$10.10… It's Good For Us All

Friday, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich made the case that unemployment is still high and the economic recovery so turgid because of the failed European-style austerity measures being forced on the country by the plutocrats and oligarchs, primarily through their bought=and-paid-for conservative handmaidens in government.

Most companies continue to shed workers, cut wages, and horde their cash because they don’t have enough customers to warrant expansion. Why? The vast middle class and poor don’t have enough purchasing power, as 95 percent of the economy’s gains go to the top 1 percent.

That’s why we need to (1) cut taxes on average people (say, exempting the first $15,000 of income from Social Security taxes and making up the shortfall by taking the cap off income subject to it), (2) raise the minimum wage, (3) create jobs by repairing roads, bridges, ports, and much of the rest of our crumbling infrastructure, (4) add teachers and teacher’s aides to now over-crowded classrooms, and (5) create “green” jobs and a new WPA for the long-term unemployed.

And pay for much of this by raising taxes on the top, closing tax loopholes for the rich, and ending corporate welfare.

But none of this can be done because some wealthy people and big corporations have a strangle-hold on our politics. “McCutcheon” makes that strangle-hold even tighter.

Connect the dots and you see how the big-money takeover of our democracy has lead to an economy that’s barely functioning for most Americans.

A healthy majority of Americans-- including 83% of Democrats and nearly a third of Republicans-- supports the efforts to increase the minimum wage to $10.10. The financiers of congressional careers, however, are not part of that majority. They and their conservative puppets don't want to increase the minimum wage; they want to abolish it. And the faux-moderate position becomes, "let's not abolish it or increase it too much." You can watch apologists for the plutocrats, like Republican Susan Collins (ME) and New Dem Colleen Hanabusa trying to broker "a compromise" that leaves working families in poverty. Both represent blue states with overwhelming majorities that want a $10.10 minimum wage and both take excessive campaign money from the forces that want to hold the level down. And… both are running for Senate in November-- against tireless leaders in the fight for working families. 

Shenna Bellows of Maine and Senator Brain Schatz of Hawaii are pushing very hard for the $10.10 minimum wage increase. In fact, every Blue America candidate is pushing for the $10.10 level. 

I know it sounds a little gimmicky, but today we're asking Blue America supporters to chip in $10.10 for one or more of the Blue America candidates running for Senate.

And believe me, it isn't just Shenna and Brian. Rick Weiland, the prairie populist running for the open South Dakota seat is adamant about raising the minimum wage to $10.10. His GOP opponents, Mike Rounds and Stace Nelson, would like to see the minimum wage disappear altogether. Rick:

Political reality today is that America is being turned into a plutocracy by the ability of big money to buy what it wants from Washington, and increasingly from every other level of government as well.

Political reality today is that politicians who used to be public servants are now servants of the big money that elected them.

How else can you explain the endless array of policy decisions at every level of government that are vehemently opposed by large majorities of ordinary citizens, but are made anyway by elected officials. Think about it. 90% plus majorities of the voting public oppose offshore tax havens for billionaires and yet they persist. 90% oppose shutting our government down, yet it is shut down. Oil spills occur, dangerous vehicles are sold, banks evict families from homes they have been conned into buying, payday lenders extort poor families, all practices supported by virtually no one, but permitted to persist, even encouraged by the representatives supposedly elected by the people these things harm. Most Americans, including independents and Republicans, want to see the minimum wage rise to $10.10 but politicians in the pockets of the self-entitled billionaires are preventing it from passing in Congress.

What more can I say? Is it worth $10.10 to you to help elect tribunes of the people like Rick Weiland and Shenna Bellows?

Take my word for it, Bernie Sanders, Alan Grayson and Elizabeth Warren can't do it by themselves. We need lots more like them.

Our candidates, I can report, were not invited to the Sheldon Adelson primary try-outs. Can you help?

We are all in this together,
Howie, for Digby and John



$1,000 Matching Fund-- Why Shenna?


"Thank you, Blue America supporters, for refusing to give up on our democracy.  Grassroots action is the only way meaningful social change ever happens, and your grassroots support is making a difference." --Shenna Bellows

Digby, John and Howie did not expect to send this note out today. They planned a sabbatical until after the first quarter rush was over Tuesday. But… we got an offer we couldn't refuse-- and one I hope you won't be able to either.

As you probably already have figured out, we feel that Shenna Bellows, the 39 year old former executive director of Maine's ACLU, is our idea of a perfect candidate. Last night she told Howie that she wants to "go to the United States Senate to work with Elizabeth Warren and Rand Paul to place checks and balances on the big banks and the NSA. We can restore economic opportunity and constitutional freedoms for all if we have the courage and the vision to try."

