An Advance In Grassroots Campaign Phone Banking

Phone banking is one crucial way for grassroots candidates to reach out to voters but I've been hearing from savvy candidates for several years that the commonly available phone banking software for small grassroots campaigns is subpar. One of the sharpest and most agile of the 2016 Blue America primary candidates, Alex Law, worked on creating a phone banking application called Partic, which is extremely simple on the front end for unpaid volunteers. Candidates can have their volunteers make calls from anywhere in a simple system with the best scripting function out there. It has all the features any campaign needs and none it doesn't. Blue America would like to contribute the system to some of the campaigns we felt would make the best use of it.

Can you let us know which campaigns you would like us to donate the system to? We'll pick 2 campaigns this weekend based on the number of contributions our candidates get on this ActBlue page, not the amount of money, just the number of contributions. So if you want to help a candidate, please contribute any amount you can afford to his or her campaign.

Meanwhile, I asked Alex to explain the system in a guest post.

Why Partic? Why Now?
-by Alex Law

Many of you may remember my race in New Jersey's 1st Congressional District against corrupt Donald Norcross. I appreciate everything the Blue America family has done for me. This was the first organization to believe in me.

While we ultimately didn't win the race, we did run one of the most efficient campaigns in 25 years and become the first campaign ever to be endorsed by a major East Coast newspaper against an incumbent in a primary without any major scandal. I know this is just the beginning for me, and I will certainly keep the Blue America family posted with what I do next in politics.

With that said, I know our work isn't done now. You may have read my letter fundraising for my friends Tim Canova, Alan Grayson, and Zephyr Teachout. That was successful, but I want to do more for the progressive community. Even though I am not in a position to be able to significantly contribute financially, I do have a lot of knowledge about campaigns. To this end, my partner and I built a phone banking application called Partic.

When I looked for a phone banking application during my campaign, I really didn't like the options. Everything was geared towards robo-dialing. The user experience for actual live callers (our volunteers) was terrible on most applications. This is because the major phone banking services are primarily geared to larger volume enterprises that pay their phone callers. When you pay your callers, you can instruct them to deal with what ever the system is. To those of us who have volunteered on progressive campaigns, we know that just isn't how it works. If the program isn't simple and easy to use, volunteers simply won't use it. This is why so many campaigns, especially small progressive campaigns are forced to rely on incredibly inefficient and expensive solutions to phone banking (usually paper, pen, and landlines).

Partic changes that. We built our application with the volunteers in mind. Everything on the front end is incredibly simple. There is no syncing with your cell phone-- volunteers can make calls with a push of a button on the computer. The scripting function allows campaigns to create incredibly detailed scripts, but the volunteers will only see one piece at a time to make communication as easy as possible. All of the data is automatically tracked and available in analyzed reports at any time. Soon, pre-recorded voicemails will be able to be dropped in by the volunteer if no one picks up. This application drives efficiency with great tools but also with great simplicity.

I want progressive campaigns to use this tool. Not to make money, but because better organizing is key to our progress as a movement. As such, I told the leadership at Blue America that I would make our system available at cost to any Blue America campaigns. The better organized we all are, the more seats we can win together.

Blue America wants to give a grassroots organizing advantage-- Partic-- to two deserving progressive campaigns. Tell us which ones you want us to give gift subscriptions to, by donating any amount to your candidate on this ActBlue page. This weekend we'll tally up who got the most "votes" (via contribution) and award the top two with a subscription.



Alex Law Makes A Case For ‘Our Revolution’

Many people are celebrating that Wasserman Schultz was finally given the heave-ho as DNC chair a few minutes ago, but that doesn't mean the job is done. She was causing great harm to Democratic Party values long before she was elevated to that post and unless she's thrown out of Congress by Broward and Miami-Dade Democratic voters on August 30, she will continue doing exactly that into the foreseeable future.

That said, it probably wasn't hard to figure out that among all of our wonderful congressional candidates upholding the ideals and values that make up Bernie's political revolution, Alex Law from South Jersey was one of the ones who most impressed us. His energy, his devotion and his strategic way of thinking reminded me of the first Velvet Underground album-- which didn't sell millions but launched the careers of scores of the most important rock bands in the world. The good news is that Alex is just 25 and will have other opportunities for public service. He contacted me this week and offered to help raise money for three of the Blue America candidates he was most impressed with this cycle: Alan Grayson (FL), Zephyr Teachout (NY) and Tim Canova (FL). This is the letter he asked me to send out to our members:

When I needed help in my campaign against political corruption in New Jersey, Blue America was there for me. This organization of committed progressives is an inspiring example of what we can accomplish when we work together. Because of your help, my campaign was able to fight back in a truly meaningful way and lay the foundation that will eventually win against establishment, machine politics.
 
I thank you for your support of my campaign, but our work this campaign season is not done. Three incredible individuals need your help more than ever: Alan Grayson, Tim Canova, and Zephyr Teachout.
 
I know all three of these wonderful candidates, and I personally urge you to support them as well.
 
Alan Grayson has been one of the most active, intelligent Congressman of the last decade. He is locked in a primary battle against an establishment, conservative politician in his run for US Senate in Florida. We need to help Alan win his primary because not only is he the best man for the job, he is also the only person that can make sure Marco Rubio does not return to Washington DC.
 
