by Richard Wiebe

Republicans and Democrats agree on one thing: Voter turnout will determine the outcome of the November elections.

Alison Jones,  Pima County Democratic Party (PCDP)  chair, says, “It’s not enough for Democrats to vote. We must work hard to bring first-time voters and independents to the polls to vote for Democrats.”

And it’s not enough to ask for your vote solely to protest the corruption, incompetence and divisiveness of President Trump and his party. Democrats want you to know what you’re voting for when you choose  one of our candidates.

PCDP recently adopted its first platform to clarify where local Democrats stand on the most important issues facing Arizona and the country. PCDP unanimously adopted this platform after a year-long process involving community leaders and experts in health, housing, immigration and other issues important to voters. The values that the Democratic platform reflects offer a sharp contrast to Republicans in vision, policies and priorities.

Voters should know, for example, that while President Trump and Republican states ask the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act and eliminate protections for those with pre-existing conditions, Democrats support universal healthcare and are fighting to save those protections.

Republicans continue to deny the effects of climate change, and gut environmental protections. This poses an urgent existential threat to all species. Rising temperatures generate more extreme and dangerous meteorological events. Democrats understand that we must shift from dependence on fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.

While Republicans attempt to privatize public education and starve classrooms of needed resources, Democrats support higher teacher pay, smaller classes, trade schools and other measures to strengthen and fully fund public education.

Economic injustice is intolerable and presents a threat to a functional democracy. A small percentage of Americans own most of the wealth, while wages remain inadequate and workers’ rights to organize under unions are under attack. Democrats are fighting to reverse disparities in wealth, income, education, opportunity, retirement benefits and housing.

 The criminal justice system is unjust and inefficient. Sentencing reform and judicial discretion can reduce the number of imprisoned, non-violent offenders and save billions of dollars in correctional costs. No one should profit from the U.S. being the world’s largest incarcerator. PCDP supports education and rehabilitation incentives for non-violent offenders and eliminating private, for-profit prisons.

Republicans know they’re outnumbered, which explains why they are so determined to suppress the vote and dominate elections with corporate political contributions. PCDP supports same-day voter registration and  removing other barriers to voting. We should strengthen Arizona’s Clean Elections system and pass the Outlaw Dirty Money ballot initiative. Nationally, Democrats support overturning the Citizens United decision, and limits on corporate political spending.

 Gun violence is epidemic. Americans are not safe in their homes, schools, businesses, even places of worship. America can no longer stand by while its children are slaughtered. Democrats are fighting to require background checks and prohibit domestic abusers from obtaining firearms.

PCDP is proud of our vibrant, multi-racial, multilingual, multi-cultural borderland community. Racist, anti-immigrant policies violate human and constitutional rights and are causing generational trauma. We support an overhaul of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, and naturalizing all undocumented who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years.

Pima County is the homeland of the Tohono O’odham Nation and Pascua Yaqui Tribe (Yoemi). Native Americans were not considered United States citizens until 1924 and did not win the right to vote in Arizona until 1948. We must reckon with this history, address the unique geographic and cultural challenges that exist and provide full voting accessibility to Native Americans.

Democrats are engaged in the pursuit of equity and human rights for all people. Democrats know that when we act to uplift the communities that systemic discrimination harms most, we advance the cause of human rights for everyone.

The platform found on PCDP’s  website, will evolve as circumstances and priorities change. It reflects the values we hold as Democrats and solidifies our commitment to work for policies that will improve all Americans’ lives.

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