Electoral news roundup: The future is female in Texas

Trump and Putin’s press conference yesterday was nothing short of pathetic. It deserves all the outrage we can throw at it — but it’s also not the only pressing news story happening right now. Here’s a look at some of the most important electoral stories happening right now:

  • In Texas, women are running for office in unprecedented numbers. Right now, there are only 29 women in the 150-seat State Legislature and eight women out of 31 state senators. But women make up nearly half of the Democratic Party’s nominees this year — including its nominee for governor.
  • Defying conventional wisdom, bold progressivism — and democratic socialism — is on the rise in western Pennsylvania and the suburbs of Pittsburgh. Lt. Governor candidate John Fetterman, the ultra-popular mayor of Braddock, is helping the surge. Bernie Sanders recently visited Pittsburgh to rally with Fetterman.
  • Maine voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid last fall, but the state’s insane GOP governor, Paul LePage, refuses to carry out the will of the people. He’s now defying a court order to implement the Medicaid expansion, and just last week said he’d sooner go to jail than help working people go to the doctor. We’d like to see both happen.
  • Activists in Michigan delivered over 400,000 signatures to get a voter rights initiative on the ballot this fall. But a group of corporations is now suing to have the initiative removed from the ballot, a scary prospect given the fact that the State Supreme Court is made up entirely of Republicans. Citizens are fighting back, though, holding protests in Detroit to demand that the Chamber of Commerce, one of the lawsuits’ financiers, pulls out of the effort to thwart democracy.
  • The Koch Brothers are behind some incredibly misleading mailers to voters in Missouri, where Right to Work is on the ballot. Of course, they’re yet another attack on unions and workers.
  • New Hampshire is making it harder for people to vote, especially college students.

J.D. Scholten is taking on the biggest racist in Congress

It doesn’t seem like the obvious career path for an aspiring congressman, but J.D. Scholten, who is running to unseat uber-controversial GOP Rep. Steve King in Iowa’s 4th district, thinks that his time as a pro baseball player was ideal preparation for working as a lawmaker.

“I didn’t care where my shortstop came from, whether he was Puerto Rican or from Texas,” Scholten says. “We worked together to achieve that common goal. I didn’t care who my left fielder voted for, we worked our tails off for a common goal and I feel that one thing that’s lost a lot in government.”

That anecdote has the polish of a stump speech bit, a response prepped for skeptical voters who may have never heard of the 38-year-old candidate, even though he was a standout high school athlete in Sioux City and later played pro ball there, too. But the story also functions as a criticism of the man he is trying to unseat, whose most notable accomplishments in 16 years in office are being named least effective member of Congress and earning a national reputation as a divisive bigot.

Rep. Steve King also tends to get labeled a “populist,” because the word has somehow become synonymous with right-wing neo-fascists (and he is definitely a right-wing neo-fascist). But it’s Scholten whose life and policy positions — he’s in favor of Medicare for All and against agricultural monopolies — are more in line with the traditional, Midwestern progressive roots of the term.

This is where the career in baseball really begins to matter. Because during his years in professional baseball, Scholten never played in the Major Leagues. Never even really came close. Most of his time as a ballplayer was spent throwing his sinking fastball for independent league teams, taking the mound in small stadiums in even smaller towns. You don’t often think of professional athletes as working class Americans, but like everywhere else in the modern economy, most of the riches in pro sports go to the very few at the top.

CLICK HERE to donate to J.D. Scholten’s campaign via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

I know this because I worked for years in a similar independent baseball league, and other than the occasional presence of a washed-up former big leaguer avoiding retirement, it couldn’t have felt further from the Majors. Players making far below the minimum wage subsist on fast food and PB&J sandwiches, sit on old couches in dingy clubhouses, and stay either in motels or in the empty guest rooms of community members who trade room and board for free tickets. Long bus rides take them through small towns that all start to blend together after a while (my words, not his), leaving a collective impression of an increasingly left behind America.

“The most I ever got paid was $1500 a month,” Scholten says, laughing ruefully at the misconception that being a pro ballplayer always means making millions. “In the primary, one of my opponents kind of hinted at that and I made sure it was very clear that I was no bonus baby.”

