Alpha Phi Alpha hosts community forum on political parties
The United States Pres- idential Election is next week and there are still voters who are undecided. Not only is the presidential seat at stake for the next four years, but there are also seats in the U.S. Sen- ate and House of Repre- sentatives up for grabs.
With this in mind, the Sigma Alpha Lambda chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity organized a forum featuring import- ant political figures in Charles County.
Gilbert Bowling (D) , the chairman of the Charles County Democratic Cen- tral Committee, along with Bill Dotson (R), who is chairman of the Charles County Republican Central Committee, and Kamesha Clark (I), an independent running for Maryland’s District 4 Congressional Seat, were all present to explain why their political viewpoints were the ones people should vote for.
Former County Com- missioner Reuben Collins moderated the event, but Gregory Gilbert, the direc- tor of community research for the fraternity, said “this is not a debate.”
“This is a chance for them to tell voters why they should vote for their party or their ideals, not why they shouldn’t vote for the other party,” he said.
Collins said because of the climate in today’s elec- tion and the push for voter registration laws, it is more important for people to vote than ever before.
Many issues central to daily life are not being addressed and the most “salacious” elements of each political candidate are being covered rather than where they stand on different issues.
Bowling said the Dem- ocratic Party underwent a shift after the primary election where Sen. Ber- nie Sanders (D-Vt.) shifted the party further toward the left and down a progressive pathway. Sanders helped the party identify new ideals beneficial for the future of Americans.
Some democrats are more moderate and closer to the center, but Bowling said he is trending toward the direction Sanders’ campaign pointed in. And he welcomes anyone who wants to come along for the ride.
“That’s what we stand for. I believe in people. We believe in people. Wheth- er you’re black, white, gay, straight, whatever,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. They all want the same things. Everybody wants the same things.”
Dotson said the Republican Party’s ideals may be different from the Democratic Party’s more liberal stances, but they are all about inclusion as well. Everyone is wel- come into the party, and rather than having more taxes and more fees lev- ied onto citizens, the par- ty wants to give citizens more liberty with their own money and free will to do as they please.
The Republican party is the party of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happi- ness,” he said, and that cannot happen when the government is “overbearing of you” with taxes and charges.
People have to go out and vote for that freedom, Dotson said. Voting is a privilege and an honor, he said, and something citizens must do to keep their voices.
People always try to group the Republican Par- ty together, Dotson said, as the “party of no” and the party that is always against. “That is just not true,” he said. “This is a party that can come together and fix things like the economy.”
There are five Democrat- ic county commissioners currently serving Charles County, Dotson said, and the revitalization of Indian Head is not moving any faster. And there are many communities in the coun- try just like Indian Head run by Democratic leaders who just “are not getting things done.”
“There’s too much division in everything. These things effect everyone,” Dotson said.
Clark, a Green party candidate, said her campaign is being run on the basis that people need to be taken care of. And her party stands for the same thing.
“I care about people, I care about children and I care about pregnant women,” she said. “And right now a lot of people’s needs are being neglected in this country.”
Clark said she wanted to be a teacher, but she realized she was a “humanitarian at heart” and the Green Party stood out to her be- cause of their agenda and how concerned they were about caring for the world and the people in it.
Not many people are aware of Green Party initiatives, and because they do not know about them they will not give them a chance, Clark said. The large perception is that if one person from another party votes for an independent candidate, that will count as a vote to the party the person is in opposition to.
“That’s ridiculous,” Clark said. “But that’s how people are looking at it.”
Sanders was initially an independent before run- ning as a Democrat and shares many of the same ideas as most Green party candidates. But most people are not aware of that, Clark said.
All it takes is for one candidate to stick out and things can change, she said. Clark wants to be that candidate for the people of Maryland and the United States.
At the end of the day, Collins said, voting is your voice. And to not vote will minimize the voices of whoever those people are. It is important to have “your voice heard,” in this upcoming election, he said.
Reuben Collins, far left, introduces the panelists for the community forum on political views. Seated from left are Gilbert Bowling, Kamesha Clark and Bill Dotson.