Life After Project: Record Clearance Organization

Your Actual ‘Political Passport’

Political passports are essential in determining who gets what, when and how

As a 40-year old Blacktina (Black Latina) woman, I have a complex political and personal identity that requires an intersectional analysis to comprehend. I happen to belong to a few disadvantaged and minority groups at once, which has certainly shaped my “Political Passport” and made it the way it is now. In the United States, ethnic and racial minorities are often disparaged and denied space. At the same time, as my personal experience with power dynamics in this country has shown me, we are often held to a higher standard than white people insofar as the dominant class and gender.

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As a woman who became a mother in her teens, I felt like both my womanhood and motherhood were scrutinized. The Western concept of femininity seems to still be about white appearance traits and socially acceptable behaviors. As someone who did not really fit with the “ideal,” I struggled with self-expression and gaining validation for my life choices. Giving birth very early in life is often seen as the sad norm in colored communities. This type of judgment has always rubbed me the wrong way because it completely ignored my motivation for starting a family with a person I genuinely loved.

Being black and Latina at the same time has always put me at a crossroads. I had two communities that could potentially accept me as their own. And yet, I struggled with self-identity: whenever I wanted to reconnect with my roots, I wondered what customs, traditions, and cultural practices I was supposed to prioritize. However, I was lucky to have positive experience bonding with both sides of my family who see me for who I was and did not bother with labels.

While with time, I detangled this debacle on my own when I came to terms with my versatile identity, other people seemed not to have an idea of how to approach me. I cannot say I was denied my entitlement to being an American, but many questioned my origins. They were interested in my ethnic background and asked direct questions, by which they advertently or inadvertently made me “the other” in those interactions.

What was, however, more tangible than just inquisitive strangers is my restricted access to education and other resources. Black and Latino communities have a history of school truancy, low scores, and high dropout rates. Many members do not even consider entering tertiary education due to limiting self-beliefs and socioeconomic instability. I am happy to be studying now, at the age of forty. To me, it seems that pursuing a degree at this stage in my life is a conscious choice rather than following societal norms. No school is my passion as I can appreciate knowledge much more than I would in my twenties, and I can share that with my family. Yet, I cannot help but think how different my life could have been if I had access to education back in my early years.

Another thing that keeps my mind busy is how much suffering my husband and my brother were subjected to. They are both nonviolent first-time offenders, and as such, they had a hard time seeking employment and making a living. Since my husband and I have three kids, these obstacles would often put us in a tight place financially. We are still in the hole with debt over the past four years that my husband was unemployed.

Despite many challenges that I have had to face throughout my life, I feel blessed and empowered. Many people are less advantaged than I – for instance, I am lucky to be able-bodied and born in a developed country. I acknowledge the struggles of others and try not to “stamp” on their “passports” solely based on the attributes that they cannot change about themselves. Since I have such personal experiences dealing with the legal system, I would like to promote change and lead others by my example.

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Your ‘Political Baby’

Intro

In this section, I will provide the key information about my organization and its mission statement. Further, I would like to give a detailed description of an ideal organization member whose qualifications and personal qualities would help us advance our cause. Lastly, this section contains information about annual goals, duties, and responsibilities that need to be outlined to promote performance and efficiency.

Interest Group Name

People of color formerly convicted for nonviolent crimes

Mission Statement

The mission of Life After Project is to provide social and professional opportunities to former convicts by sealing their criminal records from public view once they completed prison or jail sentences. By doing that, Life After Project seems to fight prejudice and ensure that former convicts can start over instead of falling back into the lifestyle and ending up in the criminal justice system again.

Membership Requirements

People with a keen interest in social justice and related background (either academic and professional credentials or personal experience) can join this group. While the group considers all applications, membership requires some level of knowledge and commitment for candidates to be of any use. Potential members should understand the present racial dynamics in the United States and realize the social and economic standing of colored communities.

