The basis of our democracy is that voters choose their leaders. Leaders do not choose their voters. Leaders cannot keep people from voting. And they certainly cannot prevent votes from being counted.
Now that the people have voted, Americans deserve a democratic transfer of power. To try to thwart that transfer, to sow false doubts about the integrity of our election, is nothing more than a willful tantrum, predictable but dangerous nonetheless. It’s an insult to every voter who turned out to make history. A rebuke to the clerks, poll workers and volunteers who worked through a pandemic to safeguard a free and fair election.
American voters alone are the ones who have the final say in who governs in our name. And now that the voters have spoken, our nation must look to the future.
It’s not a moment too soon. As virus case counts break records across the nation, we need a comprehensive, national approach to COVID-19 that will afford us all access to rapid testing, a national contact tracing strategy and equitable distribution of a possible vaccine. We need help for our schools. Our businesses. Our families.
A New York Times article from a couple of weeks back noted that the Springfield metropolitan area has been among those “hardest hit by employment declines” from February to September. That metropolitan area includes cities and towns in Hampshire and Franklin counties. Our communities need and deserve regionally equitable public spending and support to get us through. As the Massachusetts Legislature takes up the fiscal year 2021 budget and looks toward fiscal year 2022, it’s clearer than ever before that the commonwealth needs greater public investment — a congressional stimulus — to restart our economy.
As of this writing, there are 48 days left in the current Massachusetts legislative session. Just like at the national level, people in power in Massachusetts must bend government at the state level toward justice and fairness. Forty-eight days to pass the ROE Act to ensure reproductive freedom and health. Forty-eight days to pass the Work and Family Mobility Act to ensure that everyone has access to a driver’s license as a matter of public health, safety and regional economic development. Forty-eight days to fend off the current housing crisis by passing legislation to help renters and small landlords. Forty-eight days to pass legislation to change the commonwealth’s flag and seal. Forty-eight days to ratify the work of five conference committees at work on climate, health care, police reform, economic development and transportation legislation.
My team and I are hellbent on this work and honored to return for a second term. With so much at stake in the weeks ahead and planning already underway for the 2021-2022 session, we want to report back to you about what we’ve done together with you over the last (almost) two years and what’s still left to be accomplished. And even more important: We want to hear your agenda for the 2021-2022 legislative session.
That’s why we’re holding a People’s Town Hall — a virtual gathering that’s one part report back from the team and one part feedback from you.
Please join us on Tuesday, Dec. 8, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Just visit the following URL to register: senatorjocomerford.org/the-peoples-town-hall-registration/. (We are working toward simultaneous Spanish/English closed captioning. We will also take notes in the breakout rooms and make the ideas generated there publicly available.) And mark your calendars for a second Town Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 9 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. We’ll be just six weeks into 2021 and eager to tell you how we’ve put your ideas and values into legislative action.
Last Saturday, election news broke while I was in Northampton center on an errand to pick up thank you gifts for my son’s incredible baseball coaches. I heard the cheers, the horns, the songs as I came out of Thornes Marketplace into a world of — quite literally — dancing in the streets. Flag waving. Unbridled joy.
It’s up to all of us to keep hold of that buoyancy and our shared values of fairness and equity through these intense days of transition as the work to build a nation with honor and dignity for everyone, where everyone can thrive, begins anew.
The chasm of inequities that gave rise to Donald Trump have existed for generations. We know that Trump is a symptom of the pain we feel as a nation, not only the cause. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have indicated a willingness to tackle these profound inequities, to heal our fractured nation and to represent those who voted for them as well as those who did not. Once again, it’s the people of the nation — our vigilance, our organizing — who will see that work through.
Remember: You hold the power in our democracy. Your advocacy makes government work better at every level. Let’s go powerfully into 2021. Together.
State Sen. Jo Comerford represents 160,000 people living in 24 cities and towns in the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester district in the Massachusetts Legislature.
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