Carrie Meek on Principles & Values
Former Democratic Representative (retired 2002) (FL-17)
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On January 2, 1969, [three newly elected and six previously elected] African-American Members of Congress met as the Democratic Select Committee. On February 2, 1971 the group agreed to be known as the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).
The goals of the CBC are to positively influence the course of events pertinent to African-Americans and others of similar experience and situation, and to achieve greater equity for persons of African descent in the design and content of domestic and international programs and services. The Caucus has not only been at the forefont of issues affecting African-Americans, but has garnered international acclaim for advancing agendas aimed at protecting human rights and civil rights for all people. Today, the Congressional Black Caucus stands 38 members strong.
Upon her election as Chair of the CBC for the 107th Congress, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson expounded: “Whether the issue is popular or unpopular, simple or complex, the CBC has fought for thirty years to protect the fundamentals of democracy. The Caucus is committed to ensuring that the standard of living for minorities in America does not retrogress, but instead rises to meet the expectations of both our ancestors and our children. The Congressional Black Caucus is probably the closest group of legislators on the Hill. We work together almost incessantly, we are friends and, more importantly, a family of freedom fighters. Our diversity makes us stronger, and the expertise of all of our members has helped us be effective beyond our numbers.”
There is overwhelming evidence of official misconduct, deliberate fraud and an attempt to suppress voter turnout by unlawful means that were used to produce George W. Bush’s false victory. The preponderance of the available evidence points to Vice President Al Gore as the actual winner of the most votes in Florida and he should have been awarded the state’s electoral votes.
Vice President Al Gore may have conceded his judicial contest, but that is irrelevant. There is not provision for the concession of candidates in the Constitution. There is, however, a process set out in law for Congress to consider challenges to electoral votes. The Congress, on behalf of all Americans, is the final judge of how much election fraud to accept.
The hearings held by the NAACP clearly showed that there were massive violations of the Voting Rights Act, and that tens of thousands of Floridians were denied due process when they were removed from the voter rolls without notice. Still others were intimidated by police checkpoints set up near polling places. In Miami-Dade and Broward, investigations by independent news organizations have found hundreds of ineligible persons who were allowed to vote. There clearly were significant inequities in assigning what turned out to be non-working voting machines to precincts that were heavily African-American in Miami-Dade. We would not tolerate any of these errors if they took place in some other country. Is our duty to our own country any less?
Millions of Americans have already expressed their public outrage at the myriad injustices which occurred in the making of George W. Bush’s mistaken victory. But public outrage is not enough. The laws of this country provide for the objection which we herein make on behalf of freedom, justice and democracy. We, Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, therefore wholeheartedly object to the acceptance of the presidential electors from Florida.
The members of the Progressive Caucus share a common belief in the principles of social and economic justice, non-discrimination, and tolerance in America and in our relationships with other countries. We also seek to embody and give voice to national priorities which reflect the interests and needs of all the American people, not just the wealthy and the powerful. Our purpose is to present thoughtful, positive, practical solutions to the problems confronting America and the world. In the post-Cold War era, we believe our nation’s priorities must change with the times and reflect new realities. Accordingly, we support curbs on wasteful, inefficient government spending at the Pentagon and elsewhere, a more progressive tax system in which wealthier taxpayers and corporations pay their fair share, adequate funding for social programs that are designed to extend help to low and middle-income Americans in need, and trade policies that increase the exports of more American products and encourage the creation of jobs and investment in America.
On April 19, 1977, 15 Congresswomen held the first meeting of the Congresswomen’s Caucus. In 1981, the Congresswomen invited their male colleagues to join the Caucus and changed the organization’s name to the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues. 24 newly elected Congresswomen arrived on Capitol Hill in 1993, nearly doubling the number of women in the Caucus in what became the “Year of the Woman.” In 1995, the House of Representatives voted to eliminate funding for offices and staff of caucus organizations on Capitol Hill. The Congresswomen reorganized themselves into a Members’ organization by the same name. As a result, male Members no longer belong to the Caucus.
Bipartisanship is the key to the Caucus’ strength and success. The legacy of its first 20 years is one of Democratic and Republican Congresswomen committed to improving the lives of women and families, and willing to put their partisan differences aside to do it. Twenty-four years after the Caucus’ founding, its membership has grown from 15 to 62. The 107th Congress also marks the first time that all women Members of the House have joined the Caucus.
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