The following is an open letter from the Alliance for a Progressive Virginia’s President in response.
November 23, 2018
Ralph S. Northam
Governor of Virginia
Dear Governor Northam,
I am writing to you in my capacity as the president of the Alliance for a Progressive Virginia, on behalf of our membership in the Commonwealth, many of whom, myself included, were proud to vote to make you the governor of our beautiful state.
While we deeply appreciate your strong stances on women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights and the expansion of Medicaid amongst other issues, we continue to be deeply concerned with your administration’s policies regarding the two pipeline projects being forced through the heart of the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Valleys.
APV strongly opposes the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines in Virginia for reasons that become clearer almost daily. The negligible job creation and economic growth potential that the pipelines represent: compared to the damage done to vulnerable rural communities, the confiscation of private property and the immense danger posed to our environment, water table, and tourist industry make a strong case for denying the energy industry the opportunity to exploit our most precious resources both human and natural. APV members as well as our Public Policy team have spoken out consistently at every juncture against these pipelines only to watch in alarm as they are pushed through various boards and commissions by a powerful, often apparently unaccountable industry.
At a moment when we simply cannot trust the current administration in Washington to protect our environment and natural heritage, it is incumbent upon individual state leaders such as yourself to work overtime to protect our environment! Once in place, these shortsighted, careless environmental decisions can result in irreversible harm. This is why I feel I must write you personally.
During your campaign and since you took office, I have watched with growing dismay as you defer to the state boards and commissions for decisions regarding the pipelines, rather than take a stand to protect the health, safety and well-being of the citizens of the Commonwealth. We understand that processes and procedures are important but from the start it has appeared as if your administration has been an active partner with energy extraction concerns rather than the protector of our natural birthright. We demand a leader who stands up for all of us not just the wealthy and the privileged.
To be clear, the pipelines will not deliver energy to our own state. They will not provide any usable, necessary service to the people of Virginia, and even if they did, they are not worth the risks they pose or the hardships they will inflict. Fracking in itself is a desperate, massively destructive, last ditch attempt to extract as much profit as possible from remaining fossil fuels at whatever cost to the future. The transportation of fracked materials in high-pressure pipelines that would snake their way through some of the most scenic parts of our state, in order to reach a destination outside of Virginia is a game we’ve seen all too often, where the public takes the risk and a lucky few share the profits. This is not acceptable.
For the last year we have needed you to take a strong public stand in favor of people over profits, but instead we got a hands-off approach to the state-appointed boards that bordered on indifference. Now we have come to a moment of truth where you have chosen to fire several Air Pollution Control board members who have had the temerity to stand up against a pattern of lies and obfuscation by industry. To so blatantly pick sides at this point by removing legitimate obstacles to ACP and MVP has deeply shaken our trust in your administration.
I am asking you, Governor Northam, to rethink your decisions regarding these projects. We need a full explanation of your actions and inactions and we need to see your administration actively standing up to protect our environment, water quality and communities. We are watching what you do.
Rhonda Hening Davis
Alliance for a Progressive Virginia
Public Policy Director
Alliance for a Progressive Virginia
PO Box 14664
Richmond Virginia, 23221
This year has produced a bumper crop of exaggerations, shaded truths and downright fibs on the election trail. So here are a set of arguments gleaned from the bowels of rightwing Facebook posts and blogs with researched responses for when you realize you are arguing with in-laws who are politically to the right of Genghis Khan.
- Democrats want open borders or ALL Democrats want open borders. Note that in this claim no individual Democrat is specified. That’s because no individual Democrat (or group of Democrats) actually want open borders. Not one of them. Democrats have pushed for immigration reform and many think the ‘wall’ is a stupid idea (it is), but that is a far cry from ‘open borders’… If you are a Republican now, you might be asking yourself, ‘Well, why would a candidate say that, if it isn’t true?’ Hold onto that question, it will become important later. But know for now that after exhaustive research we found that not a single Democratic candidate, actually, not a single, living, breathing Democrat has ever once said they wanted open borders. Links provided below.
- Democrats support sanctuary cities. This one is a slight variation of the open border theme. Now, there are some Democrats that support sanctuary cities–BUT there are many MORE who do not. It is by no means universal. In fact, the U.S. Justice department under Trump has sent out notices to 29 such ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions. So we imagine the maximum number of Democrats who actively support such designations would fall somewhere in that ballpark. Maybe a little more, maybe a little less. That’s a fraction of a congressional count of some 197 House members and 47 Senators. I, personally favor sanctuary status for many individuals who are fleeing violence from their native country and actively seeking asylum. In some cases, sanctuary is necessary because Trump’s Attorney General Sessions has declared that cases of domestic violence and retaliation from gang violence will no longer be covered as an asylum situation. Yet, many of those fleeing Central American countries like Honduras and El Salvador are fleeing horrific levels of gang violence–in fact, some of the worst violence in the world. As a further note on this topic: seeking asylum is not illegal. All those people seeking asylum are NOT illegal aliens. They are unfortunate individuals in dire circumstances, traveling thousands of miles to seek asylum. They are also not, as a rule, gang leaders, or drug lords, or rapists, etc…
- What about the caravan? With regard to the much hyped caravan which is still about two months away from our border, our own military planners’ think that the most likely scenario is that the caravan will continue to dwindle in size as they move north with “no terrorist infiltration.” They do not see it as a threat, and they have declared that they will not fire on caravan members – even if they throw rocks, no matter what the President says, because that is a war crime. In fact, our military is currently more concerned about the presence of “unregulated [U.S. based] rightwing militia members self-deploying to the border in alleged support” of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It estimates that some 200 U.S. rightwing militia members could show up while troops are in the area. Apparently, these folks have been known to steal National Guard equipment.