When his playing days ended, Scholten began a career as a paralegal, working for firms in Minnesota and then Seattle. He got his first taste of a political campaign when he helped out a colleague who ran for state legislature in Minnesota, and after the 2016 election, like so many other dismayed Americans, he resolved to get more involved in the process. Activism wasn’t foreign to him, as he had attended protests in the lead-up to the Iraq War and was personally progressive, but the truth was that he had felt a bit disconnected in recent years.

He knew that had to change, but at the time, actually running for Congress wasn’t anywhere near his radar. But then came a series of revelations that set his life on a very different course.

First, Scholten returned home to Iowa shortly after the election, taking time over Thanksgiving to visit his ailing grandmother, who had always acted as his conscience. She continued to play that role until the very end. “The last thing my grandmother said to me was that I should move back to Iowa and take care of our farm,” Scholten remembers, his reverence for her apparent in his voice.

He would be the last person to feed his grandmother, who died a month later. Scholten gave the eulogy at her funeral, but it was her words that stayed with him. It was time to come home.

CLICK HERE to donate to J.D. Scholten’s campaign via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

So he began looking for jobs in the local Sioux City paper — his family was renting the farm to a friend, so he needed supplemental income — but couldn’t find anything much above the minimum wage, and none of the positions came with benefits. The scarce job market may have given him pause, but the Women’s March, the day after President Trump’s inauguration, erased any doubt about what he needed to do next.

“I knew in that moment of clarity that the most meaningful things to me were my roots and my family and everything was around Iowa,” he says. “So that’s when I started realizing, you know what, I’m going to come back and I’m going to fight.” He moved back to Sioux City, and though he still didn’t plan to run for office, things changed when King’s 2016 opponent ultimately announced that she wouldn’t seek a rematch. “That’s when I decided I couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore,” he says, marking the beginning of an unlikely journey.

Scholten had little political experience, but plenty of stamina. Long road trips as a ballplayer meant that driving the three hours across his mostly rural district hardly registered. He bought a Winnebago RV (manufactured in his district, he points out), painted a campaign logo on its side, and then hit the road with some staff and volunteers. He’s put 35,000 on his personal vehicle alone, driving on highways and rural back roads alike to visit the small towns and communities that dot the far-reaches of the district.

For many years, Democrats have hewed to the right in these kinds of rural districts, convinced that sounding like Republicans would inspire voters to vote for them instead of just voting for Republicans. That centrist strategy has largely failed in the Midwest, and as local Democratic parties collapsed over the last two decades, Republicans were able to consolidate power in the region.

The truth that national Democrats miss is that progressive policy solutions never became unpopular. The GOP — and especially King — merely shifted the focus so thoroughly and corrosively toward identity politics that a decent economy made technocratic debate seemingly unnecessary. His progressivism helped him win the Democratic primary in June, and with farmer income down 74% in Iowa since 2013 and Trump’s trade war now further pummeling local soybean and pork producers, Scholten sees King’s inaction on agriculture as both egregious and a weak spot.

“Even before the tariffs, farmers were struggling with consolidation and low commodity prices,” Scholten says. When Trump began threatening a trade war, King signed on to a letter sent by Iowa’s congressional delegation asking him to rethink the matter, but has not been vocal about it on his infamous social media feeds or in major public speeches. As the volley of tariffs has intensified over the last few weeks, putting Iowa farmers at risk of losing billions of dollars, King has gone silent.

CLICK HERE to donate to J.D. Scholten’s campaign via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

“He signed that letter, which is just slightly above of not doing anything at all, and you see at how he doesn’t care,” Scholten says, his even-keeled optimism shifting to what sounds like authentically aggrieved. “He endorsed Ted Cruz in the 2016 Republican primary, and Ted Cruz is trying to get rid of ethanol. The renewable fuel standard that is the bread and butter of the district, the top ethanol plants that are in my district.”

Scholten is laser-focused on the working economy, despite King’s dreadful national reputation. King was one of the Republicans who made Donald Trump possible, through years of inflammatory and racist remarks about immigrants and a vicious social media presence that openly and defiantly retweets Nazis. But voters in the district know all about King’s bigotry, he says, and it’ll be pocketbook issues that convince them to make a change.

