Forever Blue Blog
Posted by CDM Communications Director on July 25, 2014
Editorial by Ross Svenson
Ross Svenson, College Democrats of Massachusetts’ Eastern Regional Director, comments on the balancing act that must occur between advancing technology and ensuring protection of worker rights.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
My time abroad as an intern in UK Parliament began with an illuminating taxi ride from the airport. The cab driver, a man in his early 50s, and I began chatting easily about the impending World Cup and England’s prospects. Like many Englishmen, he pessimistically predicted early defeat. (He proved right.) Our conversation gradually shifted, however, to a discussion of his profession and ever-increasing competition from multinational ride-share services like Uber that utilize smart phone technology. London’s famous “black cabs” are fast losing customers to these companies, and my driver was understandably resentful. He and his colleagues had to pass extensive safety and knowledge tests to become cab drivers, while Uber drivers can simply start work upon gaining employment. With fewer daily passengers and dwindling income, my cab driver told me he planned to leave his job at the end of the year. He would start driving semi-trailer trucks cross-country to make more money. Of course, that job will mean long periods of time away from his family, but he saw this change as his only option.
This cab driver’s story is not unique among his colleagues, nor is it unique among the working and middle classes in the United Kingdom (and the United States). I saw that in UK Parliament as I spoke and corresponded with constituents sharing similar concerns. This cab driver’s story is emblematic of the technological advancement and globalization that has eroded and will continue to erode traditional occupations. While many technologies like ride-share services offer convenience to consumers, their consequences demand attention. This new economic reality is the defining challenge of our generation.
How do we reap the benefits of technology and a globalized economy while protecting workers? How do we transition individuals to new industries when their occupations are eliminated? How do we ensure economic growth is broad-based in this dynamic time? These are the important questions facing politicians in developed countries across the world. In the United States, our politicians have become distracted from these concerns, choosing to engage in partisan warfare over wedge issues instead. But hope remains for progress. Even with partisan posturing, Democratic politicians have largely kept income inequality, a by-product of the new economy, front and center in their legislation and campaign speeches. And front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, said in a recent interview that any prospective presidential campaign should focus specifically on what steps the country should take to foster growth, the “handmaiden of inequality.” Perhaps, a presidential campaign focused on answering these hard economic questions will yield smart and innovative policies for the future.
We certainly need them.
Ross is a rising senior at Harvard University where he studies Government. At Harvard, Ross serves as the Campaigns Director for the Harvard College Democrats and rows for the lightweight crew team. Beyond the future of our transportation service industry, Ross’s interests range from a passion for grassroots campaigning that began in Obama’s 2008 campaign to serving as a Big Brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay. Follow Ross on twitter at @RossSvenson.
Posted by CDM Communications Director on July 21, 2014
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back:
Why We Cannot Give Up on Women’s Rights
By Emma Walters and Hadley Chase
Chair and Vice-Chair, College Democrats of Massachusetts’ Women’s Caucus
The fight for reproductive rights continues on today…
In the past two weeks, American women have seen their right to equitable healthcare access severely restricted by the Supreme Court, continuing a trend towards pro-life legislation seen across the country in the last several years. The Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that closely held corporations need not pay for insurance coverage for contraception if they have a religious objection. This decision places employers between their female employees and safe, affordable healthcare, and forces women to pay out of pocket for care they cannot necessarily afford.
In a clear attack on women’s healthcare, the justices specifically named contraception as the only exemption from the Affordable Care Act, prohibiting religious employers from denying coverage for all other medical procedures and medications, including both vasectomies and Viagra. As Justice Ruth Badar Ginsberg said in her dissent, “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.” We have not only expanded the Citizens United ruling from 2010 that essentially states that corporations are people – but now women are not people.
The College Democrats of Massachusetts feel this restriction on women’s access to healthcare is a dangerous trend that must be challenged in every city, district, and state. To this end, we are designating this week as the Women’s Caucus social media campaign, #CDMWomen. We are excited to spread awareness about the issues affecting women today and to foster discussions around these issues. We hope that our campaign will highlight women’s involvement in every political issue, from Social Security to healthcare to voter restrictions.
Women comprise half the U.S. population, so they cannot reasonably be labeled a “special interest group.” While certain laws do hurt women more directly than men, such as the recent Supreme Court decisions restricting birth control access and buffer zones around abortion clinics, these issues do not constitute “women’s issues.” They are just an extension of the basic freedoms guaranteed to all Americans. The College Democrats of Massachusetts hope to spread the message that women’s rights are human rights and include women in political conversations generally not viewed through the lens of gender.
Though women fought for equality in the Womens Rights Movement years ago, the battle
is not over. CDM will continue the conversation surrounding women’s rights.
