Progressive Leaders Have Started Endorsing Bernie Sanders

For Bernie to succeed as president, he's going to need support from Members of the Senate and the House. If he wins, there will be plenty of institutional Democratic support. Right now, we want to thank progressive incumbents and candidates with the courage to endorse him. It's just starting.

Friday evening Bernie Sanders will be speaking at the DeMeester Performance Center, an outdoor amphitheater that holds 7,000 people, in Tucson's Reid Park. He'll be introduced by the local congressman, Raúl Grijalva, chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a group that Bernie founded in 1991. Wednesday, Grijalva became the first member of Congress to endorse Bernie's campaign. Friday he plans to make the case for how, in his words, "Bernie is the right leader to fight income inequality, protect our safety net and ensure every American has a stake in the future of our country."

Bernie is the first incumbent to have endorsed Bernie but several progressive candidates for Congress have already decided to bite the bullet and do the right thing. The first candidate to endorse Bernie was South Jersey reformer Alex Law, who's running against the corrupt, conservative Machine candidate, Donald Norcross. Back in August he told us that he was the only congressional candidate in New Jersey who had endorsed Bernie, explaining that "Bernie's thoughts on student loan reform, campaign finance reform, income inequality, raising the minimum wage, diplomacy over war, tax reform, and drug reform resonate deeply with me. His influence is apparent in my policy ideas." He reiterated last night, telling us that:

I am the only Democrat in New Jersey running for office that has endorsed Bernie because I share his progressive values. I share his conviction to address income inequality and to fight corruption in politics. Bernie Sanders is the only Democrat truly committed to addressing campaign finance reform not only in words but in action as he has not accepted Super-PAC support. Whether it's LGBTQ rights, student loan reform, Wall Street reform, drug/prison reform or other issues, Bernie has a vision I agree with. Bernie Sanders is the people's candidate, and I am proud to say I endorse him for President of the United States of America.

The second of Hillary's 3 home state-- Arkansas-- was the scene of the next Bernie endorsement and it came from Robbie Wilson, the congressional candidate in the Fayetteville area. "I take great satisfaction in the fact that I align with Senator Sanders on every issue," he told us. "Most importantly, I agree with the Senator on the subject of overturning Citizens United. There is no greater threat to the survival of the middle class, and no darker bruise on our political structure. Furthermore, this issue goes hand-in-hand with the likelihood that we will need to appoint Supreme Court Justices over the next two presidential terms, and the idea that a Republican President and Congress would steer those appointments is almost too much to bear. Senator Sanders and I also share the same stance on the issues of women’s rights, foreign policy and economics, among others. But in a broader sense, we both believe that our government was intended to benefit all Americans, not to hold down the many in order to appease a few. This is a fundamental theme that is woven throughout the fabric of my platform, and I’m proud to say Senator Sanders reflects these same values."

And the 4th candidate to endorse Bernie-- and this was also Wednesday-- was Tom Guild, running for the Oklahoma City seat. "Bernie Sanders and I are in agreement on the vast majority of the major issues facing America," he said. "He has raised millions of dollars from grassroots activists in small amounts. He is drawing huge and sometimes unprecedented crowds wherever he goes. There are other good and able presidential candidates running in 2016. Bernie is the best of the best. He is the best hope to turn around our country and to fix the broken campaign finance system, address income inequality, reduce mounting college student debt, increase Social Security benefits, protect Medicare, repair our nation’s tattered infrastructure, support public education, raise the wages for American workers, and effectively deal with other pressing matters. America feels the Bern! I support and endorse Bernie Sanders for President of the United States."

Goal Thermometer

Blue America is thrilled that the support from progressives has started coming in and we started a special Act Blue page just for Members of Congress and candidates for Congress endorsing Bernie.

Most Democrats love Bernie's platform and his ideas for making America a more equitable place to love. Even if he's elected, he's going to need supporters in Congress on the same page. We know Grijalva and the whole Progressive Caucus will be there for him but Bernie is going to have Republicans, Blue Dogs and the Wall Street-owned New Dems to contend with, which is why it is so crucial to elect progressives like Alex Law, Robbie Wilson and Tom Guild. Please contribute what you can to these candidates.

And this week, Blue America is going to give away an extremely rare RIAA-certified platinum award for the Friends soundtrack. This was the first-even TV series to win a platinum record (for a million sales) and it included songs by The Rembrandts, REM, Joni Mitchell, the Barenaked Ladies, Lou Reed, kd lang, Paul Westerberg, the Pretenders and the other musicians that contributed songs to the show.

