Here in the central valley the Staunton, Augusta County, and Waynesboro Democrats held an educational forum last week with representatives of the two Democratic candidates: Terry O’Neill, President of NOW and Dr. David RePass, Professor Emeritus, University of Connecticut acted as campaign surrogates.
For those who are still considering how they will cast their ballots, this discussion may provide a closing argument. For others it may only reinforce their choices. Nevertheless, it was an evening where all agreed that what matters most is that a Democrat sits in the Oval Office a year from now.
Dr. RePass highlighted two items about the Sanders campaign: electability and “that socialism thing.”
Regarding electability, he argued that eight months ago Sanders was relatively unknown and running against a very well-known person with experience running a campaign for President. Today, everywhere Sanders goes there are overflow crowds. They are responding to something to which he appeals. He speaks to the concerns of many people. In polling against potential Republican nominees, Sanders does as well or better than Secretary Clinton.
As for that socialism thing: RePass stated flatly that Sanders is not a socialist; he is a democratic socialist. There is, he points out, a big difference. Socialists want government to own things. Democratic socialists believe that government belongs to the people. A good example of democratic socialism is the New Deal: social security, the minimum wage, 40 hour work weeks, collective bargaining, regulation of banks, Glass-Stegall, and job programs. “If you believe in these, then you are a democratic socialist.”
Terry O’Neill began by seconding the sentiment expressed by Dr. RePass (and the sentiment of the crowd) that Democrats must come together after the nomination process to elect our nominee.
O’Neill pointed out that we are determined to move out country forward. There is enormous dysfunction in Washington DC right now. Clinton, she believes, is the person who can pull us out of the dysfunction and lead us forward.
O’Neill discussed Clinton’s actions leading the State Department where she instituted broad reporting of the status of women across the globe “putting a gender lens on America’s foreign policy.” Additionally, she acted early, and before the President was able to act, to ensure that same-sex couples had the same rights to benefits throughout the State Department by figuring out how to do it.
As a United States Senator, Hillary Clinton took the lead on issues that are crucial for women: paid leave, closing the wage-gap, and access to reproductive healthcare. Clinton has advocated increasing funding for Planned Parenthood; that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by age 45 and that 98% of women will use birth control at some point. Overwhelmingly, men support access to birth control too.
A constructive question and answer session followed their initial remarks and the entire session is featured here. Please excuse the audio; it was a challenge due to the ventilation system in the facility and required an edit, but no portion of the content is omitted or changed.