One of the most substantial problems facing global democracy is voter turnout, and the United States is especially affected. In fact, the United States is currently ranked twelfth in voter turnout for Democratic countries, a nonprofit focused on increasing Democratic Action around the globe. One of the reasons American voter turnout is comparatively lower is because minorities have historically turned out in low numbers on election day. In fact, the Brookings Institute reported that minority voter turnout drastically declines in the 2016 election. The Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that specializes in taking political action to benefit people in poverty, minorities and young people in the state of California and around the country.
The Redlands Bulldog sat down with the Civic Engagement Director for the ICUC, Ivan Aguayo, last week to learn more about the initiatives the ICUC takes, and how that concerns students at the University of Redlands. One of the ICUC’s initiatives this Fall is to inform residents in the Inland Empire to encourage them to vote yes on Prop 10, and no on Prop 5, two bills up for a statewide vote this November.
Prop 10 is a bill that reinstitutes an old policy allowing local municipalities to put caps on rent increases to prevent a housing crisis. Aguayo and the ICUC believe the housing crisis was significantly perpetuated, if not caused, by rent prices skyrocketing as young people couldn’t afford to purchase a home, and were consequently forced into renting.
Aguayo explained that the cause of the repeal was a heavy Republican influence that is prevalent through California’s local politics. Businesses and Republican interest groups have been putting intense amounts of money into local politics because they know they would find it difficult to find influence at the state level. Aguayo gave an example, stating that Disney has invested over $1 million in funds to Republicans running for and currently sitting on the Anaheim City Council. Aguayo gave an analogy for Republican control of local politics, stating that Democrats were “like a frog in a cooking pot.” They’re soaking in warm water and everything seems nice and comfortable, but eventually, the water will begin to boil and at that point, it’s too late. According to Aguayo, the water’s starting to get uncomfortably hot for Democrats.
If Prop 10 were to be voted affirmatively by the voters, it might just be a small step in the climb back to political relevance in local politics for Californian Democrats.
Successfully opposing Prop 5 would be a similar step forward for Democrats. Without elaborating on the details, Aguayo remarked that Prop 5 is advertised as a tax cut for residents over the age of 55, but it’s really a tax cut for major corporations as an extension of Prop 13. What Prop 5 actually does, however, is allow residents over the age of 55 to transfer the property taxes they pay on a larger, more expensive property, to a smaller property they own. The ICUC makes the assumption that anyone over the age of 55 that owns more than one piece of property is wealthy and undeserving of a tax cut.
The ICUC is open to all forms of support, and they encourage student participation. While the ICUC endorses specific propositions, they insist that they are a nonpartisan effort to fix a nonpartisan problem: minority voter turnout in San Bernardino County, the county with the second-poorest voter turnout rate in California. To support their efforts, phone banking will be held in the Bekins Hall lobby from 5:30-8 on Thursday nights until the midterm elections and all students are welcome.