The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
Historic U.S. Election, Driven by Grassroots Power, Delivers Wins for Human Rights and Democracy
By UUSC Staff on November 7, 2020
According to CNN, The New York Times, and other outlets, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has been elected president of the United States, winning the electoral college and a clear majority of the popular vote. Across the country, grassroots organizers—including longtime UUSC partners—won key victories for human rights at the local level, repudiating complicity in the deportation and criminalization of immigrants. In Congressional races, the public also spoke clearly in favor of greater diversity and representation for oppressed communities in the halls of power, electing trans, Muslim, and Native candidates in historic numbers. These victories were a product of record levels of engagement with the democratic process, led by Black voters and other people of color, many of whom had to overcome deliberate barriers to voting erected by racist policies.
Rev. Mary Katherine Morn, UUSC’s President and CEO, issued the following response:
“Millions of people have come together collectively to say ‘No more’ to hate, lies, corruption, greed, and white supremacy empowered from on high. Seldom have we so needed a sign of life and hope in our democratic process; and the people have delivered. For everyone who took action, raised your voice, mobilized to vote, took time off work at a time when every paycheck is needed, we see you and celebrate you. To those who have been disenfranchised, we see you, also, and want you to know that we support you in the fight for restored voting rights.
This change of power ends a reign of terror whose scars may never fully heal. The Trump administration tore families apart, dismantled asylum and refugee rights, sanctioned police violence, spewed anti-Black racism and Islamophobia, disengaged from international cooperation, and emboldened every form of bigotry from local to global. Too often, Senate leadership failed to act, consistently enabling these abuses, and squelching critical human rights legislation needed to hold a cruel and lawless executive in check.
As a non-partisan organization, we recognize that no party’s victory in itself is a win for human rights. Just as we monitored and resisted abuses committed by the Obama administration before Trump, we will continue to oppose any actions by the incoming President and new members of Congress that endanger fundamental rights. Electoral politics are at best a means to an end; not the end we seek.
At this time, we turn our energy to rebuilding trust in our democratic institutions and our system of checks and balances, while remaining vigilant in holding our elected leaders accountable for their actions and impact on human rights at home and around the world.”
UUSC has outlined our core human rights policy objectives for the incoming administration, and in the coming months we will advocate tirelessly for these. Among other priorities, UUSC calls on Congressional leadership to refrain from obstructionism and work together with a new executive team to pass critical human rights legislation. This includes several bills that have passed in the House but languished in the Senate, including the Dream and Promise Act, the No Ban Act, the BURMA Act, and the HEROES Act. UUSC also supports the introduction and passage of the BREATHE Act as a vital step forward in divesting from the militarization of law enforcement and investing in community-based solutions for public safety.
The incoming Biden administration should swiftly grant temporary protections to immigrants from countries in crisis, revoke the Muslim Ban and asylum restrictions, end “Remain in Mexico,” and work with Congress to establish coherent immigration policies based in fairness and compassion.
President Biden should also review and wherever possible reverse the many Trump administrative actions that have eviscerated environmental protection laws, leaving all of us more vulnerable to pollution of our air, land, and water. Black, Indigenous, and communities of color have suffered—and will suffer more—under regressive and hostile executive actions that deny the very potent threat of climate change. Therefore, the Green New Deal must be a top priority of the new Congress and Administration.
This is a time for bold reform and swift action to address the compounded crisis of the pandemic—to prioritize spending on what our people need here at home instead of engaging in militarism both on our streets in the United States and abroad. We expect and will push the incoming Administration to exercise international leadership for the global good.
Let the outcome of this election move us forward towards our vision of a society where we thrive together with inherent dignity and worth for every human being. We will achieve this through our commitment to partnership and action.
About UUSC: Guided by the belief that all people have inherent worth and dignity, UUSC advances human rights globally by partnering with affected communities who are confronting injustice, mobilizing to challenge oppressive systems, and inspiring and sustaining spiritually grounded activism for justice. We invite you to join us in this journey toward realizing a better future!
Photo Credit: iStock – Vesnaandjic