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.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced the hiring of four additional state and national staff for the Democratic Party’s newly-launched Voter Expansion Project. The new hires are: Sondra Haltom, Texas Voter Expansion Project State Director; Lindsay Langholz, Ohio Voter Expansion Project State Director; Bobby Hoffman, Deputy Director of Voter Expansion and Zara Haq, Director of Knowledge Management for Voter Expansion. Haltom and Langholz will work with both the DNC and their respective state parties.
The hires follow a recent New York Times report detailing the Republican Party’s efforts to limit voting rights and a Monday release of a DNC video featuring Vice President Biden outlining the importance of the Voter Expansion Project.
“The DNC brings unmatched institutional knowledge and experience in voter registration, engagement and protection,” said Wasserman Schultz. “With our state party partners, we have a national infrastructure and team of experts that no other organization can bring to bear. Voting laws are rapidly changing, and our Voter Expansion Project will make sure that Democrats – and all voters – across the country are able to exercise their right to vote and make their voices heard.”
As the DNC and Democrats around the country seek to expand access to voting through the new Voter Expansion Project, Republicans continue their cynical attempt to make it more difficult for people to vote.
“As Republicans continue to impede the right to vote, limit our access to the polls, and make it more difficult to cast a ballot, Democrats are fighting to expand the vote and increase access,” said Pratt Wiley, National Director of Voter Protection at the DNC. “Our team is building a professional and permanent, in-house operation that will remain in place from cycle to cycle for Democratic candidates up and down the ballot.”
The Voter Expansion Project was first announced in a video by former President Bill Clinton to DNC supporters. This project helps ensure the Democratic Party not only protects the right to vote, but also works proactively with states across the country to expand access to the ballot box.
BACKGROUND ON NEW VOTER EXPANSION STAFF:
Sondra Haltom, Texas Voter Expansion Project State Director
Haltom has 15 years of experience working on election issues like ballot access, voter suppression prevention, redistricting and more. In December 2012, she founded Empower The Vote Texas (ETVT), a non-profit organization dedicated to voting rights and election reform issues. Prior to starting ETVT, Haltom served for seven years as the Political Director for the Texas Democratic Party where she built and led the TDP’s Voter Protection Program.
Lindsay Langholz, Ohio Voter Expansion Project State Director
Langholz comes to the Voter Expansion Project with years of experience protecting and expanding the vote in both Ohio and Tennessee. Langholz will be responsible for educating voters and campaign staff on election law and working with election administrators to ensure they have the resources and training they need. Langholz is a graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School.
Bobby Hoffman, Deputy Director of Voter Expansion
A veteran of both Obama presidential campaigns, Hoffman joins the DNC after leadership roles in the voter expansion program in Virginia in 2012 and 2013. Hoffman will be responsible for growth and development of the in-state voter expansion programs. Hoffman is a graduate of Valparaiso University Law School.
Zara Haq, Director of Knowledge Management for Voter Expansion
Haq is a veteran of President Obama’s re-election campaign where she worked in the Chicago headquarters and later in Virginia. Haq will be responsible for making permanent the DNC’s know-how and tools necessary to build and sustain the DNC’s in-state voter expansion programs. Haq is a graduate of American University Law School.
On National Equal Pay Day, we are reminded of how we impede our own success when we refuse to compensate women equally. Women still make just 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. Over a lifetime, that adds up to more than $430,000 in lost compensation for her, her family, and our economy. For Hispanic and African American women, the gap is shamefully even greater.
Women now constitute nearly half of the nation’s work force. More women are acting as their family’s primary breadwinner, and many families rely on the paycheck of a wife or mother just to make ends meet. Pay equality is not just a women’s issue – it’s a family issue, and an economic issue.
As the party of inclusion, empowerment, and opportunity, these issues are priorities for Democrats. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill signed into law by President Obama, and Democrats in Congress continue to fight for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. In addition, Democrats support increasing the minimum wage, because no one who works full time should have to live in poverty. We also recognize that real economic equality includes enabling women to decide for themselves when to start a family.
