Blue America '16

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An Advance In Grassroots Campaign Phone Banking

Phone banking is one crucial way for grassroots candidates to reach out to voters but I've been hearing from savvy candidates for several years that the commonly available phone banking software for small grassroots campaigns is subpar. One of the sharpest and most agile of the 2016 Blue America primary candidates, Alex Law, worked on creating a phone banking application called Partic, which is extremely simple on the front end for unpaid volunteers. Candidates can have their volunteers make calls from anywhere in a simple system with the best scripting function out there. It has all the features any campaign needs and none it doesn't. Blue America would like to contribute the system to some of the campaigns we felt would make the best use of it.

Can you let us know which campaigns you would like us to donate the system to? We'll pick 2 campaigns this weekend based on the number of contributions our candidates get on this ActBlue page, not the amount of money, just the number of contributions. So if you want to help a candidate, please contribute any amount you can afford to his or her campaign.

Meanwhile, I asked Alex to explain the system in a guest post.

Why Partic? Why Now?
-by Alex Law

Many of you may remember my race in New Jersey's 1st Congressional District against corrupt Donald Norcross. I appreciate everything the Blue America family has done for me. This was the first organization to believe in me.

While we ultimately didn't win the race, we did run one of the most efficient campaigns in 25 years and become the first campaign ever to be endorsed by a major East Coast newspaper against an incumbent in a primary without any major scandal. I know this is just the beginning for me, and I will certainly keep the Blue America family posted with what I do next in politics.

With that said, I know our work isn't done now. You may have read my letter fundraising for my friends Tim Canova, Alan Grayson, and Zephyr Teachout. That was successful, but I want to do more for the progressive community. Even though I am not in a position to be able to significantly contribute financially, I do have a lot of knowledge about campaigns. To this end, my partner and I built a phone banking application called Partic.

When I looked for a phone banking application during my campaign, I really didn't like the options. Everything was geared towards robo-dialing. The user experience for actual live callers (our volunteers) was terrible on most applications. This is because the major phone banking services are primarily geared to larger volume enterprises that pay their phone callers. When you pay your callers, you can instruct them to deal with what ever the system is. To those of us who have volunteered on progressive campaigns, we know that just isn't how it works. If the program isn't simple and easy to use, volunteers simply won't use it. This is why so many campaigns, especially small progressive campaigns are forced to rely on incredibly inefficient and expensive solutions to phone banking (usually paper, pen, and landlines).

Partic changes that. We built our application with the volunteers in mind. Everything on the front end is incredibly simple. There is no syncing with your cell phone-- volunteers can make calls with a push of a button on the computer. The scripting function allows campaigns to create incredibly detailed scripts, but the volunteers will only see one piece at a time to make communication as easy as possible. All of the data is automatically tracked and available in analyzed reports at any time. Soon, pre-recorded voicemails will be able to be dropped in by the volunteer if no one picks up. This application drives efficiency with great tools but also with great simplicity.

I want progressive campaigns to use this tool. Not to make money, but because better organizing is key to our progress as a movement. As such, I told the leadership at Blue America that I would make our system available at cost to any Blue America campaigns. The better organized we all are, the more seats we can win together.

Blue America wants to give a grassroots organizing advantage-- Partic-- to two deserving progressive campaigns. Tell us which ones you want us to give gift subscriptions to, by donating any amount to your candidate on this ActBlue page. This weekend we'll tally up who got the most "votes" (via contribution) and award the top two with a subscription.



DuWayne Gregory-- Ready To Turn Long Island Blue Again


Republican Peter King has been in Congress since 1993 and his Democratic neighbor and crony, Blue Dog Steve Israel, has seen to it that he would have no serious challenges from the DCCC. With Israel himself finally retiring, there were hopes that the DCCC would finally take on King, an outspoken Trump supporter. The Democrats have their best candidate for the seat in living memory, DuWayne Gregory, the respected and well-liked presiding officer of the Suffolk County legislature.

The Long Island South Shore district has moved significantly east into blue Suffolk County and is no longer safe Nassau territory for Republicans. In fact two-thirds of the voters now live in Suffolk-- and many of them don't know very much about Peter King. There was every expectation that once DuWayne Gregory became the official Democratic Party's candidate the DCCC would come in and help him get the message out about who King is. After all, Obama won the district twice, 51-48% against McCain and 52-47% against Romney. And the district-- the most Hispanic on Long Island-- is bluer now than it was then.