Along with local agricultural concerns, Scholten says he plans to zero in on healthcare, a national issue with major local resonance. Iowa experienced one of the largest upticks in uninsured rates in the country last year, from 3.9% to 7.2%, leaping back towards the nearly 10% rate before Obamacare was passed. Scholten openly supports Medicare for All, and has a knack for reaching voters who have developed a skepticism toward government. In rural Iowa, he’s had plenty of practice explaining progressive policy in common sense terms, starting in his own backyard.

“I talked to them about Medicare for All and my neighbor hates that it is a government thing. And I go, well, listen, we’ve had decades for the health insurance industry to figure this out and this is where we’re at,” Scholten says. “I might not want it to be a government thing, but we can’t have a society with so many millions of people not covered. America is 4% of the population of the world, yet we’re 41% of the wealth. And of all the western developed countries we’re the only one not have some sort of universal healthcare? We can definitely pay for it.”

It’s this kind of one-on-one appeal that Scholten thinks can help him pull off the upset against King. He’s outraised King the last three campaign cycles, but he’s not throwing the money at consultants and broadcast spots.

“I’m convinced that the old school style of politics of getting out to the people is the way to go,” he says. “That last decade of politics where you just stay home and fundraise and do TV commercials, that’s not going to do anything here to change people’s minds. It’s when you get out there and talk about issues that are very important to you and talk about the reasoning behind them. Medicare for All might turn some people away, but when I talk about the path to get there and how it’s gonna benefit us and, and reason with them, they see the light and we can come together.”

CLICK HERE to donate to J.D. Scholten’s campaign via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

A note about our crowdfunding campaign: Progressives Everywhere will always be a free newsletter. But as the midterm elections draw near, we want to up our game, and that costs money. We want to do more candidate interviews, develop a new website, and even launch a podcast. So we’re asking for donations via Patreon, as little as $2 a month. There are perks, too. Thank you for reading, and now back to the activism!

The Supreme Court fight begins now

Fight this nomination. Insure against its damage.

Donald Trump just named his choice for the newly opened seat on the Supreme Court — and as expected, it’s not good news.

In a primetime announcement with the build-up and pageantry of a game show, Trump announced that he was nominating federal circuit court judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. Of course, he shouldn’t get this choice, after what Republicans did to Merrick Garland in an election year. But the GOP doesn’t play fair, so we have to face reality and start fighting.

Kavanaugh has a nightmare resume, with a hand in just about every travesty of the past two decades. He worked for Kenneth Starr during his long and ridiculous investigation of the Clinton White House, then helped run the Bush White House. In 2006, during a confirmation hearing, Chuck Schumer summed it up nicely: “If there has been a partisan political fight that needed a very bright foot soldier in the last decade,” he said, “Brett Kavanaugh was probably there.”

And Trump may need him in a fight sooner rather than later. Kavanaugh in 2009 made a splash by writing that he believed the President of the United States should be exempt from criminal prosecution, effectively turning a democracy into a dictatorship given how spineless the GOP Senate has proven itself.

CLICK HERE to support candidates and groups that will help ensure a far-right Supreme Court doesn’t endanger your rights

As a right-wing conservative, Kavanaugh, if confirmed, is also likely to be an opponent of abortion rights and fair representation in government. He’s voted against assault weapons bans. He’s hostile to labor. He ticks off all the wrong boxes. And as the fifth member of a conservative bloc, he could deliver major devastation to national protection for our most basic freedoms.

So let’s get to work. Jam up the phone lines for moderate Republican senators who will be on the fence about Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Here’s Maine Senator Susan Collins’s office’s website. Here’s a link to Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski’s contact info.

In between calls, let’s also get working on rebuilding our country so that our most basic freedoms aren’t on the line every few weeks. Should Kavanaugh get confirmed, it will be up to the states to protect its citizens. Overturning Roe v. Wade — whether incrementally or in one fell swoop — won’t make abortion illegal, but free states to do so themselves. (And many states are already pushing the limit, restricting reproductive choice more and more.) The Supreme Court won’t ever gerrymander or limit access to the ballot box; it will just give state governments the go-ahead to kneecap voter rights.

