We are disgusted by the opaque language of the proposed state constitutional amendments, rendering confused even the most well-educated voter. We did a lot of research, and we did a lot of talking with our neighbors, friends, and allies. We found out that a lot of this stuff matters, and a lot of it prolly doesn't. We agreed on the following guidelines to make - or in some cases, decline to make - our recommendations:
• Commit to a social justice (anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-classist, anti-hateful etc) agenda;
• Promote justice and advancement for people of color, poor people, immigrants, youth, people affected by environmental degradation, and other marginalized populations in our communities; prioritize the needs of these people above others;
• Favor the judicial candidates (especially the incumbents) least destructive to the lives of the poor and others caught in the dragnet of our punitive system;
• Be strategic about New Orleanians' specific needs being adequately addressed on the state and federal levels, especially with regard to environmental, economic, and healthcare concerns;
• Reject the influence of post-Katrina opportunism at all levels of government. Many New Orleanians have not yet come home, due to lack of resources. For those who have returned, they find the city expensive, and meaningful employment unobtainable. Healthcare has been slashed, as have other vital social services. The charterization of public schools has thoroughly devalued community input. We do not reward the public officials or business folks who dismantle public works and civic life.
We approach this work with a harm reduction ethos—that is, we understand we cannot easily nor quickly move the mountains of inequality, prejudice, (bureaucracy!), and oppression that keep people down. We considered the view that deliberating on “Who is going to harm us?” is actually not a form of harm reduction at all. Ultimately, we believe we can work to ease the suffering and trauma that exist in our communities. In this way, we advance towards a visionary society in which everyone's needs are met, and our values are reflected in our system of governance.
These guides usually start as working drafts, so expect updates as we continue to do research. Feel free to submit your contributions! Also, no one paid us to do this. We just care like that.
Vote early and vote often!
May 2, 2015