As a way of thanking contributors, we'll randomly select on lucky "winner." There is no minimum-- anyone can win this by contributing on this page. In fact if you want the platinum award but find yourself strapped for cash, just send us a post card (pronto)-- Blue America, PO Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027-- and let us know you want to win too and that you'll contribute some other time if you can.

Walls, Walls Between Us, and a Chance for Steely Dan History

Walls. Wasn’t the Republican hero Ronald Reagan famous for tearing down walls?  Now, another famous Republican would like to build his version of the Great Wall of China on America’s southern border. Competing for the spotlight and citing "legitimate concerns" about security at the Canadian border, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, before cutting and running, said he'd consider another wall up north. The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are not walls, but you could place them into the category of "giant moats."  They provide us with distance from the conflicts in Europe and Asia, a kind of "free security" courtesy of geography and plate tectonics.

Continents drift, collide and pile up against each other and make their own walls; and we give them names. Once Denali, then Mount McKinley, and then back to Denali-- to name just one artifact of continental collision in the news recently. People drift too, though a bit faster. They are fleeing wars, violent drug cartels, crushing poverty, radical and murderous extremists, intolerance and oppression. The drifting people are also given names; refugees, undocumented immigrants, migrants, illegals, aliens and wetbacks. Some Republicans would call them rapists, criminals and anchor babies.

What does it mean to progressives that Mr. Trump leads the Republican field? I expect that we are not surprised that many Republicans identify with his divisive and hate-filled message. What should surprise and alarm us is that 39% of voters today identify as Independents, up from 30% in 2004 according to the Pew Research Center.  Although 48% of those Independents lean Democratic and 39% of the Independents lean Republican, the overall increase in the number of Independents means that progressives and Democrats must do a much better job in helping the average voter to see compelling differences between Republicans and Democrats.

Is there something we can learn about America from the refugee and migrant crisis gripping Europe, Africa and the Middle East? The first lesson might be that it takes extraordinary circumstances for people to uproot and leave the familiar to travel hundreds of miles across deserts and open seas. How many people do you know who would willingly pay their last dollars to a Mexican "coyote" to be jammed into the back of a truck or a Libyan smuggler to board a crowded inflatable raft to cross the Mediterranean Sea?

The second lesson is that however tranquil and orderly America appears on most days, fear and deep resentment boil beneath the surface. Mr. Trump knows this. His immigrant attacks have adroitly tapped into a receptive audience. Progressives see another pot boiling when we look at street protests in Ferguson and riots in Baltimore. That is a different pot of poor people, largely African American, who don’t see a place set for them at the American table.

Progressives should worry that people struggling for a small slice of the American pie know instinctively that the Democrats care for them more than a party obsessed with keeping taxes low for America’s top 1%. But they doubt the Democrats can actually deliver with a job and the other things they need. Many who we think should be Democrats believe that Republicans have the skill to manage government and create growth and opportunities.

Progressives have heart and progressive ideas are smart. We know it, but we’ll only win when we convince Independents that progressives care about them, we’re not in the pocket of big business, we know how to govern better, and that our ideas make sense and will get working families ahead.

Joseline Peña-Melnyk is a progressive with heart and smarts. She’s the true progressive running for Maryland’s 4th congressional dstrict to replace Donna Edwards. Born in the Caribbean and fluent in Spanish, she is equally at home with the district’s growing Latino population and its longstanding African American majority. She preaches unity, not division.

She’s a doer. As a former prosecutor and defense lawyer, Joseline saw that minorities are over-represented in prison. Thanks to her, a new Maryland law taking effect soon will help remove bias by requiring police line-up administrators to be ‘blind’-- that is, the administrator will not know the identity of the suspect or, if he knows the identity of the suspect, the administrator should not know which line-up member is being viewed by the eyewitness. Research shows that in lineups today eyewitnesses often take cues from the line-up administrator and feel pressure to make a selection. The result of her law should be fewer wrongful convictions and more confidence in the justice system. 

Progressives can be practical too. Joseline led Maryland into the adoption of digital medical records. With doctors sharing a database of patient information there are fewer mistakes, fewer duplicative tests, and less unnecessary expensive care. When a constituent came to her with a family tragedy-- the suicide of a teenage daughter, Joseline was the motivator behind "Lauryn’s Law" to ensure that school counselors have training in recognizing teen suicide risk factors.

Immigrant students with limited English language skills were failing in Maryland schools. Only 55% percent of these students graduate high school, as compared to 77% of the general population. Joseline worked closely with the schools administrations to establish two new high school programs funded in part with $3 million in seed money from a Carnegie Corporation grant to target this achievement gap. She did it because we all win if the next generation is prepared to take their place in our society.