Life After Project highly encourages individuals familiar with the criminal justice system to consider the opportunities that this organization has to offer. However, not any person with a legal background may find membership meeting his or her interests. Life After Project sees bringing about change for people of color and, thus, seeks criminal reforms that would aid and benefit these particular demographics. Thus, our perfect candidate is savvy in racial issues and critical about the US criminal justice system.

Life After Project does not express any preferences in potential candidates’ political leanings. However, this statement should be interpreted as our indifference toward labels. Our members do not need to be self-identifying as liberals or generally left-wing. Yet, rightwing and especially, far right ideas are not endorsed by the present organization. Any ideology that implies the inferiority of people of color and denies their historical struggle is strongly discouraged. While Life After Project supports the freedom of speech, we do not see how exactly people with the aforementioned views could aid our organization.

Being a member of Life After Project is not a sheer formality but commitment to taking a stand against injustice and proving your point with word and action. We highly encourage coming to our meetings and require at least 70% annual attendance. Meetings are held bimonthly in our headquarters in Los Angeles, California, and public places such as libraries, lecture halls, and cafes when an opportunity presents itself.

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Life After Project requires membership fees of $60 per month for sustaining members ($720 per year). Minimum volunteer hours per month are four; taking up more hours is possible and is discussed individually. Being a member of Life After Project means helping to organize events, running social media accounts, and leading legal campaigns against injustice. A great deal of working for Life After Project implies networking – search for professionals to work on individual cases and reach record clearance.

History of Your Cause

Intro

In this section, I will cover the key facts on discrimination against people of color in the United States. This section also provides a concise explanation as to why fighting for the said cause is essential for the advancement of all people. Lastly, I will highlight groups and organizations that may be against my cause and bring up their reasoning.

Comprehensive history

It appears that criminal justice reform is long overdue for Black America. The US criminal justice is flawed, and what is even more unsettling is how biased it is in targeting colored communities. According to the most recent statistics, out of the current 2.2 million people incarcerated in the country’s jails and prisons, a disproportionate number are Black people and other people of color (Chavis).

As a 2018 Pew Research Study revealed, African Americans make up 12% of the US adult population (Chavis). However, they represent almost one-third of the sentenced prison population. Other sources report that African American men are incarcerated at more than five times the rate than While American men (Chavis). African American women are also often not served: they are imprisoned at twice the rate of White women (Chavis).

All facts taken into consideration, it seems that imprisonment and the lack of resources for life restoration plague Black and brown communities. Poverty, high crime rates, and the absence of positive examples create a pipeline from home to jail. Even if a sentence is fair, a former convict has little to no opportunities to restart his or her life. If their criminal records are not concealed from the public view, potential employers are likely to reject such candidates.

This tendency creates a vicious circle: since a former convict cannot find a decent job, he or she might consider falling back into their previous lifestyle and return to illegal activities. Record clearance will disrupt this cycle: a stable income will allow a former prisoner to rearrange his or her life and provide a better future for their children. In turn, these children will not have to struggle as much as their parents did, and the entire situation will set a positive incident for colored communities.

Every interest group has its enemies, who are your enemies?

Like any other interest group, Life After Project may have strong opponents and even enemies that will not hesitate to speak out and take action to undermine the organization’s leverage and authority. In particular, since the organization seeks to advance causes relevant for colored communities, nationalist movements may see it as a threat to their agenda. Unfortunately, in light of recent events in the US, including the 2016 presidential election, white nationalist organizations have been as active as ever. The upheaval is tightly connected to the overall political polarization of America and, therefore, fortification and radicalization of the views on the fringe of the political spectrum.

One of the organizations that are most likely to step forward and confront Life After Project is the National Policy Institute (NPI) – a white supremacist think tank founded and run by Richard Spencer. He is a prominent alt-right figure who has gained a great deal of media coverage and attention in the last few years. NPI is a powerful opponent because its adherents try not to appeal to emotion but to logic, namely, employing so-called academic racism.

