Skip to comments.15 Wins for the Progressive Movement in 2013
Posted on 12/28/2013 3:52:18 AM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
In politics, as in sports, you cant win em all. With a divided government and a House of Representatives firmly in the control of tea partiers, it was a tough year for progressives in Washington one marked by the painful cuts of sequestration and austeritys continued drag on an already anemic recovery.
But there were also some victories for progressives in 2013, especially in state and local politics. While Washington was stuck in the grip of the politics of obstruction, grass-roots activists did their part, scoring some major wins for economic justice, civil liberties and democracy.
As we near the end of the year, here are some of the biggest progressive wins we saw. Theyre in no particular order, but you can rank them in the comments.
1. Wounding ALEC
They say sunlight is the best disinfectant, and that proved true this year as activists continued to expose the previously shadowy workings of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
The group took a big hit in 2012 when controversy over Floridas Shoot First law, also known as stand your ground, peaked after the killing of Trayvon Martin and ALECs fingerprints on the legislation came to light. ALECs hand in pushing voter disenfranchisement laws was also revealed before the 2012 election. And earlier this year, ALEC got more bad press for pushing model legislation that would require science teachers to include pseudoscientific rebuttals to the data on climate change in their curricula.
While ALECs corporate sponsors were happy to back the groups efforts to secure lower taxes and less regulation, they didnt want to share the heat associated with these other issues. State lawmakers who had enjoyed ALECs luxurious junkets also came under pressure to cut ties with the organization. As a result, The Guardian reported that, by Alecs own reckoning the network has lost almost 400 state legislators from its membership over the past two years, as well as more than 60 corporations that form the core of its funding. In the first six months of this year it suffered a hole in its budget of more than a third of its projected income.
2. Love wins
Last New Years Eve, gay Americans could legally marry in 10 states. When the ball drops this year, theyll have that right in 18 states.
2013 also saw the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) overturned by the Supreme Court, a victory that was years in the making.
3. Progressive cities
In New York City and Los Angeles two of the most influential cities in the world unapologetically populist candidates backed by grass-roots community groups organized labor and scored decisive wins over more centrist rivals.
These werent partisan battles in LA, two Democrats, Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel, made it through the runoff to face each other in the final election, and in New York, the real battle was in the Democratic primary as polls showed that any of the three leading Dems would have beaten Republican Joe Lhota in the general election.
They were contests of ideas. Garcetti ran a campaign focused on restoring public services that had been cut and attacking Greuel for relying on heavy spending by outside groups. Greuel, who had earned plaudits from the Chamber of Commerce for slashing corporate taxes in LA as councilwoman, lost to Garcetti by eight points.
In New York, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio rose from the bottom of the pack to win the nomination and then trounce Lhota by relentlessly campaigning against the citys sky-high levels of inequality. He also condemned the NYPDs controversial stop-and-frisk policies and promised reform. Democratic City Council President Christine Quinn, outgoing Mayor Michael Bloombergs preferred successor and the front-runner going into the race, had wounded her reputation by blocking paid sick leave legislation while raking in contributions from business groups opposed to the measure and came in third in the primary. Peter Dreier and John Atlas wrote in The Nation that de Blasios victory wouldnt have been possible without years of progressive grass-roots organizing in the City that Never Sleeps.
4. Stop-and-Frisk checked
Even before the mayoral race, community groups and civil libertarians had made real progress reining in what they viewed as the NYPDs rampant racial profiling. Not only did they shine a light on the practice, with the help of excellent reporting from NYCs NPR affiliate, but they also helped win passage of the Community Safety Act, which established a civil liberties watchdog for the NYPD and made it easier to sue the department for incidents of racial profiling. In August, the City Council overrode Michael Bloombergs veto of the law.
5. Predatory lending checked
In November, regulators enacted tough restrictions on predatory lending by banks insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Sally Kohn reported that the rules were largely the fruit of a two-year campaign by National Peoples Action, a national network of grass-roots organizations with more than 200 organizers in cities and states across the country.
