Winning isn’t Enough…Ten Steps for Staying Politically Enaged

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

 

(By The Pragmatic Pundit)

As Republicans recover from the gobsmackery of their tremendous loss, Democrats have been reveling in success at the ballot box.  It was a righteous win.  United citizens proved we could overcome and defeat Citizens United… but winning isn’t enough.

The Middle Class, Democrats, Obama supporters must stay engaged!

The election is over but the Republican party is a perfect circus act…managing to juggle several balls at once.  Here are ten steps for staying engaged so that we can continue winning:

1.    Don’t be distracted by side issues, punditry and the incessant chatter.  The war against voters, women, unions, workers, education, healthcare, science, the gay community, immigration, minorities, the President and even Christmas will continue.

Many like to believe the Tea Party is gone.  Fair warning!  As everyone is abuzz about Tea Party Kingmaker Senator DeMint’s move from Congress to The Heritage Foundation,  remember what The Heritage Foundation really is.  The organization is not about the business of advancing scholarship, but influences, structures and advances conservative policy.

More than twenty years ago, author Russ Bellant wrote:

“The Heritage Foundation will continue to be a key element in the phalanx of rightist groups with an agenda of austerity for the poor, hostility to minorities and women, upward distribution of wealth for the rich, economic domination of the Third World….”

2.     Get your voter identification.  Just because the election is over doesn’t mean Republican dirty tricks will stop.  They will continue to try to suppress voting through voter ID registration and any other means they can.  Get your identification or help someone else acquire theirs.  Give Republicans no excuse to deny anyone the right to vote in the next election.  Don’t wait until another election is near…do it now!

On election day, Minnesota voters rejected a voter ID ballot initiative. In September, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced S.3608: Voter Empowerment Act of 2012.  You can read the text of the bill and follow its progress at  GovTrack.us.

National Conference of State Legislatures has a database with all state voter identification requirements.

You can also find valuable information at Brennan Center for Justice.

3.    Register to vote.  Then make certain your registration has actually been recorded.  During this past election, Republicans destroyed Democratic registrations, switched Democrat registrations to Republican or failed to record them at all.  It isn’t enough to just sign your name…make certain you are “correctly” registered to vote…even if you just voted…take nothing for granted.

USA.gov has voter guides, registration information, voting accessibility, and information for military and overseas voters.

Register to Vote.org makes it convenient to register in any state.

4.    Follow the legislation that affects your life, and the voting record of your state and federal representatives.

You can follow the top ten legislative items of interest at The Library of Congress – Thomas.

OpenCongress is a non-profit, non-partisan public resource where you can track all of the legislation in Congress.

5.    Don’t get blindsided.  Candidates have records!

Voters have a tendency to make decisions based on campaign rhetoric, when candidates are telling the public “what we want to hear”, but candidates have records that will give a clue to what they “really” believe.

Based on earlier revelations, it should have come as no surprise to women that Gov. McDonnell of Virginia would promote intra-vaginal probing or approve legislation that discriminated against the gay community.  It isn’t what they say in the heat of a campaign that counts, it’s what they’ve done.

Project Vote Smart is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that gives the biographies, voting records, issue positions, ratings, speeches and campaign information of politicians.

another is On The Issues.

6.    Pay attention!  “States Rights” have very special implications and because of gerrymandering, Republicans control many state governments and are likely assured to do so for the next 10 years.  It is where the “real” assault is taking place.  Who runs your state?

State Government – USA.gov. – Resources and websites on U.S. states and territories, local and city governments.

Library of Congress – State and Local Governments

7.    Let common sense, instinct and knowledge be your guide.  We are all too often swayed by emotional and superficial values; for example Governor Chris Christie’s approval rating is at 77%, an all-time high.  Why?  Because of his response to Hurricane Sandy?  Because people appreciate his frank and nitty-gritty dialogue?  Hurricanes don’t happen everyday and many consider Governor Christie rude. Still, neither should determine whether or not he is fit for office.

Here’s what’s important about Gov. Christie:

He vetoed a bill that would have legalized same sex marriage in New Jersey as well as other bills that respect a woman’s right to equality.

Christie opposed a law which limited the number of handguns that can be legally purchased in New Jersey to one per month.

This is how he approached New Jersey’s  budget shortfall:

He laid off state workers, closed state psychiatric institutions, cut education, suspended a property-tax rebate program, raised the deductible and doubled some drug co-payments for participants in a state prescription-drug plan for the elderly and disabled, cut state-financed school breakfasts, rental assistance and trimmed the state’s earned-income tax credit.

