On The Issues

Qasim Rashid believes healthcare is a human right. Qasim is the only candidate in the 28th Senate District race of either party who has always advocated for Medicaid expansion as well as Medicare for all and has never voted against or opposed Medicaid or healthcare expansion.

  • America is the world’s wealthiest nation;  we must guarantee healthcare to all our citizens. Yet, by some estimates, over 60% of Americans who declare bankruptcy do so due to suffocating medical bills.
  • Currently 1.2 million working Virginians struggle to cope without paid sick leave, forced to choose between staying home without pay, or going to work sick. Or, parents must choose to stay home with a sick child foregoing their pay, or alternatively, sending a sick child to school possibly infecting their teachers and classmates. The lack of a guaranteed sick leave policy harms our children, our workers, and exposes everyone to the risk of spreading disease—this must change with the implementation of policies, as a rule of law, guaranteeing paid sick leave for all Virginians.
  • As our families age, Virginia must support our caregivers and ensure our elderly citizens have the support they need to age with dignity.

As Senator, Qasim will work to ensure both a free market of healthcare options while also building a single payer option that covers all Virginians regardless of economic background. He will also work toward passing a guaranteed sick leave law for all working Virginians.

Qasim Rashid believes a quality education is a human right. Qasim’s parents were teachers who instilled in him a deep sense of commitment to education, educators, schools, and public libraries. He and his wife Ayesha have two children in the Virginia public school system, so he observes first-hand the frustration and struggles of Virginian school children, teachers, and parents—as well as sees the growth opportunities.

As a human rights lawyer, Qasim has worked with non-profit organizations to improve education for children nationwide and worldwide—to build schools, to increase Internet access, and to close the existing achievement gap.

As Senator, Qasim will bring the same commitment to our children in Virginia. Virginia’s education system has dedicated teachers and administrators, however we must provide them more support than we are giving currently. A strong public education system is the foundation to Virginia’s success, yet today:

  • Virginia is America’s 9th wealthiest state, but we are 35th in spending per pupil. This means we are not adequately spending on our next generation.
  • Children of color in general and white children from lower income backgrounds are too often ignored, provided substandard resources, and less funding. This means we are not equally spending on our children.
  • Virginia suffers from roughly 1000 teacher vacancies unfilled due to the lack of funding for these positions. We commend the current administration for securing a 5% increase in teacher pay, but we must not stop here and instead continue to seek additional funding.

As Senator, Qasim is committed to ensuring every child in Virginia regardless of race, gender, or economic background has a fair, safe, and promising path to success.

Qasim Rashid believes we must ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA”). The ERA guarantees gender equality within our US  Constitution, yet, in 2019 the Virginia legislature failed to ratify it on party lines—despite an 81% ERA approval from Virginians. As Senator, Qasim will work to have Virginia ratify the ERA and make gender equality the law of the land because it is the right and moral thing to do.

  • Qasim has championed women’s rights from his earliest days as a law student at the University of Richmond School of Law. As a student, and since graduating, he volunteered pro bono with the Virginia Poverty Law Center’s office of domestic and sexual violence to support survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
  • Today, a decade later, Qasim continues to offer pro bono legal aid to help abused women. Earlier in his career Qasim was employed as the Director of Civil Rights for KARAMAH, a national women’s rights non-profit in Washington D.C.;  he supported women’s healthcare and education through the international NGO Humanity First, and advanced education for girls and girls of color through the Silicon Valley Education Foundation.
  • Abortion should be legal, safe, and a decision between a woman, her loved ones, and her physician.

Qasim’s life’s work demonstrates his commitment to gender equality. As Senator, Qasim will bring that same commitment to the Virginia Legislature to ratify the ERA.

Qasim Rashid believes in making extensive transportation investments to upgrade Virginia’s crumbling infrastructure, improve public transportation, and in responding to the specific transportation needs of Virginia’s residents.

  • Virginia currently ranks an abysmal 39th nationally in infrastructure. This directly impacts transportation and reflects a legislature funded by, and for, major corporations, not a legislature focused on the needs of all Virginians – white and blue collar.
  • The 28th District is a large district that demands strict attention to a variety of transportation needs. Stafford County has seen immense development over the past several years due to an aggressive development campaign by those in power. Unfortunately, that development did not responsibly account for the massive increase in traffic, the resulting need to widen roads, the lack of accessible gas stations, the lack of convenient grocery stores and pharmacies, and the insufficient access ramps to I-95. Accordingly, much of Stafford County is grappling with horrendous traffic because of irresponsible development planning particularly over the last five years.
  • Data from a recent survey shows that residents of the Northern Neck aspire to maintain a rural character while enhancing public transportation access, which is not to standard.

As Senator, Qasim Rashid is committed to ensuring resources to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, listening to residents on the type of transportation needs they require to get to work safely and on time, and acting to serve the interests of the people.

Qasim Rashid believes that criminal justice should be built on rehabilitation, not revenge. He has invested much of his career as a lawyer towards this goal.

