WHAT'S THE ASK: High Quality, Living Wage Jobs And Protecting The Voting Rights Act (VIDEO) | Roland Martin Reports

WHAT’S THE ASK: High Quality, Living Wage Jobs And Protecting The Voting Rights Act (VIDEO)

It has often been said that the Democratic Party takes African-Americans for granted, and the Republican Party simply ignores us. It is no secret that a large number of us vote Democratic as a rule.

But, has that worked for us? Are the candidates we voted for delivering on the promises they made? I believe we have to be more selective about the people we choose to vote for and hold them accountable. What that really means is making it clear when we say we want something, that we actually ask for it – not assume it’s going to happen.

We’re talking about what questions you should be asking before you give up your vote to various candidates, from presidential races on down to local races, with Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Nicole Austin-Hillery, director and counsel of the Brennan Center for Justice.

MR. MARTIN:  It has often been said that the Democratic Party takes African-Americans for granted, and the Republican Party simply ignores us.  It is no secret that a large number of us vote Democratic as a rule.

But, has that worked for us?  Are the candidates we voted for delivering on the promises they made?  I believe we have to be more selective about the people we choose to vote for and hold them accountable.  What that really means is making it clear when we say we want something, that we ash- — actually ask for it – not assume it’s going to happen.

We’re talking about what questions you should be asking before you give up your vote to various candidates, from presidential races on down to local races, with Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Nicole Austin-Hillery, director and counsel of the Brennan Center for Justice.

And both of you, welcome to the show.

So, when it comes to this next com- — this upcoming election, [a] wide variety of races, federal as well as state and local.  What should African-Americans be asking of politicians who’re coming to them to say, “Please vote for me.  I need your vote”?

MS. MELANIE CAMPBELL:  Most immediately, jobs.  It’s an economic issue.

MR. MARTIN:  And when we say –

MS. CAMPBELL:  Economic jobs –

MR. MARTIN:  — “jobs,” what does that mean?

MS. CAMPBELL:  — high-quality jobs that are living-wage, that you have the ability – and for Black women, more specifically, is what I wanted to kind of focus in on.  When it comes to us being majority head of households, so that means that we have to have the kind of jobs that can have a livable – livable wage, have the ability to have work-family life balance, if you’re – if you are a mother and having a family.

MR. MARTIN:  But when I say –

MS. CAMPBELL:  So, I think e- —

MR. MARTIN:  — “What kind of jobs” –

MS. CAMPBELL:  — economic –

MR. MARTIN:  — the reason I want to be more specific – so, for instance –

MS. CAMPBELL:  — okay?

MR. MARTIN:  — we can say “jobs,” but that’s very broad.

MS. CAMPBELL:  I would –

MR. MARTIN:  I – I –

MS. CAMPBELL:  — say in the –

MR. MARTIN:  — I think – I – I think one of the c- — things should be –

MS. CAMPBELL:  — technology.

MR. MARTIN:  — but I think one of the things should be, though, is saying, okay.  When it comes to retraining, when it comes to community colleges, when it –

MS. CAMPBELL:  Yes.

MR. MARTIN:  — comes to making sure the resources are there to actually say, “Here [are] the jobs that they need to fill.”  “Here’s the money to actually retrain them,” and now put you in a position to do it.

MS. CAMPBELL:  Well, one of the things, though, Roland, with – with the unemployment rate, you know, being as challenging as it is in the African-American community – and Black women are being impacted by that, with the kind of jobs that we’re losing when it comes to public-sector jobs.  Those are – those are jobs that are mostly held by women –

MR. MARTIN:  Gotcha.

MS. CAMPBELL:  — where they’re talking about teachers.  So, a – a good-quality job.  I don’t know any family in – in my community, where I’m from, that’s not being impacted where my check is everybody’s check –

MR. MARTIN:  Gotcha.

MS. CAMPBELL:  — you know, in the family.  So, a good-quality job.  And – and career jobs are one thing; but just, in many cases, a qua- —

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. CAMPBELL:  — just a quality job.

MR. MARTIN:  Nicole.

MS. NICOLE AUSTIN-HILLERY:  You know, Roland, at the Brennan Center, we focus on some core democracy issues, so that’s what I want us to focus on.  Voters have heard a lot recently about two major things:  one, about how states are enacting laws that make it harder for the average American to vote.

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY:  They are enacting campaign finance reform.  There’s more money in politics, and we see that money is influencing politics.

So, what I think African-American voters – and all voters – should be asking is, “What are you, as a politician, going to do to level the playing field?  How are you going to ensure that I, as an average, working American citizen, have my voice heard in this democracy?”

MR. MARTIN:  Now, I – but I sti- — I still – and I’ll keep pushing y’all on this.  I need you drill down.  So, what – so, are you saying that voters should be saying to a candidate, “Do you support expanding early voting?”  “Do you su-” – s- — again –

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY:  Yes.

MS. CAMPBELL:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — looking at voting suppression laws –

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY:  Absolutely.

MR. MARTIN:  — and then saying, “Okay.  Let me get specific,” a- —

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY:  Absolutely.

MR. MARTIN:  — becau- — because, again, you know, that – that’s sort of broad.

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY:  Absolutely.

MR. MARTIN:  So – so, what else?

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY:  Two things.  They should be saying to candidates, “What are you going to” – “going to do to protect the Voting Rights Act” – one of the key civil rights acts – “that’s going to ensure that my voice in our democracy can still be heard?” –

MR. MARTIN:  So –

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY:  — ’cause –

MR. MARTIN:  — in those states where the Voting Rights Act applies, the question should be, “Are you going to vote to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act?”

