Human Rights, Refugees, and San Diego

Human Rights, Refugees, and San Diego

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Whether we are talking about the rights of Syrian refugees, the rights of black Americans, child soldiers, girls being trafficked for sex, or students being shot while at school, a discussion on human rights seems very timely. Not just because it’s Human Rights Day, but because of the upheaval that is putting record numbers of people at risk in conflicts here and around the world.

In his 1941 State of the Union address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt articulated what he called the “Four Freedoms”. He asserted that people “everywhere in the world” should have: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

Events this year — whether in the wake of the uncertainty and violence in the Middle East or the heated rhetoric of the Presidential debates — are testing our values as a human and humane civilization.

Countries from Venezuela to China silence political prisoners who dare to speak out. A U.S. presidential candidate advocates closing our borders and mosques to millions of Muslims. Floods of refugees flee war and violence that has decimated their lives and left them without food and shelter. Parents send children on treacherous journeys to escape murderous gangs in Central America. And these are only a few examples of the tumultuous times that we live in.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”

It’s at times like these that leaders are called upon to draw the line between the urge to react in fear and the need to balance safety and security with humanity, compassion, and reason. It isn’t easy. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, opened the borders to hundreds of thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. While this has earned her the honor of being the Time Magazine Person of the Year, it has also cost her politically as right-wing ideologues push back against the tide.

Other countries have responded by closing borders. Americans are torn on the issue. On the one hand, we have a compassionate president and a populace that does not want to repeat mistaken decisions of the past that were made in similar times of fear. We have a tradition as a nation of immigrants as inscribed on the Statue of Liberty: 

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

On the other hand, Congress has passed laws to increase scrutiny of visa applicants and added hurdles to those seeking asylum. Republican governors have refused to accept Syrian refugees, even though they technically have no authority to do so. Whether these Republicans are acting out of fear, an abundance of caution, or pandering to  a nativist base, it’s clear that they are being swayed by the zeitgeist of the moment and succumbing to the impulse to react to fear by building literal and figurative walls. 

San Diego is no stranger to those seeking asylum. In fact, San Diego County is home to one of the largest refugee populations in the country. From the fall of Saigon in the Vietnam War to the Iraq War, San Diego has taken in about 3,000 vulnerable refugees every year and helped them establish successful, productive lives and raise their families in peace and safety.

Our county has an extensive network of resettlement organizations that offer a wide range of resources to help refugees integrate into their new home. They assist with finding jobs and housing, enrolling children in schools, and obtaining drivers’ licenses, healthcare, and counseling. The refugees are eager to leave the horrors they’ve experienced behind and ready to build a future filled with hope.

This has never been easy. Each new wave of immigrants — Italian, Irish, Polish, Jewish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican — has encountered discrimination, rejection, and vilification. And yet, each has overcome these obstacles and become part of the fabric of our society. They have enriched our communities with their cultures and values.

Today the local San Diego refugee community is standing in solidarity with those seeking asylum. It is a reminder that refugees have been the victims of war, not the perpetrators, and that as Americans, we are at our best when we live up to values. 

This evening at 5:00 p.m at Waterfront Park, adjacent to the County Administration Building, you are invited to join them in a march sponsored by the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans.

Francine Busby
Chair, San Diego County Democratic Party

Labor Works for All of Us

Labor Works for All of Us

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Today is Labor Day, which for many of us means a welcome end-of-summer holiday. Perhaps you’ll go to the beach, barbecue with friends, or picnic at a local park. For America’s working families, though, it’s is so much more than a day off: it’s a reminder of all the progress that has been made, and the challenges that remain, for American workers.

Labor Day originated during the Industrial Revolution, when many Americans worked seven day weeks of 12-hour days for very little pay. Child labor laws were scarce and rarely enforced, so it was not uncommon to see a child as young as five years old toiling in a factory. Unsanitary and unsafe conditions were the norm, work breaks were unheard of, and some workers were even physically chained to their stations.

No longer willing to accept the widespread exploitation and abuses enforced by iron-fisted owners who built impregnable monopolies and bought off corrupt politicians, workers began to fight back. Risking unemployment, deprivation, and physical assaults, they began to organize. Many events turned violent during this period, like the Haymarket Riot of 1886, which led to the deaths of many workers in Chicago.