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They base their views on biased and outdated studies such as those revealing an association between race and intelligence. NPI expresses its deep belief in the inferiority of the Black race and their inability to follow the word of law. Since the organization doubts Black people’s cognitive abilities, it does not trust their ability to reform their lives after doing time. Richard Spencer and his official adherents may use their publicity to promote racist views. Life After Project may start a dialogue or abstain from this narrative altogether. However, Spencer’s more aggressive fans may escalate their disdain to physical violence, in which case the project will have to seek legal protection.

Hiring a Lobbyist

Intro

In this section, I will provide a full profile of a potential lobbyist who will help the organization fight for its cause. The lobbyist will make part of the project’s political strategy and will influence legislators on its behalf. This section also explains why the described candidate will be a good fit for this organization.

Selecting a candidate

A full profile

  • Name: John Doe;
  • Age: 30;
  • Education: Bachelor of Law, University of Minnesota Law School; Master of Law, University of Georgia School of Law;
  • Work history:
  • Staff Attorney, ACLU, Los Angeles, LA, 2017 – present
  • Defined and developed legal policies;
  • Interacted with Congress and state representatives on current legislation;
  • Interpreted laws and rulings for individuals seeking help and protection;
  • Defended cases in court;
  • Lobbied important amendments to Congress.
  • General Counsel, Rockford Corporation, New York, NY, 2014-2017
  • Conducted research and reviewed transactions;
  • Advised executives on legal rights and obligations;
  • Drafted and renewed agreements.
  • Strengths: Strong communication skills, moral ideals, leadership, problem-solving, critical thinking.

As a lobbyist, John Doe employs both strong hard and soft skills in which he uses his knowledge of relevant legislation and comes up with persuasive arguments as to why it needs amendments. The candidate has unyielding moral ideals that keep him going and do not let him stray from his path.

When working for ACLU, John Doe successfully urged Congress to protect Freedom of Information Act in light of information leakages on peaceful protesters. Doe promoted transparency as a vital element and a litmus test of American democracy. Moreover, he defended his case by calling the monitoring of peaceful protest groups a waste of government resources that could be put to better use to expose terrorist threats.

Why is this person a good fit for your organization

This person is a good fit for our organization because he has had enough experience in both the corporate world and at the forefront of human rights. John Doe started his career advising on major business transactions, which taught him precision and helped to develop strong negotiation skills. He joined the ACLU, which has been a champion for human rights and liberties in the US for decades now, later in life.

This shift was conscious as Doe realized that he wants to promote the right causes and leave his imprint in the legal history of the US. What we find especially valuable is his experience in perpetuating new initiatives and interacting with Congress, protecting the key pillars of American democracy. Life After Project depends largely on activists who often use peaceful protests as one of the ways to make their ideas heard. John Doe contributed to upholding Freedom of Information Act that protects protesters. His expertise and strong moral ground may be of great use for this organization.

Drafting Your Federal Legislation

Intro

In this section, I will provide a draft of new legislation regarding record clearance for former convicts. The closing part of this section contains a detailed description of how this legal initiative is to be passed.

Draft Federal Bill

Section 1

Every week, the Department of Justice shall review the records available in the state’s criminal justice databases and identify individuals with records of arrest that meet the eligibility criteria for arrest record relief. For record clearance, the arrest must be a misdemeanor offense, and the charge must be dismissed. A year must have passed since the date of the arrest, and since then, the person must not have had any other convictions. The person must have completed a pre-filing diversion program, a drug diversion program, or a pretrial diversion program related to their arrest.

Section 2

The Department shall grant relief to a person identified as eligible based on the outlined criteria. From then on, the state summary criminal history information shall include a note that states that arrest relief was granted and the date. This note shall appear in all statewide criminal databases. A person that is granted relief by the Department shall be released from arrest-related penalties and disabilities.

Section 3

A person granted relief by the Department is subject to the following conditions:

  • he or she is not released of the obligation to reveal a criminal conviction if asked directly in a questionnaire or application for employment as a peace officer, for public office, or licensure for any state or local agency;
  • a criminal justice agency retains the right to access and use records that are granted relief to the same extent as it would access and use actual records;
  • if a person granted relief is subsequently convicted of another crime, the prior conviction can be pleaded and proved (“AB-1076 Criminal Records”).

