Way to Go, Minnesotans!

Monday, November 19th, 2012

(By Joanne Boyer, cross-posted at Wisdom Voices)

It’s taken me a few days to just drink in the beauty of what happened here in Minnesota on Election Day 2012.  Lost in all the (legitimate) whoops and hollers of joy that resonated nation-wide, we here in Minnesota did something amazing.

Not only did we turn back a constitutional amendment on defining marriage as between one man and one woman, we romped and stomped on the “voter ID” amendment that was put on our ballot by a Republican legislator who is the Minnesota chairperson of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  That measure is nothing short of a victory of, by and for the people.  Never have I seen such hard work by a group called Our Vote/Our Future.  Minnesotans could never repay the debt of gratitude that is owed them.

This “voter ID” constitutional amendment started out at an 80 percent approval rating when it was first “introduced.”  Down the homestretch, this fabulous organization worked its collective butt off – hundreds of thousands of phone calls, door knocking, organizing and never, ever giving up hope that this horrible amendment could be defeated.

By the weekend before the election, the favorable rating for the “voter ID” amendment had dropped from 80 percent approval to 46 percent approval and it failed when Minnesotans went out and voted it down.

And as great as the work of one organization was, the individual work of former Republican Governor Arne Carlson cannot go unrecognized.  He was relentless in his efforts to educate Minnesotans about what this voter suppression was all about.  He traversed the state and gave unselfishly of his time and energy.

The individual and group efforts reminded me of something Sister Simone Campbell (Nuns on the Bus) said during an interview with us earlier this summer.

“I had a meeting with Paul Ryan, and he said the only reason he talks about individual responsibility and not about community is because the ‘other side’ talks about community,” Sister Simone said.  “But you see, I can talk about individual responsibility. We have an individual responsibility to build up community.  We are in relationship with everyone else. That’s how it works.”

Boy, did we prove that here in Minnesota.

Weekend Reading List

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

For this weekend’s reading list we have articles on the impacts of voter suppression efforts, election victories for working families, Romney’s failed GOTV effort, how tax cuts provide little boost to economic growth, and George McGovern’s grassroots Presidential campaign in 1972.

 

A Victory Over Suppression - an essay on how last Tuesday’s election results demonstrated that the GOP’s voter suppression efforts failed to achieve their goal of stealing the election, but still hindered many people from exercising their right to vote.

What Election 2012 Means for America’s Working Families – a report from the AFSCME union detailing the significant victories that working families achieved at the federal, state, and local levels in the 2012 elections.

The Unmitigated Disaster Known as Project ORCA – a conservative blogger provides an insider account of the colossal failure that was the Romney campaign’s GOTV effort.

Multiple CRS Reports Show That Ending Tax Cuts for the Rich Will Not Harm Economic Growth - an overview of a series of studies from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service finding that reduced marginal tax rates and capital gains tax cuts have little correlation to economic growth, and that tax cuts are the least efficient policies for maintaining economic recovery.

McGovern ’72: An Oral History – insiders reflect on the grassroots Presidential campaign of George McGovern in 1972.

President Obama’s Impressive List of Accomplishments

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

 

Over the past three-and-a-half years, President Obama and Democrats have successfully enacted significant progressive legislation and executive policies that have, among other things, created 5.2 million private sector jobs over the past 31 months, kept our nation safe and taken out Bin Laden, made a fairer and more just society, advanced gender equality, and rescued the American auto industry.  At stake in November 2012 is whether these accomplishments will be repealed by the GOP, or whether we will be able to continue to focus on moving our country forward in 2013 and beyond.

Unfortunately, the message of the significant progress that has been achieved so far during the Obama Administration won’t get out unless we progressives talk to our neighbors and friends, write letters to our local newspapers, and use social media to help keep other voters well informed.  In order to help our readers do so, below are links to Winning Progressive’s coverage of just some of the Obama Administration’s progressive accomplishments.  Please share widely.

List of 2009-2010 Democratic Accomplishments

Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Rescuing the American Auto Industry

Closing the Medicare Doughnut Hole

The Successful 2009 Stimulus

Credit Card Industry Reform

Fighting For Small Businesses

Ending Combat Operations in Iraq

Ending Abusive Health Insurance Industry Practices

Expanding Health Insurance Coverage to 32 Million More Americans

Making College More Affordable

Reforming Wall Street

2011 Health Care Reform Benefits

Eliminating Co-Pays on Contraceptive Services as Preventive Care

Challenging the Defense of Marriage Act in Federal Court

Rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline

Finalizing Air Pollution Rules That Will Save 13,000 Lives Per Year

Increasing Vehicle Fuel Efficiency to 35.5mpg By 2016 and 54.5 by 2025

Implementing a Sensible New Immigration Policy for “DREAMers”

Obama DOJ Wins Significant, Though Not Complete, Victory Over Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Law

American High-Speed Rail Moving Forward

A Good Friend of Labor

Obama’s Record of Support for Israel

 

Three Must See Democratic Convention Speeches

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Coverage of last week’s Democratic National Convention focused, of course, on the effective speeches of President Barack Obama, President Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama, and a few other headline speakers.  But there were other speeches, outside of prime time, that are must sees, both because of the quality of the speeches themselves, and because they highlighted keys to President Obama winning re-election this November.