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY:  “Are you going to vote to reauthorize” –

MR. MARTIN:  That’s the –

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY: — “the” – “the Voting Rights Act?” and, “Are you going to ensure that your state” – if you’re a state legislator – “Are you going to ensure that your state does not continue to pass draconian” –

MR. MARTIN:  Gotcha.

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY:  — “voter laws that make it harder for me to register to vote and then actually vote?”

MS. CAMPBELL:  And then I was going to add to that the voter I.D. issue.  It’s – it’s going to impact women as well as minorities and – and seniors.  So, the issue around voter I.D.  Even what’s going on right now.  There’s still time in some places to address this, so I think the issues that I see from 2008 to 2012, the things that are going to impact us – this voter I.D. law – me- — women change their names.

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. CAMPBELL:  And so it’s going t- — it doesn’t take but a few votes –

MR. MARTIN:  So, once –

MS. CAMPBELL:  — to sh- — to –

MR. MARTIN:  — so, once again –

MS. CAMPBELL:  — change the outcome.

MR. MARTIN:  — so, what’s the question –

MS. CAMPBELL:  So, what’s the –

MR. MARTIN:  — you want that voter watching to ask of the politician?

MS. CAMPBELL:  — “Are you going to protect my vote?”  You know, “How are you going to protect my vote?”

MR. MARTIN:  Well – but – but even that –

MS. CAMPBELL:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — but tha- — let me –

MS. CAMPBELL:  So, that –

MR. MARTIN:  — let me sort of paraphrase.  What you’re – what you’re a- — what a- — what you’re actually –

MS. CAMPBELL:  Right, um-hum.

MR. MARTIN:  — saying is ask the politician, “Do you support voter I.D.s or not?”  “Are you for it, or against it?”

MS. CAMPBELL: Right.

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY:  Exactly.

MS. CAMPBELL:  Right.

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY:  “And if you are against it, what steps are you going to take to undo” whatever laws might’ve been passed in that particular state?  If you’re the governor, “Are you going to overturn those laws?”  “Are you going to introduce some new legislation that’s going to make it easier for me to vote?”

MR. MARTIN:  A- — and – and –

MS. CAMPBELL:  And –

MR. MARTIN:  — keep in mind, for people who’re watching at home, these laws are being passed by legislatures, so –

OFF CAMERA:  Right.  They[?] are[?].

MR. MARTIN:  — so, the- — so, we’re talking here about state rep and state senate folks who’re running for office and also people who’re running for governor in these states.

MS. CAMPBELL:  And 49 of the 50 states have state races this year.  They’re electing state legislatures in 49 of the 50 states.  So, in most – other than Alabama, for the South –

MR. MARTIN:  I –

MS. CAMPBELL:  — I believe the only place that’s not, in the South, where most of us live, that’s not happening.  But in all those other states, that’s happening, and so this is an opportunity this yearnow – to ask those elected officials –

MR. MARTIN:  — I – I –

MS. CAMPBELL:  — or those trying to challenge incumbents, what they’re going to do about –

MR. MARTIN:  — on social –

MS. CAMPBELL:  — protecting –

MR. MARTIN:  — justice –

MS. CAMPBELL:  — our –

MR. MARTIN:  — I would also be asking them, “Do you support mandatory minimums?” because they also disproportionately affect us as well.

So, I – I just – I just want for our viewers to understand they have to be as specific as possible, because when you ask a broad “ask,” they can –

MS. CAMPBELL:  They can – [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — just – they can –

MS. CAMPBELL:  — broad answer.

MR. MARTIN:  — give you any kind of answer –

MS. CAMPBELL:  Right.

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY:  Exactly.

MS. CAMPBELL:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — but it’s like holding them accountable to a specific question.  So –

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY:  And – and, Roland, I’m glad you went to the mandatory minimums, ’cause let me ask – let me add

MR. MARTIN:  And I[’ve] got –

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY:  — this.

MR. MARTIN:  — about 20 seconds.

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY:  Okay.  States are spending too much money on jailing folks, and most of those folks look like us.  They are black and brown people.  Voters need to be asking their legislators, as well as their congress people and senators, “What are you going to do so that less dollars spent on putting people in prison and keeping pris-” – “people in prison?  And what are you going to do to ensure that that money goes to the schools and educating” –

MR. MARTIN:  Bu- —

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY:  — “my children?”

MR. MARTIN:  — and I[’ve] got to go, but people at home, that’s also why you[’ve] got to pay attention to who’re the folks you’re voting for in those judge races and the DA races.

All right.

MS. CAMPBELL:  Okay.

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY:  All right.

MR. MARTIN:  Melanie, Nicole, we appreciate it.  Thanks a –

MS. CAMPBELL:  Thanks –

MR. MARTIN:  — bunch.

MS. CAMPBELL:  — a lot.

MS. AUSTIN-HILLERY:  Thank you, Roland.

MS. CAMPBELL:  Appreciate it.

MR. MARTIN:  Folks, you can tell us what your thoughts are on “What’s the Ask?” by logging on to tvone.tv/ask.  Here’re some comments already posted at tvone.tv/ask.

Jeffrey V. — V. Brown says:

“I want Obama to make sure these employers that give us jobs under his plan and get credit breaks do not fire us after they get these credits.  And a commitment to fight all ‘voter suppression’ efforts using the Voting Rights Act!”

B Concern asks:

“What will the Obama administration do to bring more oversight to urban school districts to change the mismanagement of spending that takes away from the children? I work in a large, urban district and am appalled at how the state governor, mayor and other administrators can get away with playing these political games of pretending like they care about the education of minorities.”

Add your comments at tvone.tv/ask.