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Young People and Students
  • 50 years later voting rights still threatened

    Nearly 50 years ago, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, to outlaw discrimination based on race, religion, gender, and more. The law strengthened voting rights and pushed for an end to racial segregation in schools, at the workplace, and in public places. The law passed with bipartisan support -- in fact, Republicans helped lead the charge and break the filibuster.

    Unfortunately, today's GOP retreats headlong from the battle towards greater equality. In fact, many Republican are trying to sabotage or undermine crucial protections in the Civil Rights Act.

    One of the critical goals of the Civil Rights Act was “to enforce the constitutional right to vote.” But instead of ensuring this right, today’s Republican Party wants to make it more difficult for people to cast their ballots.

    Republicans are engaged in an aggressive and sustained campaign to make voting harder for millions of Americans. Across the country, Republican controlled legislatures enact laws that put barriers between voters and the ballot box. Apparently, Republicans have decided that if voters reject their ideas at the polls, they'll just rig the system by decreasing participation and making it more difficult to cast a ballot.

    • In Texas, Alabama, Arizona, and Kansas, they have passed strict photo identification and proof of citizenship laws. The result: voters who change their name because they get married or can't provide an original birth certificate find it more difficult to have their vote counted.
    • In Wisconsin, Ohio, and North Carolina, the GOP is restricting early voting periods.
    • And in Minnesota, Republicans are trying to sue the Secretary of State to stop that state from implementing online voter registration.

    Voting restrictions like these impact all Americans, but they disproportionately hurt African Americans, Latinos, working people, seniors, young people, and women – the very groups the Civil Rights Act has been helping for fifty years.

    Meanwhile, Democrats are committed to our mission of ensuring that every eligible voter can register, that every registered voter can vote, and that every vote is accurately counted. Because we know that our nation has never moved forward with less participation. So as we mark 50 years since the Civil Rights Act became the law of the land, it is more important than ever that we recommit ourselves to protecting and expanding the franchise for ALL Americans.

    And it’s not just on voting rights that the GOP is standing on the wrong side of progress:

    • Republicans made clear this week that they do not support legislation that would move us closer to equal pay for equal work and address the persistent discrimination that millions of American women experience in the workplace.
    • On rights for LGBT Americans, the GOP blocked the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and in many states authored legislation to enshrine discrimination in the legal code.
    • Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act and take us back to the days where insurance companies could deny coverage to those with preexisting conditions, or even for just being a woman.
    • The GOP continues to oppose and obstruct efforts to raise the minimum wage and ensure folks who work full time don’t remain in poverty.
    • Republicans refuse to act on immigration reform, dividing families and leaving millions of people stuck in a broken system.

    When it comes to civil rights, equality, and progress, Republicans are not only on the wrong side of the issues, their positions stand in stark contrast to the views of the American people. As Democrats, we will keep fighting to move our country forward, and work to get even closer to the ideals embodied in the Civil Rights Act over the next 50 years.

     

    Donna Brazile is the Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation at the Democratic National Committee.

     

  • The 2013 HOPE Institute: A Fellow’s Story

    What does it mean to have hope? For me, hope is about everyday people who want to bring change to American public policy. I believe in the progressive message embodied by the Democratic Party and President Obama. Barack Obama inspires me because he works to create a better America for people like me. In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama promised that these people would no longer be ignored and that all Americans would have access to affordable health care. Today, that promise is coming true.

    As the recipient of a heart and kidney transplant, I am one of the many Americans whose fight for quality, affordable health insurance changed when PresidentObama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. That moment proved to me that we have to make sure the right leaders are elected to bring the change that we desire. In 2008, I volunteered on the Obama for America campaign to elect Barack Obama and give millions of Americans like me the peace of mind health care coverage brings. Today I am no longer a hopeful high school student and campaign volunteer; now I am a Hope Fellow with the Democratic National Committee. I was encouraged to apply by a friend and little did I know how much this experience would change my life.


    The Hope Institute began as an initiative to engage and train the next generation of political leaders who come from underrepresented communities. I met with young leaders from across the country, and we were all inspired to begin careers in civic service through political activism. Collectively, we learned that politics is not about winning an election but making a commitment to improving and shaping a better world for future generations.

    The Fellows heard from leaders including Chair of the DNC, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC Vice Chair for Voter Protection and Registration Donna Brazile, and former Obama Deputy Campaign Manager, Stephanie Cutter. In addition, we received trainings on effective community organizing from Democratic strategists. The education we received was priceless, and we left with a determination to become future change makers and political officials. Each of us will take the skills learned from the Hope Institute to initiate social and political change in our own communities. Change starts with young people like me, and the Hope Institute gave me the platform to change the world.