Congressman John Lewis

The most emotionally powerful speech was by Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), who masterfully wove together his experiences fighting for civil rights in the South in the 1960s with the current attack on voting rights in numerous states throughout the country.  Rep. Lewis is the kind of historic figure and impressive speaker to whom a mere blogger such as myself cannot really add anything, so I will simply highlight the core statement in his speech:

Your vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful, nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union.

After you watch the video of Rep. Lewis’ speech below, please make sure you are registered to vote and commit to registering at least five other people, if you live in a state with a voter ID law visit this site to make sure you have what you’ll need to be able to vote, and volunteer for the Democratic Party’s election protection efforts so that we can make sure that every eligible voter is able to vote on election day.

 

 Governor Deval Patrick

The current Governor from the state that Mitt Romney used to preside over, Deval Patrick gave a barn-burner of a speech in which he both critiqued the flaws in the conservative ideology that Romney promotes, and provided a spirited explanation of the significant progressive advances President Obama has achieved.  Any progressive who is still disappointed in President Obama’s first term should read Gov. Patrick’s speech, along with the Winning Progressive list of President Obama’s accomplishments.

 This is the president who delivered the security of affordable health care to every single American after 90 years of trying. This is the president who brought Osama bin Laden to justice, who ended the war in Iraq and is ending the war in Afghanistan. This is the president who ended “don’t ask, don’t tell” so that love of country, not love of another, determines fitness for military service. Who made equal pay for equal work the law of the land. This is the president who saved the American auto industry from extinction, the American financial industry from self-destruction, and the American economy from depression. Who added over 4.5 million private sector jobs in the last two-plus years, more jobs than George W. Bush added in eight.

The list of accomplishments is long, impressive and barely told—even more so when you consider that congressional Republicans have made obstruction itself the centerpiece of their governing strategy. With a record and a vision like that, I will not stand by and let him be bullied out of office—and neither should you, and neither should you and neither should you.

 

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm

Perhaps the most over-the-top yet still effective speech was former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s effusive thank you to the Obama Administration for rescuing the American auto industry.  Governor Granholm explained how important rescuing the auto industry was to middle and working class Americans throughout the Midwest.  She also contrasted the auto industry rescue with Mitt Romney’s philosophy, which she summed up well as:

In Romney’s world, the cars get the elevator; the workers get the shaft.

 

Well Played, Mr. President

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

A few weeks ago, the Obama Administration, standing up to strong opposition from conservative religious organizations, finalized rules under the Affordable Care Act to require that contraception be included as a preventive health service that insurance policies must cover with no co-pay.  This policy will help millions of women afford access to birth control and also save money by reducing unintended pregnancies.  And, in order to mollify concerns of conservative Christian organizations, the Obama Administration provided an exemption for religious institutions when they are solely practicing their religion.

Predictably, conservatives who are opposed to reproductive freedom are outraged by this development.  The leadership of the Catholic Church, along with the GOP Presidential candidates, seized on the fact that religious organizations that are operating secular entities would still need to provide no co-pay contraception policies to the employees of the secular entities.  Revving up its fake outrage machine, conservatives and their media collaborators portrayed the Obama Administration contraception policy as somehow an attack on religious liberty.

The religious liberty argument rings hollow here.  The exemption for religious institutions from the requirement to cover reproductive health services as preventive care when they are solely practicing their religion protected whatever core religious principles are at stake.  But once an institution, whether religious or non-religious, enters into the rest of society and, for example, runs a hospital, bookstore, nursing home, or charity where people of other religions (or no religion) are likely to work or be served, that institution can and should follow the same rules and receive the same benefits as everyone else.  In the present situation, that means hospitals, etc. that are operated by religious organizations were required to cover preventive services under health insurance plans, just as any other employer would.  Otherwise, we would be allowing the religious beliefs of an employer to be used as an excuse to deprive its employees, whether they agree with those beliefs or not, of their rights to health services.  If employees of a secular organization run by a religious entity don’t want to use birth control, they don’t have to. But now those employees have a choice to do so just like everyone else in society.