In Congress Joseline will continue pushing smart progressive ideas. She’ll support creating jobs by rebuilding the nation’s failing roads, bridges and sewer and water systems; she’ll keep fighting for affordable education; and she’ll keep protecting the civil rights of the people on the margins and working to get them a bigger piece of the pie.

Please help get Joseline Peña-Melnyk in Congress where she belongs through your Blue America contribution and maybe you'll luck out and win a very special and very rare Steely Dan platinum album award as a bonus. Rolling Stone has called Steely Dan-- Walter Becker and Donald Fagen-- "the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies."  Maybe that’s like Reagan being the anti-hero to Trump. I don’t know, but Steely Dan is a complex blend of jazz and rock that is simultaneously intellectually challenging and spiritually, emotionally and physically uplifting. The band sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. The particular platinum record we’ll be giving away to one lucky randomly-selected contributor is a super rare collector's edition for Two Against Nature that commemorates RIAA platinum sales certification (1,000,000 albums) and 4 Grammy Awards in 2001-- including Album of the Year. Only a few were made for the band and their associates. This particular one was awarded to Blue America co-founder Howie Klein, then president of Reprise Record, now a devoted Joseline supporter. You can help her win a crowded primary and take a chance on a memorable piece of music history.

The "contest rules" are simple. Just contribute any amount to Joseline Peña-Melnyk's campaign on this page. We're not Republicans so the winner isn't the person who contributes the most. Any amount goes. In fact, if you don't have any cash to spare at the moment and want a chance to win anyway, just send us a post card to Blue America, PO Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027 and you'll have the same chance as anyone else. But do it quickly. The contest is over next Sunday night at 11:59 pm, Pacific Time.

Lou Vince Brings the Uptown Funk! (yes, it's a contest)

Before moving to Arizona, Lee Rogers, last cycle's progressive Democratic candidate in CA-25 (Santa Clarita, Simi Valley and the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles), worked with local Democratic clubs and progressive activists to find a candidate who could win the newly blue district. The locals were excited about Agua Dulce councilman Lou Vince, a former marine and ex-L.A. police officer.

If you think all former marines and ex-L.A. police officers are conservative, you haven't met Lou Vince, a dedicated progressive, and not just on the easy issues. "The banks that were too big to fail are even bigger now," he told us this week. "We need to re-implement the Glass-Steagall Act so that Wall Street can't gamble with Main Street's money. It's not right that Wall Street caused the Great Recession, didn't face any penalties, and is now richer than ever. We need to send a cop to Congress to keep Wall Street in line and put handcuffs on the bankers if necessary."

This week, Blue America is trying to help Lou raise campaign funds. Bruno Mars signed a guitar for us to give away as a thank you for one randomly-selected Lou Vince contributor. The autographed Fender Squier Bullet Stratocaster is a one-of-a-kind that Bruno, a Hawaiian Jewish Puerto Rican superstar signed specifically for this giveaway. So far he has won 2 Grammy awards and has sold over 100 million singles and albums.

Unlike the Tea Party Republican incumbent Steve Knight or the conservaDem also trying to run, Lou Vince is committed to doing something of Climate Change which he calls "one of the most pressing issues of our time. I am undoubtedly the most committed to protecting and safeguarding our environment to ensure our children and grandchildren have a sustainable future. The nation needs to follow California's lead and seriously tackle climate change on the federal level."

The fundraiser will end next Sunday when we select one lucky winner. It doesn't matter how much you contribute, just that you do.

In fact, if you're strapped for cash and can't give, just send a post card to Blue America PAC at PO Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027, and let us know that you want a chance to win the guitar too.

Bao Nguyen: GOP Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric Is Despicable

With Loretta Sanchez running for the U.S. Senate, Orange County's 46th congressional district is will be an open seat in 2016. It's a solidly blue district (D+9) and Obama won it with 59% in 2008 and with 61% in 2012. The district includes Santa Ana, Anaheim and Orange and the voters are overwhelmingly Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans. Although there may be as many as 10 Democrats interested in running,

Blue America has endorsed the most progressive of the lot, Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen, an openly gay Vietnamese immigrant who arrived in this country when he was just three months old. I asked him when he made of the anti-immigrant mania sweeping the Republican presidential race. This is what he had to say.