The contrast with Republicans is clear. Republicans stood steadfast against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, oppose increasing the minimum wage, and have repeatedly blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act. They continue to double down on their obsession with repealing the Affordable Care Act, and with it the provision that bars insurance companies from treating being a woman as a pre-existing condition increasing the cost of health care for women and their families. The net effect is that while Republicans are fighting against bigger paychecks for women, they would also subject them to higher health care costs. That is an unsustainable proposition for America’s families.
Equal pay is about more than just women’s rights. It’s about the economic security of our families. It’s about ensuring that our daughters enter a work environment that treats them with fairness and respect. And it’s about growing our economy, because we know that when women succeed, America succeeds. It’s high time Republicans get on board.
In response to Breitbart News’ offensive characterization of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement:
“To say the least, the Breitbart News ad is foul, offensive, and disrespectful to all women. It is a disgusting new low and would be reprehensible against any woman – regardless of party. It’s no wonder the Republicans are having problems appealing to women. If GOP leaders are serious about their rebrand, then both their elected and Party leadership should condemn this outrageous behavior, call on Breitbart News to immediately remove the ad, and not continue to use this website as a forum for their views.”
Washington, DC – Today the White House reported that more than 6 million people have signed up for private health plans through the state and federal exchanges. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement:
“Today we reached an important milestone - more than 6 million Americans have enrolled in health care plans since the exchanges opened in October. In just six months we’ve educated millions of Americans about the benefits of signing up for health coverage, and now many who may not have had any health insurance, or were looking for better insurance, have it.
“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more than 100 million Americans with pre-existing conditions have peace of mind that they won’t get dropped from their insurance, and 17 million kids with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage. Seniors are saving money on their prescription drugs and young people just out of college and looking for a job can stay on their family’s plan until they’re 26.
“It’s time for Republicans to drop their obsession with repeal and admit what we know. This law is working for Americans.
“For anyone who still needs to sign up, you have until March 31st to visit HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 / TTY 1-855-889-4325. You can also find help in your community at localhelp.healthcare.gov.”
Washington, DC – Robert S. Strauss, former chair of the Democratic National Committee and former ambassador to the Soviet Union, died Wednesday at the age of 95. In recognition, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement:
“I was saddened to hear of the death of Robert Strauss. He was a statesman and public servant in every sense of the word. As a Party leader and DNC Chair, he worked to revitalize the Democratic Party during the 1970's and helped lay the groundwork for Jimmy Carter's election.
"Strauss later went on to serve Presidents from both parties with distinction domestically and abroad. He was a proud Texan and legendary Democrat who always put his country ahead of all else.
"He will be greatly missed. My thoughts are with the Strauss family at this difficult time.”
When the DNC Women's Caucus met at the DNC Winter Meeting earlier this month, we asked the members to share advice they would give their younger selves. Aside from the fact that we all need a good pair of stretchy pants sometimes, I would advise my younger self to never feel alone because you are standing on some of the strongest shoulders out there – the women who have worked to make this world a place where you can succeed. Here is more advice from some of those women:
After the 2012 election, the Republican Party was at a crossroads. They had just lost two presidential elections in a row -- but not only that, they had only won a popular majority in a national election once in the last six presidential races.
On Tuesday, March 18, President Obama presented 24 veterans with the Medal of Honor for their service in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The awardees were identified through a Pentagon review of discrimination in the military.
"No nation is perfect, but here in America we confront our imperfections and face a sometimes painful past, including the truth that some of these soldiers fought and died for a country that did not always see them as equal,” President Obama said.
It was the largest Medal of Honor ceremony since World War II.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz today announced veteran Democratic Party operative Raul Alvillar, as the DNC’s new National Political Director.
“We’re thrilled to have Raul joining our team, bringing with him more than a decade of experience on campaigns, in the private sector and in government. His work on everything from legislative outreach to campaigns and LGBT advocacy will be an asset to Democrats at every level,” said DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “Together, with the rest of the team at the DNC, we’ll be able to support the President’s legislative agenda and elect Democrats up and down the ballot in 2014 and beyond.”