Their numbers grew and their voices, collectively calling for reforms, eventually rivaled the strength of the owners. From that position of disciplined strength, they organized, negotiated for safe conditions and fair wages, and lobbied for elected officials to support their positions. In doing so, they gave birth to the American labor movement. The first annual Labor Day parade in New York City was held in September of 1882, when 10,000 workers marched from City Hall to Union Square.

Here are just a few milestones that American workers take for granted today but are in fact all due to the struggles and successes of organized labor:

  • Weekends
  • Lunch breaks
  • Sick leave
  • Minimum wage
  • Child labor laws
  • Workers’ compensation for injuries incurred on the job
  • Workplace safety regulations
  • Anti-discrimination protections in hiring

Thanks to organized labor’s decades of standing up to powerful political and corporate interests, most American workers are now guaranteed the same benefits whether they belong to a union or not. While the number of workers who belong to unions had declined, recently their numbers have started growing again, with renewed fights to achieve better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Just this week, Uber drivers and franchise employees won the right to be considered employees with the right to organize, rather than being regarded as contract workers.

Unions haven’t just organized for the benefit of workers and work-related policies. Organized labor has been at the forefront of social, environmental, and economic justice issues and legislation that benefits our society as a whole, like the Civil Rights Acts and Americans with Disabilities Act. Even Henry Ford understood that he needed to pay his workers well. Why? Because he needed them to buy his cars. With fair wages, safe working conditions, and stability, workers also bought homes, educated their children, and super-charged the American economy. In doing so, they lifted workers out of poverty and built a vibrant middle class.

Here in San Diego, organized labor supported the passage of the living wage. They brought shipyard workers and community members together to support a plan to reduce the harmful effects of industrial pollution in Barrio Logan. They have supported bonds that fund investments in our schools and public infrastructure. Standing with the Democratic Party, they’re advocating for an increase in the minimum wage and access to healthcare for all workers, union members or not. They organized taxi drivers working long hours for low wages to help them become proud and profitable entrepreneurs. They fight for public employees who take pride in their work and are accountable for their budgets against outsourcing to for-profit businesses that too often leave taxpayers in the lurch. They are also engaged in civic activities to educate and engage voters in the electoral process of our democracy.

The strength of our allies in organized labor lies in their unity and their ability to mobilize members to volunteer and vote. Often the only effective foil to monolithic, powerful, and wealthy corporate interests, they are invaluable partners in our shared goals of improving employment, wages, working conditions, and benefits — and electing candidates who will stand with us when it counts.

I hope you’re able to join the San Diego County Democratic Party as we celebrate Labor Day on Monday, September 7, at a special event with members of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council at the Padres vs. Rockies game.

Whether you’re with us at the Petco Park or grilling at home or on the beach, I hope you’ll also take a moment to remember and honor the blood, sweat, and tears that have been spilled by America’s labor force to improve life for all of us. Let us continue to work for a more equitable and sustainable society, side by side with our brothers and sisters in labor.

Francine Busby
Chair, San Diego County Democratic Party

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Milestones on the Road to Women’s Equality

Milestones on the Road to Women’s Equality

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At the Vancouver Peace Summit in 2010, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that western women would save the world. He explained that western women offered the combination of the compassionate and nurturing nature of women and their collaborative approach to consensus building with the educational and economic resources to implement positive change.

He’s probably right. But not all western women have equal access to those educational and economic benefits; those who do are the beneficiaries of a long, hard fight for equality. And the fight isn’t over.

We celebrate Women’s Equality Day in honor of a very large milestone. Ninety-five years ago this week, the 19th Amendment was certified with a one vote margin in an all-male Congress to guarantee the right to vote for white women. We must acknowledge that African American and Native American women were not included in this first round victory.

It’s good to celebrate other milestones along the women’s road to equality in the United States. Similarly, it’s important to point out that it was Democratic presidents Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama have spearheaded reform efforts to increase equality and opportunity for women – efforts that were vehemently opposed by Republicans in Congress. From Social Security and Medicare to civil rights and the Affordable Care Act, Democrats have been at the forefront of improving the lives of women and all Americans.