In 2014 Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand won both counties with gigantic landslide margins and this cycle Chuck Schumer's reelection campaign is expected to do just as well. It looks like Hillary will beat Trump very substantially in the New York suburbs, Nassau and Suffolk counties included. More Democrats than Republicans voted in the presidential primaries and polling shows enthusiasm for Trump since the primaries has all but evaporated. But Steve Israel has persuaded the DCCC to once again take a hands-off policy towards his old pal Peter King.

Needless to say, he hasn't persuaded Blue America and we've endorsed DuWayne Gregory with great enthusiasm and urge all of our members to consider contributing to his strong grassroots campaign here.

Friday we spent some time talking with DuWayne and I want to share some of his unvarnished thoughts with you:

"Ever since I announced my run for Congress people have asked me why do you want to run and why do you think you can beat Peter King? The answer for me was simple for two reasons. First, I strongly believe we need new leadership in Washington. Secondly, the decision to run, specifically, against Peter King was a personal decision for me. I take the responsibility of holding public office seriously. It is an awesome responsibility to have the ability to have a positive impact on people's lives. I also believe because of the oath of office we take we represent all residents of our district and not just the ones who voted for us or who we personally agree with. Peter King has violated this rule, in my opinion. I don't begrudge anyone with a more conservative set of principles than myself, but I do begrudge abhorrent values. 

"My decision to run was due in large part because of my son Julian, who is gay. When district lines changed I took it upon myself to research my Congressman's voting record on LGBT issues and was astonished at how narrowed minded his voting history has been: he voted against gay couples adopting children in Washington DC; supported a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a woman and a man; voted against expanding hate crimes to cover LGBT victims; voted against protecting LGBT members from being discriminated at work etc. As a LGBT parent Peter King does not understand the fear that a parent has, because of the same bigotry that is displayed with a voting record like his. I will never forget the day my son Julian came out to me while we were going to get ice cream. He was 12 years old! I immediately told him that I loved him and want him to be happy, but in my mind I was worried about how less accepting people will respond. People like Peter King who wrongly think gays make a choice regarding their sexual orientation. People like the shooter in the Orlando club massacre where my son was just two weeks prior. 

"So I made a choice that our country and my Congressional district needs new leadership and one less voice against equality in America. We deserve to have a representative that will work to protect my son just as fervently as all other children without bigotry or hate. It is Peter King's job to work to protect all people from harm and discrimination regardless of religious or personal beliefs. As an African-American I know hate all to well and to think my protection and safety would be sacrificed by an elected official because that person didn't approve I find appalling and dereliction of duty. The oath that public officials take does not ask them to protect only certain segments of the country, the one's they agree with, but all citizens of our country."

 

It's time for grassroots Democrats to take our fate into our own hands and stop allowing corrupt party bosses like Steve Israel and the jokers at the DCCC determine who does and who doesn't get into Congress. Voters on Long Island need to know that Peter King has endorsed and fully backs his pal Trump. If the DCCC won't help DuWayne Gregory get that message out-- and the message about who DuWayne is himself and what he wants to accomplish in Congress-- let's do it ourselves. It's worked in the past and it can work this time as well. Please consider contributing what you can to DuWayne's campaign here.



The GOP Would Rather Fight Science Than Climate Change

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Credit: Wakely Campaign

One ominous development we've been watching with alarm this cycle is the DCCC's systematic discounting of the public's preference in primaries. It seems that every time a progressive wins, the DCCC decides the district is not winnable and they immediately abandon the district.

Steve Israel and Ben Ray Lujan have mandated this in every part of the country, from Long Island and the Philly suburbs, up to Wisconsin's north woods and down to Texas' Austin-San Antonio corridor. Today we want to introduce you to Tom Wakely, a progressive Democrat who backed Bernie in the primary and has rallied around Hillary for the general election. 

His primary victory over a self-described conservative Democrat was substantial and decisive-- 59-41%. But the DCCC has an odd definition of "party unity" and has never so much as returned a call from Tom. TX-21 includes deep blue downtown Austin and traditionally Republican suburbs of that city and San Antonio that have turned away from Trump. These voters aren't happy about the incumbent-- Science Committee chairman Lamar Smith-- and his enthusiastic backing for Trump, and his pig-headed denial of Science in regard to both Climate Change and the Zika virus outbreak, two absolutely crucial areas that Lamar's Science Committee has refused to act on. 

But never mind that. And never mind that TX-21 is ripe to flip from red to blue, a supposed “goal” the DCCC and DNC keep dangling under the noses of Democratic donors. They're acting as though Lamar Smith has no opponent this cycle, instead of acknowledging the primary winner and one of the most vibrant grassroots campaigns anywhere in America. 