We are building out a slate of candidates we consider Supreme Court insurance — state senate candidates in crucial (and flippable) legislatures, gubernatorial candidates, and state supreme court nominees.

Earlier this year, Iowa passed the most restrictive anti-choice bill in the nation, banning abortion at the point at which a fetus has a heartbeat. That’s about six weeks after conception, which is often before women even realize they are pregnant. Planned Parenthood of Iowa almost immediately sued, and soon after, a judge placed a temporary injunction against the law — which was exactly what the Iowa GOP wanted to happen. Now, the measure will work its way through the court system, with a chance to be heard by the Supreme Court.

That makes this fall’s Iowa gubernatorial campaign absolutely critical. If Democrat Fred Hubbell can unseat GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds, he can stop the state from defending the law in court, defusing that major threat. With that in mind, we are officially supporting Hubbell’s campaign in what should be a very close race.

CLICK HERE to support candidates and groups that will help ensure a far-right Supreme Court doesn’t endanger your rights

In Ohio, the state GOP is pushing an even more pernicious law that would ban abortions altogether, even in the case of incest or rape. State senators know that it would immediately be challenged, but again, that’s the point. They want to get this blatantly illegal policy into the court system, so that it has a chance of blowing up Roe v Wade for good.

Governor John Kasich, a Republican, has cautioned against this bill, but the GOP right now has the supermajority needed to override any veto. That means that not only do we need to elect a Democratic governor this fall — former Consumer Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray is the nominee in a tight race — but also fight to take back the legislature (or at least break that supermajority). With that in mind, we’re also supporting Lauren Friedman and Lorraine Wilburn, pro-choice candidates who are running for the legislature in districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

Both women were inspired to get involved by Trump’s election, and they have some pretty fantastic stories. One stellar example: Wilburn delivered a birthday cake to the office of her GOP congressman, Jim Renacci, on the 7th anniversary of the passage of Obamacare. And Friedman said it best: “When you’re desperate and your elected officials don’t listen to you, you have to get creative.”

Because there are so many other states that restrict abortion rights and so many races to be fought, we’re also backing Emily’s List, an organization that trains and supports pro-choice Democratic women running for office.

CLICK HERE to support candidates and groups that will help ensure a far-right Supreme Court doesn’t endanger your rights

Stick it to Nazis and help expand access to healthcare

Ignore Trump. Progressive activists are making real progress.

It’s increasingly hard to remember a time before Donald Trump’s demented id hovered over all facets of American life, blocking out the sun with a thick, gold foil-wrapped cloud of sexism, racism, and corruption. But even just a few years ago, Americans could enjoy a relatively quiet July 4th week, celebrating a very imperfect nation that seemed to be slowly progressing toward a more just and fair democracy.

That idea of America was probably a delusion, given the vicious policies we’ve seen the GOP pursue over the last decade, but still, the evil being wrought by the US government this past July 4th, ostensibly a time to celebrate our higher ideals, puts the urgency of our reality into deep relief.

Human rights abuses. Republicans in Russia. Trade wars. Healthcare developments. Scott Pruitt trying to steal the Declaration of Independence (probably). News from last Monday feels like it happened forever ago. Which is really part of Trump’s “plan,” if he has any: overload us until we crawl to our couches, turn on Netflix (the new season of GLOW is great!) and let him live-tweet Fox News in a froth while his cronies loot America.

Turns out, though, that the week was filled with news about the candidates and causes we (and by that I mean you, generous reader) are supporting here at Progressives Everywhere. And in fact, there was even some good news! So this week, let’s check in on the progress of the leaders and movements we’ve boosted with over $45,000 thus far, and try to help them even more.

Let’s start with some good news: Medicaid expansion looks like it will be on the ballot in Nebraska!

Last month, we spoke to an organizer at Insure the Good Life, the non-profit that was leading the campaign to bypass GOP Gov. Pete Ricketts and give voters the power to expand healthcare access for 90,000 working people across the state. Last week, they delivered 133,000 signatures to the Nebraska Secretary of State, far surpassing the required 85,000. Once they’re validated by the state, there will be a question on the ballot in this November’s election, and should it pass, Nebraska will become the 35th state to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

There will also be a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid in Idaho and Utah, and all three are polling well right now. This is in line with the massive shift in public opinion in favor of Obamacare — and directly contrary to ongoing Trump and GOP efforts to sabotage the law and take away healthcare from millions of people (Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin just took dental and vision benefits from Medicaid recipients, simply because he’s an asshole). This should be THE biggest issue in the midterm elections, especially if progressives continue to press and play offense, working to expand access instead of punishing people for getting sick.