Here are a few milestones:

  • 1935: Social Security relieved the burgeoning rate of poverty among the elderly. Social Security is especially important to the quality of life of women who have longer life spans, earn less than men, and are the primary caregivers of the disabled who depend on social security.
  • 1944: World War ll expanded opportunities for women to join the work force and armed services. Today, nearly 1.5 million women serve, representing 14.6 percent of our armed forces.
  • 1960: FDA approved the use of birth control pills. For the first time, women were able to plan their pregnancies. This allowed more women to balance their education, careers, and families. In essence, it gave women control of their lives.
  • 1964: Civil rights laws delivered equal employment rights for women and anti-discrimination laws like the Pregnancy Discrimination Act that made it illegal to fire a woman due to pregnancy. Today, out of all American mothers, 70 percent of them are in the workforce. According to the Pew Research Center, America’s working mothers are now the primary breadwinners in a record 40 percent of households with children.
  • 1965: The Voting Rights Act guaranteed the right to women of color. Although women could technically vote after 1920, it took another 45 years for many minority women to get the same right.
  • 1972: Congress passed Title lX to remove restrictive admissions quotas for women to attend publicly funded colleges and universities. Today, three women graduate from college for every two men and the gap is growing.
  • 1974: The Equal Credit Opportunity Act eliminated discriminatory practices that prohibited women from having credit cards or taking out loans. Despite this law, women still face greater challenges than men when it comes taking out loans to start businesses, buy homes, and other major purchases.
  • 1992: President Clinton appointed the most diverse Cabinet in history. Women made up 44 percent of Clinton Administration appointees, including the first woman to serve as Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, and the first to serve as Attorney General, Janet Reno. President Clinton appointed three times as many female judges as the two previous administrations.
  • 2008: Passage of the Affordable Care Act ended discriminatory practices of insurance companies of charging women more than men and refusing insurance to women of childbearing age on the grounds that their potential to bear children was a  “pre-existing condition.”

So, all this sounds good — and it is. Or, it would be if only women weren’t still fighting many of these same battles.

Ninety-five years after women were guaranteed the right to vote, women are voting in greater numbers than men, but men still hold 80 percent of federal offices and the vast majority of other elected offices. These majorities continue to give them control of the political agendas that too often fail to address inequities that continue to affect the lives of women, and society as a whole.

While women in the United States certainly enjoy many privileges and freedoms that others envy, we still have a long way to go.

The United States is currently ranked 75th in the world in proportional representation of women in federal office. Having a critical mass of elected woman in office is necessary to assure that all issues are addressed from diverse points of view and that debates represent the interests of all Americans.

Studies have shown, that whether it’s in the boardroom, state houses, courtrooms or the halls of Congress, outcomes are more equitable and prosperous when men and women are policy-making positions together.

A 2011 Harris School study published in the American Journal of Political Science found that women ranked as the most effective lawmakers in the land. The research was the first to compare the performance of male and female politicians nationally, and found that female members of the House exceeded their male counterparts in both garnering funding for their districts as well as shaping policy.

If electing more women to office is one way of achieving gender parity and effective policies, closing the gender gap in pay is the fastest way to cut poverty in America in half and increase prosperity.

The average pay among women who work full-time, year-round is 78 percent of what white men are paid. However, the gap for women of color and women living in different geographic areas is considerably larger. Hispanic women’s salaries show the largest gap, at 54 percent. Black women’s salaries stand at 64 percent. Regardless of age, education or profession, women are consistently paid less than men.

Every step of the way, Democrats have taken the lead in electing women to office and supporting legislation to promote equality, opportunity and prosperity for women.  It’s a never-ending battle, but one well worth fighting.

Certainly, there are more frontiers to conquer on the front lines of the battle for women’ s equality, but right now, I have to find some time to save the world. I wouldn’t want to disappoint the Dalai Lama.

Francine Busby
Chair, San Diego County Democratic Party

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Benefits Far Outweigh Costs When it Comes to Climate Action

Benefits Far Outweigh Costs When it Comes to Climate Action

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I’m no scientist. But you don’t have be an expert to acknowledge climate change and start doing something about it.

That’s why, when Republican’s claim they aren’t scientists (as if we should all be shocked by that), the rest of the world answers, “So what?”