 

  • Today, Virginia spends over $29,000 a year per inmate, but only about $11,000 per student. This harms our students, strengthens a school to prison pipeline, and grows the prison industrial complex. This must change.
  • Qasim served as a Virginia state prison chaplain for four years, during which time he mentored inmates on self-reform, peaceful conflict resolution, and on how to remain as positive and productive members of society upon release.
  • Published articles written by Qasim Rashid address the racial and economic biases in our criminal justice system, including the need to abolish the private prison industry.
  • Qasim supports voter re-enfranchisement, especially for those who have served their time in prison, because a higher number of voters results in a stronger Commonwealth of Virginia.

 

As Senator, Qasim will work hard for the safety and security of all Virginians through a criminal justice system built on rehabilitation, reduced recidivism, and voter re-enfranchisement.

Qasim Rashid believes in the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings—regardless of faith, color, creed, or lifestyle.

  • As a human rights attorney, Qasim stands firmly against all forms of violence, discrimination, and hate directed at the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Qasim advocates for protections against anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, bullying in the work place, in housing, and in our education system, among others.

As Senator, Qasim will continue to work to ensure equal protection under the law for all Virginians.

Qasim Rashid believes that Virginia’s success is closely tied to a successful immigration policy. Qasim recognizes the need to work in a bipartisan manner. Accordingly, on the topic of undocumented immigration, Qasim largely agrees with Republican President Ronald Reagan and Republican President George H.W. Bush, who sought an immigration policy built on compassion, justice, and fairness. President Ronald Reagan declared in 1984, “I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though some time back they may have entered illegally.”

Qasim is an immigrant and a proud United States citizen. Qasim and his family immigrated to the United States 32 years ago—first to Virginia. Since that time, Qasim and his siblings have attained higher education, remained active in the democratic process, and sought to build that more perfect union envisioned by the Founders. Qasim is proud that his brother, Tayyib M. Rashid, served in the United States Marine Corps from 1997 to his honorable discharge in 2003.

  • A strong immigration policy attracts innovators, strengthens our economy, and generates major revenue from taxes which helps build new schools, provides better resources for our children, contributes to improving our crumbling infrastructure, and helps fund healthcare for Virginians.

President Reagan went on to say when asked if children of undocumented immigrants deserve to attend public schools, i.e. use of American tax dollars, “I think the time has come that the United States and our neighbors, particularly our neighbor to the south, should have a better understanding and a better relationship than we’ve ever had. I think we haven’t been sensitive enough to our size and our power. They have a problem with 40-50% unemployment. This cannot continue without the possibility rising of trouble below the border. Rather than talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems, make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit, and then while they’re working and earning here, they pay taxes here, and when they want to go back they go back, and they can cross, and open the border both ways by understanding their problems. I think we could have a fine relationship.”

President Bush, similarly, declared when asked if the children of undocumented immigrants should be allowed to attend public schools, i.e. use American tax dollars, “I’d like to see something done about the illegal alien problem that would be so sensitive and so understanding about labor needs and human needs where that problem wouldn’t come up. But today if those people are here I would reluctantly say I think they would get whatever it is that society is giving their neighbors. But the problem has to be solved. As we have made illegal, some kinds of labor that I would like to see legal. We’re doing two things. We’re creating a whole society of really honorable, decent, family loving people that are in violation of the law, and secondly, we’re exacerbating relations with Mexico. I don’t want to see…six and eight-year-old kids being made totally uneducated and made to feel they’re living outside the law. Let’s address the fundamentals. These are good people, strong people.”

  • The facts show that undocumented immigrants contribute major revenue in taxes to our economy, commit fewer crimes than our own citizens, and as President Bush stated, are good, strong people. We should not demonize undocumented immigrants. Instead, Virginia should seek a sensitive policy that is grounded in America’s founding principles of fairness and justice.

As Senator, Qasim will work to protect the rights of immigrants while ensuring a documented legal path to citizenship, like what was advocated by both Presidents Reagan and Bush.

Qasim Rashid believes in the rights of workers to unionize and collectively bargain. Qasim spent part of his career working in employment law protecting the rights of workers, and believes a living wage is a human right. He believes it is appropriate to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, to protect workers with the prevailing wage requirement on government contracts, and to remove bad actors who undermine the integrity of Union and non-Union contractors.

  • Qasim believes in ensuring gender pay equity and paid family and medical leave. These policies are not only economically smart but have the benefit of also being just and moral. They increase worker output, grow the economy, and help to foster a healthy family-work-life balance.
  • Additionally, Qasim believes in repealing Corporate Intrusion (generally known as ‘right to work’). Corporate Intrusion prevents unionizing and limits bargaining power, resulting in preventing blue collar workers from protecting their labor and employment rights. Corporate Intrusion prevents workers from demanding a living wage without risk or fear of being fired. Corporate Intrusion likewise lets the uber wealthy consolidate wealth and power against honest and hardworking Virginians. To protect Virginians, we must repeal Corporate Intrusion.
  • Repealing Corporate Intrusion ultimately means a stronger economy, more secure small businesses, and a growing middle class. Non-partisan think tanks have shown that even a, “10-percentage-point increase in the unionization rate would boost the average annual income for middle-class households—unionized or not—by $1,501 a year.” If Virginia’s unionization rate went from its current ~5% to 15%, it would mean an average gain for middle-class households of over $1800 per year.