Tim Canova is one of the bravest politicians in America. We all know how awful Debbie Wasserman Shultz has been, but he actually stepped forward to run against her. Tim has put together one of the best campaigns in the country by tapping into the progressive revolution Bernie began. Not only will Tim make an excellent Congressman, we need Tim to win his primary so that we can shake up the DNC to make it clear that we will not accept the kind of leadership we have seen for too long.
 
Zephyr Teachout is someone I personally admire; she wrote a book called Corruption in America that was part of my inspiration to get into politics. She has been a champion to get big money out of politics working with Professor Lessig at MayDay PAC. Zephyr ran a principled campaign for Governor of New York where she shocked everyone, giving the machine there a real scare. Now, she is mounting one of the most important Congressional campaigns in the country as she has a real chance to flip a red district.
 
Bernie brought progressive politics to the forefront of America’s cultural attention more than any politician in my lifetime. We must continue the good work that he started by making sure leaders like Alan, Tim, and Zephyr are in Washington to fight for us. Join me in supporting them by contributing to their campaigns today.
 
Thank you!

-Alex Law



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



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.



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Let's help him do just that.



Stop Tom Cotton From Extending the "Patriot" Act

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You have surely heard of a new Senator from Arkansas by the name of Tom Cotton. He was a 37 year old congressman who won the Senate seat formerly held by the conservative Democrat Mark Pryor in 2014. Cotton took the Senate by storm penning one of the most embarrassing documents ever written by a sitting Senator and then getting the entire GOP Senate caucus to co-sign it --- the infamous Iran Letter.  

Undaunted by this humiliation, the Republican party has decided that Cotton is the man to lead them into the future on national security issues. And unfortunately, he's decided that his next mission will be to lead the Republican charge to extend certain provisions of the Patriot Act which are set to expire this June. They've even added some new powers for the NSA just to make things interesting, 

There was a lot of talk at one time about a new coalition of civil libertarian Republicans and civil libertarian Democrats coming together to reform these programs now that the nation is aware of what they're actually doing. Sadly, the number of civil libertarians in the Republican Party can fit in a small Smart Car and the civil libertarians in the Democratic Party are not a majority. And with uber-hawk Tom Cotton waving the “national security” banner we can be sure the Republicans are intent upon squelching any thoughts of reform.

This is why it's so important for Democrats to elect more real progressive civil libertarians to congress. We cannot count on this tiny faction of libertarian Republicans, led by their hypocritical grandstanding leader Rand Paul, to ever provide the numbers required to roll back the surveillance state. Hawkish national security and authoritarian police policies are in the modern GOP's DNA.

This is going to require a majority progressive Democratic Party led by people like Congresswoman Donna Edwards who is now running for the Maryland Senate seat currently held by retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski.

Edwards has been consistent on these issues throughout her career in congress. For instance, in 2014 she voted against the USA Freedom Act, originally conceived as a reform measure which was later gutted by the Republicans in committee. She issued this statement at the time:

“After much deliberation I opposed the USA Freedom Act because I continue to believe it doesn’t strike the necessary balance between protecting our national security and protecting our 4th Amendment rights. Without question, national security issues are critically important, and I applaud all those who work at the Department of Defense, the National Security Agency, and others for their dedication to duty and professionalism. We must provide them with the means to gather the information necessary to keep America safe. However, we cannot allow the pursuit of that goal to infringe on the civil liberties that we, as Americans, hold sacred and fought so hard to defend.”

She will bring that same principled clarity to the Senate.

Last week the House passed yet another Republican surveillance bill. Blue America's slate of progressive civil libertarians voted against while all the usual suspects supported it. Blue America primary candidate Alex Law, who is challenging New Jersey congressman Donald Norcross gave this statement:

Yet again we have a clear difference between myself and my opponent in the Democratic primary in NJ-01. Today, Donald Norcross voted in support of the Protecting Cyber Networks Act, a bill that is a surveillance bill disguising itself as a cyber-security bill. This bill gives companies a significant expansion in their ability to monitor customers' online activities. It allows them to share vaguely defined 'cyber threat indicators,' which then automatically go to the NSA. The NSA is then authorized broad law enforcement rights that could stretch beyond cyber-security.This chain of events is a slippery slope. I totally disagree with the structure of this bill. We must stand up for individual privacy. What we have in this bill is a wolf in sheep's clothing, and if I were in Congress, I would have voted against it like other progressives such as Alan Grayson and Judy Chu.

The provisions of the Patriot Act which are set to expire in June should not be extended. We don't know for sure if they will. The USA Freedom Act ultimately died in the Senate when the Democrats who were in the majority at the time added a few safeguards and then couldn't overcome a filibuster. (Yes, the GOP ultimately filibustered the bill for being too weak ...) The Republicans are now in charge and Tom Cotton is working overtime to give the NSA every last item on their wishlist. Perhaps we'll get lucky and gridlock will work in favor of freedom once again. But I wouldn't count on it. 

There are simply not enough principled, progressive civil libertarians in congress to stop these abuses. We must elect more of them.

Please give what you can to stalwart civil libertarians like Donna Edwards and Alex Law.  And then, give your current representatives a call and tell them you want them to vote against any extension of the Patriot Act. 




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