Click HERE to support Medicaid expansion ballot initiatives in Nebraska and Idaho!

Hate has always run America. It’s just that over the last 30 or so years, the bigotry has been the more subtle and insidious kind, inspiring discriminatory policy couched in platitudes about opportunity and freedom.

Thanks to Donald Trump and his embrace of the alt-right, both rhetorically and in public policy, the false niceties have fallen by the wayside. As Democrats run their most diverse slate of candidates in history, literal Nazis are running wild, trying to intimidate the progressives that are going to sweep them from power.

Rick Neal, an openly gay candidate running in Ohio’s 15th district, found a sticker for the Neo-Nazi group Patriot Front on the campaign sign on the lawn of his Columbus home.

Via NBC 4 in Columbus:

He lives with his husband and their 2 daughters who are both African American. He said he expected opponents to take shots at his personal life. “I’m the first openly gay nominee running for federal office in Ohio’s history. I mean it was bound to get some attention, right,” asked Neal.

But he never expected to see what he found Monday night. A sticker placed on his campaign sign in his front yard promoting the group “Patriot Front.”

Neal said he would have preferred it if the person who left the sticker would have simply had a conversation with him. “Neo-nazis. Or just the Nazis. Do you know what that’s all about? Do you know what they did? Do you know your history?” he said.

And though he filed a police report, he said he’s not overly worried and that if anything the incident reinforces his decision to run for office in the first place. “There’s too much at stake in this election to be intimidated,” he said.

His reaction to the situation is inspiring, but not surprising. Neal has spent his entire adult life giving himself to the cause of helping and progressing humanity. He joined the Peace Corps. out of college and then went into nonprofit work, traveling the world to work on issues like access to clean water, the Ebola epidemic, and refugee camps.

He’s running against Steve Stivers, who will have all the resources in the world as the head of the NRCC. He’s got a 99% Trump score — meaning he’s voted with Trump 99% of the time. He’s supported this paragon of hate over and over again, helping prop up his indecent presidency. Taking him down would be absolutely huge.

If you want to help support to Rick Neal, while defiantly sending a message that hate groups have no place in our politics and that we will not be intimidated.

CLICK HERE to donate to our ActBlue page supporting Rick Neal’s campaign.

On the immigration front, there has been slow, halting progress in reuniting families so cruelly ripped apart at the border by Trump and Jeff Sessions’ violent “no tolerance” policy. It’s become clear that the Trump administration had absolutely no intention on reuniting parents and children when it began this evil operation; because they kept such terrible and incomplete records, it’s been a mad scramble to identify children, locate their parents, and reunite the families.

There are some 12,000 children in government custody right now, and about 3000 of them have yet to be reunited with their parents. About 100 of them are under five years old — and it turns out that the government already deported 38 of their parents.

Immigrant rights organizations are working night and day to help families be reunited and get their fair day in court; right now, the administration is often forcing toddlers to represent themselves in front of a judge. (That is not a joke.) The conditions these families face are deplorable, and the entire ordeal has been devastating to the development of these innocent children. The sooner we can end this immediate catastrophe, the better.

CLICK HERE to donate to our ActBlue page supporting nonprofits working to assist abused immigrant families.

Trump is going to come after Roe v Wade. We need to elect SCOTUS insurance

There is nothing I can say about last week’s avalanche of bad news that you haven’t screamed in a fit of rage and/or despair. But, in the interest of riling you up and creating some urgency, let’s recap:

The Supreme Court, a sullied institution that has been transformed into an organ of oppression for old rich bigots, delivered several major blows to working people, democracy, and humanity. Having already greenlit voter purges and protected corporations from facing consequences for taking part in human rights abuses, the conservative majority went even further last week. The court hobbled public sector unions, upheld Trump’s racist anti-Muslim travel ban, and struck down California’s effort to provide pregnant women in crisis with information about abortion.

