People Who Say It Cannot Be Done Should Not Interrupt Those Who Are Doing It

womensmarch2.jpg“And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: Repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.” — John Steinbeck, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ (Based on last week’s election results, it’s working!)

Normally, Democrats win districts where the PVI is D+something and Republicans win districts where the PVI is R+something. The higher the "something," the more likely that party will win. But it's not always the case.

Allison Ikley-Freeman's successful campaign for a state Senate seat in Oklahoma last week-- a seat where Trump beat Hillary 61.4-32.7%-- was in a very red district southwest of Tulsa. No one thought she had any chance at all. It's the kind of area where the DCCC always says-- and always wrongly-- that only a rich Republican-lite Blue Dog could win. But Allison is a young progressive who was outspent 3-1, campaigning on a Bernie-like platform. And she's a proud lesbian, married to an African-American. She doesn't fit the DCCC model at all.

There are 5 Blue America-endorsed candidates we're always always being told are in "impossible" races. None of them are as "impossible" as Allison's race was. And all 5 are being run by exceptionally good candidates:

  • James Thompson (KS) R+15
  • Jenny Marshall  (NC) R+10
  • Tom Guild (OK) R+10
  • Derrick Crowe (TX) R+10
  • Dan Canon (IN) R+13

Since Tom Guild was the first person to tell me to watch Allison's race in Tulsa, about a week before the election, I spoke with him about what her victory meant to his race on the other side of the state. He hit the nail on the head:

"We have knocked doors for more than 5 months and visited with thousands of good, hard working, incredible people in our district. They want to earn enough money to pay their bills and provide for their families. They want affordable health care and peace of mind when they or someone they love get sick and need medical care. They want dignity and security in their golden years. They want the heavy burden of college student debt lifted from their shoulders after scrimping for years and burning the candle at both ends to attain their educational goals. Government should lighten our burdens and help us on our journey. Many times today, government frightens decent and honest people by threatening to take away their health care or jobs or affordable loans or programs like Social Security or Medicare that they have paid into for decades. We need to elect people to public office who want to help people and not hurt them. Public servants should make people’s American Dreams attainable instead of throwing roadblocks in their way. I’m willing to do everything in my power to make each person’s dreams a reality. I’m willing to provide a hand up not a cold slap in my fellow Americans faces. Together, we can create positive change in America. To go fast, go alone. To go far, we need to take our journey together and support one another.  We must help each person arrive at their unreachable star and celebrate with them as they achieve this miraculous victory."

Derrick Crowe is running in an Austin/San Antonio district due south of Tom's. "The establishment," he told us, "does not like to be proven wrong about past failures, and when you sign up to run in an ostensibly 'red' district,' the groups in D.C. will tell you that you're crazy. "Too red. Too conservative. Too long since the Democrats held the seat. Too much money on the other side"

Well, we just saw a socialist beat the former speaker of the Virginia statehouse, and a progressive member of the LGBTQIA community win in a solidly #MAGA district. It reminds me of the saying, 'People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.' Well, we're doing it. The progressive moment is here, the wave is barreling to shore, and people who want to run for office as progressive populists should step forward right now. There will never be another time like this, and you'll never be able to do more good. And when people tell you it can't be done, tell them it's rude to interrupt."

Jenny Marshall is also running in an "impossible" district in the South, held by an entrenched multimillionaire incumbent. The DCCC won't figure it out until the day after election day, but the way things have been going lately, maybe "entrenched multimillionaire incumbent" isn't what voters are looking for right now.

Jenny:

"People wish me luck when I tell them that I am running for Congress against Virginia Foxx. I tell them there is no luck about it, just hard work and a message that people believe in. The people in the 5th are struggling to make ends meet and they want someone who will fight for them. They want someone with the courage to stand up for regular folks and take on out of control corporate greed and Washington lobbyists. As I have traveled the district I have listened to story after story of medical care that is too expensive and jobs that pay too little. I have listened to veterans who can't get the help they need and college graduates saddled with enormous debt. I sit and listen as they pour their life stories out and I can relate. I know what it is like to have more month than money, to worry about health care costs and student loan debt. As we trade stories, I talk about the changes I want to see in Congress and by the end I have another supporter. Over the past 11 months I have met thousands and thousands of people at all kinds of events. The overwhelming message back to our campaign is “run, Jenny run!”  So, I am running, but I am not alone. We are building a top notch campaign team with more volunteers and donations coming in daily so that we can knock every last door in the district to get our message out. I believe that with hard work and our grassroots organizing we will win in 2018." 

