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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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!

Horrifying: Kids are being kept in cages at the border. We need to take action.

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This past week was one of the most jam-packed, dizzying, and disconcerting seven-day stretches in a recent memory filled with surreal and draining bursts of humanity’s war on itself. Donald Trump gave Kim Jong-un the ultimate legitimizing photo opp (and saluted a North Korean general!) last Monday, but it feels like a lifetime ago, given all that’s happened since.

First off, last week was the biggest fundraising week in Progressives Everywhere’s (short) history. Thanks to so many of you, we raised nearly $15,000 for progressive candidates and causes. Most of that money went to three places: progressive Democrats in New York working to shatter the corrupt political machines run by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Rep. Joseph Crowley; candidates challenging the inhumane immigration policies enacted by right-wing bigots; and organizations trying to assist the families (and especially children) being tortured by those policies right this very moment. (Click on those links to contribute to those causes!)

There are so many urgent issues to tackle, including the coming voting purges in red states that were greenlit by an egregiously partisan and misguided Supreme Court decision last week. We’re raising money for Democratic candidates that will stop and roll back those purges — right now, the focus is on helping Kathleen Clyde win the Ohio Secretary of State race — and will get more into that in the weeks to come.

Right now, all of our urgency is trained on the human rights violations happening at the border. Last month, we looked at the controversial case of the missing unaccompanied minors, and the outrage that drew pales in comparison to what’s happening in south Texas right now. Due to Trump and Jeff Sessions’ heartless bigotry and taste for suffering, immigrant children are being incarcerated in a makeshift jail that embodies Trump’s special brand of autocratic, cult-of-personality capitalism. There are over 1500 boys being held in an old Walmart that has been converted into a prison, complete with creepy murals of Trump accompanied by nonsense slogans that would make Orwell sigh with defeat.

There are more facilities like this. Children are being kept in cages in old warehouses they continue to fill up. And tent camps are coming next.

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

The stories that are continuing to come out of these nightmare camps continue to get more and more shocking.

The New York Times today has a story about how most parents are deported before they ever get a chance to see the kids that had been ripped away from them:

Elsa Johana Ortiz Enriquez packed up what little she had in Guatemala and traveled across Mexico with her 8-year-old son, Anthony. In a group, they rafted across the Rio Grande into Texas. From there they intended to join her boyfriend, Edgar, who had found a construction job in the United States.

Except it all went wrong. The Border Patrol was waiting as they made their way from the border on May 26, and soon mother and son were in a teeming detention center in southern Texas. The next part unfolded so swiftly that, even now, Ms. Ortiz cannot grasp it: Anthony was sent to a shelter for migrant children. And she was put on a plane back to Guatemala.

As the federal government continues to separate families as part of a stepped-up enforcement program against those who cross the border illegally, the authorities say that parents are not supposed to be deported without their children. But immigration lawyers say that has happened in several cases. And the separations can be traumatic for parents who now have no clear path to recovering their children.

From April 19 to May 31, a total of 1,995 children who arrived with 1,940 adults were separated from their parents, according to administration officials.

A vast majority of those children are being taken from their parents and put into massive prison camps — and soon to be tent cities — while their parents go through legal hell. Their parents are not criminals. Very often, they’re seeking asylum from war-torn home countries and voluntarily presenting themselves to border patrol, because the law says they should be given a fair hearing and opportunity to stay in America.

Now, they’re being arrested. It’s unprecedented. Here’s a breakdown of the legal process, from Texas Monthly. This is almost a best-case scenario, because it assumes immigrants seeking asylum will even be given a hearing, which is increasingly rare, as the deportations without their children indicate.

That story is beyond infuriating. Parents are being told their kids are being taken for a bath… and then they never see them again. If they try to console their hysterical children when the families are being separated, they’re being threatened with further legal action. This is an atrocity, all done to torture and strike fear into the hearts of suffering people around the world.

This is how kids are being kept right now:

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Republicans are just letting this happen. Susan Collins, who pretends to be a moderate, refuses to sign on to legislation to help end this horror show. Democrats are rushing to the border in order to help. Beto O’Rourke, who is running for Senate in Texas against Ted Cruz (who is openly in favor of these detentions), represents in Congress the area where the infamous Walmart facility is located. Despite the politics of immigration in Texas, which is dominated electorally by hate-mongers and racists, he led a protest today in hopes of bringing more attention to the matter and pressuring the Trump administration.

He’s also pointing out just how fucked the arrest policy is for asylum-seekers.

There are a number of humans rights groups working at the border and leading protest, including We Belong Together and Women’s Refugee Commission. You can donate to both of them HERE.

This is also a definitive moment for American politicians. Entrenched Republicans, both on the national and state level, will have to answer for their inaction — or in many instances, agreement with these human rights abuses. Look at what Rep. Steve King, the most bigoted and awful man in Congress, said about family separation.

Look at how the Trump administration is flatly lying about why this hateful policy is in place.