All you need is a basic understanding of a thermometer and the fact that ice melts, and you’re about 85% of the way there.

But since this is so complicated for some of our “leaders” on the other side of the aisle, let’s start with a few facts.

The average temperature of the earth is rising drastically, primarily because of greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, 2014 was the hottest year on record, and 2015 is on pace to break the record yet again. As a matter of fact, ten of the hottest years ever recorded have been since 1998.

Climate change puts lives at risk: heat waves that lead to stroke and dehydration are the most common cause of weather-related deaths. Extreme storms like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy killed over 2,000 people combined. Poor air quality leads to asthma and lung disease. All these risks are projected to increase over time unless we act to reverse climate trends.

Climate change is also a national security risk. Storms, droughts, and floods have a destabilizing effect on society. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, “Domestically, the effects of climate change could overwhelm disaster-response capabilities. Internationally, climate change may cause humanitarian disasters, contribute to political violence, and undermine weak governments.”

Climate change costs hurts our economy, from property damage to lost productivity, from water and energy costs to effects on agriculture and fisheries. Even tourism dips during and after climate events. According to the White House, extreme weather disasters in 2012 alone cost our economy over $100 billion.

To address some of the challenges that lie ahead of us as a nation, President Obama unveiled a Climate Action Plan earlier this month.

The plan sets national standards for carbon pollution from power plants, which are the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. It will create a unique energy portfolio for each state, allowing California to adapt differently than Alabama while working toward the same goal: cutting 870 million metric tons of carbon pollution and increasing renewable energy by 30% by 2030.

In California, we feel the impacts of climate change drastically. Our drought has left entire towns without running water, has increased the length of fire season, and is hurting our agricultural industry.

With rainstorms becoming less frequent and more extreme, we’ve seen an increase of flooding taking lives and destroying infrastructure. As the Washington Post put it, we now burn and flood at the same time.

California has made progress under Democratic leadership. We have cut carbon emissions in our power sector by 8 percent since 2008 and increased energy generation by 74 percent in the same period. We have instituted cap-and-trade and created 46,169 renewable energy projects.

Studies show that San Diego is particularly susceptible to the effects of climate change. Even the Department of Defense is studying the issue due to our strategic importance to the United States military and increased risks from sea level rise.

Many local agencies are taking action to do their part in this massive effort. The City of San DiegoPort of San Diego, and San Diego County Water Authority have Climate Action Plans that will not only help fight climate change, but also create jobs and promote access and equality to vulnerable populations in the process. In July, the San Diego Unified School District, which is the second largest school district in the state, voted to adopt a plan calling for 100 percent renewable energy for its 200 schools by 2035.

But the policy work isn’t done. The courts struck down the County of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan because it didn’t live up to state standards.

By reducing emissions, creating clean and renewable energy, making our buildings water and energy efficient, increasing mass transit and bikable and walkable infrastructure, adopting a zero-waste policy, controlling storm water, implementing brush management, fostering urban food systems, implementing smart land use, and increasing adaptability, we can improve air quality, protect public health, increase water supply, increase food security, reduce the rate and effect of wildfires, protect ecosystems, ensure proper emergency response to climate events when necessary, and create thousands of jobs.

While climate change is a global problem, many of the solutions are local. We can’t afford denial or delay. Isn’t San Diego worth it? “Sorry, it was just too hard” isn’t an acceptable answer when the consequences are so grave.

Francine Busby
Chair, San Diego County Democratic Party

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The Fight to Vote Lives On

The Fight to Vote Lives On

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In 2013, a Texas woman was told that she now needed an ID to vote. No big deal, right? Wrong.

In order to get the necessary ID, Bates would have to pay $42 for a birth certificate. The cost was too much for her poverty-stricken family.

“We couldn’t eat the birth certificate,” she said in court, “and we couldn’t pay rent with the birth certificate.”

In Ohio, an 86-year-old World War II veteran was denied the right to vote in the 2012 election because his ID from the Department of Veterans Affairs didn’t contain his address.

In Wisconsin, an 85-year-old disabled woman had never needed an ID, because she was never able to drive. When she tried to get one to vote, the DMV quoted her a price up to $200 because there was a name discrepancy.

