Improving communities, reinvigorating the electorate

The nonprofit Movement Voter Project provides financial support to grassroots organizations in underrepresented communities

WILLIAMSVILLE — Of all Donald Trump's abuses of power, the use of unmarked law enforcement officers (LEOs) against U.S. citizens in Portland, Oregon, is the one that makes me want to curl up in a hole or flee.

Unidentified LEOs tear-gassing and abducting citizens exercising their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly too closely resembles the Nazi Party's brownshirts who helped Hitler come to power through brute intimidation and disruption.

To hear this president then say he is supporting law and order is a blatant example of political speech and writing, which George Orwell called out in his 1946 essay, “Politics and the English Language,” as “largely the defense of the indefensible.”

It's easy to go silent with hopelessness. Thanks to a tip from a friend in Chicago, however, I have new hope.

She told me about the Movement Voter Project (MVP), a nonprofit that provides financial support to grassroots organizations in underrepresented communities.

This group builds support around issues that make a real difference in a community's well-being, like child care, the minimum wage, health care, community space, trash collection - the list goes on. One of the outcomes is newly engaged voters.

These community organizers promote democracy at its roots: government by and for people where they live, not for powerful politicians far away. Most of the organizations that MVP supports are in underserved communities, communities of Blacks, Indigenous people, and people of color.

These people have been disenfranchised by systemic racism, often as the result of deliberate efforts to suppress their right as citizens to vote - and voting is the foundation of democracy.

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MVP funnels the funds it raises to organizations engaged in important local issues such as fighting to extend a statewide eviction ban set to expire in Pennsylvania, suing fossil fuel corporations in Minnesota for deceiving the American public about the effects of climate change, increasing Native American voter engagement in Arizona, and helping local LGBTQ+ communities organize their political power.

MVP's results are twofold: improved communities and a reinvigorated electorate. Forbes recently featured the organization's strategy of electoral organizing led by people of color as “the single best investment in 2020.”

MPV is working strategically this election cycle, funding activism in the swing states that could secure a regime change: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, and Arizona.

One way to try to rescue our imperiled democracy is to have fair elections where all eligible voters can vote. Since community organizers can't knock on doors during the pandemic, they are canvassing by mail and Internet to enable registered voters to cast ballots.

If those whose votes have historically been suppressed can vote, we can right our democracy and return power to the people.

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I want a return to dignity in the presidency.

I want a president for whom the office is an opportunity to embrace diversity, not enrich himself and his family.

I want a president who understands and abides by the Constitution, not one who uses the departments of Justice and Homeland Security - and his minions who run them - to do his personal bidding.

I want a president who understands and employs diplomacy and who can start to repair our country's relationships with our friends and allies around the world.

I want to effect change.

That's why I'm sending money to MVP.

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