He reduced funds for pension contributions,  funding for nursing homes and medical day care services.  All while he gave tax cuts to the wealthy and the so-called job creators.  Still, just before Sandy, New Jersey’s unemployment rate was 9.8%, the third highest unemployment rate in the country.

The question should be…how effective has he been at governing?  Have his policies enhanced the Middle Class?  That should be the litmus test for any legislator…even if you like them.

8.    Find reliable sources to stay abreast of current events.  Try to steer clear of ideological agreement and seek out sources that report based on facts.  Sadly, that may not always be the media, so it’s important to

9.    Do your own fact-checking.

Congress.org is a nonpartisan news and information website dedicated to encouraging civic participation.

10.    Get involved and stay involved.  Support petitions, contact your representatives…rally for the legislation and legislators who support your cause.  Write, call, fax, email, tweet, rally …make your voice heard!

Contact your elected officials.

Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper

The most important rule of engagement is to STAY ENGAGED!

Obama Supporters Should Be Armed with the Facts

Monday, August 27th, 2012

By Josh Marks

I was leisurely walking through Jersey City on a picture perfect sunny Sunday afternoon as the under-construction One World Trade Center tower stood tall across the shimmering waters of the Hudson River as a symbol of hope and renewal in the place of so much suffering and destruction on that fateful September day nearly eleven years ago under similar blue skies.

I happened to stroll past a Polish festival and as I looked to my right I was awoken to the intense polarization and hatred that divides Americans in this election season. The John Birch Society set up a booth promoting their radical right-wing agenda and spreading all sorts of vicious lies and propaganda against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

Maybe it was because I was in New Jersey, where I have seen video of residents confronting the state’s right-wing Republican Governor — and Republican National Convention keynote speaker — Chris Christie (read Paul Krugman’s take down of Christie for, among other irresponsible actions, canceling the badly needed Hudson River rail tunnel project while investing in a megamall and casino), but my initial reaction was to confront the old man behind the booth and tell him the John Birch Society was a racist organization, so I did. Well, he countered by saying that they had Jewish and African-American members and so JBS wasn’t racist. I then gave him a nasty look and left.

However, in hindsight it occurred to me that us progressives and Obama supporters have the facts on our side and we should use them when confronted with the anti-Obama crowd who will be making their presence known more and more as the election gets closer. That we have the facts on our side gives us a strategic advantage that means we don’t have to out-shout the Tea Party types and other right-wing groups that like to yell the loudest. We need to stay educated on issues like health care reform, the economic stimulus, Wall Street reform and dispassionately make our case without resorting to a shouting match, which is what they want.

It makes for great TV and gets progressives fired up to see the passion and fighting spirit of MSNBC host Chris Matthews when he took down Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus for the GOP’s divisive rhetoric on the birther issue and attempts to portray Obama as a foreigner. But there is a big difference between Matthews versus Priebus and you or me versus Tea Party wingnut on the sidewalk, so we also need to be armed with the facts and remember that we don’t have to resort to name calling and angry tirades — the facts and Obama’s record will win out. A good example is former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s MoveOn.org video in which he breaks down the five biggest problems with the Romney-Ryan economic plan and why it would be a disaster for America.

There are scenarios that might arise as the election gets closer and you are confronted with angry, zealous anti-Obama types, and some talking points are needed to refute their lies about the president. Many of these people will be fueled by the misleading theatrical film “2016: Obama’s America,” which is nothing more than right-wing propaganda by GOP hack Dinesh D’Souza, who is the president of King’s College, a conservative evangelical Christian school that operates out of the basement of the Empire State Building. The movie is playing well in the heartland and conservative cities so it is important to counter D’Souza’s lies with the truth. Click here for a fact check on this anti-Obama political propaganda.

Here are some websites you can visit to arm yourself with the facts on Obama’s record. Just remember, if you find yourself engaging with an anti-Obama individual, stay positive, stay calm, and be confident because you memorized the facts. The truth always wins.

Obama Truth Team

White House Blog

Obama’s Record

Obama’s Top 50 Accomplishments

What the F**k has Obama Done So Far?