These stories are representative of millions (yes, millions) of people across the United States who have been denied their right to vote because of laws passed by conservative legislatures designed to suppress voter turnout.

Voter ID laws are only part of the battle. Restricting voter registration, illegally purging voter rolls, reducing or eliminating early voting, requiring birth certificates, denying college students the right to vote at school, moving polling places and making them less accessible — all are suppression tactics used by Republican state legislatures.

Republicans can’t win with a level playing field, so they change the rules of the game and rig the system to reduce voter turnout.  As Senator Lindsey Graham admitted in 2012, they don’t generate “enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

A Supreme Court decision in 2013 essentially gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It invalidated the provision that required federal oversight of laws that affected voting in states and counties with histories of voter suppression. That opened the floodgates.

Since 2011, 49 states have considered legislation that would make it harder for eligible Americans to vote. Half of those states passed new voting restrictions. By 2014, voters in 21 states faced tougher voting rules than they did in 2010.

The usual rationale given for these restrictions is to eliminate “voter fraud.” However, of the more than 1 billion ballots cast across the country in primary and general elections in between 2000 and 2004, only 31 were deemed to be cast by the wrong person. That’s less than 0.0000039%.

Millions of voters are being disenfranchised to “fix” a problem that doesn’t exist.

Technically, these restrictions apply to everyone, but we all know that Voter ID laws disproportionately disenfranchise black, Latino, poor, elderly, and student voters. All of whom happen to be more likely to vote for Democrats.

Right here in San Diego we’ve had problems with the Registrar of Voters not counting legally valid provisional ballots. A patchwork of policies that vary from county to county has created inconsistencies in California that allow ballots to be counted in some counties and left uncounted in others.

San Diegans are working with the legislature and Secretary of State to standardize procedures for the counting of votes in every county. In collaboration with Secretary of State Alex Padilla, three of the six voter-related bills were introduced or co-authored by Senator Ben Hueso and Assemblymember Lorena Gonzales.

Fortunately, we live in California, and under Democratic leadership, we are fighting to defend voter rights and expand voter access. An entire package of voter rights legislation was proposed in the legislature this year, including:

  • A bill to allow same-day voter registration.
  • A bill that will automatically register people to vote when they apply for a drivers license or state-issued ID.
  • A bill that will require mail-in ballots to be counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.
  • A bill that would require a recount in state and federal races if the margin of the race is less than or equal to 0.1%.
  • A bill that would begin a pilot program to automatically send all registered voters ballots in the mail, rather than only sending them on request.
  • A bill that effectively requires political jurisdictions to consolidate local elections with statewide elections in order to maximize turnout.

On this day in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the single most effective piece of civil-rights legislation ever passed by Congress, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This was the culmination of decades of persistent efforts — organizing, marching, court challenges, lobbying and even dying by African-Americans and allies. They refused to stop fighting for the right to vote.

Fifty years later, the fight continues. It is now up to Congress to repair the damage to the Voting Rights Act done by the Supreme Court. But it’s up to each of us to be vigilant and continue to protect every eligible voter’s right to cast a ballot and have it counted.

Without voting there is no democracy. Without democracy there is no America. It’s really that simple.

Francine Busby
Chair, San Diego County Democratic Party

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When You Meet a Candidate, Say “Thank You!”

When You Meet a Candidate, Say “Thank You!”

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My experience as a former candidate is one of the reasons I’ve worked so hard, for so many years, in support of the San Diego County Democratic Party. I learned then that candidates need the help of a team to win. And I never wanted another candidate in San Diego County to feel that they were running alone and making it up as they went along.

That’s why I made training a priority when I became County Party Chair in 2013. Sharing my own experiences – and the resources that the Party has developed – has allowed us to organize an excellent campaign training program. We want every candidate to be prepared with the confidence, knowledge, and tools to run smart, strong campaigns.

Running for office can be both exhilarating and exhausting. If you ask anyone who has run, you’ll hear that, win or lose, it’s a life-transforming experience. There are few other endeavors that allow someone to become a public persona overnight, meet hundreds or thousands of people, and speak out about critical issues that impact real lives.

