THIS is what 'Party Unity' Looks Like


Zephyr Teachout, my friend and Blue America endorsed candidate for Congress, just won a terrific victory for all progressives. She will be running in November as the Democratic nominee in New York's 19th Congressional District, a Hudson Valley seat that we can win with Zephyr.

Zephyr is THE authority on campaign finance.   A Fordham University law professor and activist, her book --  Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United (Harvard University Press, 2014) -- sounded the alarm about the systemic nature of corruption, and how “money in politics” undermines our democracy.

I am writing to ask that you help Zephyr to fight her big-money, Wall Street backed Republican opponent. Zephyr can make it to Congress and be the leading voice on reforming our corrupt democracy, opening the floodgates for real change. But she needs our help. Please consider making a contribution of $5, $25, $100 or more to Zephyr’s campaign.

I am grateful for the support that you and others provided to my campaign and Blue America – a stalwart ally that was first to endorse and provide on-line funding and on-going support of my campaign. And, of course, many other people and organizations moved our campaign forward, especially Bernie Sanders’ endorsement and rally, Representative John Conyers’ endorsement, Raul Grijalva’s endorsement, Democracy for America's strong advocacy on my behalf, National Nurses United, Progressive Democrats of America and my fantastic staff and volunteers.

I have much pride in what we did together. I remain active as a committed progressive advocate of economic, political and social justice, beginning this week when I go to Orlando as a member of the Democratic Party’s National Platform Committee and in my ongoing work to expand Social Security. Thank you again for the opportunity to advance a progressive agenda. Will be in touch...

For now, I ask that you turn your generosity toward Zephyr Teachout, a talented and widely respected academic and advocate who will, with your help, win a seat for progressives in the next Congress.

For Justice and Peace,

--Eric
 
Eric Kingson for Congress
P.O. Box 631
Manlius, N.Y. 13104
eric@erickingson.com



You’re Invited To Tonight's Free Online Progressive Summit


Please consider yourselves invited to join us and Sister Giant as Marianne Williamson hosts a free online progressive summit over the next three weeks. You’ll be introduced to some of the finest candidates running from all over the country. Together, we can help build a more progressive congress that will help keep Blue Dogs or New Dem alliances with the GOP from stalling important legislation and real change from happening.

As we’ve seen in the past few months, politics can be a dirty business. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. The idea for the Progressive Summit was born out of a desire to, as Marianne puts it, “make Congress reflect the better angels of our nature.” Does that sound like a good idea to you? Here’s what else Marianne has to say:

With the Presidential election in full swing, we can be tempted to minimize the importance of our Congressional elections. But they're equally important because Congress is a co-equal branch of the government. We need a political revolution in Congress as much as we need it in the White House!

I hope you'll join us for a Free Online Progressive Summit, co-hosted by SISTER GIANT and BLUE AMERICA, begins tonight, February 23 at 6pm PT | 9pm ET. The summit will take place on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings for the next three weeks. Each evening viewers will be introduced to three progressive Congressional candidates from around the country. The interviews will be archived so you can begin watching at any time.

Please go to SisterGiant.com to register for the Free Summit, and view a continuing list of candidates participating. After you register, you will receive a link to the summit via email.

I hope you'll join in, and let others know as well. If we really want a political revolution, we can't just kinda sorta do it!

All my best,

Marianne



What Does A Win Look Like? Taste Like? Smell Like?

Tuesday, Wisconsin's most progressive elected leader, state Sen. Chris Larson-- the guy who led the Democratic senators out of the state rather than buckle under to Scott Walker's Koch-ordered tyranny-- came in first in a hard-fought, 4-way race for the second most important office in the state, Milwaukee County Executive. It's an office that can lead to the governor's mansion, as it did for Walker. The current County Executive, Chris Abele, the son of a billionaire, has worked with the Republicans to disadvantage teachers and the school system and to force struggling homeowners to bear the burden of $80 million in public financing to pay for the new Bucks arena. 

When the Shepherd Express endorsed Larson, the editorial board noted that the general election on April 5th comes down to a contest between "Larson’s solid record of public service vs. a ton of Abele’s family’s money." Abele, they wrote, "has consistently cut backroom deals on behalf of private special interest groups and on behalf of his fellow millionaire cronies at the expense of the average Milwaukee County taxpayers [and has] worked hard to impress and win favor from his mentor, Gov. Scott Walker... Since taking office in 2011, Abele has consistently worked to strip our local democratic institutions of their power and consolidate power in his own office, shutting out the public from debates and decisions."

Abele, who vetoed a referendum on campaign finance reform, spent $2,000,000 in the primary to Chris Larson's $100,000. He's already said he's willing to throw $5,000,000 of his father's money-- or even more if he needs to-- into the April run-off against Larson's grassroots campaign. Blue America endorsed Chris Larson and we'd like to ask you to consider making a contribution to his campaign here.

We also want to remind everyone to vote in Alan Grayson's GraysonPrimary.com to cast a vote directing him whether he should use his super-delegate vote for Bernie or Hillary. Grayson:

”Until yesterday, 'superdelegates' were simply puppets of the unDemocratic establishment and their determination to snatch candidate selection away from our voters. Well, that’s no longer true. I’m a superdelegate. And I’m injecting a full dose of democracy into the superdelegate process, by letting actual Democratic voters influence who should win my superdelegate vote... In just 24 hours, more people have voted at GraysonPrimary.com than for Ted Cruz, Donald Trump or Marco Rubio in the Iowa Caucus. (Or Jeb Bush, but that isn’t saying much.) Our poll already has drawn well over 70,000 votes, which is . . . incredible. Democrats are sick of feckless loser party bosses dictating to us who carries our banner in November. Who do they think they are? That’s not their decision. It’s ours... It’s refreshing to see unbridled democracy in action. True power in the hands of the people is multiplying as we speak, and it is electrifying.”