That came right on top of a generous offer by one of Blue America's most consistent supporters to match, up to $1,000, all contributions to the Bellows campaign that are made through this page between now and midnight tomorrow (Monday night/Tuesday morning)

"I was originally attracted to the Maine contest," he told us, "by its potential to send the loudest message, of any 2014 race, that voters are sufficiently shocked, by the NSA surveillance revelations, to turn strongly against NSA-apologist incumbents like Collins. But now Collins appears even more vulnerable because of this month's outbreak of open warfare between Senate Democrats and the CIA, over the torture report that Collins may be trying to help the CIA delay or suppress. The more closely I looked at Bellows, the more I saw not only policies I support and political experience, skills and tactics that I respect, but also great potential for proving to be the right person in the right place at the right time."

There is great potential for Susan Collins’ “mile-wide” popularity to be proven “inch-deep,” because people who disagree with Collins’ positions, especially on civil liberties, can be found not only among Maine’s plurality of Democrats but also its substantial contingents of Independents and Libertarians, with whom Bellows has strong rapport.

Let's not leave this thousand dollar offer on the table. If Shenna wins in November, it will be the biggest victory for the progressive movement in America since we helped oust Wall Street favorite's senator, Scott Brown, in Massachusetts and elect Elizabeth Warren.

If you give $10 it's like giving $20 today. And if you give $50, it's like a $100 contribution. This is what Shenna needs to get her message out across Maine. This offer ends tomorrow at Midnight (ET).



Why Blue America Is Taking A Time Out

For the rest of this week, you are likely to be bombarded with hysterical, desperate spam from the DCCC, DSCC and their myriad candidates…ugh.

The New Dems and Third Way candidates from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party have been instructed to send out as many as 5 e-mails per day leading up to Monday, the last day of the FEC's first quarter. So we're not going to send any more e-mails out 'til after that circus is over.

Today, though-- we're offering to send a $1,000 check from our PAC to whichever House candidate our members prefer. You tell us who.

Just go to the regular Blue America page and contribute-- any amount-- to whichever candidate or candidates you would like to see get the extra grand. The candidate that gets the most contributions (not necessarily the most cash) gets the PAC check. Clean and easy!

We want to know who you're feeling so far this cycle. We're not going to make any pitches.

All the candidates on this page have been vetted as Blue America '14 candidates and are worthy of your vote and dollars.

Digby, John and I write about them all the time. You can search our sites for posts to learn more about each of of them.

Or just contribute to the one you already know enough about to want to see win in November.

Thanks,

Digby, John, Howie



Tell the DSCC: "Your Job is to Elect Democrats, Not Susan Collins"

I can't begin to describe how frustrating it is that the DSCC seems content to waste their resources on reactionary Blue Dog Travis Childers' hopeless attempt to win a Senate seat in deep red Mississippi (where Obama lost with 44%) while stubbornly ignoring the best Democrat running for Senate in years, Maine's Shenna Bellows-- and in a state Obama won with 56%.

Shenna Bellows is the right Democrat for Maine.

This week, Brad Dayspring, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Bellows is "way too far outside the mainstream" for Maine and that "if the Daily Kos declares statehood, Shenna Bellows would fit in well." Bellows, of course, is proud of the support she's gotten from Daily Kos and other online activists. And she asked which of the policies she's running on are outside of Maine's (not DC's) mainstream. Shenna:

  • Most Mainers I know support raising the minimum wage to $10.10;
  • Most Mainers care about climate change;
  • Most Mainers believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

These are issues where my opponent, Republican Susan Collins, and I honestly disagree… My opponent has sided with Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz over Maine voters on the minimum wage, the Keystone XL Pipeline and just yesterday, she voted against restoring veterans’ benefits.

One of Blue America's most consistent contributors asked us to express to all our other members some of his own thoughts on why now is the time to contribute to the Bellows campaign.

First off, he points out that now is crunch time. The next few weeks is when Bellows’ campaign can benefit most from increasing contributor headcount and dollars, in order to earn more attention from national media and support from national political organizations and contributors. Her campaign is on the verge of this kind of “lift off”-- or “critical mass”-- after its surprisingly fast start-up in fundraising, organization-building, endorsements and visibility-- culminating last week in national publicity from ABC News. 

The message of Bellows’ success would be all the louder because Susan Collins has been a very popular incumbent in prior elections and recent polls. But this popularity depends largely on Collins diverting attention from her positions on privacy, law enforcement drones, marriage equality and other issues, which are not evolving fast enough to keep up with public opinion among Maine’s voters, who gave Obama two emphatic wins. Small-town native daughter Bellows is well-equipped to win over even more of these voters.