Becoming a candidate can also be a jarring experience. One day you’re a private person; the next day your name and face are published and posted and you become fodder for political pundits and gadflies. But you also become a leader, attracting countless people whom you’ve never known but who are eager to volunteer and support you because they believe in you.

Over the past three years, hundreds of potential candidates and staffers have attended our trainings and learned about the nuts and bolts of running for office, fundraising, campaign organizing, messaging, voter data management, getting out the vote, and more. A large percentage of our trained candidates have gone on to run and win, and today we have a historically high number of Democrats in office. From school and hospital boards to city councils and Congress, from Fallbrook to San Ysidro, more Democrats than ever are serving in San Diego County.

When you meet a candidate, I encourage you to say “Thank you for running.” They are courageous, well-meaning people who are willing to make personal sacrifices to serve the greater public good. We are privileged in our country to participate in a democracy where anyone has the right to run for office and participate in our electoral system. It’s an exciting process that we should treasure as Americans.

We’re launching another series of campaign trainings in August. If you or anyone you know would like to learn about running for office and running effective campaigns, we welcome you to sign up for one, two, or all three sessions at www.sddemocrats.org/training. Please call our office at (858) 277-3367 for more information.

Cost: $25 per session includes light dinner.

Location: Confirmed upon RSVP

Dates:   Monday, August 3, 5:30-7:30 p.m.: Campaign Organization and Management

Monday, August 10, 5:30-7:30 p.m.: Fundraising and Budgeting

Monday, August 17, 5:30-7:30 p.m.: Communications and Messaging  

Francine Busby
Chair, San Diego County Democratic Party

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Seismic Cultural Shifts and Rifts

Seismic Cultural Shifts and Rifts

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Lately, it’s felt pretty good to be a Democrat. From the momentous decision to legalize same-sex marriage to calls for the removal of the Confederate flag, we have seen signs of significant progressive cultural shifts across our nation. The last month alone has witnessed the defense of an expanded healthcare system, the Pope acknowledging the human cause of climate change, and the country welcoming the new identity of trans woman Caitlyn Jenner.

Along with those shifts has come the exposure of underlying rifts across the Southern states in the form of church burnings and courthouse standoffs. Recently affirmed civil rights will be tested and tempered by entrenched opponents on all fronts, so that even as the celebrations fade, the fight is again heating up. Just the other day, a business owner in Tennessee put a sign on his store window that read “No Gays Allowed.” Let’s not forget that businesses in most American states can still fire someone for being LGBT.

While the White House was recently bathed in rainbow lights, and the law finally reflects the majority of Americans who support marriage equality, there will continue to be aggressive pushback. States like Texas and Louisiana have refused to give out marriage licenses. Even in a progressive place like San Diego, where most Republicans claim to be moderate, we have a County Clerk who tried to use taxpayer money to stop marriage equality in 2013. And San Diego County GOP Chair Tony Krvaric’s response to the SCOTUS ruling was to retweet a Republican National Committee statement that emphasized “traditional marriage” and “religious liberty.” If the head of the Party believes these things, it’s likely that Tea Party Republicans share his views, while so-called “moderate” Republicans give lip-service support to equality issues in public and revert to pleasing their base behind close doors.

The calls for the removal of the Confederate flag by conservative Republicans like South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Lindsey Graham have been another major pivot. This is a welcome sign of the loosening of the stranglehold that racist bullies have held for over a centuryAt the same time, discussions about the “stars and bars” have also provided a distraction from the real issues of racism and gun violence in America.

The surge in the awareness of police violence against African-Americans, combined with the massacre of innocents in a historic African-American church by a white racist, have seared the link between racism and gun violence into our nation’s consciousness. This conversation is long past due. Will it lead to real progress this time? The fact that the media were slow to acknowledge the rash of black church burnings across the South, instilling renewed fear in African American communities, seems like 1950s deja-vu, not 2015 progress.

We are seeing the throes of a country and a culture in transition, with people lashing out as they cling to a their experience of a very familiar America and a fear that it is slipping away.

But we are not going back. We will continue to fight for a more equitable and more perfect union. We must stand taller than ever, tireless advocates and vocal allies, united in the strength of our core beliefs. History will show that what we cherish as Democratic values are ultimately American values: equality, opportunity, prosperity, and sustainability for all.