Progressive Leaders Have Started Endorsing Bernie Sanders

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Credit: Slate.com
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.



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.



Let's Help Keith Ellison Save the World!

You may have noticed that the right-wing Hate Machine has decided to take a little energy out of their stream of hatred and calumny usually reserved for Nancy Pelosi, to focus it on Keith Ellison. After all, Keith, a very outspoken and articulate co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus is only 49 and will be in Congress long after Pelosi, 73, retires. Sean Hannity has declared a right-wing crusade against Ellison and spends an inordinate amount of energy smearing him. We've tried to have Keith's back. And Tuesday at 1pm (Central Time), 11am on the West Coast, Keith will be joining us for a live chat at Crooks and Liars. Try to stop by.

The other co-chair of the CPC, our old friend Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), is very enthusiastic of Keith's ability to give a voice to regular working families. "Keith, above all, isn't posturing," he told us. "He deeply believes in and relentlessly fights for progressive values and equality for all. I enjoy his friendship and admire his drive and consistency. He is a real person for these unreal times, and I support him every chance I get."

Like Grijalva and Alan Grayson, Keith has been a tireless fighter against the Boehner-Obama Chained CPI scheme. He seems almost hurt that Obama would play for the other team on something so absolutely crucial for working Americans.

"You worked hard. You earned it. And Republicans want to dismantle it.

Years ago when people talked about retirement, we thought of it like a three-legged stool: the pension from your job, money you saved, and Social Security.  

But pensions are disappearing, and savings are down. And now, the last leg standing is being whittled away.

In an effort to bring the GOP to the table, President Obama has proposed a budget that changes the way cost of living adjustments are calculated for people on Social Security, using a method called the 'Chained CPI.' Plain and simple, this would be a benefit cut, forcing the most vulnerable Americans to dig even further into their savings.

It’s never been more important to keep our promise to American families, and that’s why I’m standing up for Social Security."

It's very much in the interest of progressives that we counterbalance the poison from the right and to help make Keith a formidable figure with the House Democratic caucus. Take a moment to view the video of Keith giving Sean Hannity a dose of the cold hard truth on his own Fox program. Is this what you want more of in Congress? Then, please consider helping his reelection effort at the special Keith Ellison page.

We are all in this together,
Howie, for Digby, Amato, and the Blue America team



Alan Grayson's In-- Are You?

Late yesterday Alan Grayson announced that he'd be running for Congress again, in one of the still not fully defined Orlando area districts. Alan was one of the most aggressively courageous and honest Members of Congress any of us has ever come across and Blue America wants to welcome him back to the fold. Will you help by giving what you can do his election campaign today?

Yesterday he told me that "under no circumstances would he ever support a cut in Social Security. "I don't just say 'no'; I say HELL NO-- Under. No. Circumstances... Last year I said we can't let the choice in 2010 be between the lazies and the crazies. Now its coming down to a choice between the heartless and the spineless. Ask them 'am I my brother's keeper' and they just say 'no'."

The Chamber of Commerce types in central Florida would like a less independent-minded congressman and they're trying to draft quasi-Democratic opponents for Alan. He's been there for us-- don't you think-- let's be there for him again. Please give what you can, so he can win the primary and then beat whatever the GOP throws up against him.

See that tie Alan is wearing? He took it off and autographed it and sent it to Howie to give away to a Blue America donor. We'll give it to the donor who makes the biggest contribution today.



Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona

When Arizona's accidental governor signed SB 1070 into law in April, Digby, John and I put up a new Blue America page, One America, dedicated to helping Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) fight back against Know Nothings and teabaggers in his state. Yesterday Congressman Grijalva met with President Obama at the White House to discuss comprehensive immigration reform and we invited him to join us for a chat below in the comments section.