On the Issues

Democratic Congressional Accomplishments

Democrats.org Blog

ObamaCare Facts

Thanks, Obamacare

President Obama and Israel: The Facts

Jewish Americans for Obama Israel Fact Sheet

Politifact

FactCheck.org

 

 

This Valentine’s Day, Help Keep the Progress Towards Marriage Equality Going

Monday, February 13th, 2012

As Winning Progressive reported recently, 2011 was a banner year for LGBT equality.  And 2012 is off to a good start.  Yesterday, Washington State’s Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire signed legislation making that state the seventh to recognize marriage equality.  In doing so, Gov. Gregoire reversed her previous opposition to marriage equality, and Washington became the first state in the country to recognize marriage equality after having previously banned it.  Meanwhile, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down California’s anti-marriage equality Proposition 8 as violating the US Constitution, though the case is now going to the US Supreme Court. And yesterday, the New Jersey State Senate approved marriage equality by a 24-16 vote.

While significant progress has been made, much work remains to ensuring that all LGBT Americans have the same right and opportunity to marry the person they love that heterosexual Americans have.  This Valentine’s Day is a great time for all of us to step forward and support the fight for marriage equality.  Here are five states where helping advance the cause of equality will be especially important in 2012:

New Jersey

The New Jersey marriage equality bill now goes to the state General Assembly, where it is expected to pass.  However, GOP Governor Chris Christie has vowed to veto the legislation, claiming that marriage equality needs to be subject to a voter referendum. If you live in New Jersey call Gov. Christie – 609-292-6000 – and your state legislators, and write a letter to the editor in support of marriage equality.

Maine

In Maine, marriage equality supporters turned in more than 105,000 petition signatures in support of putting the issue of marriage quality on the ballot for the 2012 elections.  This figure is more than twice the number of signatures needed. Assuming that the initiative gets on the ballot, we need to work to make sure it passes.  The organization leading the fight is called Why Marriage Matters Maine, and here are links to helping out:

* Organization website   * Contribute   * Volunteer   * Facebook page    *Maine newspaper links

Maryland

Supporters of equality suffered a setback last spring when marriage equality legislation that had passed the state Senate was narrowly defeated in the state House of Delegates.  A large progressive coalition, however, is back to get the legislation passed in 2012, and Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley announced last week that he has made the legislation one of his administration’s handful of top legislative priorities.   Equality Maryland is leading the fight by, among other things, holding weekly phonebanks throughout the state.  Here are links for helping out:

* Organization website   * Contribute   * Volunteer   * Facebook page   * Maryland newspaper links

Minnesota and North Carolina

Unfortunately, there are also states where we have to play defense, as conservatives have gotten anti-marriage equality initiatives onto the ballot in Minnesota and North Carolina.  In Minnesota, the opposition to this initiative is being led by Minnesotans United:

* organization website  * Contribute  * Volunteer  * Facebook Page    * Minnesota newspaper links

In North Carolina, the effort to stop the anti-marriage equality Amendment One is being led by Protect All North Carolina Families:

* organization website   * Contribute   * Volunteer  * Facebook Page   * North Carolina newspaper links

 

Weekend Reading List

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

For this weekend’s reading list we have essays in favor of UN recognition of Palestine, urging more partisanship by Democrats, and praising President Obama’s focus on jobs, a call for an open debate about targeted killings in counter-terrorism efforts, and a reminder that there are plenty of things that the crazy conservatives who now run the GOP will find objectionable about Chris Christie. 

If you have any feedback on these articles, or would like to recommend an article for next weekend’s reading list, please let us know at Winning Progressive’s Facebook page

 

Why the U.S. Should Support Palestinian Statehood at the U.N. - a compelling argument that President Obama is making a mistake in preparing to veto the Palestinians’ request for membership in the United Nations.  If you agree, please sign the petition to the White House on this issue. 

In Praise of Extremism - an essay arguing that increased partisanship from Pressident Obama and the Democrats is a good thing as a matter of both policy and politics

Obama: A New Beginning? - an essay praising President Obama’s speech proposing the American Jobs Act, and urging more rhetoric and action focused on emphasizing the role that government must play in achieving economic recovery

A Secret License to Kill – a call for an open and public evaluation of the numerous thorny issues surrounding the question of who we can kill in our counter-terrorism efforts and in what circumstances we can kill them. 

Five Things Conservatives Would Hate About Chris Christie - a reminder that while New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is certainly not a progressive, he does not completely fit in the mold of today’s reactionary conservatives on issues such as climate change, immigration, gun control, etc.