Drafting and introduction

This is the starting point in the process, and the first point at which the citizen has a chance to have a say in the writing or rewriting of the law. Subjects of legislation are as varied as the range of human activities. Someone once said that legislation deals with birth and death, and everything in between. Ideas for legislation come from many sources. A Senator may have an idea. One of his or her constituents may point out a need.

A State official may propose a change. An organization may espouse a cause that requires a change in the law. There is no monopoly on ideas for legislation. Often, one person’s idea on how to solve a problem has resulted in good legislation to help solve the problems of many people. Once an idea for a new law has been settled on, it must be put into bill form before it can be considered by the Senate. The actual drafting of legislation requires a specialized type of legal training and is usually done by the staff of the Legislative Bill Drafting Commission (“How Laws Are Made and How to Research Them”).

Committee action

On introduction in the Senate, a bill goes to the Introduction and Revision Office, where it is examined and corrected, given a number, sent to the appropriate standing committee, entered into the Senate computer, deemed to have had its first and second readings and printed. Just as we engage specialists for specialized problems such as legal or medical advice, so does the Senate engage specialists to study legislation. These specialists are members of Standing Committees who evaluate bills and decide whether to “report” them (send them) to the Senate floor for a final decision by the full membership.

A committee agenda is issued each week listing the bills and issues each Senate committee will handle the following week. Committees often hold public hearings on bills to gather the widest possible range of opinion. The committee stage is the second point at which the citizen’s contribution is important. An expression of opinion on a proposed bill can be sent directly to the committee chairman, or it can be sent to your local Senator for relay to the committee members.

Floor action

Once a bill has been introduced, reported out by a committee and is on the calendar for consideration by the full Senate, it can still be amended. The sponsor of the bill, for example, can submit the changes to the Bill Drafting Commission; the bill, now in its amended form, retains its original number, but amended versions are denoted by a letter suffix A, B, C, D and so on for each time the bill is altered.

Introduction to Congress

If the bill passes one body of Congress, it goes to the other body to go through a similar process of research, discussion, changes, and voting.

Vote on compromise

Once both bodies vote to accept a bill, they must work out any differences between the two versions. Then both chambers vote on the same exact bill and, if it passes, they present it to the president.

Passing a bill

After explanation, discussion or debate, a vote is taken. If a majority of the Senators approves, the bill is sent to the Assembly. In the Assembly, you again have a chance to influence the bill as it moves through a process basically the same as that in the Senate. It is referred to a committee for discussion, and if approved there, it goes to the full membership for a vote. Finally, a conference committee made of House and Senate members works out any differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The resulting bill returns to the House and Senate for final approval. The Government Printing Office prints the revised bill in a process called enrolling. If the bill is approved in the Assembly without amendment, it goes on to the President. However, if it is changed, it is returned to the Senate for concurrence in the amendments.

Presidential action

The president then considers the bill. The president can approve the bill and sign it into law or not approve (veto) a bill. A vetoed bill may return to Congress for reconsideration, where Congress may override it by a 2/3 vote in both houses. If the President does not act within 10 days, the bill automatically becomes law. However, if Congress adjourns during those 10 days the bill is vetoed in a “pocket veto” (“Legislative Process: Presidential Action”).

Vote to override

If the president chooses to veto a bill, in most cases Congress can vote to override that veto and the bill becomes a law. But, if the president pocket vetoes a bill after Congress has adjourned, the veto cannot be overridden.

Citizen action

Citizen comment is an important part of the legislative process. Public opinion often affects the shape of a bill as well as its eventual success or failure. Remember, your input can play a crucial role in determining how a bill becomes a law (“How a Bill Becomes a Law;” “The Legislative Process”).

Working at the State Level – Getting a Direct Ballot Initiative on the California Ballot

Intro

In this section, I will explain what needs to be done at the state level to ensure a direct ballot initiative on the California ballot. I will also provide a draft of the ballot initiative for my organization’s cause.

