You might call it a nascent civil rights movement in response to the new Jim Crow.
About 150 people gathered Saturday morning at St. Peter Baptist Church in Glen Allen to discuss mass incarceration, the war on drugs and their effect on the black community. The Virginia Alliance Against Mass Incarceration has scheduled forums Wednesday in Richmond’s East End.
The U.S. election system is in crisis. Big-money interests dominate U.S. politics in ways unknown in other industrialized countries, with social and environmental progress often blocked by officials who cater to big donors to insure re-election funds. Incumbents are unfairly insulated by district gerrymandering and rules, which obstruct independent candidates and parties. In recent years, voters themselves have faced political and even racial obstacles in casting votes and in getting their votes counted.
The United States houses 25% of the world's inmates despite having only 5% of the world's population. This fact prompted former Senator Jim Webb of Virginia to say, "Either we have the most evil people on earth living in the U.S., or we are doing something dramatically wrong in terms of how we approach the issue of criminal justice." The prison industrial complex has a vested interest in keeping people locked up.
I was anxious to attend the League of Women Voters Candidate Night because like so many other people in the new 11th District, I knew little about either of the major party candidates. I sat with more than 100 other voters and waited for Kerry Bentivolio to arrive.
With the open seat, Dr. Taj has a more than favorable chance to win. His opponent is Kerry Bentivolio, reindeer rancher, failed business owner and part-time actor who has never held elected office. He has strong ties to libertarian financiers and Tea Party activists but has been ostracized by the Republican Party establishment, having taken large donations from Liberty for All Super PAC, affiliated with Ron Paul.
He may be a Democrat in a largely Republican town, but don't tell that to Canton voters.
Dr. Syed Taj finished fourth out of six candidates in 2008 to win a seat on Canton's Board of Trustees -- the first Democrat elected to the board in recent memory and the only Democrat on the seven-member board.
We also talk economics and tax policy. We can’t just continue to cut our way to prosperity, Taj says. We continue to fire public employees, he says, and that not only impacts quality of life, but it negatively impacts consumer spending.
The sudden resignation of Rep. Thad McCotter led to a tumultuous Republican primary in Michigan's 11th District, but the fallout may also mean a competitive general election for a seat thought until recently to be safely in the GOP column. At least, that's what Syed Taj is counting on.
MI-11 Dr. Syed Tajhttp://www.tajforcongress.com