By David McGuire, ACLU of Connecticut Rise PAC chairperson
Our country is facing life-threatening attacks on civil rights and liberties – and Connecticut isn’t immune. Connecticut politicians on both sides of the aisle have attempted to erase transgender, Black, and Latinx youth; revert to racist 1990s-era policies that over-police and under-protect Black and Latinx people; and continue to invest more in policing and prisons than in the things we need to make our communities strong and healthy. Nationally, abortion rights remain under attack, and there are those determined to chip away at them here, too.
This is a moment when civil rights advocates must use everything at our disposal to not just stop backsliding, but move us forward.
At the same time, people directly affected by civil rights and civil liberties issues remain a powerhouse political force, despite facing the most restrictions to their voting power. Together, the people hurt worst and first by erosions of civil rights and liberties – Black and Latinx people, women, youth, LGBTQ people, and disabled people – continue to rise up and push for a better world.
The people most affected by civil rights issues remain the people closest to solutions to advance and defend civil rights and liberties. Yet as our state and country teeter on a precipice, politicians often aren’t prioritizing or listening to that wisdom.
We’re helping to change that.
Today, the ACLU of Connecticut is launching the ACLU of Connecticut Rise PAC, a political action committee to advance civil rights and liberties by building the necessary relationships, public awareness, public narratives, and pressure felt by politicians in order to build the political power of people directly impacted by civil rights and liberties issues.
At our core is a foundational belief that we cannot have a thriving Connecticut until our state actively promotes and invests in racial justice, including dismantling white supremacy in all its forms. The disproportionate harms of civil rights and civil liberties violations to Black, Indigenous, and people of color are not happenstance but part of a more than 400-year-old history of institutionalized and individualized racism. Politicians’ electoral campaigns have often actively furthered this racism. The ACLU of Connecticut Rise PAC aims to empower, invest in, and unite people to build political power that actively promotes racial justice and challenges racism.
The ACLU of Connecticut Rise PAC is a nonpartisan political action committee. We will not be endorsing or opposing any candidates for office or political party platforms, and we will not be providing financial or in-kind contributions to political candidates, political parties, or other PACs. The truth is that no political party is fully meeting its obligation to advance people’s civil rights and liberties. Every politician has an individual responsibility to truly prioritize racial justice.
The ACLU of Connecticut has always been composed of two separate sister organizations: the ACLU of Connecticut, a 501c4 organization which does organizing and legislative advocacy work; and the ACLU Foundation of Connecticut, a 501c3 which does litigation and public education. Now, the ACLU of Connecticut will include a third independent organization, the ACLU of Connecticut Rise PAC, a 527e1 organization which will work during the electoral cycle.
While the PAC’s formation is new, it has been years in the making. For more than four years, ACLU of Connecticut has been having deep, strategic conversations with directly impacted people and allies, here in Connecticut and across the country, to think through every aspect of why the ACLU of Connecticut Rise PAC should exist and how to create it ethically, sustainably, and powerfully.
We are not here to reinforce business-as-usual politics on the campaign trail.
We are not here to duplicate good work that is already being done.
And we are definitely not here to endorse or support candidates or political parties, who are already politically powerful but often not responsive the real needs of people they are supposed to serve.
We are here to bring the ACLU’s issue advocacy work to the electoral cycle, particularly the proven work of amplifying the power of people directly impacted by issues like policing, prisons, and restrictions on voting rights.
In the 2022 election season, the ACLU of Connecticut Rise PAC will conduct voter education and issue advocacy around the contests for secretary of the state and Governor, and the amendment to support early voting:
- Early voting: On the 2022 ballot, Connecticut voters will be asked the question of whether to allow the option of early voting in our state. When it comes to early voting, the ACLU of Connecticut Rise PAC will be educating voters about the existence of the ballot question and advocating for people to vote “yes.”
- Secretary of the State: In the Secretary of the State race, we’re asking candidates where they stand on issues like the early voting ballot question, creating no-excuse absentee voting as an option for everyone, retaining enfranchisement for people who are incarcerated, and more.
- Governor: In the gubernatorial race, we’re asking candidates where they stand on reallocating money from policing and prisons and instead putting that money into programs and services that help people. We’ll also dig into questions about those policies that could help people: things like where gubernatorial candidates stand on questions of reproductive freedom, LGBTQ rights, health equity, youth services, voting rights, and more. Every question we ask candidates for both Secretary of the State and Governor will be grounded in where we see opportunities to reduce systemic racism against Black and Latinx people.
The ACLU of Connecticut Rise PAC’s work will likely seem familiar, as we’ll be honing in on issues that have been at the core of the ACLU of Connecticut’s legislative, advocacy, and communications efforts for years.
At a time when it often feels as if many elected officials are accountable to no one but themselves, we’re here to prove that the power of the people will always be greater than that of the people in power.
Rise is about people rising up, bringing hope, sunlight, and determination to a campaign trail that has too often ignored the talent, expertise, and beauty of people directly impacted by civil rights and civil liberties issues. Rise is about finding joy and resilience from hard-earned life experience, and taking action to bring that to the halls of power.
Civil rights and civil liberties are absolutely on the ballot, and none of us can afford to sit on the sidelines.
Paid for by the ACLU of Connecticut Rise PAC. This message was made independent of any candidate or political party. Additional information regarding the ACLU of Connecticut Rise PAC can be found on the SEEC website. Top contributors: American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, Inc.