North Carolina Needs Our Help

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We want to make a different kind of case for our two progressive congressional candidates in North Carolina, Jenny Marshall-- who's opposing Virginia Foxx-- and Matt Coffay-- who's up against Freedom Caucus headman Mark Meadows. Normally we'd tell you about how extreme Foxx and Meadows are (and they sure are-- two of the very worst) and how awesome Jenny and Matt are (also a very accurate assessment). But today we want to make a special plea for the great state of North Carolina.

Our sisters and brothers in North Carolina are in deep trouble. As Michael Wines explained in the NY Times last week, the GOP has thrown away the rule book and is undermining democracy more overtly than any state in America ever has. The Supreme Court has ruled twice last month that the state's election laws are overtly racist and unconstitutional. The state's Republican leaders don't care what the Supreme Court says and "since November, when Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, reclaimed the governor’s office from the incumbent Republican, Pat McCrory, Republicans have redoubled their efforts to keep the levers of state government and state courts in their control."

The state Republican Party is not concerned with the rule of law-- other than their own perverted and unconstitutional laws. “What we’re seeing in North Carolina is an effort at political entrenchment that is unparalleled,” said Allison Riggs, a senior staff lawyer at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a Durham advocacy group that sued Republican leaders over the election law. “It requires a complete disregard for the will of the voters and political participation, and a disregard for the independence of the judiciary.”

A special session in December stripped the governor of most power to appoint state employees and university trustees, choose a cabinet without legislative approval and install majorities on state and local election boards. The latter move was stayed, pending a trial.

Now the legislators are taking aim at the state judicial system. In December, after voters elected a Democratic majority to the nominally nonpartisan State Supreme Court, the legislature expanded the jurisdiction of the Republican-led Court of Appeals and made the legal path toward other Supreme Court hearings more tortuous. Last month, Republicans voted to shrink the Court of Appeals by barring replacement of the next three retiring judges, denying Mr. Cooper a chance to nominate successors.

Foxx's and Meadows' districts are very gerrymandered and pretty red, respectively with PVIs of R+11 and R+13. Trump took 57.4% in Foxx's district and 63.2% in Meadows' district. But that had more to do with Hillary than with Republicanism. Bernie beat Hillary in Meadows' district and in every part of Foxx's district except Winston-Salem. These areas are looking for an authentic solution to the problems of working families.

Matt Coffay told us that "Last December, the Electoral Integrity Project-- which has monitored and scored elections in 153 countries-- ranked North Carolina's election integrity score at 58 out of 100. This places us alongside Cuba, Indonesia, and Sierra Leone. But when it comes to our voting districts, we received a 7/100 score. As the Charlotte News & Observer reported, 'North Carolina is not only the worst state in the USA for unfair districting but the worst entity in the world ever analyzed by the Electoral Integrity Project.' The worst in the world. That's where North Carolina stands."

I have hope that the cases currently before the Supreme court-- from both Wisconsin and North Carolina-- alleging unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering will be decided in such a way as to force a fair redrawing of our state's districts. But we have to keep talking about this issue, and keep fighting. When I'm elected to Congress, I intend to be a vocal critic of gerrymandering. Just like our broken campaign finance system, it dramatically endangers our democracy."

 

North Carolina Democrats have been fighting back and organizing, but they cannot do it alone. The political temperature there is on fire-- the people are hungry for the change Jenny and Matt's representation can bring. If possible, please consider making a donation to their campaigns today.



Winning Back A Blue Seat In California Takes A Progressive

"Let's create our own game-- one founded on the ideals of integrity, sustainability, cooperation and realizing the promise of self-government. It's not up to them-- we're the stewards of this democracy." --Katie Hill, Blue America '18 candidate in CA-25

Even the worst Democrats in Congress have caught on to the fact that railing against Trump is profitable. A case can be made that it is Debbie Wasserman Schultz who is responsible, at least as much as Putin or Comey, for installing Trump in the White House. And now she sends e-mails several times a week begging for money by robotically denigrating Trump. Being anti-Trump doesn't mean a politician backs a progressive agenda. Wasserman Schultz, who opposes John Conyers' Medicare-For-All Act, for example, and is still the poster gal for DC corruption, can be anti-Trump 'til the cows come home but that doesn't mean anyone in their right mind should back her against progressive primary challenger Tim Canova.

As you've probably noticed, effective and sincere Resistance Leaders in Congress-- people like Ted Lieu, Elizabeth Warren and Pramila Jayapal-- aren't just sending out fundraising emails for themselves; they've been putting together the foundations for what congressional resistance to Trump and Trumpism looks like. And every one of them has expressly acknowledged over and over that being against Trump isn't the be all and end all to the progressive agenda. It's become a key point Blue America talks about with the candidates we back.

