Voices Heard, Not Hijacked | Tristan Shields

Voices Heard, Not Hijacked

Virginia District 18 – 2017

Our political discourse has been hijacked. The more divided we are, the less focused we are at making life better for Virginians. We’ve been left lonely by our legislature.

Take Medicaid for example. Last week in a special session, the Virginia State legislature broke down along party lines to continue refusing Medicaid expansion. Here’s what Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe had to say: “Every taxpayer should know we have forfeited $10.4 billion … we could bring back to Virginia, at no obligation to the state, to help 400,000 Virginians get healthcare.”

This is bad business — all in the name of partisan politics. Who’s losing here? We are. In Richmond, the majority of the elected delegates govern with fingers in their ears saying to the people of Virginia “we can’t hear you … la la la.”

As individuals or even activist groups, under the Virginia constitution, we don’t have lots of options to legislatively make changes. Unlike populist traditions you see in other states like California or Colorado, Virginia does not allow citizen groups to propose statewide ballot initiatives. Only the General Assembly can put a referendum on the ballot, and it rarely chooses to do so especially during this hyper-partisan era.

If we were allowed to put issues like Medicaid, gerrymandering, minimum wage, and social issues to protect individual rights on the ballot, Virginia voters would not feel so disconnected and ignored in the political process.

Essentially, our current situation is like this:

You go to your boss to schedule your vacation. She says “sounds like fun. Let’s get it on the calendar.” You try and try but she always avoids setting a time to work out the schedule. Guess what? You’re never getting that vacation. And we’re never going to get to vote on issues that impact us the most.

This is our experience with Republican Delegate Webert. Delegate Webert votes party line, every time. Delegate Webert is representing the interests of the extreme parts of the Republican Party in Virginia, not the interests of the people in District 18.

This is why I’m running for office. When I’m Delegate, the people of District 18 come first. We need people in the Statehouse who will bring issues forward that matter to us. Put me in the Statehouse and get a seat at the table.

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