Dan Canon is an exceptionally accomplished candidate running in Indiana, a state the DCCC fears and, when they even try-- always run a Blue Dog. Dan is far from a Blue Dog. "We are seeing on the ground," he told us, "genuine excitement for real progressive politics, not just with Democrats and Independents but also with Republicans and those who have never been involved or even voted before. With Indiana's abysmal voter turnout we know that if we get more people to vote, we win. Talking to over 40,000 voters already and registering over 4,500 new voters, we know that one-on-one conversations about progressive policies are what will win this race."

James Thompson was ignored by the DCCC and the Beltway elites when he ran in a special election this year. But he came incredibly close to flipping one of those "impossible" districts, this one in the Wichita area. He's running again and the DCCC is ignoring him again. (Fine... it's an opportunity to elect a real progressive instead of the kind of retrograde Blue Dog that Luhan and Pelosi would prefer.)

James told us that "Something is only impossible so long as people believe it is so. As long as you believe in your cause and are willing to work, nothing is out of reach. No state is too red. No precinct too Republican. As Nina Turner recently told me, we need to be “hard on issues and soft on people.”

"This battle is not between Republican and Democrat; that is their narrative. The battle for our country’s soul is between the privileged princes of Wall Street/corporate class and the working people of this country. Working people exist in both parties and we need to come together as one to take back the power the billionaire boys club siphoned from us for decades with tax breaks and loopholes. When We the People stand together nothing is impossible."

These kinds of seats, in a cycle like this, is exactly where the DCCC should be making big plays. They're not. But we can. Want to help? Every donation absolutely makes a difference.



Tom Guild Came in First in his Primary

Liberals don't always expect much from Republican bastions like Oklahoma. But Blue America endorsed an across-the-board progressive, Tom Guild, to run for the congressional seat based in Oklahoma City and thanks in part, to our members generosity, he came in first. And a couple of weeks ago Tom came out on top in a tough 3-way primary against a very conservative state Senator who is the polar opposite of a progressive. Tom walked away with 42.1% of the vote while that state senator drew 30.9% and a third candidate took 27%. Oklahoma law requires a runoff, which has been set for August 26.

To build on his momentum from the primary, Tom needs to raise $45,000 for his modest TV and radio advertising and his get-out-the-vote/field operation. Blue America is the only group helping Tom raise money and we're turning to you again for that assistance.

"We will continue to knock doors, make phone calls, put up signs, and visit with voters in the congressional district," Tom told us Friday. "We are the only progressive in the race, and have an outstanding chance to take on and beat the survivor of the Republican nominating process, which also plays out with a runoff August 26. First, we need to secure the Democratic nomination on August 26. We will continue to speak out about increasing Social Security benefits, protecting Medicare, lowering college student loan rates to the same low rate afforded to big banks, protecting civil rights, restoring voting rights, and fighting for human rights. We have momentum and history on our side. Please contribute what you can today, so that we will have the resources needed to win the runoff, and go into the general election with momentum and confidence.

Tom's 97,504 votes from the 2012 election-- the most votes for any Democratic nominee in 22 years-- is primed to turn out and vote in 2014. He isn't another mealy-mouthed red state Democrat. Like fellow Oklahoman, Elizabeth Warren, he is proud of their state's populist traditions and he is clearly from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party. Tom has the best chance to be elected as the first Democratic U.S. House Member from Oklahoma City in decades.

Tom:

"Expanding Social Security by implementing the plan put forward by Oklahoma native Senator Elizabeth Warren would give peace of mind and a semblance of economic security to tens of millions of American seniors. Her plan to provide an additional supplement to the income of Americans when they reached the age of 75 and again at the age of 85 would help account for the additional cost of living seniors have in providing for added medical needs. Her plan would also make the program completely self-sustaining for additional decades. Expanding benefits will make a great program even better… The federal government currently lends to banks at very low interest rates. I support a plan to extend those low rates to student loans. Making big profits on student loans is unseemly and adds to the tremendous burden that many students graduating from American colleges and their families currently bear. Students should be treated at least as well as banks, who benefit by extremely low interest rates."