Our newest endorsed candidate, Katie Hill, feels as strongly about it as we do. Her district-- a blue Southern California seat-- is held by knee-jerk, right-wing Republican Steve Knight, a proud TrumpCare supporter.

The district went convincingly for Hillary last year-- 50.3-43.6%. But while Hillary was winning by over 6 points, the DCCC-imported candidate lost by close to 10 points. Another perfect example of an utterly clueless DCCC big-footing into a primary in a district they don't know anything about. They spent about $3.5 million on their Beverly Hills attorney candidate and lost 54.2% to 45.8%. Reactionary Blue Dog Cheri Bustos, vice chair of the DCCC recruitment committee, wants him to run again. I'm sure Paul Ryan, Steve Knight and Kevin McCarthy do as well.

Blue America has just started raising money for Katie Hill today and we hope you'll help her with a contribution towards getting her message out to voters.

She penned the following guest post for us that goes to the heart of why it's so important for progressives to win congressional seats like CA-25. "Our nation stands at a crossroads," she began. "Do we continue down the same self-destructive path we’ve been walking for decades? Or do we blaze a new trail into the future?"

Moving Away From The Politics Of Fear 
-by Katie Hill

Donald Trump is not the problem. He’s the symptom of a damaged political consciousness in America.

Opposition politics have become the new normal. In 2010, Mitch McConnell declared the sole ambition of the Republican Party for “President Obama to be a one-term president.” While Democrats resisted the urge to give in to these schoolyard tactics at first, in 2016 they gave in and centered their entire campaign strategy around personal attacks on Donald Trump, rather than policy.

They played the fear card-- to much less effect-- and it lost. Big time. Which is why now is the time for us to move away from the politics of fear and into an affirmative political vision moving forward.

But what is our vision? We have a great, grassroots resistance that has emerged, but right now, all we’re doing is reacting to Trump’s every move. He is setting the agenda, maintaining the initiative, and we’re screaming on the sidelines.

It’s understandable. Trump is a disaster. He’s doing things that would have been unimaginable in any other time. He is putting our country at risk, going against our every value with every unhinged twitter outburst. We, of course, must resist.

But that’s not enough. We must be more than the anti-Trump party or we fail. Period.

It’s time for us to start screaming this from the rooftops. We can fight Trump at the same time, but we can’t stop looking ahead-- because the fate of our party and, quite frankly, our country, depends on it.

  • I, like most Americans on either side of the aisle, believe that our country isn’t broken, but our political system is. The extreme polarization of politics and gerrymandering have turned voters off. Consequently, people who are supposed to be representing all of us only truly represent a tiny minority of those still voting. We need to restore faith and trust in our government and that means enacting meaningful campaign finance reform. Supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizen’s United isn’t enough-- we need to elect people who are willing to regulate themselves as representatives and stand up to the people who hold the purse strings.
  • We must call this rigged system of crony capitalism what it is and do everything we can to address the ever-growing income inequality in America. Our economy gives big banks and big oil massive government subsidies while small businesses struggle to survive or fail. Our health care system bankrupts sick Americans so big pharma and insurance companies can make record profits. Our tax code allows Wall Street bankers and hedge funds, who just a decade ago destroyed the economy, to pay less than half the tax rate a middle-class family would pay. We need to put the system back to work for every American, not just a privileged few.
  • We need to tackle long-neglected social reforms, starting with healthcare. It’s not good enough to just save the ACA, we need to work tirelessly until we ensure that no American must choose between getting the health care they need and putting a roof over their heads. We must deal with the rising rates of mental health disorders and substance abuse, and ensure that we are providing effective, early intervention and treatment to people regardless of their ability to pay. We need massive criminal justice reform. We need to make sure that everyone-- no matter who they are or where they come from-- can afford college or trade school and not come out with a lifetime of debt. We need to address the housing affordability and homelessness crisis that is plaguing so many of our communities. The list goes on-- every one of these issues needs to be talked about, and we can’t afford to wait any longer.
  • We need to be pro-sustainability in every sense of the word. The future of labor goes hand in hand with a progressive, pro-environmental policy. Research shows the growing green economy creates more jobs per unit of energy than the fossil fuel industry. Perhaps one of the biggest perks of a renewable economy is these jobs cannot be shipped overseas. By installing and developing green infrastructure, we will create local and regional projects benefitting the communities nearby. Strengthening local projects and supporting green energy makes for a more sustainable planet, and a more sustainable economy.
  • Finally, it’s time we focused our energy and attention on the cooperative nature of life and governing in America. For far too long, politicians have tried to divide us with polarizing, partisan rhetoric. In the real world, we get things done as families, friends, neighbors and communities, without devolving into a mudslinging circus. Every single day, diverse Americans run businesses together, coach little league together, put on theater productions, run our school districts and cities, support each other, and keep our communities going. If we want to solve the countless problems facing our country right now, we must face them together.