Then it got worse.

After the last decision was announced, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. Though he was a conservative on economic issues, he was considered a swing vote because of his respect for Roe v Wade and stance on gay marriage. There is just about zero chance that Trump will nominate a “moderate” to replace Kennedy, because he’s literally never done anything moderate in his life, and that was before he got maniacs like Stephen Miller howling in his ear.

CLICK HERE to support candidates and groups that will help ensure a far-right Supreme Court doesn’t endanger your rights

So then what? Simply put, it will be up to the states to protect its citizens. Overturning Roe v. Wade — whether incrementally or in one fell swoop — won’t make abortion illegal, but free states to do so themselves. (And many states are already pushing the limit, restricting reproductive choice more and more.)

So here we are again, faced with the task of rebuilding state and local Democratic parties on the fly, now with no nominal safety net at the high court. And so this week, we’re starting a fund for candidates who will stand up for these rights in key states where they are under attack.

In Ohio, the state GOP is pushing a law that would ban abortions altogether, even in the case of incest or rape. State senators know that it would immediately be challenged, but again, that’s the point. They want to get this blatantly illegal policy into the court system, so that it has a chance of blowing up Roe v Wade for good.

Governor John Kasich has cautioned against this bill, but the GOP right now has the supermajority needed to override any veto. That means that not only do we need to elect a Democratic governor this fall — former Consumer Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray is the nominee in a tight race — but also fight to take back the legislature (or at least break that supermajority). That brings us to Lauren Friedman and Lorraine Wilburn, pro-choice candidates who are running for the legislature in districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

Neither woman was very politically active before 2016, but they were inspired to get involved by Trump’s election. Already, their activism and campaigns have led to some pretty fantastic stories.

One stellar example: Wilburn delivered a birthday cake to the office of her GOP congressman, Jim Renacci, on the 7th anniversary of the passage of Obamacare. “I’m sure they threw it away. We were actually removed from the office,” Wilburn said.

Friedman said it best: “When you’re desperate and your elected officials don’t listen to you, you have to get creative.”

So, what do they stand for? Per CantonRep.com:

Wilburn said they’re running on “health care, education, economy and jobs. These are the issues that impact us and our families. They impact our friends. We know these issues first hand. .. we’re not career politicians.”

She said she wants more accountability for charter schools and an actual fix to school funding.

Friedman said, “we’ll show up, and we’ll vote. We’ll be there. And we will listen. We will talk to constituents, and we will hold town halls and I think it’s a real good start.”

These are the kind of candidates that can create a sea change for Democrats this year — as long as we support them and don’t let the national party’s tired old guard lecture people about civility and being nice to Nazis. Both women quit their day jobs to run for office full-time and are talking about fundamental issues that impact working Americans of all political persuasions. As Trump gives away billions to his rich buddies,  kitchen table issues and bold progressive activists are our best chance of connecting with voters and saving democracy.

CLICK HERE to support candidates and groups that will help ensure a far-right Supreme Court doesn’t endanger your rights

Having women so involved in fighting Trump will be crucial even in the campaigns in which they’re not the candidate. Look at what’s happening in Iowa for an idea of just how much is at stake this fall when it comes to reproductive rights (and so many other issues, of course).

Earlier this year, Iowa passed the most restrictive anti-choice bill in the nation, banning abortion at the point at which a fetus has a heartbeat. That’s about six weeks after conception, which is often before women even realize they are pregnant. Planned Parenthood of Iowa almost immediately sued, and soon after, a judge placed a temporary injunction against the law — which was exactly what the Iowa GOP wanted to have happen. Now, the measure will work its way through the court system, with a chance to be heard by the Supreme Court.

That makes this fall’s Iowa gubernatorial campaign absolutely critical. If Democrat Fred Hubbell can unseat GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds, he can stop the state from defending the law in court, defusing that major threat. With that in mind, we are officially supporting Hubbell’s campaign in what should be a very close race.

Because there are so many other states that restrict abortion rights and so many races to be fought, we’re also backing Emily’s List, an organization that trains and supports pro-choice Democratic women running for office.

