By: Larry Lanza / Artwork Spenser Macleod
For many of us, skateboarding is one of the most important things in our lives, and most of the other things we should be paying attention to fall to the wayside. Voting is usually one of those things that skaters neglect or forget about. But, I hate to break it to you but most issues (healthcare, LGBTQ rights, etc.) and policies (Green New Deal, tax cuts, etc.) affect skaters’ lives around the country.
The presidential election of 2020 has been underway for a while now, and as the Democrats search for a new candidate and the Republicans stand behind Donald Trump, we’re seeing a couple of issues talked and debated about consistently. Now, in the midst of Covid-19, some new issues are surfacing. Whether it’s from fear of the virus or boredom during quarantine people are doing their research and getting behind certain politicians.
A few Democratic primaries have already been rescheduled due to Covid-19, and we’re not sure when we will be able to safely say that there will be a Presidential Election this coming November, but now is the time to get informed and pay attention to the world around you.
If you’re not registered to vote yet, we suggested using the helpful site SkaterVote.org. Also, don’t forget that voting in local, state, and down-ballot issues, are more likely to affect change in your community so stay aware of who is representing you and your community!
It’s no secret that skateboarders, professional or otherwise, are constantly harboring injuries, and most of the time not properly taking care of them. That could be because the skater might not have easy access to the right doctors, or they simply can’t afford health insurance. According to the Kieser Family Foundation, a non-profit working to accurately inform people about healthcare issues in the United States reports that 26 percent (the highest percentage in the study) of voters site healthcare as their number one issue of importance this upcoming election.
Currently, we are seeing a global health crisis in action. COVID-19 has shaken the world, and America is not excluded from that. Wherever you stand on the political spectrum regarding healthcare, now, more than ever is the time to do your research on where politicians stand on the pressing issue. Politicians will have their issues and stances on their websites, so check those out before casting your vote.
Skateboarders are notorious for flocking to cities and crowding into skate houses. New York, is no stranger to the housing crisis. Chances are you know a skater or two who are being pushed out of their homes as their neighborhood changes. These changes can creates a lack of affordable housing and an increase in homelessness. According to the Bowery Mission, a group that works to aid and support the hungry and homeless, in 2018 more than 67,000 New York adults and children were experiencing homelessness. Skaters are not immune to these statistics.
Housing issues including topics like poverty, rent hikes, housing assistance, and building regulations along with a million other issues. These issues are often hyper-local so down-ballot voting is very important when it comes to housing. There are also tenant unions and political action groups like Tenant and Neighbors or New York Communities for Change. See how you can get involved and protect skate houses forever!
Small businesses are incredibly important to the skateboarding community. Skate shops like us, small board brands, and new clothing companies to name a few, are all affected by local, state, and federal politicians. And as big businesses continue to enter the skateboarding world, it’s important to remember that it’s the small businesses are the ones that support local scenes, homie video premieres, and safe places for young skaters to hang out.
Taxes are a big part of the small business issues. Some politicians think that all companies should pay a flat rate tax - meaning they all pay the same regardless of their scale, size, or industry. However, there are many politicians who believe small businesses should receive subsidies and tax cuts, and in turn, stimulate the local economy and keep jobs within the community. This is a pressing issue and could play a huge role in where you buy your skateboards and who makes money from that.
Be kind and shop local!
There’s a looming threat that has been placed on the country, as well as the world - climate change. This could affect every aspect of skateboarding. The way the Earth is warming and changing is scientifically proven to be devastating if we don’t act as soon as possible. This could potentially mean whole cities, like New York and all of our skate spots and parks, could be washed away in floods, or destroyed by earthquakes, or set ablaze by never ended forest fires.
There are plenty of environmental advocacy groups out there for you to gen involved with politically. For example, the Sunshine Movement is a grassroots group that hopes to engage with younger voters (AKA all you young skaters out there) who will mostly be affected by the changes the Earth will go through in the future. They also endorse political candidates who are more progressive when it comes to saving the planet. Voting for these politicians could possibly help curb the crisis we are facing.
In the past half-decade, we’ve seen skateboarders and skate companies open their minds and change the way they see LGBTQ issues. Skaters like Brian Anderson, Leo Baker, Cher Strauberry, and even some of KCDC’s own family members are examples of the progress skating has made. That is not to say that we don’t have room to grow, because there is always room for growth. Elections and politicians could have massive effects on the policies and rhetoric regarding the rights of the LGBTQ community.
Skaters are seeing some transgendered skateboarders make a name for themselves. Supporting their skating and brands, like Unity Skateboards, is one thing, but voting to make sure their rights protected is just as, if not more, important. Because a lot of these issues are more mainstream you might see politicians who used to vote differently than they do today. It’s always important to check out past voting records. Resources like Vote Smart are helping shine light on the voting records of politicians. This could be crucial in your decision making come election day.
Felons’ Right to Vote
More likely than not you’ve been around skaters who have been affected by the criminal justice system. Or you might even have fallen victim to the system, but that doesn’t mean your rights are null and void. In some states, felons are eligible to vote, and in other states, their right to vote is suppressed. The issue regarding felons’ voting rights is a prime example of why changes in your state are equally important to pay attention to.
In New York, after a person has served their sentence or has been pardoned they restore their right to vote. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come with complications. That’s why the NYCLU, ACLU of New York, is a perfect resource for anyone who is experiencing difficulties with voting. But for those who are outside of New York, it is important to do your research and see what your rights are and where your state and local politicians stand on these issues.
Being informed is your greatest weapon.