And that brings us to something Blue America is very excited to be doing with Marianne Williamson and Sister Giant, a free online Progressive Summit, which starts Tuesday, February 23. You'll have a chance to meet many of the candidates we have endorsed and some we are thinking about endorsing. The purpose, though, is to emphasize the importance of congressional races in a year when the media talks almost exclusively about the presidential race. No matter who wins that race-- hopefully Bernie or Hillary-- Congress will function better with more progressives and fewer conservatives.

That what the Progressive Summit, which will last all week, is all about. Among the incumbents taking part are Alan Grayson (D-FL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Ted Lieu (D-CA) and among the candidates, you will get to meet Tim Canova, the intrepid Florida progressive taking on Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DuWayne Gregory, who is taking on Peter King on Long Island, Alex Law, Nanette Barragan, Pramila Jayapal, Eric Kingson, Bao Nguyen and plenty of others. See you Tuesday? Register here at SisterGiant.com



Eric Kingson: Why I Stand With Bernie


Eric Kingson, founder of SocialSecurityWorks, is running for Congress in a blue district centered on Syracuse New York. Eric has endorsed Bernie for president and his running on the same issues that Bernie is running on. If you want to contribute to Bernie's and Eric's campaigns, you can do so here. We asked Eric to tell us what went into his courageous decision to buck the Democratic Party Machine and back Bernie-- and in Clinton's own upstate New York backyard no less. Here's what he told us:

When the next president of the United States takes the oath of office on January 20, 2017, he or she will be a Democrat.  By then, the nation will have had its fill of the extremist right wing of the Republican Party-- especially of the disrespectful and racist messages of Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz. To be sure, the mean-spiritedness of the Republican Party will have torn at the nation’s fabric, but the ties that hold us together as a free and compassionate people are ultimately too strong to succumb to anti-democratic demagogues.

We Democrats, and the nation, are fortunate to have a choice between two eminently qualified people-- Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Both have contributed greatly to our nation. Both can do the job and lead by appealing to our “better angels.” And like President Obama, they take strong stands, political and personal, against the politics, fear, divisiveness, and disregard for working families and the poor that is so evident among today’s Republican Party.

That said, I strongly and proudly support Bernie Sanders in his campaign to be our next president. Here’s why.

Bernie is igniting the interest and energies of millions of Americans, many of whom have not been previously engaged in politics. We need this at a time when our nation’s political institutions are at risk; when our economic institutions seem to work well only for the rich and powerful, not for hard-working people and families. We need new generations of Americans and older ones, too, not only to care about what is happening in our nation, but, like Bernie’s supporters, to get involved and become vehicles for a better America.

Putting aside the risks posed by Trump and Cruz to our democracy, we will still face the corporate and billionaire domination of our politics and the coordinated efforts of the Republican Party to suppress voting, especially among minority, young, and low-wage workers. Senator Sanders’ campaign is bringing attention to campaign finance. No one can doubt Bernie’s complete opposition to the domination of our politics by corporate interests and money. He refuses to accept campaign contributions from Wall Street and other corporate donors. His campaign is fueled by millions of small donations. Bernie, whose politics were shaped by involvement in the civil rights movement, is no new-comer to voting rights. He’s always been there and will work to expand the voting franchise.

Wall Street doesn’t like Bernie. And they shouldn’t because he’s the real thing.  When he talks about breaking up too big to fail banks, Wall Street and their handmaidens worry. Wall Street bankers who virtually crashed our economy don’t like the sunshine being cast on their dishonesty and undeserved huge bonuses. Too bad. The public knows that Bernie will walk the talk, and that the economic policy of a Sanders Administration will not be under the control of Wall Street shills. Another good reason to support the Senator…

Another reason for my enthusiastic support of Senator Sanders for president is that as co-founder of Social Security Works and the Strengthen Social Security Coalition, I’ve seen how effective he’s been in stopping Social Security cuts and building the case for expanding Social Security benefits. Six years ago, when we established the organization and coalition, there were only a handful of Senators and Representatives who would say “do not cut our Social Security”-- Bernie Sanders, former Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and a few others. It may not seem so now, but this took political courage in the first few months of 2010. The press, the talking heads, party leaders, White House advisors, and many others were caught in their own echo chamber. Nearly all believed that cuts to Social Security were needed and would soon happen.

Concerned that the fiscal crisis drumbeat would stampede Congress into cutting Social Security, Bernie organized the Senate Defend Social Security Caucus, initially bringing five other Senators along. Later, in the context of budget and deficit negotiations, when it looked like Bowles-Simpson Commission cuts would be enacted, Bernie played a pivotal role in coordinating push-back to proposed cuts to annual cost of living adjustments. In a call that six or seven of us where on, I recall Bernie saying, “Look, we can stop this cut; but we have to act fast and get the voices of  the American people into Washington,” followed by strategic suggestions for doing so. A meeting chaired by Senator Sanders in a Senate hearing room packed to the gills with 200 advocates, seniors and journalists got the message out that the American people did not want their benefits cut. Careful messaging, speeches, and one million signatures stopped the cuts-- much to the credit of the Senator who has never been fearful of standing up for what he knows is right.

Today, the two remaining Democratic candidates for president are now firmly on record for expanding, not cutting, Social Security. This would not have happened without Bernie.

I am running for Congress in Central New York (NY-24). When I go to Washington as a new member of congress, I want to see a Democrat in the White House. And I believe our nation will be best served if that Democrat is Bernie Sanders.



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.




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