Despite the lack of any actual interference with religious liberty, the fake right wing outrage was predictably picked up by the media and started to spook some on the left.  Early last week, the Obama Administration hinted that it would be open to a compromise on the issue, which led conservatives, sensing blood in the water, to increase their feeding frenzy around this issue.  Then, on Friday, President Obama announced the compromise:

Under the new policy to be announced today, women will have free preventive care that includes contraceptive services no matter where she works.  The policy also ensures that if a woman works for a religious employer with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide, pay for or refer for contraception coverage, but her insurance company will be required to directly offer her contraceptive care free of charge.

In other words, this policy, which is similar to one that has been in effect in Hawaii for at least a few years, ensures that women will have access to contraception as preventive care, while also enabling religious organizations that oppose reproductive rights to avoid directly paying for contraceptive health insurance coverage.

While some have tried to paint this compromise as caving in to conservative pressure, we see it more as a politically astute move by the Obama Administration because, in essence, three things have happened:

* women have been assured free access to contraception and other reproductive health services, just as both men and women are with every other preventive health services

* President Obama has shown himself, once again, to be the only reasonable adult in the room, who is willing to fight for his principles while also working to reasonably compromise on issues

* The GOP has proven yet again that they are out of touch with the American people, by stirring up a tempest in a teapot over an issue that the American people support the President on. 98% of sexually active Catholic women have used contraception, and the majority of Americans, including Catholics, support covering contraception as preventive care.

In other words, the Obama Administration advanced women’s rights, once again demonstrated its reasonableness, and drawn the GOP into a battle that shows how out of touch Republicans are with the majority of the American people.  Well played, Mr. President.

Blue Resurgence in 2011 Elections

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

(By NCrissie B)

Democrats won several important victories yesterday. From Mississippi to Maine, Ohio to Iowa, and Kentucky to Arizona, it was a good day to be Blue. (More)

Here are some of the highlights:

Mississippi voters reject “personhood amendment”

In Mississippi, voters rejected by a 57-43 margin a “personhood amendment” that would have declared life to begin at the moment of fertilization. As 60-80% of fertilized eggs do not implant and 25% of those that do are miscarried, the law could have targeted almost all sexually active women as criminals. It would also have banned the most common forms of birth control, and the most common in vitro fertilization practices.

Maine voters restore same day voter registration

Down Maine way, voters repealed a law passed this year that ended same-day voter registration. Republicans passed the law to “protect elections,” but there were no proven cases of vote fraud under the old law and Maine residents recognized it as yet another voter suppression tactic.

More Ohioans vote to repeal Kasich union-busting in 2011 than voted for Kasich in 2010

In an Ohio referendum widely regarded as a bellwether for progressive politics, over 2 million voters chose to repeal Gov. John Kasich’s union-busting Senate Bill 5. By comparison, fewer than 1.9 million voters chose Gov. Kasich in last year’s election. Unlike similar laws in Wisconsin and Michigan, the Ohio bill never took effect. A petition drive gathered over four times as many signatures as were needed to put a repeal measure on the ballot.

Democrat Steve Beshear easily reelected as Kentucky governor

In Kentucky, despite high unemployment, budget shortfalls, third-party attack ads, and Republican opponent David Williams’ religious smears, incumbent Governor Steve Beshear (D) cruised to a 20-point victory.

Mathis victory preserves Democratic control of Iowa state senate

In Iowa, Democrat Liz Mathis handily defeated Republican Cindy Golding, by a 56-44 margin, to win the state senate seat vacated when Swati Dandekar accepted Gov. Terry Branstad’s appointment to the Iowa Utilities Board. Democrats will retain a 26-24 advantage in the Iowa state senate.

Arizonans oust immigration bill author; Democrat wins Phoenix mayoral race

Arizona state senator Russell Pierce has been recalled. The author of the state’s draconian immigration law lost by a 53-45 margin to fellow Republican Jerry Lewis. Arizona congressman Raul Grijalva (D) said “With Sen. Russell Pearce’s defeat in this recall election, everyone who practices the politics of fear and division was put on notice,” and recall organizer Randy Parraz said he will now look toward unseating Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And Phoenix voters chose Democrat Greg Stanton by a 56-44 margin as their new mayor. The most delightful election quote of the day comes from Phoenix resident Llian Hood, who mailed in her vote for Stanton earlier this week:

You know what, I don’t know anything about (Stanton). I just know he’s a Democrat.

Thank you, Mrs. Hood.

And thank you to all the Democratic activists who gathered petition signatures, knocked on doors, made telephone calls, and donated to candidates … and most of all to the voters who participated in your state and local governments. To those whose candidates won, well-earned congratulations. To those whose candidates lost, your efforts were not wasted.

This is what democracy looks like.

(Crossposted from Blogistan Polytechnic Institute (BPICampus.com))