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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

This has been a scary election year for liberals. The rise of Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee has exposed the darkest fragments of American society. The racists, sexists, xenophobes and homophobes have all come out from the holes where they used to hide to loudly embrace the candidate that finally expresses what they’re thinking.

To many, the success of the Brexit movement meant that white nationalism would also win in our own elections next November. But the primary wins of two transgender women and a Dominican-American who was once an undocumented immigrant serve as proof that, sometimes, inclusivity wins.

For the first time in American history, a major party has selected a transgender woman to run for a Senate seat.

Utah Democrats chose Misty K. Snow to run against Republican Sen. Mike Lee. The 30-year-old grocery store clerk from Salt Lake City beat her opponent, Jonathan Swinton, by almost 20 points. Swinton, a marriage therapist, ran to the right of Snow, who attacked him for advocating limits to abortion rights. Snow ran a campaign similar to that of Bernie Sanders, advocating for “$15 per hour minimum wage, paid family leave, legalized marijuana, criminal-justice reform and free or reduced tuition for higher education” according to the Salt Lake City Tribune.

“We hoped more Democrats were really looking at the long game at this, trying to unseat Mike Lee,” Swinton said, referring to Snow’s slim chances of winning a general election in conservative Utah. “The reality is I’ve done my absolute best and run an honorable campaign.”

Snow released a statement after her win, calling Tuesday “a historic day for the LGBT community.” 
 If elected in November, she would also be the youngest senator in the chamber.

And Snow wasn’t alone: Colorado Democrats chose Misty Plowright, one of the first transgender people to run for congress, to challenge Rep. Doug Lamborn. Plowright, A 33-years old Army veteran who works in IT, beat her closest opponent by more than 3,000 votes.

Harlem Democrats chose state senator Adriano Espaillat to take over longtime Rep. Charles Rangel’s seat in the House of Representatives.

Espaillat’s candidacy is remarkable for several reasons: Not only would he be the first Dominican-American to serve in Congress, but his win also represents a fundamental change in the historically black neighborhood of Harlem, which has turned increasingly Hispanic. “I never thought about that ever happening in all of my years, 72 years,” Rangel said of the results.

The 61-year-old state senator ran against assemblyman Keith Wright, a black man who was endorsed by Rangel. Wright has refused to concede until “every vote is counted,” citing a “real possibility of a lot of campaign irregularities and voter suppression.” Based on the latest results, Espalliat beat him by around 1,300 votes.

“The voters … elected a country boy from Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic,” Espaillat told Reuters. Espalliat will probably win the November election – Democratic voters outnumber Republican voters in Harlem by quite a margin.

Snow and Plowright face a tougher battle in November – they are running in conservative states where the Democrat vote does not represent anywhere near a majority of the population. Plowright on her part is running in the Colorado’s 5th district, one of the most conservative in the state. Snow’s state of Utah is one of the most conservatives in the nation. Her challenger, Sen. Mike Lee is a powerful tea-party favorite who won with more than 60 percent of the vote in 2010.

There may be hope for Snow yet, however small. Predominantly-Mormon Utah voters, despite the state’s history as a stalwart of the right, hate Donald Trump with a passion for his persecution of another minority religion, Islam. So far, that hasn’t benefitted Democrats in the state as much as it has hurt Republicans. But if Donald Trump can turn Utah purple, anything is possible.

Photo: Facebook

Poll: Most Parents Oppose Rapid School Reopening

Numerous local school systems around the country are plowing ahead with plans to resume in-person instruction despite growing evidence that children are just as capable of spreading the coronavirus as adults.

Classes were set to begin on Monday in Baker County, Florida. Masks for students will be optional, not required. "It looks like it's back to normal this morning, honestly," a local television reporter observed as parents dropped their kids off in the morning. Many students wore no face coverings.

The Trump administration and the GOP have pushed for full reopening of schools for months."Schools in our country should be opened ASAP," Donald Trump tweeted in May. "Much very good information now available."

"SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" he reiterated on July 6.

"The science and data is clear: children can be safe in schools this fall, and they must be in school this fall," demanded Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Aug. 1.

"I believe our schools can, and should rise to the occasion of re-opening for in-person education this fall," agreed Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) two days later.

"The CDC and Academy of Pediatrics agree: We can safely get students back in classrooms," tweeted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) last Tuesday.

But while Scalise, Mike Pence, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have all cited the American Academy of Pediatrics in their arguments for reopening, a new study by the group and the Children's Hospital Association raises red flags about how safe that will be.

Their report found 338,982 reported coronavirus cases in children as of July 30 in the United States. Between July 16 and July 30, the nation saw a 40% increase — 97,078 new infected children.

Last week, a high school student in an Atlanta suburb posted a photo online showing few students wearing masks in a crowded school hallway. Since that time, at least six students and three adult employees in the school have reportedly contracted the coronavirus, and the school temporarily has switched to online classes.

Another Georgia school district has already seen at least 13 students and staff members test positive since reopening a week ago.

A recent study in South Korea found that children aged ten and older spread the coronavirus at the same rates adults do. A separate study in Chicago suggested young kids might also be effective spreaders.

These contradict the false claims made by Trump and his administration that kids have an "amazing" near immunity to COVID-19.

"If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease, so few. They've got stronger, hard to believe, and I don't know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this," Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.

"You got to open the schools. They have a stronger immune system even than you have or I have," he told Barstool Sports on July 23. "It's amazing. You look at the percentage, it's a tiny percentage of one percent. And in that one case, I mean, I looked at a couple of cases. If you have diabetes, if you have, you know, problems with something, but the kids are in great shape." Children have made up nearly nine percent of all cases, even with schools mostly closed.

And DeVos incorrectly said in a July 16 interview, "More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don't get it and transmit it themselves."

In early July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for how schools could operate more safely during the pandemic.

Trump publicly ridiculed the guidelines, dismissing them as "very tough & expensive" and "very impractical."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.