And, for many of us, the most important issue, on a par with Climate Change, is the increasing scope of the surveillance state. Its becoming a plausible issue. We believe that a successful campaign by the ACLU-veteran “civil libertarian” is possible.

Bellows can send the loudest possible message to every politician and government official in Washington, DC that the ongoing Snowden disclosures are a serious concern to voters of every stripe, including swing-voting independents and potentially Democratic-voting libertarians.

Bellows’ opponent Collins, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has done virtually nothing to advance surveillance supervision or transparency, and has uncritically amplified quickly-discredited assurances about the efficacy and limited scope of surveillance. Maine’s voters include many independent thinkers who will not be impressed by Collins statements that: "the program, in which the NSA collected information on the phone calls and emails of millions of Americans 'has defeated and thwarted dozens and dozens of terror plots both here and overseas ... We should not assume a trade-off between liberty and security…'"

Let the DSCC waste their time and resources on anti-Choice, anti-equality, antigay, anti-environment, pro-NRA goons like Travis Childers. Let's do absolutely everything we can to elect a real progressive fighter.

Shenna Bellows is going to be just as astounding a U.S. Senator as Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. Let's do absolutely everything we can to elect a real progressive fighter. Please give what you can to Shenna Bellows campaign today..

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



Chained CPI-- RIP? Now Let's Get To Work Strengthening Social Security

Last year, President Obama offered to compromise Social Security inviolability on the alter of the plutocrats and their advocates (the GOP and the ConservaDems) who want to cut-- if not abolish-- social insurance. It was a bad mistake but, lucky for America, the Republicans, who had demanded it, refused to compromise and Chained CPI wasn't adopted. This year, the president has decided to focus on his State of the Union message about opportunity as his budgetary vision. It's a reflection that the budget is falling rapidly already and would fall more if Congress passes immigration reform. AP reported Thursday that there will be no Chained CPI cuts in this year's budget-- at least not Obama's. Ryan, of course, will have that… and worse.

Part of this victory for progressives had to do with mobilizing against Chained CPI cuts, as has been reported lately in the press.

We haven't come across a single House Republican who doesn't back Chained CPI cuts to Social Security, from Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan, all the way down the food chain to ineffectual backbenchers like Rodney Davis. We reached out to all the Blue America candidates and all of them oppose Chained CPI and other conservative schemes to cut Social Security. Since we mentioned Paul Ryan and Rodney Davis, let's begin with their opponents' statements. Rob Zerban (D-WI): "There is absolutely no way I could imagine a scenario where I could support a change in the calculations to the colas for for Social Security. Chained CPI is nothing more that an attempt to reduce benefits to senior citizens at a time when they can least afford it.  At this point the best thing we could do for our economy is to lower the retirement age to encourage workers to retire.  We would then open up more positions for those seeking jobs and reduce the unemployment. To make Social Security more solvent we need to remove the caps on higher income earners. I never understood why people making the most would pay less taxes for Social Security than those earning less. This is a simple fairness issue. If eliminating the caps on incomes is not enough to make the programs solvent indefinitely then we need to adjust the contribution we pay into the system to ensure that American's can retire with dignity and security."

Down in Illinois, George Gollin, the progressive alternative to Davis, sees it much the same way Zerban does:

Early in the last century, many of those who became too old to work suffered a rapid descent into poverty, infirmity, and mortal illness. The Social Security Act of 1935, which guaranteed a decent standard of living for “aged persons, blind persons, [and] dependent and crippled children,” changed this.

Eighty years ago a loaf of bread was a nickel. Without cost of living adjustments to earned benefits, the elderly would have long ago tumbled into the Dickensian nightmare of privation that is so fiercely defended by the Tea Party.

Cost-of-living calculations should include more than just inflation. We expect our spending patterns to change as we age--medical care will cost us more than it did when we were invincible twenty-somethings-- and COLA ought to take this into account. The original intent of the Social Security Act was, after all, to protect us from an irreversible slide into poverty after a lifetime of work.

But Washington is abuzz with a push to cut earned benefits, delay the retirement age, and implement a bogus inflation index called “chained CPI.” These indecent rollbacks are proposed so that someone with an annual income of $1 million will pay no more into the system than someone else with an income of $120,000.

Lifting the cap on income taxed for Social Security-- so that system is supported with a more progressive schedule of contributions-- would keep the system solvent indefinitely, and would increase taxes only on the top 5% of earners.