As Senator, Qasim commits to combatting Corporate Intrusion, removing bad actors from undermining Union and non-Union contractors, striving to ensure more wealth equality, eliminating wage theft, and will work, through legislation, to protect workers’ rights, and support apprenticeship programs.

Qasim Rashid believes in the crucial need to recognize that harmful climate change is real, it is due to human activity, and to invest in protecting our environment, our air, water, and land. Qasim is an avid outdoorsman, marathoner, and enjoys Virginia’s many national parks with his wife and three children. But we have work to do to protect our environment.

  • Virginia currently ranks a sad 41st in quality of life, due to the lack of attention paid to our environment by those currently in power.
  • We must acknowledge that climate change is real, is caused by human activity, and can be mitigated with state and national policy changes.
  • We must preserve and keep clean our public parks, roads, and environment, and invest resources to protect our land, air, and water for ourselves and our future generations. This includes investing in solar, wind, and additional renewable energy sources. These investments will both benefit our environment and also create thousands of new jobs for Virginians.
  • If we don’t work quickly to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, we may not have much left to save.

As Senator, Qasim will work to ensure we leave our State’s and Nation’s environment in good health for our children.

Qasim Rashid’s experience with guns began in his childhood when his parents taught him responsible gun ownership. He believes in protecting the Second Amendment but ensuring violent felons, domestic abusers, and otherwise dangerous individuals do not have easy access to guns.

  • Gun violence is an epidemic in America, causing over 40,000 annual deaths, far surpassing every other developed nation and western democracy. Meaningful gun laws work, in which responsible citizens have access to firearms for self-defense and hunting needs, however our citizens and schoolchildren protected from mass shooters and terrorists.

 

We can look to the rest of the world for evidence that responsible gun laws work:

 

  • After the 1987 Hungerford mass shooting left 16 dead, England enacted meaningful gun reform. England has experienced one mass shooting since.
  • After the 1995 Port Arther mass shooting left 35 dead, Australia enacted responsible gun legislation. Australia has experienced zero mass shootings since.
  • After the Dunblane Primary School mass shooting left 18 dead, Scotland enacted meaningful gun reform. Scotland has experienced zero mass shootings since.
  • After the 2009 Winnenden school shooting left 16 dead, Germany enacted responsible gun legislation. Germany has experienced only one mass shooting since.
  • Data from GunViolenceArchive.org, which documents every shooting and mass shooting in America, shows that, since the 1999 Columbine shooting that left 14 dead, America has enacted insufficient meaningful pieces of gun reform legislation. America has since experienced over 5,000 mass shootings, including hundreds of school shootings in which innocent school children were killed.

Responsible gun laws don’t curtail freedom, happiness, safety, and/or national peace — they support freedom, happiness, safety, and national peace. We can see how by looking at  just four representative democracies as examples—Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, and New Zealand. Each are developed western societies with comparable economies, living standards, and demographics to the United States. Here’s what we learn by looking at these nations:

  • Each of these countries rank well ahead of America in the freedoms, happiness, safety, and peace that its citizens enjoy.
  • The conservative leaning Cato Institute’s annual human freedom index reports that on personal freedoms, New Zealand ranks 1st, Australia ranks 4th, the United Kingdom ranks 8th, Germany ranks 13th, and the United States is 17th.
  • The World Happiness Report states that New Zealand ranks 8th, Australians rank 10th in happiness, Germans rank 15th, Americans rank 18th, and the British rank 19th.
  • When it comes to the World Safety Index, New Zealand ranks 3rd, Australians are the 12th safest worldwide, Germans are 13th safest, the British are 35th safest, and Americans are only 49th safest.
  • Finally, looking at the Global Peace Index, New Zealand ranks 2nd, Australia ranks 13th, Germany ranks 17th, the British rank 57th, and the United States ranks an astounding 121st — ahead of only 42 countries.

If more unregulated guns truly meant more freedom, safety, happiness, and peace, America would lead each of these categories. Instead we lag far behind. Each of these vital components to a thriving democracy are stifled when guns fall into the hands of terrorists and extremists. However, democracy, freedom, safety, happiness, and peace thrive when people petition their governments to enact responsible gun laws.

As Senator, Qasim will work to assure the empowerment of Virginians to use guns responsibly, while enjoying the freedoms, happiness, safety, and peace that comes with that ownership.

Qasim Rashid loves to laugh and believes dad jokes are one important key to building bridges across race, religion, nationality, and political party. Qasim also loves dogs and plans to get a unique breed that gets sad when you feed it cantaloupe—known as a melon collie.