Look at what Ken Buck, who is in line to take over the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, says about immigrant parents just trying to give their kids better lives.

We’re raising money for Democratic challengers to King, Buck, and several Texan state senators who are vulnerable to being toppled this November. Democrats need two seats in the Texas State Senate to stop total GOP ownership over policymaking there. There could be no worthier cause than making sure the state does not cooperate blindly with these illegal federal policies.

Click HERE to donate to national and local politicians fighting against the horrifying immigration policies of the GOP.

Huge win in the Wisconsin special election!

Democrat Caleb Frostman scored a major upset victory in the special election to represent Wisconsin’s 1st district in the State Senate. The local non-profit leader flipped a +17 Trump district that had been represented by Republicans for the last four decades. This is the second seat that Democrats have flipped in the heavily gerrymandered Wisconsin State Senate this year and it brings the partisan balance of the chamber to 18-15 in favor of the GOP. Taking control in Madison this November is looking more and more possible.

Progressives Everywhere is proud to have raised money for Frostman; you can find our original post about the race, from earlier this month, reprinted below. And you can give to more of our candidates at our ActBlue page!


 

Despite the fact that he ran a presidential campaign that made Jeb! Bush look like an exciting insurgent and ended before anyone other than debate moderators knew his name, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been one of the leading crusaders in the modern GOP’s holy war on humanity.

In two terms, Walker has turned a traditionally progressive state into a prison for working people. Walker has crushed public unions, restricted access to abortion, installed onerous voter ID laws that likely flipped the 2016 election, refused to expand Medicaid, and slashed education spending. He’s done it all with help from a Republican majority in the state legislature, but as we’ve seen in several special elections this year already, the tide is beginning to turn.

Even though Wisconsin’s elections have been rigged through heavy, illegal gerrymandering, Democrats have been picking up seats in the state all year, which scared Walker to the point that he wanted to suspend special elections for open seats until November. The courts shot that idea down, and the next special election in Wisconsin will be held on June 12, with two more pickup opportunities for Democrats there for the taking.

Caleb Frostman is the Democratic candidate for the 1st District of the State Senate. It’s a district Obama won twice that then swung to Trump, so Dems have a good chance here, especially with a good candidate.

Frostman is from a working family, went to public schools, and has worked helping small businesses grow as the Executive Director of the Door County Economic Development Corporation. His issues page focuses on expanding access to affordable healthcare, investing in education, and creating a fair tax system that undoes the damage of Walker’s tax cuts for the rich. You can read about his debate with the GOP candidate, as well as some of the local issues, at the Green Bay Press Gazette.

The State Senate is now 18-14 in favor of Republicans, and a win here will bring us one step closer to restoring fairness to Wisconsin.
Ann Groves Lloyd is running for Democrats in the 42nd Assembly District. She is a local alderperson, serving the community already after spending her career working at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her family has deep roots in local politics, as her grandfather and great-uncle served in the state government as members of the storied Progressive Party. She’s focused on creating better jobs for her district, which has many people working in light industry and service jobs that don’t pay a living wage.

Click HERE to donate to Caleb Frostman and Ann Groves Lloyd on Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue Page!

Even as the GOP attacks healthcare, red state activists are working to expand it

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Donald Trump’s tweets make clear that he is a terrible egomaniac and likely a criminal. But his administration’s legal maneuvers are what really mark his presidency as an assault on the well-being of average Americans. On Thursday evening, the White House announced that it joined a GOP lawsuit that seeks to fully dismantle the Affordable Care Act.  While the Trump administration is only seeking to have some of the Affordable Care Act thrown out, it is targeting the most popular provision: barring insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing medical conditions.

This is a particular danger to low-income Americans, who historically have been in worse health — the link between economic and medical hardship is very direct. That the House of Representatives this week also voted to cut $7 billion from the massively successful and universally popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers 9 million kids nationwide, makes it more clear than ever that we are in an all-out class war.

Healthcare is shaping up to be the number one issue in November’s election, with the power to shape electorates. This week, we want to look at the great campaigns that are going on the offensive, working to expand Medicaid in states that have refused to do so thus far.

Initially, the Affordable Care Act required states to expand Medicaid, the public health insurance program for low-income Americans. Another lawsuit filed by heartless conservatives who hate poor people turned it into a voluntary initiative, and thus far, 32 states have followed through with the expansion, the most recent being Virginia and Maine. The expansion in Maine was triggered by a very successful ballot initiative, and this year, there are several more states with campaigns working hard to get a Medicaid expansion on the ballot.

These are not typically Democratic states, but they have strong grassroots community leaders who are reaching across partisan lines to promote a public good. And so far, it’s looking good.

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

In Nebraska, Gov. Pete Ricketts has not only actively worked against Medicaid expansion, he’s also tried to gut funding to the existing program with vetoes. With little hope of a legislative expansion, the nonprofit Nebraska Appleseed kicked off the Insure the Good Life campaign, which is trying to get the issue on this November’s ballot.