As an American immigrant it disgusts me when I hear how Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, and the other Republican Presidential candidates have been talking about immigrants. It’s despicable, and disgraceful. Immigrants are the backbone of this country. They built this country and continue to add to it in so many ways. I was born in a refugee camp, and came to this country when I was three months old. We didn’t have much-- let’s be honest, we were just poor. But we found a welcoming and supportive community of all nationalities and backgrounds, and with help and hard work, I was able to build a life here in California. But my story is no different from that of millions of immigrants who came to America in search of a better life-- who knew they needed to work hard and play by the rules in order to get a fair shot at the American Dream. We need to celebrate the accomplishments of our immigrant neighbors, and we need to bring everyone out of the shadows, so they can be full participants in the American Dream.
But instead, Trump and the rest of the GOP Primary Clown car have started to bang the drums of fear and hate to alienate and divide our nation and it's CITIZENS. As the discourse has gone more and more into the gutter, even the relatively ‘moderate’ GOP candidates have joined this chorus of hate. You may have heard the derogatory term "anchor babies" returning again, as it has in past debates about immigrations. Sadly, Republicans have resorted to an age old tactic to galvanize the extremist fringe of their party, by calling for stricter crackdowns on undocumented immigrants, primarily from Latin America, who they claim are trying to take advantage of America's policy of birthright citizenship under the 14th amendment.
Recently the party favorite, Jeb Bush was criticized for using the term "anchor babies" during a conservative radio interview. Governor Jeb Bush has doubled down, telling reporters that he does not believe the term is offensive. "Nothing about what I've said should be viewed as derogatory towards immigrants at all," he said Monday in McAllen, Texas. "I think we need to take a step back and chill out a little bit."
I just want to restate, an "anchor baby" is a term to used to define an undocumented immigrant, coming to America with the intention having a baby specifically to take advantage of the Constitution-- it IS a disgusting and derogatory term, period. 

Bush clarified further, saying that he used the term "anchor babies" specifically to refer to fraud in a "specific targeted kind of case" involving mothers who travel to the U.S. only to win citizenship for their unborn children.
"Frankly, it's more Asian people."
I know that Jeb is just trying to back track his xenophobic statement and not lose the elusive Latino demographic his party hopes to gain in the general election. Let me give some clear and direct advice, all Americans, no mater if their ancestors came from, Latin America, Western Europe, and yes Americans of Asian descent, find your divisive rhetoric abhorrent-- no matter which group of people you are slinging mud at for your own political gains. This is exactly why we need to bring  more people to Washington who can tell the story of the very people that Jeb Bush and Donald Trump are trying to silence. I hope you will support me in my campaign to be that voice.

Bao, who is trilingual in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, earned a B.A. from the University of California, Irvine and while attending college, interned for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. He also holds a master’s degree in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, and has a certification in mediation from the Dispute Resolution Program of the Orange County Human Relations Commission. He will offer a unique and valuable perspective on Capitol Hill. When we asked him about the Iran deal, he told us he would vote for it. "From what I have seen this is the only option on the table that keeps Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and at the same time keeps American lives out of harms way. If this deal fails there are fewer non-military options since the international sanctions that were in place are no longer available to us. Frankly, I am disappointed with Republicans who only continue with their policy of opposing anything supported by Obama with no response to what they would do other than sending more Americans to war in the Middle East."

Please consider helping him get his grassroots campaign into position to win this race. One thing I can assure you about Bao-- he will never be a wishy-washy Democrat. He's a fighter and, truth be told, reminds me in some ways of a  young Alan Grayson!

3 More Days Left In Our Ice-T Gold Record Fundraiser For Alex Law

Blue America is at the tail end of a fundraising effort on behalf of Alex Law, the progressive Democrat running against South Jersey Machine incumbent Donald Norcross, brother of notoriously corrupt party boss, George Norcross. Since being installed in Congress by his brother in 2014-- after the corrupt old Machine hack was driven out by scandal-- Norcross has been a dependable vote for many of John Boehner's worst policies. His first vote in Congress was for the Keystone XL Pipeline. And after an AIPAC-funded trip to Israel he returned to Cherry Hill in his district with GOP warmonger Tom MacArthur  in tow  to announce he would vote with the Republicans against the Iran agreement.

Alex Law, the first Democratic congressional candidate anywhere in the country to endorse Bernie Sanders, is as different as a Democrat could be from Norcross. He backs the Iran deal, opposes the Keystone XL Pipeline and is all about helping ordinary middle class Jerseyites fulfill their legitimate aspirations while taking on the big money special interests that call the shots for the the Norcross brothers.

Blue America will thank one randomly selected donor to Alex's campaign on this page by sending them a rare, collectible RIAA-certified gold record for Ice-T's album, O.G., Original Gangster. Ice-T, a resident of New Jersey, is now best known as an actor but in the '90s he was an inspirational rapper who was an early incarnation of what is now called the #BlackLivesMatter movement. 

