Sara Bitter’s Ohio race is a chance to rethink government

I hope this edition of Progressives Everywhere finds you safe and healthy. As a New Yorker, I’m fortunate to report that I’m healthy and hanging in there, even as I enter the fourth week of quarantine inside my apartment. The chaos and human suffering unfolding around the city is beyond tragic, and it’s frustrating that all people can do to help immediately is donate money to hospitals and worker funds (donate to our fundraiser for workers here) and order take-out from struggling restaurants.

While long-time readers will know that I’ve never been a fan of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, I can give him credit for taking charge and executing a plan with focus and something like compassion (we will talk about his proposed Medicaid cuts and refusal to tax the rich later). But the COVID-19 pandemic has made it crystal clear that no level of government is prepared to handle the demand for healthcare or other needs of working people or small businesses. Congress just doesn’t seem to grasp the seriousness of the pandemic — the focus there is still on ego and big corporate handouts. The kind of out-of-control ego and big corporate handouts that wind up exacerbating these problems and killing people.

We need people in government who understand what it is to struggle. We need representatives who are ready to advocate for disadvantaged groups that don’t have big money lobbyists or even the ability to fight for their own causes. We need people like Sara Bitter, an incredible candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives.

I first spoke with Sara before the outbreak really hit the United States, but I don’t think it could be more relevant to what we’re experiencing right now, when so many people are being left to struggle on their own. Sara is a lawyer in Ohio and a mother of two children with developmental disabilities. Instead of practicing law in the courtroom, she’s become a professional advocate for families with special challenges, fighting for policies that will help the millions of people in similar positions live with dignity and be full members of their communities.

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The wreckage from a week of Republican power-grabs

The Republican Party has now fully entered the next phase of its all-out war on American democracy — not only are they cheating in an effort to win elections, they’ll now disregard the will of voters when they lose. After giving it a test run in 2016, when the GOP-controlled North Carolina legislature tried to strip Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper of many of his powers, Republicans are going all-in on the strategy in key states across the country.

The scheme played out this past week in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and once again in North Carolina, where Republicans have become the nation’s leaders in abject and blatant cheating. It’s hard to keep up with all the corruption, as so many of the most insidious clauses and maneuvers are nestled into giant bills that were kept secret from the public up until now. To help catch you up, here’s a running list of state GOP’s anti-democratic lame-duck treachery.

Wisconsin:

In a marathon Tuesday night session that stretched into the next morning’s rush hour commute, the GOP-held legislature passed a number of bills that will hamstring Democratic Governor-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul. The state is already gerrymandered beyond belief, which allowed Republicans to keep their legislative majority despite Democrats earning a majority of statewide votes this November. You’d think that would send a message to GOP legislators, but that assumes that modern Republicans have consciences or even self-awareness.

Awaiting outgoing GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s signature are a number of bills that will significantly weaken the executive branch and hurt voters and working people. They will:

  • Curtail early voting, reducing it from six to two weeks before the election;
  • Double down on new Medicaid work requirements
  • Stripping the Attorney General of the ability to remove the state from lawsuits, including the suit against the Affordable Care Act
  • Takes away Evers power to control or disband a key economic development council
  • Require legislative approval for some decisions made by the Governor

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Republicans hate democracy: GOP power grabs happening in Ohio and North Carolina now, too

You have heard — and have been amply outraged by — the naked partisan power-grabbing being done by sore loser Republicans in Michigan and Wisconsin. In brief, both states saw Democrats swept statewide elections and will have Democrats entering their Governor’s Mansions in January. So before that happens, the lamest lame ducks are working to restrict the power of the executive — power they were happy to have Republican governors to wield — through tricky legislation that clearly subverts the will of the voters.

In Michigan, the GOP is also gutting the minimum wage increase it passed as a cynical way of avoiding its overwhelming — and binding — victory in a ballot initiative. The GOP is also trying to gut essential parts of the pro-voting and marijuana legalization ballot initiatives that did pass in November.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, the GOP legislature proposed a series of bills that would limit the power of incoming Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, curtail early voting, keep the state enmeshed in the lawsuit against Obamacare, and keep far-right judges in office. They are holding a SINGLE hearing today and plan on voting on it on Tuesday. It’s unclear if they have the votes, but Madison is once again becoming a war zone.

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Races for progressives to watch on Election Day

Here we are, two days out from the most important election of our lifetimes, which is a statement that is eminently dramatic but somehow undersells the gravity of what we are facing. I truly don’t know what American democracy will look like if Democrats don’t sweep up at the ballot box on Tuesday. And it’s not just because of the threat posed by Trump and his sycophantic posse. All across the country, there are pitched battles being fought over issues that directly touch the lives of tens of millions of people — and will, more broadly, impact us all.

Here is a guide to the biggest issues and races to watch on what will be a very nerve-wracking, exciting Tuesday evening.

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Long-time teacher, challenging wingnut Rep. Jim Jordan, comes out swinging with upset possible

It didn’t take long for the overuse of #Resistance to become a painful cliché, a punchline on Twitter used to gently mock the overly earnest and poke holes in the cynical and misinformed. But last week, we were reminded over and over that we really are in the middle of a struggle of civilizational struggle against really hateful, malevolent people and the people they exploit. The pipe bombs, the massacre at the synagogue, the endless harassment of women and minorities — it will all continue unless we do something about it.

It’s incredible to see the kind of work that is going into getting out the vote, despite the endless obstacles being thrown at them by Republicans. After a bus of black voters was pulled over by Georgia police for no good reason, ten more busses, filled with 500 voters, were sent to the polls by groups like Black Voters Matter. (You can donate to the ongoing GOTV efforts HERE.) In Texas, despite record voter intimidation and voting machines that seem to be literally changing results to the GOP, there are women in deep red parts of the state meeting in secret to help get out the vote for Beto O’Rourke.

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