Since the Bush administration first recognized the genocide in Darfur, over 250,000 men,
women, and children have died. This number does not count the countless
women and children that have been raped or attacked as a result of the
Sudanese government's campaign to kill and drive out Darfur's ethnic
African populations. The violence and genocide is now spilling over
into Chad and the Central African Republic. Yet, even with such
horrifying statistics, the situation deteriorates day by day.
One of the biggest challenges in raising voter turnout is address the
rate of voter registration. The vast majority of states have
registration deadlines weeks before Election Day. The schedule poses
problems for busy Americans who simply forget to register or
re-register and find themselves unable to vote on Election Day. During
the 2000 Presidential election alone, nearly 3 million voters were disenfranchised due to registration problems. Luckily, a simple solution is available: Election Day Registration (EDR).
The Baltimore City Council is considering a bill
that would require developers to include affordable housing units in
all of Baltimore's residential projects. Under the proposal, up to 20
percent of all housing units would be reserved for low to moderate
income people. Baltimore is not the first city in Maryland to consider such a proposal. Montgomery County, MD,
in an effort to combat the loss of affordable housing, requires between
12.5 and 15 percent of the total units in every new subdivision or
high-rise building be sold or rented at specified, affordable prices.
In states across the country, progressive leaders are stepping up to
discuss how to achieve universal coverage for health care. At the same
time, many on the Right are trying to define "health care coverage" to
mean bare-bones care with often unaffordable cost-sharing for
individuals and families.
Even with the good news that came last Tuesday, all too much evidence exists that the basic machinery of democracy in America is broken. Election Day is like Groundhog Day and the first stories of problems with voting machines, long lines, or voter intimidation hit the wires in the early A.M. Fortunately, with progressives in control in more states than ever before, we have an opportunity to get the machinery working, so that the engine of democracy starts humming again.
It's a big year for ballot issues. Mid-term elections, when no
President is being elected, typically see less activity on the ballot
issue front than Presidential years, but 2006 is proving to be an exception. Eighteen states will consider 76 ballot issues this fall, as high as its been since 1914 for a non-Presidential year.
One sign of progressive strength is when progressive candidates win
elections. But another sign is when conservative candidates begin
adopting progressive programs for fear of losing office. And across the
country, many GOP gubernatorial candidates have begun embracing progressive causes as a way to court the voters:
The Blues have joined the health care for all bandwagon in Minnesota. The state's Blue Cross Blue Shield is endorsing a bill based on the Massachusetts
model of achieving health care for all through compelling the purchase
of insurance, highlighting both a key strength and a key weakness of
the model. The mandatory nature of the law builds bridges to new
interested parties: insurance firms well positioned to benefit from a
law requiring that the public purchase their product.
At the same time that a new study out of Massachusetts
reveals that tobacco companies are steadily increasing nicotine levels
in cigarettes, the fight to limit the health impacts of tobacco is
gaining new steam. Ballot measures will be considered in eight states this fall regarding tobacco. And in Virginia, where tobacco is king, Governor Tim Kaine is considering a ban on smoking in state buildings.