A direct initiative

The ballot initiative can be considered a form of direct democracy. It is a process through which US citizens are able to exercise their right to place measures considered by state or local authorities for a public vote. When successful, ballot initiatives have the power to create, make changes to, or repeal state and local laws altogether. Sometimes, ballot initiatives are used to inform state or local legislative bodies of the subject of the initiative and force them to take it into consideration.

An initiative draft

To the Honorable Secretary of State of California We, the undersigned, registered, qualified voters of California, residents of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, hereby propose a petition the Secretary of State to submit the same to the voters of California for their adoption or rejection at the next succeeding general election or at any special statewide election held prior to that general election or as otherwise provided by law. The proposed statutory amendments read as follows:

Require the Department of Justice to revise criminal records on a weekly basis and identify persons eligible for being granted record relief. This implies adding a respective note indicating this decision that will appear in all statewide databases.

Step-by-step process required to get the initiative on the California ballot

Writing the proposed initiative measure

The first step in the process of qualifying an initiative measure is to write the text of the proposed law. Proponent(s) may seek the assistance of their own private counsel to help draft the text of the proposed law, or they may choose to write the text themselves. The proposed initiative measure’s proponent(s) may also obtain assistance from the Office of Legislative Counsel in drafting the language of the proposed law.

Proponent(s) must submit a written request signed by 25 or more electors.1 If the Legislative Counsel determines that there is a reasonable probability the proposed initiative measure will eventually be submitted to the voters, the Legislative Counsel will draft the proposed law. Additionally, the proponent(s) can request the Secretary of State to review the provisions of the proposed initiative measure after it is prepared and prior to its circulation. Upon this request, the Secretary of State will review the measure with respect to form and language clarity and will request and obtain a statement of fiscal impact from the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Request for circulating title and summary written request, fee, statement, and certificate

Once the proposed initiative measure has been written, the proponent(s) must submit a draft of the proposed initiative measure to the Attorney General with a written request that a circulating title and summary of the chief purpose and points of the proposed initiative measure be prepared. At the time of submitting the draft to the Attorney General, the proponent(s) must pay a fee of $2,000.

The $2,000 fee is placed in a trust fund in the Office of the State Treasurer and is refunded if the initiative measure qualifies for the ballot within two years after the summary has been issued to the proponent(s). If the proposed initiative measure fails to qualify within that period, the fee is put into the General Fund of the State. Upon receipt of the fee and request, and after the public review period, the Attorney General will prepare a circulating title and summary, which will be the official summary of the proposed initiative measure.

Format of petitions

The format for the initiative petition is specified by law. County elections officials will not accept or file petitions which do not comply with the Elections Code. A petition may have several sections. Each section of the petition must contain the Attorney General’s circulating title and summary and the full text of the proposed initiative measure. The Attorney General’s circulating title and summary shall be in at least 12-point Roman boldface type and the full text of the proposed initiative measure shall be in at least 8- point type. Each page on which signatures are to appear must contain a copy of the Attorney General’s circulating title and summary and the unique numeric identifier provided by the Attorney General.

Circulating petitions and gathering signatures

Based on the official summary date, the Secretary of State will prepare a calendar of filing deadlines. The Secretary of State will send a copy of the calendar to the proponent(s) and the county elections officials within one business day of receiving the circulating title and summary from the Attorney General’s Office. Circulation Period Proponents are allowed a maximum of 180 days, from the official summary date, to circulate petitions, collect signatures, and file petitions with county election officials.

However, the initiative measure must be certified for the ballot at least 131 days before the next general election at which it is to be submitted to the voters. As a result, proponent(s) may want to shorten the 180-day circulation period in order to ensure that the proposed initiative measure is certified for the ballot at least 131 days before the next general election.

In order to qualify for the ballot, the initiative petition must be signed by a specified number of registered voters depending on the type of proposed initiative measure submitted. Petitions proposing initiative statutes must be signed by registered voters. The number of signatures must be equal to at least 5% of the total votes cast for the office of Governor at the last gubernatorial election. Once proponents have gathered 25% of the number of signatures required (155,803 for an initiative statute and 249,285 for an initiative constitutional amendment) proponents(s) must immediately certify they have done so under penalty of perjury to the Secretary of State.

