Barack Obama vehemently warned Virginia voters on Saturday against any complacency that what was now a ‘blue’ state would remain so, as he spoke at a rally to support Terry McAuliffe in the tight race as governor.
The former president urged supporters to run, despite it being an election out of year, in order to keep Democrats in control not only of the state but, ultimately, of the nation .
“For the leadership of Virginia and the leadership of this country for generations to come,” said Obama, “don’t stand aside – vote. “
The race for governor of Virginia is the first big chance voters have to express their approval of Joe Biden’s administration and is widely seen as an indicator of whether Democrats will retain control of Congress in the mid-election. – mandate for next year.
The former president’s appearance in Richmond on Saturday followed several other high-level visits to the state of Democrats this month, including Vice President Kamala Harris and two of Georgia’s big names, the activist and former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Atlanta Mayor Bas Keisha Lance.
About 2,000 people were admitted to the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) campus in Richmond on Saturday afternoon to attend the rally of McAuliffe, who previously served as governor of Virginia.
Mackenzie LaBar, interim chairman of the VCU Young Democrats, said Obama’s presence should propel voters to the polls.
“It’s a pretty blue area so unfortunately a lot of ‘blue’ people, blue voters tend to get complacent,” he said.
As further encouragement, Obama recounted meeting a 106-year-old black woman who had lived through the terror of opposition to the civil rights movement of the 1960s and survived the election of the first black president of the United States. , himself, in 2008, and never missed a single opportunity to vote.
“Born in the shadow of slavery, in the middle of Jim Crow,” said Obama, “She witnessed it all. And I thought, ‘If she’s not tired, I can’t be tired.’ “
Almost all of the speakers alongside Obama at the rally pointed out that the right to vote has never been fully guaranteed in America.
Andre Hayes is one of over 200,000 Virginians, many people of color, whose right to vote was lost but was restored by McAuliffe when he was previously governor.
“I’ll tell you, when I got this letter in the mail and it was stamped, sealed, and approved, and had his signature on it,” Hayes paused to look up at the sky. “I was a happy man.
Virginia is one of three states whose constitution permanently prohibits the right to vote for those convicted of a felony.
The clause was seen as racially motivated when it was added to Virginia’s constitution in 1902, shortly after black political power propelled 85 black politicians to power during Reconstruction.
Speaking at the rally, McAuliffe touted his expansion of voting rights in Virginia and he and Obama commented on increased electoral restrictions, which have hit states like Texas and Florida particularly hard.
Obama also noted that Senate Republicans again blocked federal voting rights legislation last week.
“Republicans are trying to rig elections because the truth is people don’t agree with your ideas,” Obama said. “And when that doesn’t work, you start fabricating lies and conspiracy theories about the last election, the one you didn’t win. This is not how democracy is supposed to work.
While the purpose of Saturday’s rally was to energize Democratic voters, many children attended as well. Saturday was the first time the two elementary-aged children of Tamer and Brandy Mokshah had been able to see Obama in person.
“These two were born into a world where we had a black president, right?” So it was deeply moving, really important. And then we’ve seen sort of the opposite extreme of that over the last five years, ”Tamer told The Guardian.
“So we took them with us to vote since before they could speak. They accompany us all the time. We want to make sure that we are able to leave something behind in terms of process and what democracy really means. “
Education policy and the school curriculum have been placed at the center of the governor’s race, with an emphasis on Covid-19 protocols, critical race theory and school choice. Critical Race Theory is an academic discipline that examines the ways in which racism operates in American law and society. It is not taught in American high schools.
Obama said simply, “We should make it easier for school teachers to give our children a world-class education.” “
Misinformation and conspiracy theories plagued the gubernatorial election, with Democrats protesting Republicans touting Covid-19’s deceptive guidelines and focusing on inflammatory campaigns.