In Alex's own words, "the #BlackLivesMatter movement is something that expresses the continued frustration around the idea that some people in our society exist under different rules than other people. This is the same kind of frustration that Ice-T's music expressed 25 years ago. I am working to do everything I can to find real solutions to these problems such as unfair drug policy, income inequality, and education disparity. I think we need to legalize marijuana, as it is one of the biggest tools used by over-zealous police forces to imprison young African-American males at a rate astronomically higher than young white males. I think we need to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour so that people can work at a livable wage. I think we need to make college more affordable for everyone, so that in America, everyone, not just the privileged, have the opportunity to better themselves. The frustrations expressed by the #BlackLivesMatter movement and Ice-T are incredibly real and the problems are daunting. But, I am going to work as hard as I can to help." 

Any contribution for Alex Law's grassroots campaign on our Blue America ActBlue page that comes in before Sunday night at 9PM will make the donor eligible for the thank you gift from Blue America.

As Alex told us last week, "I am running against Donald Norcross in next year's primary because he represents the worst in American politics: catering to special interests, machine political corruption, and voting with the Republicans constantly despite his Democratic district. We are lean and we are grassroots, but ultimately, we will win this election."  

Let's help him do just that.

Alex Law Endorses Bernie Sanders... And Ice-T

Ice-T released his fourth album-- and many say his best-- O.G., Original Gangster in 1991. It made it into the top 10 and was awarded a gold album. Ice lives in New Jersey now and Blue America decided to give away one of those original RIAA-certified O.G. gold record awards to help us raise contributions for a young candidate in New Jersey's first congressional district, Alex Law. Turns out Alex is an Ice-T fan. "Ice-T's music and story," he told us, "are inspiring to me. Despite his difficult upbringing and early life, he was able to become a voice for the voiceless through his music, expressing the frustrations of the African American community in a way that was relatable for many people. He was fearless in his critique of mainstream society and never backed down to pressure from those who were uncomfortable with his truths. As I fight against corruption and conservative policy here in South Jersey, I can't help but take inspiration in his courage through adversity."

Anyone who contributes-- regardless of amount-- to Alex's campaign on this page this week will have a chance to randomly win this gold record as a thank you gift from Blue America.

But winning an Ice-T gold record is far from the biggest reason you should consider helping Alex win a seat in Congress. As he reminded us yesterday, "Proudly, I am the only Democrat running for office in New Jersey that has endorsed Bernie Sanders for President. Like me, Bernie is talking honestly to real people about progressive ideas. I admire his courage and his vision for the country and firmly support his candidacy. Bernie Sanders speaks for all of us as he fights big money interests to improve the lives of real Americans. His policy is common sense and his honesty is refreshing. His progressive campaign is a tremendous inspiration for me. Particularly, Bernie's thoughts on student loan reform, campaign finance reform, income inequality, raising the minimum wage, diplomacy over war, tax reform, and drug reform resonate deeply with me. His influence is apparent in my policy ideas." 

Even other candidates who admire Bernie don't have the courage to publicly endorse him. Alex has also been forthright in talking about the Black Lives Matter movement, something that frightens or confuses many candidates. "The #BlackLivesMatter movement is one that I support whole heartedly," he told us. "I often tell people that we have a creed in this country that we are the 'Land of the Free,' but our creed isn't matching our deed. We imprison more people in this country than any nation in the history of the world. Disproportionally, many of our imprisoned population are African-American males. Even more heart breaking, victims of police violence are similarly disproportionally made up of the same community. I believe we need comprehensive drug reform, including the legalization of marijuana, to get many of these individuals out of prisons and prevent law enforcement from using these ridiculous laws as reasons for mistreating the African American community. Further, we need to make sure our policy for other drugs is shifted to treatment rather than punishment. Finally, I believe that nation-wide, the police should have to wear body cameras so that everything that is done while on duty is recorded for the public record. This will make accommodation of professional, excellent police work easier as well as prevent much of the wonton violence that has plagued our society over the past year."

If Alex wins the primary-- which in NJ-01 is tantamount to winning the election-- he will turn 25, the legal age to enter Congress, just in time. He'll bring a much-needed and unique perspective to Congress, to whichever committees he's assigned and to the Democratic caucus. The current incumbent, New Jersey Machine boss George Norcross' little brother, announced this week that he's voting against the Iran deal. His first vote in Congress was to back the Republican plan to kick President Obama out of the Keystone XL Pipeline decision-making process. He's a typical DINO steep in the kind of systemic corruption at the heart of what's wrong with American governance and politics. Alex, who opposes building the Keystone XL and supports the Iran deal, couldn't be a clearer anymore inspiring alternative to Norcross.

"My campaign is simple. It isn't about big money and back room deals and political operatives. My campaign is about people.That's why every day we knock on hundreds of doors. That's why every week we make thousands of phone calls. That's why every month our support is growing and our volunteers are spreading our ideas. This campaign is about honesty and smart progressive policy that will make America a better place. I am running against Donald Norcross in next year's primary because he represents the worst in American politics: catering to special interests, machine political corruption, and voting with the Republicans constantly despite his Democratic district. We are lean and we are grassroots, but ultimately, we will win this election. "

Please help him make that happen... and maybe you'll luck out and win the Ice-T gold record for your trouble.

