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.