COVID AND DEMOGRAPHICS ALTER POLITICAL DYNAMICS
In Virginia, as of 10/02, early in-person voting reached 362,000, while mail ballots numbered 278,710, for a total of 640,710 in the first two weeks of voting. Over 749,000 mail ballot requests remain outstanding. These figures compare to a total of 538,400 in 2016.
First-time 2020 voters will usher in a wave of demographic dynamics — a remaking of American political identity. Millions of Generation Z Americans — those born after 1996 — will be able to vote for the first time this year. The 2020 census, redistricting, and elections will begin to reveal population changes that will empower new voices and reshuffle swing-state maps and both parties’ bases. For the first time, (1) Americans born after the 9/11 attacks will be voting for a president, (2) Gen Z will surpass the Silent Generation’s [born 1928-1945] share of the electorate, and (3) Hispanic Americans will surpass Black Americans as the largest racial or ethnic minority voting group. Those eligible to vote for the first time will be less white, more educated, and more urban dwellers.
Politically, this cohort appears to be “similar to millennials,” with “their liberal attitudes and their openness to societal changes,” according to the Pew Research Center. Other findings: (1) Getting the 24 million eligible Gen Z voters to the polls in 2020 could be critical for Democrats, but young people are much less likely to show up on election day than older voters; (2) While Gen Z is civically active, candidates will have to overcome the generation’s lack of faith in politics as a driver for change; and (3) This generation has never seen “an example of any political initiative that is not operating under complete and total polarization.”
SHAME ON VCU? CAMPUS BANNERS ALLEGE WORKER WAGE THEFT
Workers from the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters have been placing “Shame on VCU” signs around VCU’s campus since July, to put pressure on VCU to acknowledge its part in “unfair business practices.” “An institute of higher ideals like VCU should hire contractors that don’t exploit workers.”
A report from EAS states that more than 20 workers were interviewed between 2017 and 2020 who said they received paychecks with no deductions during construction on VCU buildings. While acknowledging that the workers have not been directly harmed by these alleged business practices, EAS said they feel a need to defend other workers in the industry. Further, according to the group, “wage theft” occurs when contractors misclassify workers as independent contractors and do not withhold taxes, causing a larger tax burden to fall on the workers.
Sounds like VCU needs to review its contracting and subcontracting requirements.
DO CLOTHES MAKE THE YOUNG MAN OR WOMAN?
As eight young Caroline County residents stood on the courthouse lawn for the recent “Black Positivity” rally, a white man pulled his truck to the side of the street to see what was going on. After the man realized the group was dressed formally in suits, ties, and skirts for the two girls, he commented that they looked great and was glad to see them out there. The marchers said that if the group, all Black, had been wearing T-shirts and baggy jeans, the reaction probably would have been much different.
“It shouldn’t matter what [you’re wearing] because it’s about what’s inside,” one of the individuals said. “It’s about what you’re trying to say and what you’re trying to promote. But it does matter in the eyes of some white people because they see us with our pants down and they say ‘hoodlums, thugs.’ But if we dress professionally, in their eyes, they may look more and say more good things.”
The young people spearheaded the rally, where they spoke about racial injustice, in reaction to the recent decision by a Louisville, KY, grand jury not to indict police officers in the killing of Breonna Taylor. But the gathering was also about showing a positive image to young Blacks in the county and beyond. One member of the Sheriff’s Office discussed job opportunities with five of the marchers.