Honor Social Security’s 80th By Backing Eric Kingson For Congress

NY-24, the congressional district centered on Syracuse New York, is the bluest district (D+5) in the entire country represented by a Republican-- thanks in no small part to the deranged insistence from the DCCC that only conservative DINOs should run there. Obama won the district twice, in 2008 with 56% and in 2012 with 57%, and this cycle a sterling progressive, Eric Kingson, is the Democratic candidate (although the DCCC has been consistently threatening to dig up an unspecified conservaDems to run).

There is no stronger and no more knowledgeable champion of Social Security anywhere than Kingson. And that's something to especially take account of today, August 14-- the 80th anniversary of the most popular social program in history. "Nothing has done more," Eric tells us, "to advance economic justice for older Americans, persons with severe disabilities, children whose parents die or are work disabled, and surviving widows and widowers. Social Security is the nation’s most effective, popular and efficient (less than 1% in administrative costs!) public innovation. It rendered fear of the poorhouse in old age and necessity of giving up children to orphanages by a surviving parent lacking reliable income relics of the past. It institutionalized retirement for the middle class, not just the rich. Today, 60 million Americans receive monthly benefits, mostly older persons but also 9 million persons with disabilities and more than 4 million children. Extraordinarily popular across all political and demographic groups, Social Security is the poster child for 'government that works.'  It is also valued because it gives expression widely-shared beliefs-- responsibility to care for our parents, children, neighbors and selves; responsibility to work hard and, as a result, a right to benefit from that work; human dignity."

The hard work of progressive organizations like Social Security Works, co-founded by Eric Kingson, stopped the cuts proposed by George Bush, Paul Ryan and the Republican Party by rallying the voices of citizens and exposing the real fraud-- misinformation and deceit perpetrated by ideologues to dismantle our Social Security and Wall Street bankers who want to pull more money out the pockets of the American people.

Truth is, the main things wrong with Social Security are that its vital but modest benefits, averaging just $16,000 a year, are too low; its inflation protection falls short and it doesn’t provide several benefits such as paid family and sick leave. We can and should expand Social Security. We are a rich nation and can afford such expansion by “scrapping the cap” (currently $118,500) on payroll contributions so that millionaires and billionaires pay the same rate on all their earnings; and other modest changes such as counting dividend, interest and other income from assets for Social Security purposes for persons with yearly incomes above $250,000.

"Nothing," Eric told us, "has been more disliked by those wanting to shrink government and turn back our nation’s progress. From Republican presidential candidate Alf Landon charging in 1936 that FDR’s Social Security was a 'fraud on the working man' to the Koch Father and Brothers efforts to dismantle Social Security to Bush’s and the GOP's effort to privatize, and, more recently, to the use of phony austerity politics to legitimate huge cuts, the ideological opposition has been relentless, deceitful and, thankfully, always defeated. And soon we can expect an effort to turn a minor rebalancing between Social Security’s two trust funds-- one that has taken place 11 times before without fanfare-- into a debt-ceiling-like hostage-taking crisis to provide another opening to cutting Social Security, most likely in the lame-duck session following the presidential election."

So, this month, honor Social Security’s 80th anniversary by making a contribution to a real Social Security champion, Eric Kingson, who is running for Congress.

You’ll be getting a committed activist with serious Social Security expertise as scholar, staff advisor to two presidential commissions addressing Social Security and co-founder of one of the nation’s most effective public interest organizations. Eric has worked effectively to stop cuts and help lay a foundation for expanding our Social Security system, an idea that is being advanced by the Sanders, Clinton, O’Malley campaigns. His most recent book-- Social Security Works! Why Social Security Isn't Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All -- tells how, working together, we can expand Social Security for ourselves, our children and grandchildren. 

Let's help put him into position to keep that expansion in the mind of the Members of Congress who will make that decision. You can support Eric Kingson's campaign on the main Blue America ActBlue page. Three of today's contributors-- chosen randomly-- will get autographed copies of Kingson's Social Security book from Blue America.

Road to Taking Back Congress Starts in WA-08


Blue America’s last endorsement of the 2014 cycle was Jason Ritchie, the candidate running for the Blue-leaning seat currently held by conservative Republican, Dave Reichert in a district that stretches from the suburbs south and east of Seattle all the way out to Wenatchee and Ellensburg. At the time, Ritchie vowed he would make a concerted effort to win the seat over at least 2 cycles. "I'll be back in 2016 and we're building the infrastructure, identifying the voters, and organizing to win now and in the future." This year, Jason was Blue America's first endorsement.