Maybe they feel Wakely's progressive message is too strong for Texas-- although Texas Democrats found it just right. "As a labor organizer," Tom told us, "I was able to see progressivism as the necessary philosophy to extend our nation's promise to all of our citizens. As a former minister, I've always seen progressivism as a moral imperative. And as someone who has studied religious texts, I can't for the life of me find anything that grants humanity the ability to trash its only home without repercussions. With our government already relocating climate refugees from coastal Louisiana and Alaska, we cannot afford a Congress which turns two blind eyes to reality and objectivity."

That's a message that works in Austin and in San Antonio, even if it frightens Steve Israel and Ben Ray Lujan. Tom is promising to work to ban fracking:

"There is no middle man fuel if we're pumping any amount of excess carbon into our atmosphere. Banning fracking is essential in keeping drought-prone places (like in my home state of Texas) free from predatory corporations who cannot adequately return even a fraction of the water used back to our environment. While we've made progress, we can do so much more. While I've never and will never pretend to be an expert in climate science, I have listened to countless experts and scientists who all seem to be in agreement that we must act now. I've worked with Methodist Earthkeepers, who define themselves as missionaries of God's creation, to further cement in my promise to my constituents a moral imperative to leaving a better planet for generations to come. My guiding principle, and our campaign's motto, is that we must take care of each other. There's no better fight that exemplifies this creed than our fight to protect our planet. When I'm in Congress, you can count on me to always think of you."

His criticism of the seemingly unaccountable Lamar Smith is straight-forward and well-deserved:

My opponent, Lamar Smith, endorsed Trump this May and suggested that we could all become "enthusiastic" backers of the most unstable nominee either major party has ever seen. Trump's climate adviser claims the jury is still out on climate change. Trump himself sees climate change as a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese in order to harm American manufacturing. Congressman Smith has quickly become one of the most discussed House science chairs in recent memory for all the wrong reasons.

He's subpoenaed multiple climate groups and 17 attorneys general who are only looking into the mere possibility that the then Exxon lied to its shareholders and the public.
 
He's subpoenaed NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) scientists for presenting data he didn't like, wasting tax dollars to essentially reprimand scientists... My opponent has set an extremely dangerous precedent. First it's the climate science community, but what's next?
 
Lamar Smith is proud of this regressive activist committee he's built, which has Republicans clamoring to join for the sole purpose of political and capital gains. He's taken our last bastion of objectivity and turned it upside down. It should be considered a national disgrace. Our people should be angrier, but they're only just beginning to scratch the surface of a man who's managed to walk unscathed through the halls of the Capitol for nearly three decades.

This is a new Blue America ActBlue page we created to highlight progressives who have won their primaries and are being undercut-- rather than helped-- by a DCCC hostile to a progressive vision. We hope you’ll consider carefully the progressives, like Tom Wakely listed there, and give what you can.



Focus On What's Hot: Florida


Tomorrow is the first day of early voting for the August 30 Florida primary. As always, the corrupt, self-serving establishment has candidates it's trying to slip in, incumbents like Debbie Wasserman Schultz and even worse garbage, like Patrick Murphy, that they are trying to advance up the ladder.

This is the last great stand of the 2016 Democratic primary season-- where genuine progressives like Alan Grayson and Tim Canova are battling the very worst the Democratic Party has to offer.

Grayson's wife, Dr. Dena Grayson, is the strongest candidate in his old district to beat back a challenge from a very conservative pro-NRA Democratic state Senator. "We progressives, not Republicans or faux-Democrats, are the only ones who are truly committed to helping people," she told us. "The way to turn Florida blue is simple. We need to stop running Republican-lite candidates masquerading as Democrats, and instead, support true progressive who recognize people's needs and will take action to improve their lives."

As the Sun Sentinel put it a few days ago, "A Canova win over Wasserman Schultz would send shockwaves across the country." Those are just the kind of shockwaves the Democratic Party establishment needs and needs badly. This morning Tim was finally able to force Wasserman Schultz into a serious TV debate after she dodged and ducked for months. She was the living, breathing embodiment of why Americans are sick and tired of self-serving career politicians and she refused to answer point blank questions, although at the last second of the debate, the moderator got her to admit she is pro-fracking. Unfortunately, almost 10,000 Democrats in FL-23 have already voted by mail. "Sadly, today, she takes hundreds of thousands of dollars from industries like Big Sugar, Wall Street banks, predatory lenders and private prisons," explained one of Canova's radio ads. "I believe you either represent the corporate lobbyists or you represent the people. You cannot do both."