Upon receipt of the certification, the Secretary of State will provide copies of the proposed initiative measure and the circulating title and summary to the Senate 5 and the Assembly. Each house is required to assign the proposed initiative measure to its appropriate committees and hold joint public hearings, at least 131 days before the date of the election at which the measure is to be voted on.

Turning in signatures

Once the requisite number of signatures has been collected, the petition is filed with the appropriate county elections official(s). Petitions may be submitted in sections; however, all the sections submitted in a single county must be filed at the same time and must contain signatures of registered voters in that particular county. Once filed, petitions may not be amended except by order of a court of competent jurisdiction (“Ballot Initiatives;” “Statewide Initiative Guide”).

Recalling the Governor

Intro

In this section, I will express my deep dissatisfaction with Gavin Newsom, the current governor of California and explain why exactly he needs to be recalled as soon as possible. I will give a full description of the recalling processes broken down into simple steps.

Why the governor doesn’t like your organization

Ever since he first came into office, Gavin Newsom has been overtly and covertly expressing backward and racist views. On different occasions, he expressed his disdain for affirmative action, criticized comprehensive social benefit programs, and hinted at people of color to be the main contributors to a surge in crime in California. For some reason, the people of our state let those remarks sink in. However, lately, his stance started to hurt some of the most vulnerable demographics actively. Not only is Newsom ignoring the struggles that colored communities, but he is also preventing Life After Project from meeting its goals.

Record clearance initiatives have historically been fairly controversial and often presented in a negative light. During his recent appearance on a political talk show, Newsom demonized former convicts and claimed that only punitive measures such as harsher punishments and lifelong consequences could keep criminals at bay. When asked about California’s unemployment rate that is higher than that of the United States, he refused to answer. Yet, record clearance makes economic sense since it lets more people rejoin the workforce and make their contribution. When a bill on automatic relief of criminal records was first passed, the governor vetoed it. By acting ignorant and downright offensive, Gavin Newsom is compromising the well-being of colored communities.

How will you get the public to support the recall?

Recalling Gavin Newsom will require raising awareness in California’s residents. Since his remarks were recorded and documented, it is only a matter of time till they find wide publicity. Life After Project will seek to collaborate with journalists and social media influencers who will take up the responsibility of investigating the governor’s dubious political position and harmful actions. The organization will start creating and disseminating content that will reveal Newsom’s misdeeds. The upcoming recall election is likely to have a decent turnout rate since Newsom has openly targeted a relatively large and outspoken demographic. Someone with the views as outdated and scandalizing as he is likely to attack other communities as well, which means that they should also engage and vote him out of the office.

