The holiday season is always celebrated as a time to reflect on what we are thankful for, spend quality time with our families, and eat copious amounts of food. The holidays are also when many volunteer their time and/or money to help the less fortunate. However, the poor seem to get the most attention during the holidays, but indifference (or hostility) the rest of the year.
One reason for this disconnect is that most Americans consider themselves middle class, whether they’re too rich or poor to technically be in the category. In America, to be middle class is really a state of mind. We have an image of ourselves as a nation of strivers, constantly aspiring to financial success - the American Dream. According to academics, many Americans believe that poor people are in that situation because of bad choices, or that they simply didn’t work hard enough. However, outside of America, most believe that people become poor from back luck or outside forces. This cultural difference partly explains why poverty is stigmatized in the United States and why the social safety net in the is so paltry compared with other western industrialized countries. Poverty is seen as an individual - not a societal - failure. The poor are marginalized and invisible. The downwardly mobile - the long- term unemployed - suffer in silence and shame, but still cling to the “middle class” identity. Even our Democratic Party puts poverty issues in the background in favor of focusing on the struggles of the middle class.
Many of our Democratic leaders speak a lot about the plight of middle class families, who have been squeezed from 40 years of failed “trickle-down” economics and the Great Recession. Democrats like to talk about strengthening the middle class. We support unions and raising the minimum wage. We defend the Affordable Care Act. We want to help homeowners who are struggling with underwater mortgages. We want to make college more affordable. We support strengthening Social Security and other programs to help retirees. And we support clean energy to combat global warming. These are all worthy goals. But what about the concerns of people who can’t even get to the middle class? Rarely do our political leaders mention the poor, or talk about issues that directly affect them, other than the minimum wage and Medicaid. That should change. We need to focus on and organize around the following issues as well:
Unfortunately, many poor people don’t vote, and are too busy trying to survive than engage in civic culture. Therefore, their concerns are given less importance. So we must support efforts to politically empower the poor. That would be a great holiday gift.
The Culver City Democratic Club will be holding a theater party at the Westchester Playhouse to see “Into the Woods” on Sunday, December 14th at 2:00pm. The theatre is located at 8301 Hindry Ave in Westchester. Tickets are $30.00 per person. All members are encouraged to attend this fun filled event that has received rave reviews. In addition, please invite family members, friends, and neighbors as well. It is essential that this be a successful fundraiser in order to enable the Club to raise funds for our monthly newsletter and for the monthly rental of our meeting room. As space is limited, please contact Sylvia at President@CulverCityDemocraticClub.com for details on getting tickets.
It was an awful election night for President Obama and congressional Democrats on Tuesday, as the GOP took over the majority in the U.S. Senate and made gains in the House of Representatives. For the first time since 2002, Congress will be completely controlled by the Republicans. President Obama, have your veto pen ready! But, as in 2010, the last GOP wave election, California bucked the national trend: Democrats were elected or re-elected to every statewide office. And voters also passed Prop. 47, a measure that is another step toward reforming a criminal justice system that had become so punitive that America's prison population surpasses that of many oppressive regimes. The Golden State is shining brightly. The Culver City Democratic Club congratulates Gov. Jerry Brown on winning a historic fourth term, as well as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Secretary of State-elect Alex Padilla, Controller-elect Betty Yee, Treasurer-elect John Chiang, Attorney General Kamala Harris, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, Superintendent for Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Board of Equalization Member Jerome Horton. The club also congratulates our local district lawmakers, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, State Sen. Holly Mitchell and Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas on their re-election victories. Congratulations also go out to Sheila Kuehl on her election to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors for the 3rd District. Supervisor-elect Kuehl was the club’s Holiday Party speaker last December. And finally, congratulations to CCDC member Scott Houston on his first place finish to win a seat on the West Basin Municipal Water Board of Directors, Division 4. Democrats Jeff Ebenstein and CCDC Correspondence Secretary Stephen Murray came in second and third respectively - good efforts by both. As of this writing, Democrat and West Hollywood Councilmember Jeffrey Prang has a slight lead over his opponent in the L.A. County's Assessor's race. Hopefully, Councilmember Prang will eventually prevail. Please join the CCDC at the next General Meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 12, for a panel discussion recapping the midterm elections, and how Culver City voted. The meeting will take place at 7pm at the Veterans Memorial Building, Rotunda Room 4117 Overland Ave., Culver City. — Sylvia Moore, CCDC First Vice President/acting President