We’re asking you, again, to consider chipping in whatever you can to help Jason, a stalwart progressive.

Reichert remains a GOP hack, continuing to vote like a zombie-- backing the Tea Party in their demands to shut down funding for the Department of Homeland Security to obstruct immigration reform, shutting down the government in 2013, suing President Obama and nearly 60 votes cast to gut the Affordable Care Act. Reichert, who may declare his candidacy for governor this year, has a clear record as a cog in the Republican Party obstructionist machine.

Jason’s platform continues to be advocacy of behalf of students in his support of America’s College Promise and reforming the student loan debt machine. Jason is speaking out on the dangers of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and urging his supporters to pay attention to the details of the proposal. Jason says “The challenges of climate change, wage stagnation, income inequality and social injustice will not simply resolve themselves. It’s up to us as progressives to demand change and fight for a more fair future for our country. We must stand up against those who would seek to allow corporate control over our economy and our political system to drive us further into oligarchy. 

Jason told us that "the first duty of a progressive is to counter corporate influence and Big Businesses' corrosive impact on our communities and middle class. This is the fight that I am committed to in 8th Congressional District of Washington State... I believe in fighting for middle class, family wage jobs. I strongly support the Affordable Care Act, I believe earned benefits like Social Security and disability must be protected and I strongly support women's health care choices. Our social safety net must not be weakened, it must be reinforced.

The 8th Congressional District is one of 17 districts nationwide that was won by President Obama in 2012 but has a Republican representative. This district is a winnable, progressive district that we must turn blue if we are going to turn the House back to our side. Inexplicably, the DCCC has abandoned the district entirely, although they have indicated that if Reichert declares he's running for governor, they will have one of their conservatives to primary Jason. So far though, Jason has an open shot for this race. 

His campaign is already underway: "We have phone banks set up across the 8th Congressional District. We are identifying voters, growing our volunteer base and registering new voters every day.” He was a leader of the movement against the TPP in Washington, a state very divided over the trade bill, and he was willing to stand up against corporate Dems. Almost all Dems in Washington, though-- as well as plenty of Republicans and independents-- agree on one issue: the need for environmental protections.

"The 8th Congressional District," he wrote, "is home to some of the most beautiful land in the world. From Snoqualmie Pass to Mount Rainier, we have an obligation to nurture and protect our environment especially from the dangers of global climate change. The Mountains to Sound Greenway run through the heart of the 8th Congressional District and is our responsibility to maintain and preserve. It is an essential part of our commitment to the environment and our promise to future generations. Maintaining this treasure to the region must be our shared goal.” 

"Protecting local wilderness areas is just one part of defending our environment. As many members of the Republican Party continue to deny the existence of climate change, our planet comes closer and closer to the brink of ecological disaster. According to the EPA, rising temperatures are already affecting our local snowpack, stream flows, and forest cover, and we can expect worsening conditions if current trends are allowed to continue. The snowpack that our Cascades store every winter is expected to dwindle, threatening our agriculture, wildlife, and drinking water supply. Increased drought brings increasingly severe summer wildfires, and our already struggling salmon populations wouldn’t be able to survive in their remaining habitats. Pest and weed control are forecasted to become huge problems as well, which spells trouble for our local farmers. Climate change has far-reaching global consequences, and the potential damage to be inflicted on our own communities in particular motivates me to take action."

This flies right in the face of the virulent anti-environmental approach Reichert, a Climate Change denier, has taken. Please consider helping Jason replace Dave Reichert and bring another strong progressive voice to the House of Representatives.

Must See TV From Alan Grayson. Wonderful News!

As you know, Blue America has been trying to draft Alan Grayson to run for Marco Rubio's Senate seat. Nearly 450 of you agreed with us and contributed. Today it paid off: Congressman Grayson announced that he's running! 

He released this video to introduce himself to explain why he's decided to take up the challenge. Alan tells us that he came up from a multi-ethnic working class neighborhood in the Bronx to work his way through Harvard at 16 and became a successful attorney who sued military contractors for war profiteering --- and won. You all know his record as a fierce advocate for working families during his time in the US Congress. 

His story is the ultimate realization of the American Dream.  And Grayson wants to ensure that his children and all children have the same chances to succeed in life that he did.  He doesn't short-change the idea that it takes work and dedication.  He is a living example of how important it is to work hard and never give up.  But he knows that the opportunities to make something of yourself are becoming rarer as our nation's wealth and opportunities are concentrated more and more at the top. 

