Every election, you hear that “this is the most important election of our lifetimes.” Recently, the funny thing is that it’s been true each time.
As student-workers at UCSB, we have a unique chance to make a difference both on the national level and here in California. Nationally, fresh polls are showing the possibility that control of the GOP-controlled House of Representatives is up for grabs – this means we have a chance to vote out the Paul Ryan budget that calls for $4.7 trillion in tax cuts for the rich, and pays for it in part by gutting programs that students like us rely on. Interest rates on student loans would be jacked up, Pell Grants would be cut by 20%, and automatic coverage under our family health plans until 26 would be repealed. In order to overturn the Tea Party’s control over the House, we need to stop the GOP from trying to preserve their majority by picking up our local Congressional District. In the 23rd Congressional Race, we have a clear choice between Congresswoman Lois Capps, who’s been an unwavering advocate for higher education and a woman’s right to choose, and Abel Maldonado, who tried to skip out on more than $4 million in taxes and who will vote to keep John Boehner and the Tea Party in charge of the House.
However, we have even more of an opportunity to make a difference on the state level. For years, higher education has taken it in the neck when it comes to budget cuts because Republicans in the state legislature have used the 2/3rds rule to block new funding. We are only 1-2 seats away in each house from clearing this bar and here in Santa Barbara, we have a chance to elect higher education champion Hannah-Beth Jackson to the 19th State Senate District. Hannah-Beth Jackson has made the restoration of the California higher education system the centerpiece of her campaign. With her in the State Senate, and Das Williams (former UAW 2865 member from UCSB) in the State Assembly, we will have one of the most powerful pro-higher education teams ever assembled in politics working to pass vital legislation like the Middle Class Scholarship Act and the HOPE Trust Act.
And as always, we have a draft of ballot propositions in California – but this year, we have a choice between two diametrically opposed visions of California’s future. Prop 30 would prevent $6 billion, including a further $500 million cut to higher education, by raising taxes predominantly on the richest Californians; Prop 32 would make it virtually illegal for unions to have any voice in state politics, while exempting corporations and their unlimited contributions entirely. If California passes Prop 30, we can finally begin to rebuild the institutions that create opportunity and social justice; if California doesn’t defeat Prop 32, Citizens United-style legalized corruption will control the state.
What will determine the outcome of this election, both at the national level and here in California, is whether students, working families, and communities of color come out and vote. That’ s why it’s so important for every member of UAW 2865 not just to vote on Election Day, but also to volunteer to boost turnout by knocking on doors and calling voters.
Here’s how you can help: Every weeknights we have phonebanks and on the weekends we have precinct walks operating out of IV (above Silvergreens) and downtown Santa Barbara (114 E. Haley). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get involved!