Process required to recall the governor

  • The notice of intention. To begin recall proceedings against a state officer, the recall proponents must serve, file, and publish or post a notice of intention to circulate a recall petition. The notice of intention must contain:
    • The name and title of the officer sought to be recalled.
    • A statement, not over two hundred words in length, of the reasons for the recall.
    • The printed name, signature, and residence address of each proponent of the recall.
    • The text of Elections Code section 11023, which describes how the officer sought to be recalled may file an answer.
  • Serve and file the notice of intention. A copy of the notice of intention must be served by personal delivery or by certified mail on the officer sought to be recalled.
  • Publish the notice of intention. A copy of the notice of intention (including addresses and signatures) must be published at the proponents’ expense at least once in a newspaper of general circulation. If there is no newspaper of general circulation in the jurisdiction of the officer whose recall is being sought, the proponents may satisfy the publication requirement by posting the notice of intention in at least three public places within the jurisdiction.
  • Obtain and file proof of publication. The proponents must file proof of publication at the same time that they file two blank copies of the proposed recall petition with the Secretary of State.1 Proof of publication is obtained from the newspaper publisher after the notice of intention appears in print
  • Answer of recallee. Within seven days after the filing of the notice of intention, the officer sought to be recalled may file with the Secretary of State an answer of not more than two hundred words.
  • Prepare the recall petition. The next step in the recall process for state officials requires the proponents to prepare the recall petition for circulation. All petition sections must be printed in uniform size and darkness with uniform spacing. Each section of the petition must have attached to it a declaration signed by the circulator (person soliciting signatures) of that section of the petition. The circulator must personally affix his or her printed name and residence address and the specific dates of circulation of each petition section in the circulator’s affidavit. Preprinted dates, or generalized dates other than the particular range of dates on which the petition section was circulated, are not authorized. Petitions to recall state officers may consist of any number of separate sections which must be duplicates except as to signatures and matters required to be affixed by signers and circulators.
  • Receive approval of the recall petition. Proponents must file two blank copies of the proposed petition with the Secretary of State within ten days after the filing of the answer to the notice of intention, or, if no answer is filed, within ten days after the expiration of the seven-day period for filing the answer. The submitted blank copies of the petition will be carefully reviewed for uniformity correctness and will be compared to the notice of intention and publication to assure accuracy in text, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, format, etc. If the comparison discloses discrepancies, the petition will be rejected.
  • Determine the number of signatures required. For a recall of a statewide officer, a petition must be signed by registered voters equal in number to twelve percent (12%) of the last vote for the office. Signatures must be obtained from at least five different counties and must be equal in number to at least one percent (1%) of the last vote for the office in each of five counties.
  • Circulate the recall petition. The recall petition can be circulated by any person 18 years of age or older. Registered voters who are qualified to vote for the office of the officer sought to be recalled can sign a recall petition. Any voter may withdraw his or her signature from the recall petition upon filing a written request with the county elections official prior to the day the petition section on which the signature appears is filed.
  • File the petition. Within 160 days from the time the Secretary of State notifies the proponents that the form and wording of the petition is correct, proponents must file a petition with the requisite number of valid signatures.
  • Recall election. Upon receiving certification of the sufficiency of the recall petition from the Secretary of State, the Governor must publish a notice for the holding of the recall election. An election to determine whether to recall an officer and, if appropriate, to elect a successor, shall be called by the Governor and held not less than 60 days nor more than 80 days from the date of certification of sufficient signatures. Officers charged by law with duties concerning elections are required to make all arrangements for such election. The election must be conducted, returns canvassed, and the result declared, in all respects as are other state elections (“Procedure for Recalling State and Local Officials”).

An Act of Civil Disobedience

Intro

In this section, I will describe one of the acts of civil disobedience planned by Life After Project. The described act is a peaceful protest and a form of nonviolent resistance. The organization seeks to make a strong political statement to raise awareness and promote its key cause.

Plan of act of civil disobedience

The target of this civil act of disobedience is any company that would found to be discriminating against people of color, especially former nonviolent offenders belonging to colored communities. To make the case more concrete, I will use an example of Walmart as it has a long story of lawsuits on the grounds of racism, namely, turning down applicants because of their skin color. The aim is to disrupt the business activity of a specific store for at least a day. The preferred form of civil disobedience, in this case, is a sit-in – a peaceful gathering of a large group of people in one place. If executed as intended, the act will let Life After Project meet two essential goals at once – making a public statement and cause financial losses for a business that lacks any social and political integrity.

Life After Project will conduct its civil disobedience on a work day during the prime time (when people come back from work and need to do grocery shopping) or on the weekend. Usually, it is possible to find information about an organization’s busiest hours on Google Maps. The goal is to prevent as many people as possible from using an organization’s services by blocking their way. At the same time, the store employees will not be able to get out as well.

The protesters will not need any specific supplies as the only thing they will have to do to work out this plan is to sit in front of the store of choice, blocking all entrances. However, since they will have to sit there for hours, and the weather may be fairly hot, they will need food and water to avoid dehydration. If this act takes place on the weekend, it makes sense to start gathering before the store opens and remain on the spot up until closing time. Realistically, it is possible to persuade 30-50 people to join the protest, especially if it does not interfere with their own working schedule. In case participants are arrested, Life After Project may discover that it does not have bail money. One of the possible ways out would be starting a fundraiser.