CLICK HERE to support candidates and groups that will help ensure a far-right Supreme Court doesn’t endanger your rights

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s seismic victory for Progressive Democrats

A message to cautious, corporate Democrats everywhere

Wow. It is a new day for the Democratic Party. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old grassroots organizer from the Bronx, just defeated Rep. Joe Crowley, the fourth most powerful Democrat in the House of Representatives, in the congressional primary for New York’s 14th district.

Progressives Everywhere was proud to support her campaign, and if you read our interview with her, you won’t be surprised that she won. Still, the size and impact of this victory cannot be understated. Crowley was angling to become the next Speaker of the House. He took millions from millionaires and massive corporations (read this shocking thread). He hadn’t even been primaried in 14 years.

Then came Ocasio-Cortez, an unapologetic progressive who was in touch with her home district and knew that it deserved more than a representative who voted time and again for policies that hurt its residents. She pounded the pavement, talking with every voter she could. She spoke about affordable housing, endorsed Medicare for All, and called for the abolition of ICE. She spoke as a proud feminist and person of color. She was everywhere — at both bodegas and the border in the last few days of her campaign.

Ocasio-Cortez ran an absolutely perfect campaign, blending hardcore grassroots organizing with social media savvy and national media attention. You were part of this. Progressives Everywhere contributors sent in hundreds of donations to Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign, contributing about $6000 to the cause. And every grassroots donation helped. Crowley had a war chest of over $3 million. Ocasio-Cortez had just $300,000 — and nearly all of it was from donors like you. Over 70% came from donations of $200 or less. That’s unheard of.

The massive victory yesterday is the bright spot in what has been another otherwise difficult week for people with souls. The stolen Supreme Court upheld Trump’s racist travel ban and Texas’s racist gerrymandering. Kids are still being separated from their families at the border. And on our side, out-of-touch Democrats continue to pearl-clutch over “civility” for Nazis and the fact that Sarah Huckabee Sanders — the mouthpiece of the hateful administration that is ripping innocent families apart — was gently asked to leave a Mexican restaurant.

CLICK HERE to donate to Ocasio-Cortez’s general election campaign, as well as to real Democrats running to take back Albany!

This primary better serve as a message to the wimpy DC Democrats and their consultants: voters don’t want one-sided civility or apologetic deference. They want loud, aggressive truth-telling. They want leaders who will fight back against the lies and slide towards authoritarianism. When they go low, we pound them into the ground.

New York Democrats are now energized beyond belief. And the fight doesn’t end here. New York has plenty of fake corporate Democrats left — many even worse than Crowley. Not only is Cynthia Nixon challenging the corrupt Andrew Cuomo in a primary for governor, there are a number of bold progressives taking on members of the IDC, which is a group of breakaway “Democrats” who defy the wishes of voters and caucus with Republicans in Albany. That gives the GOP control of the state senate, stymying all kinds of great progressive legislation. Cuomo, of course, supports them.

That’s why Progressives Everywhere is proud to be supporting both Nixon and challengers to the IDC. Real Democrats who respect voters and will work to make what is supposed to be a blue state actually function like one. Those primaries are in September, and the candidates can use all the help they can get.

CLICK HERE to donate to Ocasio-Cortez’s general election campaign, as well as to real Democrats running to take back Albany!

This is the only way to save Democracy

So, this week was a bummer, right? Exhausting, even. The outrages continue to hit us from all directions, stacking one crime against humanity on top of another, creating a tower of moral atrocities that threatens to block out whatever rays of light and hope remain. Innocent families being torn apart. Children — even babies! — being tossed into cages inside old Walmarts and desert huts. Proposals to cut billions from Medicare and strip health care from millions of kids. The obvious corruption. The racist tweets. The insensitive-to-insidious jackets. The lies denying that any of this is happening, followed by the lies that any of it is being fixed.

How is this parade of noxious absurdity happening? How are policies and moronic proclamations that feel like on-the-nose satire continue to flow like Trump vodka? How do these blunt bigots and monsters feel free to spout their bullshit? Why do they keep getting elected?

It all comes down to one thing: When you don’t let the people who disagree with you even vote, you feel pretty free to be your worst self. And the people who want to stop other people from voting tend to have pretty awful worst selves.