He says:

Where I grew up, you had to work hard just to survive. I’ve met plumbers who could be engineers, truck drivers who could be lawyers, nurses who could be doctors. And I realized that if they had genuine opportunity, unchained by poverty, prejudice, poor health, poor education or discrimination, then we all would be better off. That’s the real American Dream-- to be all that you can be. And when everyone is better off individually, then everyone is better off together.

Grayson is known for his fiery speeches and aggressive critiques of the power elite in the Republican Party. And if there's one thing the Senate Democrats could use, it's a little more fire. But Grayson has also been the most effective member of the House. Yes, you read that right. At a time of tremendous gridlock and pusillanimous impotence, Grayson has proved that he knows how to get things done. 

Grayson, again:

In the past two years in Congress, I have written more bills, passed more amendments on the Floor of the House and enacted more of my bills into law than any other Member of the House-- #1, out of 435 of us. Salon magazine labeled me the most effective Member of the House. Because of all the good we have done, more than 100,000 supporters have given their hard-earned money to our campaign. That’s more than any other Democrat in the House. In 2012, and again in 2014, I was the only Member of the House of Representatives who raised most of his campaign funds from small donors-- not lobbyists, or special interests, or millionaires, or multinational corporations. I don’t work for them; I work for you. I am unbought, and unbossed. I owe nothing to anyone but the People.

Howie says:

Over the years, Alan has been the most beloved Member of Congress by Blue America members and he has been generously supported by our members from his first run for Congress. Helping him get into the U.S. Senate is Blue America's top electoral priority for the 2016 cycle. Chuck Schumer, the de facto head of the DSCC now, grew up in New York City too, but in a solidly middle class family and he went to very non-diverse schools. I know; I was a classmate of his at James Madison in a basically all Jewish section of Brooklyn. Although they both went to Harvard, Schumer had a very different career trajectory, one that led him not into heartfelt service to working families, but into the arms of the Wall Street bankers and Big Business powermongers...Today Schumer is working much harder than either McConnell or Boehner to keep Grayson out of the Senate. 

He's gone so far as to recruit a person who was a Republican during the Bush administration to run against him. Wall Street and the banks are very happy about that. 

Grayson welcomes their hatred. He knows he has a secret weapon: you. He's always financed his campaigns with small donations from Democrats who want leaders with the guts to take on the powerful on behalf of the people. That's Alan Grayson.

Blue America has eagerly retired our “Draft Alan Grayson” page. To send Chuck Schumer a message about the kind of Senator YOU want, please donate here at the brand new “Alan Grayson for US Senate” page.  

Don't Send Flowers

My name is Jacquie and I work with Digby, John and Howie at Blue America. Not sure I need to remind you (they’ve already started…) but you're about to get bombarded with "urgent" (desperate) pleas for end-of-the-quarter contributions from the DCCC, the DSCC, the DNC, and candidates and incumbents far and wide. They use these letters to compile master lists of donors— since all those organizations sell and share their e-mail addresses with... anyone they want to. Let me assure you, we don’t.

Since Howie’s been writing about the process he's going through fighting cancer we've had dozens of beautiful letters from Blue America members, many of whom wanted to know where to send flowers while he's in the hospital. He says he’s very grateful for the warm wishes but he's not allowed near flowers-- not even dried ones-- until his immune system in built back up again.

Howie asked me to suggest something else instead.

All of us were elated about the Supreme Court decision that came down Friday, putting the ultimate constitutional seal of approval on marriage equality. This year, as part of the Blue America candidate endorsement process we ask all prospective candidates about their public stand on LGBT equality, in terms of marriage, work, housing, discrimination. No candidate gets a Blue America endorsement who is wishy-washy or tentative about equality.

Another part of the screening process is gauging how dedicated candidates are towards protecting and strengthening the social welfare net conservatives have been shredding since Ronald Reagan was president. We look for candidates who fit in with the Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders/Alan Grayson wing of the party; dedicated to expanding Social Security, strengthening Medicare and fighting for the legitimate interests of ordinary working families. Not one of the Blue America-endorsed candidates would compromise away the hard-fought gains that protect the elderly and the most economically vulnerable among us.

We strongly believe that our work here will eventually lead to having a real Congress that represents “We, The People.”

So... instead of flowers for Howie, how about considering helping one or more of the progressive candidates Blue America has endorsed for the 2016 cycle? These are dedicated public servants with vision, not self-serving careerists... and not near and dear to Big Business and Wall Street. Their campaigns are grassroots affairs and they are dependent on small donations to get their messages out.

You can find the whole list of our candidates here-- there are only eight so far who have earned our endorsement. Please give what you can but remember what Howie always says: there is no contribution that is too small.

Paid for by Blue America PAC,, not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.