But that’s not how we do things anymore, with our politics awash in corporate cash that buys favors for the wealthy. Real people-- though not corporations-- are ground to dust in a down economy. Most members of Congress appear unconcerned with providing workers a decent standard of living.

It is not right for us to tolerate such a grotesque tilting of the rules.

This is a big deal across the Midwest and our other candidates from the region were as animated as Rob and George. Mike Obermueller is running for the seat occupied by right-wing fanatic John Kline in southeast Minnesota. "Social Security," he told me, "has been critical to making sure seniors can retire with dignity in this country. No program in history has been more successful at lifting seniors out of poverty than this one. That’s why it’s so frustrating that Republicans (and even some Democrats) are fixated on cutting these benefits for people who need them and who have earned them. Chained CPI would eliminate the financial stability and independence Social Security was created to provide. We have to set priorities and protecting the middle class against this gimmick should be one of them."

In the suburbs east of Cleveland, Michael Wager is running for the seat held by David Joyce, a Boehner lackey. "Chained CPI," Michael told me, "is, in fact, a cut in Social Security benefits, and undermines the already tenuous financial health of millions of Americans. Many in Washington continue to look to Social Security to address budget concerns, yet Social Security has not contributed to budget deficits. Still suffering from the effects of the 2008 financial crisis, low and moderate income seniors, quite simply, should not be asked to endure reduced benefits in name of 'fiscal responsibility.'"

Another top Boehner lieutenant and committee chair, Fred Upton (R-MI), is being challenged by Paul Clements. Upton is a big Austerity booster and backs Chained CPI and other deprecations against working families in the Ryan budget. Paul does not-- in a big way: "Introducing policy schemes like Chained CPI into budget discussions is a reckless move that imperils our seniors and the economic prosperity of our nation. For years, we've watched members of our own party team up with conservatives to slash programs aiding the jobless and our seniors. More people are living in poverty than ever before and Washington continues to hurt more than help. We must work to make critical investments and strengthen programs like Social Security, not engage in more schemes that hurt our seniors."

Same for Pat Murphy, the front-runner in the race to succeed Bruce Braley in Iowa's first congressional district. He is the former Speaker of the Iowa House and he has a keen understanding of the role of leadership. "Social Security is a cornerstone of my progressive beliefs. My parents raised me to keep my word and stand up for what’s right. We’ve made a pledge to seniors who have worked hard and paid into Social Security and Medicare for decades that their benefits will be there when they need them, and I intend to keep that pledge. It’s the right thing to do. Cutting benefits to those who have paid into the program to simply make budget through 'chained CPI' is wrong.  By raising the cap for folks who make over $106,000 a year would increase solvency, have the ability to expand benefits and better serve our seniors."

The progressive candidate for the open seat in Oklahoma City (OK-05) is Tom Guild, who is of no mind to compromise away the rights of working families on this or anything.

Approximately one in five Social Security recipients has no other income. The current Social Security COLA doesn’t cover the increased costs of living for seniors. Expanding Social Security benefits would give many additional seniors peace of mind, and help them keep pace with cost of living increases. We owe it to the generation that did their part to build our country, to make good on the promise of Social Security, that they wouldn’t have to live their golden years in poverty. It makes sense and is the right thing to do to increase the Social Security stipend for our seniors. By lifting the cap on the $114,000 of income currently taxable to support the program, we can extend the life and promise of Social Security for generations past 2031. This is a concrete way that we can demonstrate our thanks to our seniors who have done so much for us.

If the national government funded just one programs adequately, it would be Social Security.  This is a proposal to adequately fund Social Security. It would protect and enhance benefits, and increase the revenue stream supporting this vital program by abolishing the cap on income subject to the tax dedicated to Social Security, and increase the dedicated tax by 1/20th of 1% for six years. This would secure Social Security for additional decades. Since 2/3 of today’s retirees receive more than half of their income from Social Security, and about 1/5th are completely dependent on this source of income, this proposal would greatly enhance tens of millions of Americans’ retirement security. It would ensure that seniors’ cost-of-living would not continue to outpace benefits received by recipients, who paid into the Social Security fund for their entire working lives. Sometimes we should just do the right thing for those who spent their lives building our country. That time has arrived.

A chained CPI would take us in the wrong direction, and take desperately needed funds out of seniors budgets. It is time to move forward, and not allow those who have tried to destroy Social Security since 1935, to take the first step toward dismantling and undermining this vitally important program protecting American seniors from poverty and hardship in their golden years.