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When the Republican Party began its (sadly, brilliant) effort to take over state governments across the country after 2008, they were playing for keeps. Conservatives (especially racists) have always been hostile to the idea that anyone but rich white people should be able to vote, and once they started seizing state houses, they promptly began working to disenfranchise working people and especially minorities in a number of ways.

There have been mass voter purges, which have taken people less likely to vote Republican off the voter rolls. Onerous Voter ID laws have made it harder for people still registered to vote. Gerrymandering has made the votes that do get through irrelevant by chopping up states into increasingly ridiculous districts, thus diluting the power of traditionally Democratic votes and guaranteeing more Republicans get elected. It’s dirty, undemocratic stuff, and it’ll only get worse if we don’t take care of it now.

Courts have rolled back some of the most flagrant violations, but the GOP can be very resilient when it’s trying to disenfranchise people. Just this past month, there have been a series of huge decisions and political maneuvers that could strip voting rights away from millions of people and allow the GOP to keep power this November. There are more than a handful of states dealing with these issues, but we’ll focus on the most recent struggles.

Ohio’s Republican leadership has thrown over two million people off the voting rolls since 2011 through their “use it or use it law.” Basically, the state can deregister people if they don’t respond to a mailer sent to their home and don’t vote for another four years. And wouldn’t you know it, the law has purged residents of predominantly African-American neighborhoods at twice the clip that it has residents of white neighborhoods.

The law is meant to combat “voter fraud,” which is basically an imaginary crime that conservatives have concocted to justify kicking minorities off the voter rolls. And unfortunately, because the Supreme Court was also stolen by conservatives, it issued a ridiculous decision earlier this month that strained and ultimately broke with all logic in order to side with the Ohio GOP and codify the racist voter purge.

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Now, not only is the Ohio GOP free to stop Democratic voters from voting, lots of other GOP-controlled states are likely to adopt the same approach. That makes electing Democratic secretaries of state, the office that controls elections, absolutely essential. And as such, we’re supporting Kathleen Clyde, the Democratic nominee for Ohio secretary of state. She’s pledged to stop the voter purges, which would help restore fundamental freedoms in the state — a swing state that just so happens to be absolutely crucial to presidential elections.

In Pennsylvania, the issue has largely been gerrymandering. The state legislature has been unbalanced for years due to the GOP’s shenanigans, and up until a few months ago, the state’s congressional districts were equally preposterous. Activists took the issue to the State Supreme Court, which agreed that yes, the map was a terrible abuse of power, and ordered a fairer redistricting that will likely help Democrats this fall.

The PA legislature was supposed to submit a bill that drew new district lines, but at the last moment, Republicans slipped in a poison pill that attacked the very judiciary that ruled against their gerrymander. The gist is that it would create a voter initiative that’d entirely redesign the way judges are elected in Pennsylvania. Instead of statewide elections, appellate judges would be voted on by district, which, surprise surprise, would give the GOP an advantage in a state that has large rural swaths in between two metropolitan areas.

They have to pass this bill twice, which means that Democrats have to take back the PA state senate. As such, we are supporting several PA state senate candidates who have a great chance of unseating Republicans this fall, which would stop this major anti-democratic measure in its tracks. As of now, that includes Mark Pinsley and Maria Collett, who are running in PA-SD-16 and PA-SD-12, respectively.

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Over in North Carolina, the GOP has been especially aggressive in its disenfranchising of likely Democratic voters. They’ve limited early voting and spent nearly a decade trying to establish permanent control of the legislature.

After the Supreme Court struck down their racist gerrymander, the GOP passed another version that was expressly meant to benefit Republicans. They didn’t even try to hide it. In 2016, state Rep. David Lewis said this on the floor of the legislature: “I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats, because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.”

The Supreme Court struck down some elements of the gerrymander, but other districts were kept in place. And now the GOP is pushing new a state constitutional amendment to enshrine terrible Voter ID laws, which would help make its supermajority nearly impossible to topple.

That makes this fall’s election beyond important. North Carolina could become permanently Republican, making what was becoming a swing state into a GOP stronghold. And with that in mind, we’re supporting several Democratic candidates in the state, including Richard Chapman, who is taking on the aforementioned David Lewis.

CLICK HERE to donate to candidates who will help restore voting rights in swing states across the country!