“I am excited to join the DNC and get to work electing and reelecting Democrats across the country,” Alvillar said. “I look forward to working with our state parties and DNC members to make certain we are providing them the tools they need to ensure that the Democratic Party thrives at all levels.”
"I've worked closely with Raul over the years and have been continually impressed by his leadership, work ethic and political instinct," said DNC CEO Amy Dacey. "Raul will be an invaluable resource to our team at the DNC and Democrats across the country."
Alvillar has worked for President Obama in a variety of roles since 2007. He comes to the DNC after serving as Senior Advisor to Secretary Shaun Donovan in the Office of Public Engagement and Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Prior to his position at HUD, Raul was Associate Director at the Office of Public Engagement for the White House Office of the Vice President, where he worked closely with elected officials, stakeholders and members of the administration. He also served as Deputy National Political Director at Senator John Kerry's Keeping America's Promise PAC and as Political Director and Regional Field Director on the John Kerry 2004 Presidential campaign.
Congressman Xavier Becerra (CA-34), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus added, “Raul is a strong ally for Democrats everywhere and I'm proud to call him a friend. At a time when the stakes could not be higher for working families in America, I am confident that Raul brings the experience and dedication to promote the President's agenda and propel Democrats to victory in November.”
“Raul is a real star in the Democratic world. He worked for me during the Kerry for President Campaign and showed great skill and political judgment. The DNC is lucky to have him,” said Democratic strategist Steven Elmendorf.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’ll be sharing thoughts from Democratic leaders throughout March. I started things off by reflecting on my inspirations and what I’ve learned from the women around me.
1. What woman inspired you?
I was inspired by my mom and my grandma who instilled in me as early as I can remember that I could grow up and be anything I wanted to be. They lead by example, balancing work and family and giving me the values that helped me understand that because we were fortunate, it was our responsibility to give back to the community.
2. Why are you a Democrat?
I am a Democrat because the Democratic Party stands for inclusion, equality, and opportunity and that means empowerment for all Americans to achieve anything they can dream, if they work hard and play by the rules. I’m a Democrat because I believe that government can be part of the solution and isn’t all of the problem.
3. What advice would you give your younger self?
I would advise my younger self not to sweat the small stuff, to not put off for tomorrow what can be done today and to remember to be a sister to other women because helping others succeed helps all women succeed.
Name: Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Women’s History Month is special to me not just as a woman but as a mother, as a daughter and as a wife. It is inspiring to think how far we’ve come thanks to the women of previous generations on whose shoulders we stand. The suffragists fought for the right to vote and they won it in 1920. Another generation secured the passage of Title IX.
Our generation had cause to celebrate when President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009 and when health care reform passed in 2010. Because of the Affordable Care Act, being a woman is no longer a preexisting condition, and women now have access to preventive care like mammograms at no cost.
And yet our generation of women has an opportunity to do even more. I’m proud that the DNC recently launched the Democratic Women’s Alliance to get more women involved in politics, at every level. As the President said in his 2014 State of the Union Address, "When women succeed, America succeeds." Together, let’s make this year a success for women and for the nation.
Add your name to stand with the President and Democrats fighting for equal pay for women:
Washington, DC – Earlier today, U.S. Rep. John D. Dingell (MI-12) announced he will not seek re-election. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement:
“For more than five decades, U.S. Rep. John Dingell has served the people of Michigan and this nation with honor and distinction. As the Dean of the House of Representatives, he has done so much to help not only his constituents in Michigan, but nationwide. He has been a champion for Democratic values and has been a vocal advocate for the auto industry, civil rights, immigration reform, the environment and presided over the House of Representatives as we passed the Affordable Care Act.
“While he was Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, he helped pass clean air and water bills and helped secure more of our land for preservation and national parks. He also helped shepherd through a bill that is very personal to me, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, that aims to prevent childhood drowning deaths and injuries.
“Congressman Dingell leaves behind a remarkable legacy of working across the aisle on behalf of all Americans. His diplomacy and institutional knowledge will be missed in the halls of Congress. I wish Congressman Dingell and his family all the best as he embarks on a well-earned retirement.”