As the nation prepares to elect the 45th president and the 115th Congress, our attention turns to agenda setting in Washington D.C. After the pageantry of a presidential inauguration, and the momentary partisan truce, there is a nation to run and significant issues to confront. For the African-American community in particular, there are unfulfilled needs and a multitude of concerns to raise with the new occupant of the White House and congressional leadership.
In the next several weeks, NorthStarNews.com will examine the agendas of groups that seek to influence the next President. Some of these groups advocate specifically on behalf of African-Americans while others cover issues that are particularly relevant for African-Americans. In either case, what is clear is that there is a need for a defined agenda to make certain public policy is put forth to improve the quality of life of Blacks in America.
What is also true is that as a group African-Americans have been negligent in holding accountable elected officials who overwhelmingly receive Black votes. There is a tendency to operate on blind faith and to believe that Black elected officials, or those we deem allies, will serve on the behalf of communities that elected them. It is a mindset that has reduced Black citizens to bystanders and rendered the legitimate grievances of Blacks meaningless as they are ignored. This election we seek to inform you of the agendas of organizations that purport to have missions that mirror the concerns we hear from Blacks throughout the country.
In the weeks following the election, a presidential transition process will be put in place as the new administration considers its priorities and begins assembling its staff. At the same time the House and Senate majorities will be doing likewise, and all parties will be putting forth ideas that may or may not align with the articulation of issues by many African-Americans. It is critical for there to be some degree of a structured set of priorities for the next President and Congress that imposes the expectations of the African-American community.
The first agenda we will examine is the PICO National Network’s “Down Payment for American Families.” The PICO National Network is a faith-based collaboration of over 3,000 congregations in 22 states and over 150 cities that is working to increase voter participation on November 8th and challenge voters to look down-ballot and vote on offices and ballot questions that are local in nature. The network’s agenda is divided into three parts: 1) Disinvesting from Mass Criminalization and Incarceration 2) Protect Families and End Criminalization of Immigrants and 3) Investing in Families and Communities. PICO is presenting this agenda as a priority for the first 100 days of the new administration.
While the full agenda is accessible via this link, we want to highlight three items from the larger agenda because we see them as priorities for the African-American community.
The first is police accountability. The agenda calls tying all federal law enforcement funding to include the mandate found in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that requires annual reporting on incidents of excessive force by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. There is also a call for an extensive examination by the Department of Justice into systemic abuses by police departments and recommendations for police training and community engagement initiatives.
The second agenda item we think is worth noting is the demilitarization of local law enforcement agencies. Throughout the country police departments have been stockpiling military grade equipment and weaponry, turning departments into paramilitary units. The agenda calls for the reconsideration of the GSA’s 1122 Program and the creation of an incentive program to support the reduction of gun violence in communities with murder rates significantly higher than the national average.
The last item we will highlight in the “Down Payment for American Families” agenda of the PICO National Network is a recommendation for the federal government to redirect billions of dollars of existing spending into communities with the highest levels of poverty. It calls for the new administration to make an amended version of Rep. James Clyburn’s (D-SC) “102030 Plan” a central piece of the new president’s first budget.
Read the agenda in its entirety and we encourage you to share your thoughts on the NorthStarNews.com Facebook page.