Posted by Pete DeLaunay on Sep 04, 2019

University of Washington professor, David Domke, is giving up his 21-year tenured job to “live out his truth” by dedicating his next chapter to foster, support, and amplify a democracy that is just and inclusive.  In other words, he is promoting voting rights across the U.S. through an organization called Common Purpose ( that aims to provide civic fieldwork by investing in the next generation of leaders to register and mobilize voters, build community, develop diverse leaders, and build partnerships with organizations like Rotary.

“The U.S. is in a perilous place not much different than the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941,” he said.  “A moment of terror in our society where it is harder to vote now than when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted by the Congress as the country’s most important piece of legislation ever.”
He walked Rotarians through America’s dismal record of excluding certain groups from voting in elections, including women until 1920.  He cited how the 14th Amendment of 1868 was enacted largely because 80% of the registered male African American population voted in elections following the Civil War as part of Reconstruction.   “Every revolution is countered by another revolution,” he said, “as society has found ways to deny the right to vote to various groups.”
He recited a litany of dates when the Congress and states enacted laws to deny voting rights to ethnic groups: Native Americans, Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino.  He explained how states enacted oppressive ‘extra citizenship’ requirements to vote…and related Jim Crow laws -- a collection of state and local statutes that legalized racial segregation.  
According to the non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, voting restrictions are now in place in 23 states.  This is thanks to U.S. Supreme Court decisions from 2011 and 2013 that effectively make it harder to vote.  He referenced restrictive voting laws such a proof of I.D. (an example is that a gun registration certificate is valid proof, but a college I.D. is not), complicated voter registration requirements, closed DMV offices or voting places, reduced voting timeframes, purges of voting rolls and lifetime disenfranchisement for felons as among restrictions that reduce voting.  “It is time to do what we can as America is not so different,” he concluded, “than other countries as we are vulnerable to the same pathologies that kill democracies. The moment is here for you to join a ‘Common Purpose’ organization, and I would be honored if you will take your positions of leadership to save this democracy.”
President Kim opened the meeting with Don Murphy leading the day’s anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, accompanied by Freeman Fong on the piano, and followed by Tom Mesaros who offered the day’s inspiration quoting several notables with their definition of community and how two are better than one.  Jaime Mendez came to the podium to promote our upcoming Business Networking Night at the Hard Rock Café on September 26.  
The day’s Table Talk discussion asked Rotarians to help direct SRSF as they consider recipients for the year’s large grant of $40,000.  Table leaders asked Rotarians to discuss the merits of granting funds for homelessness, sex trafficking and climate change.  Results will be available soon.

Thank you Totem Reporter Pete DeLaunay

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