“A majority of Nebraskans support Medicaid expansion,” Meg Mandy, the program director for Insure the Good Life, told Progressives Everywhere. “That is why we decided to bring this directly to voters, and why we feel we are in a strong position to qualify the measure and win in November.”

Mandy says they began collecting signatures in April, and as of early last week, they were halfway to the number needed to qualify for the ballot. The signatures are due on July 5th, and Mandy says they’re on target to beat the deadline. Nebraska ranks 27th in the US in access to healthcare, so victory in November would provide a major boost.

“Expanding Medicaid will give 90,000 hardworking Nebraskans access to critical, life-saving care,” Mandy said. “We know that regular visits to the doctor and preventive care leads to better health outcomes. It’s especially beneficial for earlier diagnosis and treatment of conditions like diabetes, cancer, and mental health issues.”

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

In Idaho, the campaign is truly a bottom-up, grassroots effort. The progressive group Reclaim Idaho decided last summer that they’d barnstorm the state in a 1977 RV, turning their campaign to expand Medicaid into a grassroots event. Volunteers collected signatures on both the ballot petition and the RV itself, earning tons of statewide attention and ultimately doing what was said to be almost impossible: securing over 60,000 signatures from voters 18 of the 35 districts in Idaho, qualifying for the ballot this November.

The achievement itself is a major one: Idaho Republicans had made the already difficult requirements for getting an initiative on the ballot even more onerous after a 2013 citizen vote on a simple education matter didn’t go their way. This marks the first initiative to even get on the ballot since those changes. Idaho faces 27% premium increases this year, making this a very attractive option to both Democrats and Republicans.

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

The third Medicaid expansion ballot initiative is in Utah, where things are a bit different.

After years of being shut down by a far-right state legislature, a partial expansion of Medicaid was approved earlier this year. But it’s unclear whether the federal government, even under Trump, will accept its controversial provision that limits coverage to people who make poverty wages — just $12,140 a year — and below. The Affordable Care Act provides help for people making up to 138% percent, which is not great, but far better than Utah’s bill.

Unwilling to accept a half-measure, a coalition of activists collected signatures to get a full Medicaid expansion on the ballot this November. Utah Decides rounded up support from 140,000 people and last month qualified for the ballot, bringing the state one step closer to providing medical care to 150,000 new people — double the amount the legislature’s bill would cover.

Here’s what’s so significant: two-thirds of Utahns support Medicaid expansionThat’s two-thirds of a very, very red state supporting a policy that Republicans have blocked for years and advocated for by Democrats. Yes, the governor there wants to expand it to some degree, but this is a much more substantial expansion that people support — and it helps to show them that Democrats aren’t lib’rul monsters, but people who are compassionate and want to help their families.

Click HERE to support the Medicaid expansion ballot initiative in Utah!

Crucial special election in Wisconsin would help flip the State Senate

Despite the fact that he ran a presidential campaign that made Jeb! Bush look like an exciting insurgent and ended before anyone other than debate moderators knew his name, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been one of the leading crusaders in the modern GOP’s holy war on humanity.

In two terms, Walker has turned a traditionally progressive state into a prison for working people. Walker has crushed public unions, restricted access to abortion, installed onerous voter ID laws that likely flipped the 2016 election, refused to expand Medicaid, and slashed education spending. He’s done it all with help from a Republican majority in the state legislature, but as we’ve seen in several special elections this year already, the tide is beginning to turn.

Despite the fact that Wisconsin’s elections have been rigged through heavy, illegal gerrymandering, Democrats have been picking up seats in the state all year, which scared Walker to the point that he wanted to suspend special elections for open seats until November. The courts shot that idea down, and the next special election in Wisconsin will be held on June 12, with two more pickup opportunities for Democrats there for the taking.

Caleb Frostman is the Democratic candidate for the 1st District of the State Senate. It’s a district Obama won twice that then swung to Trump, so Dems have a good chance here, especially with a good candidate.

Frostman is from a working family, went to public schools, and has worked helping small businesses grow as the Executive Director of the Door County Economic Development Corporation. His issues page focuses on expanding access to affordable healthcare, investing in education, and creating a fair tax system that undoes the damage of Walker’s tax cuts for the rich. You can read about his debate with the GOP candidate, as well as some of the local issues, at the Green Bay Press Gazette.

The State Senate is now 18-14 in favor of Republicans, and a win here will bring us one step closer to restoring fairness to Wisconsin.

Ann Groves Lloyd is running for Democrats in the 42nd Assembly District. She is a local alderperson, serving the community already after spending her career working at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her family has deep roots in local politics, as her grandfather and great-uncle served in the state government as members of the storied Progressive Party. She’s focused on creating better jobs for her district, which has many people working in light industry and service jobs that don’t pay a living wage.

Click HERE to donate to Caleb Frostman and Ann Groves Lloyd on Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue Page!