Like Tom, state Senator Daylin Leach, the Liberal Lion of Pennsylvania's legislator, wants to expand Social Security, not cut it: "For the life of me I can't understand why the administration is buying right-wing propaganda about the need for cuts to Social Security. To be blunt, its bullshit. There is no problem with Social Security that can't be solved (and then some) by uncapping the FICA tax. At a time when private pensions are shrinking and disappearing, and people rely more than ever on their Social Security check, it is morally abhorrent to unnecessarily cut these benefits because paying higher taxes makes a few rich people sad. It's time to expand, rather than cut, Social Security benefits." And I'll close with a statement from our newest candidate, Stanley Chang from Honolulu:

Social Security is the bedrock of the safety net our seniors have earned. The current Republican efforts to dismantle Social Security are a grave and immediate threat to the livelihoods of too many families in American. Make no mistake, Chained CPI is a euphemism for deep, harsh cuts to Social Security, which keeps 22 million seniors out of poverty.

At a time when the middle class continues to struggle and there are far more people living in poverty than ever before, we need to be protecting and expanding Social Security, not cutting it. Simple, common sense progressive plans such as raising the taxable income above the current $106,000 ceiling will extend Social Security’s solvency for decades to come.

Surely we can do better than to balance the budget on the backs of working families who have worked a lifetime to enjoy a secure retirement. Social Security must be strengthened and expanded, not gutted and scraped for parts.

We've got to get this conservatives out of power and out of office and off our backs. Electing these progressive candidates is going to help.
You can do that here and keep in mind, there is no such thing as a contribution being too small.

We are all in this together,
Howie, for Digby, John and the Blue America Team



Open seat in California--Let's turn it BLUE!

Friday morning the PCCC officially endorsed Lee Rogers and Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent, under the eye-catching headline, "A Dem Candidate Who Would Expand O'Care And Social Security," went beyond the Beltway conventional wisdom/claptrap and got to the heart of why the race in the Santa Clarita, Antelope and Simi Valleys (CA-25) is so important for progressives.
Yesterday, GOP Rep. Buck McKeon, a longtime member of Congress and chairman of the Armed Services Committee, announced his retirement. The move could pave the way for an interesting experiment, one that could provide a glimpse into how progressive policies play in a swing district that’s already very difficult for Democrats.

The Democrat vying for the seat is Dr. Lee Rogers, who not only aggressively embraces Obamacare, but wants to expand it to achieve “universal” coverage, and even wants to expand Social Security. In an indication of what this candidacy might look like, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which supports Rogers, notes that he champions “Medicare access for all,” and in a PCCC email going out today, Rogers says: “I’ll fight to allow people to buy into Medicare. I’ll push for Medicare to negotiate drug prices to lower costs. And I promise to help bring us closer to universal healthcare coverage.”

…Make no mistake, this one will be a steep climb for Dems. Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report doesn’t think Rogers has a shot, because a big chunk of the district is made up of Latino voters among whom turnout could drop off in a midterm election. “This district has unique voting patterns that more or less doom his candidacy from the start,” Wasserman says.

However, it could still be an interesting test of progressive messaging at a time when public worries about inequality and declining economic mobility seem to be rising. ”If he gets more than 45 percent than he got in 2012, maybe that’s a sign his message was effective,” Wasserman says.

Whatever his chances, the race is worth watching, partly for the simple reason that Rogers’ support for expanding Social Security is a relative rarity among Dem candidates. The issue is emerging as an increasingly important issue for progressives, one central in the debate over whether the Democratic Party should embrace a truly economically progressive platform. It’ll be interesting to see how expanding Social Security (and Obamacare) play politically, given that many Dems have shied away from such positions-- even as there is strong public support for protecting social insurance and the safety net.
In the past, we've written about DCCC Chairman Steve Israel's "mystery meat" candidates. Israel warns candidates to not take controversial stands on big issues, especially not progressive stands. When I asked one freshman who ran as a progressive and then joined the Wall Street-financed New Dems and started a distinct pattern of voting against the progressive agenda she ran on, she was very frank and told me she had followed the DCCC's instructions to freshmen "100%" and that that was how they told her she could be reelected (in her D+3 district that Obama won with 56 and 54% in 2008 and 2012).

Friday, when Israel was crowing about McKeon's resignation in a press release, he didn't even mention Rogers' name, even though Rogers beat McKeon in the Antelope Valley in 2012-- the fastest growing third of the district and an area McKeon had never previously lost-- and even though many members of the California House delegation have been Rogers' most vocal and persistent champions.