  • Hope Institute: Why I’m a Democrat

    Today we asked participants in the Hope Institute (a crash course in politics for 40 young adults from underrepresented communities) to share why they're a Democrat in 140 characters. Here's what they had to say:

  • Sneak Peek: The Hope Institute

    I can't believe it's finally here! For months, our team's been working around the clock reviewing resumes, arranging flights, coordinating logistics, and securing some of the best and brightest public servants, elected officials and political professionals to serve as mentors and guest speakers.

    Tonight, we're officially kicking off the Hope Institute — a throw back to then-Senator Barack Obama's "Yes We Can" campaign school and the latest effort by Democrats to invest in the next generation of leaders.

    I remember the "Yes We Can" program very well. Launched in 2005, this campaign school trained participants from underrepresented communities on how to break into politics. And it was a huge success.

    When I came to the DNC as the new Finance Director, I thought it was important to do some of the things we did well back in the day. That's why we launched the Hope Institute — a crash course in politics for 40 young adults from underrepresented communities.

    These next two days are going to be intense. We've put together a packed schedule with speakers, networking opportunities, and real life campaign scenarios. And we've got some surprises too.

    I can't wait to meet everyone tonight and look forward to sharing stories from the events. As Democrats, we believe in change that matters. That's why we invest in young people who care.

    If you'd like to invest in the next generation of Democratic leaders:

    chip in now




    P.S. Fun fact: I met my beautiful wife while we were working together on the "Yes We Can" campaign. And that's just one of the many great things to come out of it. Excited to get started!

  • Obamacare matters for kids like Zoe

    What I care about is keeping my child healthy — and that's what Obamacare makes possible.

    My daughter Zoe was born with a congenital heart defect that required her to have multiple open heart surgeries in the first few months of her life. By the time she was six months old, she had already reached over half of her lifetime health insurance cap, which would have left us unable to pay for the continuing care and future surgeries required for Zoe to survive.

    I can't tell you how relieved I was when Obamacare passed. I got a letter from our insurance company telling us that Zoe's lifetime cap had been removed. It meant my family wouldn't have to lose everything to keep my daughter alive.

    By re-electing Barack Obama, Americans sent the clear message that we want Obamacare.

    But for some reason, Republicans continue to fight against the will of the American people. Maybe it's because they'll do anything to stop the President from succeeding or maybe they want to keep giving insurance companies record profits. Either way, I don't care. What I care about is keeping my child healthy — and that's what Obamacare makes possible.

    My family, and hundreds of thousands of families like mine across the country, have been through so much. We deserve better than Republicans continuously fighting against a policy that's been voted on, upheld by the Supreme Court, and reaffirmed by the American people.

    Join me and sign this petition telling Republicans to stop trying to repeal Obamacare.

    Sign the petition

  • Insuring young Americans

    Share this if you—or your son or daughter—are one of the millions of young Americans who now have health insurance thanks to Obamacare and Barack Obama.

    Share this if you—or your son or daughter—are one of the millions of young Americans who now have health insurance thanks to Obamacare and Barack Obama.

    Get Out the Vote

  • Reforming American education

    President Obama's Race to the Top initiative rewards innovation and positive reforms in local schools.

    Vote for education. Vote for President Obama.

  • Justin Long: “I’m voting for education”

    Actor Justin Long grew up in a middle-class Connecticut home, the son of two teachers who instilled in him a belief and a faith in education. But when he went off to college, student loan debt became overwhelming, and he had to drop out of school after two years. ''So I'm voting for the future. I'm voting for education. I'm voting on behalf of 100 percent of Americans.''

    Actor Justin Long grew up in a middle-class Connecticut home, the son of two teachers who instilled in him a belief and a faith in education. But when he went off to college, student loan debt became overwhelming, and he had to drop out of school after two years. "I ended up lucky," he says, "because I became an actor. But that's a one in a billion shot that I took. We need strong education—we need someone who's concerned about the middle class."

    "I'm proud of what President Obama has done on education," Long says. "I'm proud of him for doubling Pell Grants. I'm proud of student loan reform. I believe in that man. I don't believe in a man who, in order to make a $5 trillion tax cut, is going to gut education. So I'm voting for the future. I'm voting for education. I'm voting on behalf of 100 percent of Americans."

    Gotta Vote

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