6. People got raises and sick days
On January 1, 2014, working people in 13 states will see their minimum wages increase, according to the National Employment Law Project.
New Jersey not only raised its minimum wage by a dollar, but its citizens also approved a constitutional amendment that ties future hikes to the rate of inflation. Connecticut is raising its minimum to $9 per hour by 2015. A regional block consisting of Washington, DC, and two of its suburban counties in suburban Maryland are on the cusp of enacting an $11.50 living wage that will cover 2.5 million residents. In Massachusetts, the state Senate approved a measure that will enact a living wage of $11 per hour over the next two years and double the minimum for tipped workers. The Assembly is expected to take up the bill next year. And in Sea-Tac, Wash., voters narrowly approved a $15 wage that is expected to be matched by Seattle next year.
Also this year, NYC and Portland, Ore., became the fifth and sixth major cities to require employers to offer workers paid sick days. Washington, DC, will soon become the seventh. And the fight continues: According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, legislators and advocates continue to advance proposals in Congress and about 20 other states and cities.
7. Larry Summers derailed
Progressive Democrats in the Senate, led by Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Jeff Merkeley (Ore.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and pressure from reform-minded activists forced Larry Summers to withdraw his nomination for Federal Reserve chairman in favor of Janet Yellen, who was generally expected to be much tougher in terms of regulating Wall Street.
Summers, who served as Bill Clintons Treasury secretary before a controversial tenure as president of Harvard University, was widely respected for his knowledge and backed by President Obama. But he was also associated with financial deregulation in the 1990s, had pushed a tepid response to the 2008 crisis and helped keep millions of homeowners underwater by refusing to endorse allowing bankruptcy judges to reduce what struggling homeowners owed to their lenders.
After facing unprecedented obstruction that ground the institution to a halt, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) finally killed the filibuster for most executive branch nominations. As CNN noted, a handful of progressive bloggers, led by Daily Kos writer David Waldman, deserve a huge amount of credit for the change, having spent eight years writing about and organizing around the issue.
9. Gun safety
Bizarrely, some states and localities responded to the nightmarish shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School by loosening restrictions on firearms. But that doesnt negate the fact that, as Mother Jones reported, 41 new laws in 22 states made it harder for people to own guns, hard for people to carry them in public and enhanced the governments ability to track guns. Seven states passed legislation requiring universal background checks for gun purchases.
10. A march to war was stopped
Progressives cant take all of the credit for blocking the Obama administrations path to entering Syrias bloody civil war, but they deserve a good amount of it. Highly energetic opposition from the American left let Democrats in Congress know that they would pay a price if they uncritically supported the presidents planned attack.
11. Domestic workers got some dignity
This year, Hawaii and California became the second and third states to enact a bill of rights law for domestic workers (New York led the way in 2010). The laws guarantee workers overtime pay and some days off and offer protections against sexual abuse and other workplace violations.
12. A global fight in a Washington county
Whatcom County elections arent usually a subject of national attention. But this year, a slate of four progressive candidates for the county council, backed by grass-roots activists and environmental groups, beat back a group of business-backed rivals. As Joel Connelly reported for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the results of the race will likely kill the development of the massive, $600 million Gateway Pacific Terminal, which would export as much as 48 million tons of climate-changing coal to China every year.
13. California expands access to reproductive health care
While many red states were passing overly burdensome regulations on abortion providers which pro-choice activists say amount to back door bans on the procedure California went the other way. A law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October permits more health care providers trained nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nurse midwives to perform abortions in the first trimester. According to Washington Post health reporter Sarah Kliff, it was the first time a state had expanded abortion access since 2006.
14. Homeowners got some protection against foreclosures
Homeowners bill of rights legislation passed in Minnesota and Nevada and went into effect in California this year. Among other protections, these laws banned so-called dual-tracking, when lenders foreclose on a homeowner who has an application pending for a loan modification. During the first month the law was in effect in Nevada, foreclosure-related filings fell by almost 40 percent.