Israel: “Congressman McKeon is getting in a crowded line of Republican moderates who are abandoning John Boehner’s broken Congress so that they don’t have to defend their party’s indefensible priorities to the voters. Congressman McKeon’s retirement puts yet another Republican-held seat into reach for Democrats, as he joins the likes of Tom Latham, Jon Runyan and Frank Wolf and others in rejecting the irresponsible behavior of their party. In this competitive district, Democrats will stand behind a candidate who is dedicated to working across the aisle to solve problems for hardworking California families and who will put a premium on creating jobs and growing the middle class. Meanwhile, Republicans are already facing yet another divisive primary where they will compete in a brutal race to the right.”

Buck McKeon, a "moderate?" Only in a topsy turvy Beltway universe where "ex"-Blue Dog Steve Israel could be head of the DCCC. McKeon is a radical right ideologue whose political positions are very extreme across the board. He was the financial go-to person in the Mormon jihad against LGBT equality in California. He has consistently and unwaveringly voted against women's rights, against unions, against economic security for working people, against basic human rights, against environmental sanity.

Sargent's point is well-taken. What would happen if grassroots Democrats like Rogers-- and like the rest of the Blue America endorsed candidates-- who espouse the actual values and principles of the Democratic Party, were the ones who were financed by the DCCC, instead of the conservatives Israel has dug up? For one thing, voters would have a real choice on election day, something conservative Democrats like Israel fear to the core of their being.

Please join us today in reaffirming Blue America's three-year old determination to turn CA-25, not just blue, but PROGRESSIVE. You can do that by contributing to Lee Rogers' campaign here.

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



Time For House Democrats To Find New Leadership


Enough of this crap

All the House Democratic leaders, from conservatives like Steny Hoyer, Steve Israel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Joe Crowley to "liberals" like Nancy Pelosi, Jim Clyburn and Xavier Becerra, are working to round up votes inside the caucus to back Obama's plan to bomb Syria. Pelosi became leader of the Democrats because she stood up to Bush and Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt when they asked Congress to approve plans to attack Iraq. Most Democrats joined Pelosi against that war-- and that ended Dick Gephardt's political career. That was a very different Nancy Pelosi than the one leading House Democrats today.

On the other hand, we still have plenty of Democrats in the House strenuously opposing the war arguments-- Alan Grayson, Raul Grijalva, Barbara Lee are three excellent examples. Pelosi announced last week that she has no intention of ever being Speaker again. The vultures waiting in the wings-- Hoyer, Wasserman Schultz, Crowley-- to take over the leadership of the House caucus would all be catastrophic for the Democratic brand and for grassroots values that make someone a Democrat instead of a Republican.

It's time to start thinking about electing a leader of the House Democrats who is NOT a conservative and who is not a pillar of institutionalized Beltway corruption.

The way WE can help that process along is to elect more progressives to Congress who will not be beholden to the Steve Israels, Steny Hoyers, and Debbie Wasserman Schultzes. It's imperitive that we help elect people who will be open-minded about electing caucus leaders like Grayson, not yesterday's stale leftovers like Hoyer and Wasserman Schultz. A grassroots progressive in Oklahoma, Tom Guild, is an independent thinker and is going to have an open mind. "Syria is a basket case," he told us, "with heartbreaking tragedies piled one on another. The [Assad] government is evil and much of the opposition is affiliated with enemies of the United States. We should tread carefully and make sure we are not drawn into another war without end. American cannot be the world’s policeman, and we have paid a heavy price trying to do so."

Nick Ruiz, a professor who once ran as a Green, is the progressive Democratic candidate in the Orlando area running against GOP warmonger John Mica, also gave us a position just before Obama announced he would ask for a congressional vote before attacking.

"Why not conference and engage the Syrian leadership and factions-- and Iran, along with Russia and China for good measure? Before drones and Tomahawks, bombs and killing; as an alternative to the stereotypical language of violence that the world is so tired of hearing. Let's talk about it; not naively, but intensely; let's argue about what's happening in Syria, with the Syrian leadership and rebellion, their neighboring ally Iran, and advocates of sovereignty: Russia and China. We get it. We understand boundaries and sovereignty. And we ought to thoroughly understand rebellion, having been borne of it... The world's interests are better served with an eye toward de-escalation, rather than aggravation and aggrandizement... My vote would be NO on assaulting Syria.

"As Democrats we know better than to fight unjust wars; we do not leave the poor defenseless, nor erode civil rights or ignore social injustice. We helped to define these vital, democratic concepts in the modern era. When our leaders change for the worse, and seek to lead us toward the lowest common denominator, then we should thank them for whatever good they've done in the past-- but must tell them 'No, we will not follow you there, and further, you will not lead us any longer.' It is a crucial time when one must have the good sense to choose new leaders. But it's now true: that time is upon us."