This civil disobedience act has the potential to be appealing to the general public because it is a peaceful and yet strong expression of political will and autonomy. Moreover, historically speaking, sit-ins have a rich history of being a contributing factor to big changes in both legislation and social mood. For example, in 1960, African-American students protested against segregation by staging a sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina.

They were denied service since the place was only for White Americans, and yet, they refused to leave (Momodu). The sit-in next to a Walmart store may be reminiscent of the acts that shaped Black history, which could potentially gain positive attention. White Nationalist and rightwing movements and organizations will probably be highly critical of the described act of civil disobedience. Even if a potentially opposing group is not openly racist, it may still argue that taking legal action would be more effective.

Wrap Up

Intro

In this section, I will express my attitude toward the US political process. I will examine its strengths and weaknesses and outline my place and leverage. Lastly, I will explain my position regarding democracy and whether my plans will fortify its foundation or weaken it.

Thoughts on the US political process

Nowadays, as many people as ever are concerned that American politics may be broken. This may sound harsh and emotional to a certain extent, but I agree with this statement. As of 2018, the Congress is more divided than it has ever been before. Two dominant parties are propagating their starkly different conceptions of government, and by doing that, they are pulling the main political institution of the US apart.

To me, it seems that the nation’s politics now value ideology over efficiency. Politicians and others in the decision-making positions have a winner’s attitude to a fault: they do not care about the applicability of their solutions. Instead, they are exploiting the political process to make a point and show their superiority over their opponents. The end result is clear: both parties are actively radicalizing their views to gain ground. If earlier, it was possible to find a compromise, today, politicians have a hard time bridging the gap between two ideologically charged visions. For all its weaknesses, the main strength of the US political system may lay in the opportunity to combine the best of both worlds. Only by finding feasible ideas in both parties’ agendas, it is possible to promote stable growth.

I am supporting democracy by voicing my opinion and taking action against injustice. Now that I am older and more experienced, I have enough courage, energy, and power to lead a change. To me, it seems that in the years to come, the Establishment is unlikely to change its status quo. Moreover, the political system will not get rid of such undemocratic concepts and practices as the electoral college. This is about time that citizens and businesses took a stand against discrimination. Many politicians come from elitist backgrounds: they are detached from the everyday reality of millions of people. Citizens, on the other hand, face challenges, find their way out of tough situations, and teach and empower others.

The political process in the United States would benefit greatly from the activism and genuine engagement of not-for-profit organizations. It is true that the authorities are often extremely biased in their decisions, and it can hurt people and ruin lives. Yet, having a victim mindset will not help to resolve the issue in the long perspective. Citizens that were confronted with injustice need to raise each other up and make their voices heard.

Even if they dislike their local and state representatives, they should still see them as potential mediators. Reporting problems, communicating needs, and expressing criticism of legal initiatives are some things that a diligent citizen may undertake to improve his or her social standing as well as catalyze change. In summation, I think that the US political system may be broken but not beyond repair. Fixing it requires a mutual effort, involvement of all parties, and ongoing collaboration.

Works Cited

AB-1076 Criminal Records: Automatic Relief.California Legislative Information, 2019. Web.

“Ballot Initiatives.” State of California Department of Justice, n.d. Web.

Chavis, Benjamin F. “Criminal Justice Reform Long Overdue for Black America.” The Philadelphia Tribune. 2018. Web.

How a Bill Becomes a Law.The New York State Senate, n.d. Web.

How Laws Are Made and How to Research Them.USAGov. Web.

The Legislative Process.” United States House of Representatives, n.d. Web.

Legislative Process: Presidential Action.Duke University Libraries. 2017. Web.

Momodu, Samuel. “Greensboro Sit-Ins (1960).BlackPast. 2016. Web.

“Procedure for Recalling State and Local Officials.” California Secretary of State, n.d. Web.

Statewide Initiative Guide.California Secretary of State. 2019. Web.

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