15. Immigrant rights activists win a couple in Connecticut
If immigration reform isnt dead in the nations capitol, its gravely ill and on life support. But in Connecticut and California, lawmakers decided that public safety was more important than anti-immigrant sentiment. Those states joined a growing number that allow unauthorized immigrants to obtain drivers licenses after passing a background check and the necessary written tests and driving exams.
Connecticut also passed the TRUST Act, which gives law enforcement officers discretion regarding whether or not to hold individuals for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The intent of the law is to encourage the undocumented to report crimes and cooperate with police without fear of deportation.
Take confort! 2014 is coming! The glass is half full.
The House isn’t under the control of the Tea Party—I wish it was. We have two vocal leaders Ted Cruz and Mike Lee (with some help from Rand Paul)but the speaker is firmly in the hands of the GOP Old dogs. Liberalism has seen its best days and is destined to be pushed out of office and back into the wings of politics.
Semiannual elections have not, and will not arrest the trend.
45 Communist Goals
Congressional Record--Appendix, pp. A34-A35 January 10, 1963
Current Communist Goals :
1. U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.
2. U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.
3. Develop the illusion that total disarmament [by] the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength.
4. Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war.
5. Extension of long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites.
6. Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination.
7. Grant recognition of Red China. Admission of Red China to the U.N.
8. Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev's promise in 1955 to settle the German question by free elections under supervision of the U.N.
9. Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the United States has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.
10. Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N.
11. Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces. (Some Communist leaders believe the world can be taken over as easily by the U.N. as by Moscow. Sometimes these two centers compete with each other as they are now doing in the Congo.)
12. Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.
13. Do away with all loyalty oaths.
14. Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.
15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.
16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.
17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers' associations. Put the party line in textbooks.
18. Gain control of all student newspapers.
19. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.
20. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policymaking positions.
21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.
22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to "eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms."
23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. "Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art."
24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them "censorship" and a violation of free speech and free press.
25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as "normal, natural, healthy."
27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with "social" religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a "religious crutch."
28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of "separation of church and state."
29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.
30. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the "common man."
31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the "big picture." Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.
32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture--education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.
33. Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.
34. Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
35. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.
36. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.
37. Infiltrate and gain control of big business.
38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand [or treat].
39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.
40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.
41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.
42. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use ["]united force["] to solve economic, political or social problems.
43. Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government.
44. Internationalize the Panama Canal.
45. Repeal the Connally reservation so the United States cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction [over domestic problems. Give the World Court jurisdiction] over nations and individuals alike.
NEW YORK CITY hasn’t felt the result of what they’ve done yet.....if you thought Bloominidiot was bad...you ain’t seen nothing yet
Moyers.....hate that pinko leftist. I always hoped when he was out doing his lies about America programs on the road, he’d meet up with a semi at a crossroads.
I wonder why taking credit for bankrupting Detroit isn’t on the list?
They left out Detroit and Chicago.
Or the hugely successful roll-out of Obamacare....
“...as Mother Jones reported, 41 new laws in 22 states made it harder for people to own guns, hard for people to carry them in public and enhanced the governments ability to track guns.
Moyers is a hateful arrogant pr*ck and we already knew that, but look how approvingly he cites the MJ quote.
“Making it harder for people who disagree with liberals to own guns” is his real message & a bit of a Freudian slip.
Let’s hear from Moyers about Duck Dynasty, or would that be too predictable? What a jerk!
I was going to post pretty much those exact words. Can't stand the smarmy, arrogant little buck tooth girly man.
What is and will be the end results of these progressive victories? What will be the consequences of these actions? That is what matters here. For example:
“In New York City and Los Angeles two of the most influential cities in the world unapologetically populist candidates backed by grass-roots community groups organized labor and scored decisive wins over more centrist rivals.”
Lets see how well those cities have fared after 4 years after electing socialist mayors. I’ll bet the results wont be pretty.
Lost me in the first paragraph with a false premise
I just have one comment. Bill Moyers is a complete fool.
WHOO HOO. Let the good times roll. I can see no unintended consequences in any of these progressive victories.