 40 million people – who voted (D) or (R) for president in 2012 – are likely to just sit out the 2014 elections. Why? That’s another post. THIS post is about how we can change that. It’s not difficult. It costs nothing. We are going to get ourselves registered. We are going to help would-be non-voters get themselves registered. We are going to vote. And we are going to help would-be non-voters to cast their votes.

I am not going to donate or raise money for any candidate or party in 2014. Our political system is drowning in money. But I am going to work like hell to make sure more people vote for the candidates and causes that I support. And you should do the same. Think about it this way: it’s like voting twice. Or ten times, or a hundred. Without the slightest whiff of fraud. BOOM. There are “register to vote” buttons and links scattered all over my blog. Give it a whirl. You can click on the VOTE TWICE image or the EASY BUTTON in this post.

Turn Virginia BLUE!

Turn Virginia BLUE!