- Democrats are anti-law enforcement. There’s not a single Democrat I know who is ‘anti-law enforcement.’ There are some Democrats that want law enforcement to be better at their job, especially since this group has the power of life or death over someone in their community. If you don’t want the police officers in your life to do a better job, lucky you. Some of us aren’t so well off–especially those from minority neighborhoods. What some apparently think is ‘anti-law enforcement’ is actually ‘anti-getting murdered’…As a general principle, we at APV stand behind ‘not getting murdered.’
- Democrats want to take my guns away. Closely aligned with the ‘anti-law enforcement’ shibboleth is the idea that Democrats want to take all guns away from everyone. Leaving aside the legal and logistical hurdles that would be required to accomplish this feat, it’s simply not true. There is not a single Democrat who wants to take away all of anyone’s guns. What SOME Democrats want, and by no means ALL, is to regulate the sale of certain types of weapons that have been characterized as military grade or assault weapons: the AR-15 is a likely candidate as it has been used in dozens of mass shootings and its main use is either recreational shootings or mass killings. While many Democrats may be okay with the recreational use of this weapon, I suspect the majority are opposed to using the AR-15 in a mass killing event. Therefore, SOME of them would like to regulate weapons of this type and the sale of ammunition for such a weapon. Many more support gun control measures like more thorough background checks, not allowing weapons to be sold to the blind, mentally handicapped, or violent domestic abusers for obvious reasons.
- Democrats want a healthcare plan that will bankrupt the country. No. Not a single Democrat wants to bankrupt the country. Nor do they advocate a plan that would do this. Now, there are SOME Democrats who want to improve a poorly designed healthcare plan with a single payer plan. There have been multiple studies done that confirm single payer health care (or ‘Medicare’ for all) would be cheaper for our country overall and far more effective for our citizens than anything else currently planned. If done correctly, higher earners (those making 250,000 or more) would pay slightly more for premiums, everyone under that mark would pay less. AND everyone would get covered.On the topic of Obamacare, it is not perfect–largely because the GOP did everything they could to kill it–but it is far better at covering all citizens at some level than the alternative, which is to let our citizens die of preventable or curable illnesses. Also, if you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until the GOP rips out preexisting conditions. Finally, and again, only a partial percentage of the Democrats even favor single payer or ‘Medicare for all’. I, personally, wish more of them did.
- Democrats want to raise taxes. No, all of them generally do not want to raise taxes. SOME of them favor specifically targeted tax increases, like Bernie Sanders (not a Democratic, for the record), who favors a financial transaction tax. This is a minuscule tax amount –0.1% for bonds, 0.5% for stocks– tacked onto a financial trade that would be used to pay the cost of higher education. Many Democrats, however, want to rescind the round of tax cuts under Trump that have largely benefited the top 10%. I personally think it is a good idea for two reasons. 1) the tax cuts are ballooning our debt which is hovering at 20 trillion dollars, and 2) they unfairly enrich the top 1 to 10% percent while doling out table scrapes to anyone making less than half a million a year. A fairly distributed progressive tax program would provide real tax relief to lower and middle class Americans; that is, those Americans who are making less than 250,000 a year. For those making over 250,000 a year, a return to the previous pre-Trump tax standard with a modest bump for capital gains (especially) makes excellent economic sense (it would operate as a broad stimulant to the economy), as well as moral sense, and begin to repair the disastrous levels of inequality which is polarizing this country.
Budgets are moral documents and what Trump’s budget does is reward people who inherit their wealth, or make their wealth off of investments rather than those who actually earn their wealth through hard work. There is nothing moral about being ‘born into money’; nor is there a ‘moral good’ in taking that money and getting massive returns on investments that you do no real work to earn. Both are, at best, morally dubious.
The wealthy individuals the GOP largely represent are enriching themselves and shirking on the nation’s necessary infrastructure costs, healthcare costs, educational costs, and our retirement funds, in order to do it. Ultimately, we all end up paying for that. So remember this coming Tuesday, November 6th, go out and vote. Happy arguing in the meantime.
If you have questions, or just want to vent, please feel free to drop us a comment and we will try to respond as soon as possible.