As the other, better-known, progressive political leader from the Orlando area, Alan Grayson said, "Nobody wants this, except the military-industrial complex." We need a new generation of leaders to represent the Democratic Party, not the money-driven Establishment shills who have more in common with their Republican House colleagues than they do with grassroots Democrats.

Please consider supporting the 2014 Blue America candidates for Congress.

As you can see, we've recently added three new ones, Tom in Oklahoma, plus Danielle Adams in North Carolina and Paul Clements in Michigan. Clearly, Washington needs new leadership-- leadership that is rooted in the Democratic grassroots. Electing candidates like this to Congress is a healthy first step.



Blue America Chained CPI Contest! Candidate Nick Ruiz Speaks Out

Where do Blue America challengers stand on President Obama and Speaker Boehner's "Chained CPI?" Watch this video from Nicholas Ruiz III running for Congress in Florida's 7th District. If you want to know what the other Progressive challengers on Blue America's "Save Social Security Page" think about the planned cuts to Social Security and Medicaid, go here. If you like what you read, vote for Nick or any other candidate on that page and you could win a very rare RIAA certified Platinum Award for the band 311. Vote with your dollars (even 1 buck works) the candidate with the most votes gets a check from Blue America for $1,000. Anyone who "'votes" at this link is entered to win the award.



Blue America chat: Activist Debra Cooper for New York City Council

When the Netroots first appeared in the middle of the last decade, there were a few people who instantly joined up as supporters, benefactors and activists who "got it." But no one got it more clearly than our good friend Debra Cooper, a long time champion of women's rights, New York NARAL board member and Democratic Party activist. From the very beginning Debra understood the power of this new force in American politics and embraced our work and enthusiastically participated in our activities, often to the befuddlement of other experienced organizers who failed to see the potential of our new medium. Debra has been a stalwart supporter of Blue America since its inception and we are thrilled to return the favor by making her our first endorsee of 2013.

Blue America doesn't normally get involved in local races, but a New York City Council seat is not the usual local race ... and Debra is not the usual candidate.

As she says:

I have been an unabashed progressive my entire life. And I have been around long enough to see that it matters is we move forward as progressives and not react backward. If we aren't pushing forward on our agenda, the right wing is pushing us backward. And it goes from everything from women's reproductive rights to social security to the safety net to the issue of gun control. Those issues all matter. We have to push forward, we have to enlarge the conversation to include our solutions and not just react to their solutions.

I have been asked about my lines in the sand. Actually I have lines in quick drying cement. And those lines are about principles --- progressive and democratic principles. Lines in the sand are for tactics and for strategy. They are moveable and they are erasable. Principles are not. They are firm and they are clear. You use lines in the sand to negotiate. And over the long term, as a progressive , if we want to move the conversation in the right direction, we want to make the lines in the sand the same as our lines in cement.

A couple of years back Debra wrote a piece that I've often quoted on my blog because it's so important. She talked about abortion in the language of freedom, which is frankly something I've never heard anyone do before:

For women ALL Roads to freedom and equality - economic equality and most particularly the ability to avoid poverty START with control of their bodies. If they can't control how they get pregnant and when they will have a child then poverty is the result.

There is theory about something called the Prime Mover - the first action or the first cause. Well for women it IS reproductive rights. It precedes everything. It really is simple. Without the abilty to control your own body then you are a slave to everything else.

Frankly sexism, the need to control women's lives by controlling their bodies and the things that arise from it, are endemic to any social structure. It is ever enduring and even when it seems to be quashed it returns in another form. That is the story in the modern era of women's rights. One step forward after a long struggle - suffrage and then a step back. (And no way do I say that women are not complicit in their own subjugation. We are.)

I am reading The Reactionary Mind by Corey Robin. In the epilogue he makes a point of saying that the loss of power and control is what the elite and the reactionary fear the most. More than a specific loss itself the fear the rising volcano of submerged anger and power. And for them it is most acutely felt compulsion for control in the "intimate" arena. That is the most vexing and disturbing of all.

It is why they want to control women. And controlling their reproductive lives is the surefire way to control them.

It is why abortion rights are absolutely central to every other kind of freedom.

Wouldn't it be great to have someone who thinks like this in elective office? She is one of us, a stalwart progressive who has been inspired and motivated by our work --- and your commitment --- to throw her hat into the ring and represent our shared values in elective office.

John, Howie and I are proud to support her and we hope you will too.