Grijalva, as we explained at One America, is the chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a booming voice on behalf of working families on every issue that comes before Congress. He helped lead the fight against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, helped lead the fight against Wall Street predators and helped lead the fight for equitable health care. And he was the first to step up and speak out, at great political -- and personal -- peril, against SB 1070, urging the governor to veto what is clearly an unconstitutional bill. He even called for a boycott and pointed out that "one of the first conventions to cancel was Martin Luther King's fraternity, which would have brought up to 5,000 people. It was going to have a convention in Phoenix and within a few days of the governor's signature they canceled and moved it to Las Vegas. That should have been a harbinger of things to come for the governor and the state legislature... I find it ironic that the resort industry and Chamber of Commerce are so concerned about the loss of business, but have yet to state publicly how they feel about the law.”

There's a pattern here. 1070 was the peak of a crescendo that's been building in the state for the last five or six years.

...At some point soon one out of every three kids coming into kindergarten is going to be Latino in this state. This growing population is seen as a threat. Whether it's Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, you name it, it's just feeding and feeding. Underlying the issue of immigration here in Arizona and in other parts has been the issue of race. What 1070 did, both in Arizona and on a national level, is put the question of race front and center in the debate. It was always there, but now it's out in the open.

...We're going to look for opportunities to encourage people to come to this state, but to come with a sense that they're part of the opposition to this law, as opposed to blindly ignoring the fact that we have this law in this state. We're looking at a political change that is probably a decade away. So in the meantime what becomes the avenue to undo this law is the courts.

This year, because of his forthright stand against SB 1070, the GOP has targeted Rep. Grijalva and they and their front groups have been pouring a great deal of money into the election. This is anything but a safe seat. Although Pima and Santa Cruz counties went for Obama in 2008, Pinal, Maricopa, Yuma and La Paz counties all voted Republican. Rep. Grijalva has been popular in the district but the Republicans have their divisive engine on overdrive. Our guy doesn't whore himself out to lobbyists and corporate PACs. Digby, John and I want to ask you to consider joining us in doing what you can to retain a true tribune for ordinary working American families. That's why Raúl Grijalva is the only Member of Congress aside from Alan Grayson with his own personal Blue America page! Today marks the first of a monthly series Crooks and Liars will host with Congressman Grijalva. Help us make him feel at home.



Fighting For Progressive Values: Blue America Adds Rep. Raul Grijalva

Leadership is nothing new for Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a booming voice on behalf of working families on every issue that comes before Congress. He helped lead the fight against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, helped lead the fight against Wall Street predators and helped lead the fight for equitable health care.

He was also the first member of Congress-- and, significantly, the only member from Arizona-- to stand up and take a principled and passionate stand against SB 1070, the foundations of an apartheid police state. He first called on Arizona's governor to veto the patently unconstitutional anti-immigrant bill. After she enthusiastically embraced it, he sent a letter to President Obama urging him to exercise his "authority to limit [federal] cooperation with Arizona officials in their enforcement of SB 1070." Finally on April 29, he released the following statement:

“The governor and legislature are blind to what this bill will really do to citizens, law enforcement and the state economy. Tourists will not come to a state with discriminatory policies on the books. Businesses will not move here. Hispanic workers and taxpayers will leave. If state lawmakers don’t realize or don’t care how detrimental this will be, we need to make them understand somehow. We are calling on organizations not to schedule conventions or conferences in the state until it reverses this decision. This is a specifically targeted call for action, not a blanket rejection of the state economy. Conventions are a large source of visitors and revenue, and targeting them is the most effective way to make this point before it’s too late. Just as professional athletes refused to recognize Arizona until it recognized Martin Luther King Jr., we are calling on businesses and organizations not to bring their conventions to Arizona until it recognizes civil rights and the meaning of due process. We don’t want to sustain this effort any longer than necessary. It’s about sending a message.”

The response has been a barrage of death threats from neo-Nazi groups, both to the Congressman and to his staff. It became so bad that he was forced to temporarily close down his constituents services offices in Tucson and Yuma. (One man who threatened “to blow everyone’s head off," has been arrested.

Blue America was, in great part, moved by Rep Grijalva's courageous stand to join with a broad coalition of groups, assembled by our own John Amato.

If you would like to donate to this strong progressive and reward his continued fight against the bigots in Arizona, go to his Blue America page here.




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