As we laud and celebrate the recent victories in gay marriage or employment throughout the country, we must remember that losses for some are losses for everyone. In the United States, we have a tendency to declare victory at the slightest inclination of success. And yet we sometimes forget – both intentionally and subconsciously – the huge steps still to be taken – not only for contraception, but for the thousands of immigrants trying to create a new life, the person who can’t get a job based on the color of their skin or the person they choose to love, or for the woman trying to get through the throngs of screaming protesters to access her reproductive health care. It is the job of activists to advocate for everyone’s collective rights, because we are all connected – and we can’t afford to move backwards. We must keep that chip on our shoulder, because without it, we lose the reason we decided to get involved in politics in the first place.
We are very excited to begin our work and look forward to collaborating with college students and organizations across Massachusetts. If you would like to get involved in the Women’s Caucus Campaign, please contact Chair Emma Walters at firstname.lastname@example.org or Vice-Chair Hadley Chase at email@example.com. Be sure to search #CDMWomen to keep updated. Remember to like the CDM Women’s Caucus on Facebook and follow us on twitter!
Posted by Eric Smith. LGBT Caucus Chair on July 14, 2014
Invisible Bodies: The Case for Comprehensive and Inclusive Sex Education
BOSTON — Sex education is a class that many young people – especially in a state like Massachusetts – take for granted. Yet for thousands of young students who fall along the LGBTQIA spectrum, the curriculum presented in public schools around the Commonwealth means very little.
As the law stands right now, no Massachusetts public school is required to teach about any forms of sexuality outside of heterosexual intercourse. In fact, it also is not officially required for sex ed in Massachusetts to be medically accurate or focus on critical concepts like consent and sexual violence.
It is easy to think that a relatively progressive state like Massachusetts would automatically be on the forefront of social issues and public education. But we still have a long way to go.
Because of a lack of applicable academic sexual education, most teenagers on the spectrum learn about sex from the only other resources immediately available to them. This often includes pornography and online forums. The information that young people find about sex and sexual health online without adult guidance or supervision can be incorrect and even harmful.
At the same time, lack of acknowledgement of a young person’s sexuality or gender identity in a classroom setting while acknowledging the identities of other students can be socially and psychologically alienating to young spectrum students. These students may often still be on a path of discovery about their sexualities, gender expressions and their bodies.
Sex ed that is inclusive of all sexual and gender identities is something that is long overdue in both the Commonwealth and the country. The same can be said about sexual education that is medically accurate and based around forming healthy relationships.
Fortunately, bills have been introduced in both the State and Federal legislatures to fix this. The Massachusetts “Healthy Youth Act” and the Federal “Real Education For Healthy Youth” Act both address these important issues for American youth. As Election Day nears, we need to put pressure on candidates for office on both the State and Federal levels to support these bills and make sure that students around the Commonwealth and the country are educated about the important issues of sexual health and healthy relationships.
Interested in getting the word out about appropriate sexual education? Contact your state or federal Representative to tell them why legislation on this topic is so important. For more updates on LGBT-inclusive policies on the state and federal level, be sure to follow the CDM LGBT Caucus here: @CDM_LGBTCaucus.
About the author:
Eric is the Chair of the College Democrats of Massachusetts’ LGBT Caucus. A senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he is originally from Kingston, MA. Eric is the current Vice President of the UMass Amherst Democrats. He has worked with a variety of organizations ranging from Elizabeth Warren’s campaign to the UMass Amherst LGBT Resource Center, the Stonewall Center, the United States Embassy in London to most recently, Free Press.
Posted by Dominique Mortimer. Black Caucus Chair on July 9, 2014
A Weary Celebration: The 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Letter from A Birmingham Jail”, April 16, 1963
BOSTON — 2013 & 2014 are both pivotal years of remembrance for essential Civil Rights legislation. Last Wednesday in particular marked 50 years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is credited for having transformed the Democratic Party. The occasion was celebrated by many, including members of the United States Congress who gathered to award the late Dr. and Mrs. Coretta Scott King, Jr., a Congressional Medal of Freedom.
However, amidst the hand-holding and photogenic moments of Wednesday’s celebration; one could not help but to wonder if the Civil Rights Act would have had a chance in today’s congress where humanitarian interests take a back burner to the Republican obsessions with the power of the President to issue executive orders.
The intention of the Civil Rights Act was to end the reign of Jim Crow in the South and to integrate public spaces such as city buses. Although President Johnson signed the bill into law, it was backed by a bipartisan Congress including its major leadership. Today, Congress is more divided than ever and continues to gridlock on issues such as immigration reform. How can we stop gridlock in congress?
While Congress will never fully agree on everything, collective action by social groups like the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and College Democrats play an imperative role in the passage of laws. It is my belief that a modern Civil Rights Act could pass with the assistance of these groups which speak out in an effective manner and mobilize in large numbers to stand against injustice.
(Image source: thetaskforceblog.org)
This post was written by Dominique Martin, Chair of the College Democrats of Massachusetts’ Black Caucus. Dominique is a native of Miami, FL and is a rising senior at Mount Holyoke College. As a politics major and aspiring lawmaker, she is committed to honoring the voiceless and promoting financial and political literacy among minorities. She hopes that the Black Caucus will contribute to the increased membership of students of color across the Commonwealth.
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