This race is well within reach, but we need to get on board to make sure Tom has the resources to win. Please click here to join us and stand with Tom Guild for Congress.



Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes State Senator Jim Wilson (D-OK)

A labor union president once told me that the worst Democrat in Congress, at least from the point of view of ordinary working families, is Oklahoma reactionary Dan Boren. I've never been able to find anyone to persuade me that he was wrong. The video above should explain that pretty well.

Today Blue America is very proud to present the courageous populist who's decided Boren doesn't deserve a free ride from Oklahoma Democrats. State Senator Jim Wilson, long considered Oklahoma's most pro-family state legislator, made up his mind after Boren voted in favor of the anti-Choice Stupak amendment and then against the overall healthcare reform bill-- twice. Healthcare reform has been one of Jim's signature issues as a state Rep and state Senator. He'll be joining is for a free-ranging discussion below in the comments section.

Jim, whose political career has been dedicated to the most needy in his community and who has fought a long and unrelenting battle on behalf of public education, the environment and health care reform, decided to take the plunge into national politics when his congressman, Dan Boren, once again joined the Republican Party in trying to derail healthcare reform.

"I've been working on healthcare in the state legislature for 10 years," Jim told me. "Oklahoma ranks 50th in overall delivery of healthcare statewide... Health care costs are escalating at the compound rate of 6.7% per year. This year's increase for every man, woman and child, directly or indirectly, is $428. That represents income that can't be used elsewhere in the economy which removes, to some extent, discretionary spending which in turn hurts other business or quality of life segments."

There doesn't seem to be a resulting justification for the increased expenditures. One-third of health care spending doesn't seem to help or prevent sickness. If in Oklahoma we were to return the waste in health care to the people, the savings would be equivalent to all the state taxes paid by individuals and businesses. In Oklahoma we have in statute a floor of 60% for a medical loss ratio. The new federal reform legislation will require a medical loss ratio of not less than 85% for big groups and not less than 80% for small groups. The savings in Oklahoma will be at least $210 million.

Just automating health records in Oklahoma would save $800 million and 750 lives annually. Nationally we have one medical error per patient day and have an 80% error rate on provider billing. Cleveland clinic has to have 1,400 clerks to support 2,000 doctors-- and it's more cost effective than any other major provider with the possible exception of Mayo and the VA.

To improve quality of life for our citizens we should strive to improve disposable income. If we are resistant to increased pay or if increases in pay are mitigated by rising health care costs, we owe it to the citizens to make the health care system more efficient which will produce better health outcomes at less cost.

Jim, a former combat marine in Vietnam, who walked away with the valuable lessons of that tragic conflict, would be another voice of reason in Congress regarding Afghanistan. His astonishingly progressive record in Oklahoma shows what kind of a Member of Congress he would be. We can be absolutely certain we'd be trading in the worst Democrat for someone who will be giving Members like Alan Grayson and Raul Grijalva a run for their money! After Boren crossed the aisle again to support Boehner, Wall Street and the GOP in their jihad against regulating the money-changers in the temple, Jim issued a simple and direct statement that shows the contrast between the two of them:

“While driving around Eastern Oklahoma in my pickup truck, I have met thousands of people whose lives were ruined by the crash just two years ago. How can Dan Boren forget about those people and vote for his donors instead? It's a shame that he’s been in Washington so long he’s forgotten about the people in Eastern Oklahoma... This is common sense legislation. I have not met a single person on the campaign trail begging me to be compassionate to Wall Street. Dan Boren needs to spend less time in Washington with his Wall Street lobbyist friends and more time in Eastern Oklahoma."

The last two mangy Blue Dogs we're trying to dislodge in this cycle are John Barrow-- who faces off against Regina Thomas on July 20-- and then Boren, who will be facing Jim on July 27. If you can, please consider donating to his campaign so that Jim can continue getting out his message to Oklahoma Democrats. By the way, that labor union president I referred to above? Nowhere to be seen on this race-- or in Regina's. I guess we should be happy his union isn't endorsing their Blue Dog opponents this time.




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