Hopefully everyone had a chance to rest up during the holidays and take a breather. But the reactionaries never sleep. As Debra says, if we aren't pushing our agenda, the right wing is pushing us backwards. It's time to start pushing.

Please welcome Debra to Blue America for our first chat of the New Year.

You can donate to Debra's campaign here.



Blue America, Onward And Upward: Good Guys Always Win In The End

Media error

The first time he ran for Congress, Alan Grayson lost the primary. Two years later Blue America encouraged him to run again and he did. Derided by the political Establishment in Florida and in DC, he beat their favorite in the primary and went on to beat the incumbent Republican congressman in the November general. He then went on to inspire millions of Americans desperate for political leaders who could and would stand up to the conservative consensus that dominates Beltway politics. And when Grayson lost in 2010, he started working on the 2012 race. Blue America was with him every step of the way.

And on Tuesday we celebrated when he won the biggest congressional comeback in American history-- a 62.5% victory that saw him win the vote in every municipality in Florida's 9th district. He won among men and he won among women; he won the youth vote and he won the senior vote and he won the votes of people in between. He won among white people, among black people, among Hispanics and among Asians. He won the urban vote, the suburban vote and the rural vote and he won over 60% of the vote in Orange County, in Osceola County and even in red-leaning Polk County! 3,205 individual contributions from Blue America donors added up to $57,190 for Alan this year.

Yesterday, Grayson said in a statement that speaks volumes about his dedication to the ideals embodied in the men and women who put him back in office:

"Let’s not fall into the trap of thinking that one Democrat is as good as any other, that we’re all interchangeable parts. We’re not. Some of us have a head, and a heart, and a spine, and some of us don’t. Blue America concentrates on helping the Democrats who deserve our help, the Democrats who can make a difference. Blue America’s encyclopedic knowledge of every Congressional race means that they do your homework for you. When you support Blue America, you’re supporting the best of the best, in the most important races in the country. It sure made a difference in our election.”

And Alan wasn't our only big win this cycle. After we helped a young reform-minded El Paso City Councilman, Beto O'Rourke, oust longtime corrupt incumbent Silvestre Reyes in a primary that sent shock waves through the DC Establishment, Beto went on this past Tuesday to roll up an awe-inspiring two-to-one landslide, beating his Tea Party opponent 65.5 to 32.8%. Aside for raising money for Beto, we also introduced him to Alan Grayson and Jared Polis so that he would have a base among other reform-minded Democrats in Washington and not just the corrupt, corporate-oriented glad-handing party leaders.

As you know by now, all three of the people Blue America backed for Senate -- Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin -- won incredible victories. Bernie was reelected with over 70% of the vote. Elizabeth was the only Democrat to dislodge a sitting Republican senator -- Wall Street's favorite member of the Senate, no less -- and Tammy Baldwin beat back a four-term governor to become Wisconsin's first woman senator, and the first openly gay person to even win a Senate seat in America.

In 2010, Annie Kuster and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter were both victims of the Tea Party wave that swept over New Hampshire. Tuesday that wave reversed itself, and both outstanding grassroots progressives won congressional seats and helped turn New Hampshire dark blue again-- with a new Democratic governor and an overwhelming victory in the state legislature. And across the country in California, state Senator Alan Lowenthal, a principled and determined progressive, who got no help from the DCCC, won a powerful 10-point victory over Climate Change-denier Gary Delong.

Blue America is very proud of all our winners, of course -- and very proud of our members who gave and gave and gave and gave so generously and so consistently. We're also incredibly proud of the candidates who didn't win their races but who fought hard, usually against overwhelming odds and with no help from the DCCC or the Beltway Establishment or the state parties that take their cues from Washington. Rob Zerban gave Paul Ryan the biggest fight of his career and came closer to ending it than anyone who's ever challenged him before. Rob will be back.

And Rob isn't the only one we will be working with again. Some of our youngest first-time candidates -- Aryanna Strader, Lee Rogers, Nate Shinagawa, Nick Ruiz -- have assured me that what we've worked so hard to build won't be wasted. Lee took on the powerful and entrenched chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and gave him the first close call of his long, corrupt career. Will McKeon even run again? None of these candidates had any help from the DCCC; all of them outperformed expectations and made a mark. The morning after his near victory over Tea Party debt collector Tom Reed, the DCCC asked Nate Shinagawa to suit up for 2014, which indicates that might actually support him next cycle. I'm certain, with your help, Blue America will.

Let me share with you a note I got on Wednesday morning from Aryanna Strader our candidate in PA-16, who waged a lonely battle against entrenched incumbent Joe Pitts:

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