Alan Grayson, the progressive in the Senate race for Marco Rubio's seat, understands better than anyone what's wrong with Democratic Party politics in his state. He told us yesterday,

“Florida Democrats are demonstrating Einstein's definition of insanity-- they keep nominating right-wing DINOs for statewide office, they keep losing, and they keep expecting that the results will change. They won't. We have now lost 14 out of the last 15 state government campaigns, going back to when Jeb Bush was Governor, because our Democratic voters have absolutely no idea what our candidates will do for them if they are elected. (The only exception was when a Democrat snuck into office because even Florida voters couldn't stomach a GOP candidate for "Chief Financial Officer" who was hopelessly corrupt.)

Florida Republicans promise abortion restrictions, pro-gun laws, cuts in social services, lower taxes and corporate welfare-- and they deliver. Florida right-wing Democrats promise I-don't-know-what, and they can't even deliver on that. As for me, I have promised to improve the lives of ordinary people in Central Florida, and I've delivered on those promises. And I'm the only Democrat to represent downtown Orlando in Congress in the past 42 years. Coincidence? No.”

Now Blue America is asking you to help make sure our slate of Florida progressives make it out of the primaries on the 30th to go on and beat reactionary Republicans like Marco Rubio, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Matt Caldwell. You can pick and choose at the Blue America Florida page here.



Ted Lieu's New Bill To Prevent A Pres. Trump From Using Nukes

When Digby, John and I were first getting to know Ted Lieu, back when he was still a state Senator, we asked him why he was willing to leave the young family he's so devoted to in L.A. and spend so much time in Washington, D.C. He told us it actually had a lot to do with his two sons-- a compulsion to help turn Congress towards solving the accelerating problems around Climate Change. And, sure enough, last month when Ted was named the freshmen Democrats MVP, his unrelenting work-- with members on both sides of the aisle-- for climate change was first and foremost in everyone's mind. That and... cyber-security, equal rights, criminal justice and marijuana legalization. Yeah, he's been busy.

But last week, hot on the heels of his promotion to full colonel in the Air Force Reserve, Ted, along with two other freshmen military vets in the House sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to withdraw his endorsement of Donald Trump. "As veterans who previously served on active duty," they wrote, "we are horrified by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's slander of parents whose son died serving our country. Mr. Trump has already made a series of racist and sexist statements. But the profound disrespect Mr. Trump has shown toward Gold Star parents is a new low. Your continued endorsement of Mr. Trump's hateful, bigoted and sexist vision threatens the integrity of the House of Representatives in which we serve. We respectfully request that you follow what we believe your heart is telling you and withdraw your endorsement of him now."

Thursday, Ted announced he is introducing legislation to make it more difficult for a president to launch a nuclear attack.

“The erratic and impulsive behavior of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has highlighted the structural dangers of America’s nuclear weapons launch protocols. Having taught the Law of War when I served on active duty, and as a graduate of Air War College, it is clear to me that the traditional checks and balances on the Executive branch do not apply when it comes to nuclear weapons. This process needs to be fixed.

“The President does not need approval from Congress or the courts to launch nuclear weapons. All the President needs is the concurrence of the Secretary of Defense, who is appointed by the President.

“When Congress comes back into session, I plan to introduce legislation that requires the concurrence of leaders in Congress-- who are not beholden to the President-- before a nuclear strike can be launched. We can no longer have the fate of civilization depend on just two people in the Executive Branch.”

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This week Blue America is helping Ted raise funds for his reelection campaign. As a thank you we are giving away 6 advance copies of the next book by neuroscientist Dan Levitin (author of the massive NY Times best seller, This Is Your Brain On Music.) Dan, a big admirer of Ted's, autographed half a dozen advance review copies ofA Field Guide To Lies-- Critical Thinking In The Information Age for half a dozen randomly selected contributors. There is no minimum contribution; everyone is equally likely to be picked to "win" one of the signed books.

Dr. Levitin told us Friday that: "My wife and I had dinner with Ted Lieu recently and it was one of the most fascinating conversations we’ve ever had. He has a deep knowledge about a wide variety of topics, and shared many insights with us. He is exactly the kind of person we need to have in government: smart, empathetic, honest, and eager to devote his considerable talents to public service not for his own personal gain, but to help make the world a better place. He's committed to clearing the logjam that congress has become, using his intelligence and creativity to move forward policies and legislation that will benefit all of us."

Just contribute any amount by Tuesday evening at midnight at this Blue America ActBlue page to be eligible.




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