It is time for a more affirmative political movement in our country. We’re not lacking the ideas, innovation or ingenuity; we’re lacking the political will.

Currently, the establishment is more vested in constant re-election campaigning and serving their corporate masters. That’s their game, but they can only play it if we allow them to. I hope you’ll join me on this journey because I know we can do this and we will make our government and our country better, together.



Heroes and Villains

Recently I was getting to know two new congressional candidates running for seats held by Republicans in California. I asked one why he had donated so much money to John Kasich's presidential campaign in 2016. He told me he "used to be" a Republican. And now he wants to be in Congress... as a Democrat? "Ex"-Republicans that were elected last year-- Charlie Crist (FL) and Tom O'Halleran (AZ), for example-- vote overwhelmingly with the GOP against progressive legislation, as "ex"-Republicans almost always do. Both have joined the Blue Dogs and the New Dems, the core of the Republican Wing of the Democratic Party. DO we really want more of that in Congress? I don't; the DCCC certainly does. That's exactly what they want in Congress. And they want you to help pay to put them there.

The other guy, running against a really reprehensible Republican is headed for the Blue Dogs too if he gets into office. When I asked him about healthcare policy he hadn't spent any more time thinking about the issues than Donald Trump had. He wasn't for Medicare-for-All and he quickly turned the conversation to something positive-- his support for the Second Amendment and the important work the NRA does. I'm pretty sure he's better than the Republican he's running against but is that a candidate I want to contribute money to-- or urge you to contribute money to? I don't think so.

After Thursday's 217-213 vote for TrumpCare and all that entails, a tremendous amount of energy was released on the left. It's a shame that much of that energy went to raising money not directly for progressive candidates but to DCCC front operations that will use it for candidates like the ones above.

There are some great progressive candidates with compelling biographies and powerful ideas about moving America forward who are running against TrumpCare Republicans in districts Trump lost. Blue America has endorsed several so far-- like Geoff Petzel, who's running against Peter Roskam in a suburban Chicagoland district where Hillary beat Trump 50.2% to 43.2%, and Doug Applegate in the Orange and San Diego county district Darrell Issa calls home and where Hillary won decisively over Trump, 50.7% to 43.2%... and where Applegate came within around 1,500 votes of ousting Issa in 2016. These are widely targeted districts and many groups besides Blue America will be helping in them.

But there are also districts that I like to call Heroes and Villains Districts:
NC-11 is a tough district-- very red... and the base for Freedom Caucus chieftain Mark Meadows, the congressman who turned the first horrible version of TrumpCare into the even worse monstrosity that passed Thursday. The DCCC is ignoring it because Hillary did so poorly there. Trump won it with 63.2%. But Bernie won that district too and would have done far better than Hillary did there. A Bernie organizer, a young farmer named Matt Coffay, founder of the Asheville Our Revolution group, is running against Meadows on a perfect progressive platform. Perfect. Up the road, another former Bernie activist, Jenny Marshall, a public school teacher, is running against another symbol of greed-and-hatred-driven reactionary politics, Virginia Foxx. Again, the DCCC has no interest in the district. And again, it was an area where Bernie excelled and where people are very open to his-- and Jenny's-- ideas. These candidates need and deserve our support.

Another Heroes and Villains situation where the DCCC isn't going to be on our side is down in South Florida, where Tim Canova is once again taking on the burden of holding accountable Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the symbol of all that ails the Democratic Party. "At this difficult time," wrote Tim yesterday, "when we must unite against the dangerous and inhumane policies of the Trump administration, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has reminded us of her central role in preventing progressive reform and bringing on the implosion of the Democratic Party... As long as Wasserman Schultz remains in public life, there will be no party unity-- and that’s because she has learned absolutely nothing from the setbacks and failures that she helped engineer."

We're all angry over the TrumpCare vote, but it's important to remember that except for politicians like Wasserman Schultz wrecking the Democratic Party brand, it's unlikely anything like Trump would have ever gotten anywhere near the White House.

Let's contribute strategically, to solid candidates like Jenny Marshall and Matt Coffay in North Carolina, to Doug Applegate in California, Geoff Petzel in Illinois and Tim Canova in Florida. That's how we make Congress a force for good-- not by electing a pack of Blue Dogs the DCCC hopes to sneak by you.




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