Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Is It Possible For The Left To Unite?

I Rise, Toledo--Unity March 2018
words and photos by C.A. Matthews

It's been a tough year, but it's also been a productive one for many progressive groups. The second annual "Unity March" in Toledo, Ohio, organized by the YWCA was a success. Even with dense fog earlier in the day and a misty rain all afternoon, there was a good turnout. The march began at the "Toledo Loves Love" wall and continued down Adams Street to historic Trinity Episcopal Church.

Dozens of progressive organizations held a resource fair at the march's end, and Food Not Bombs provided delicious food for all.  There were groups concerned about health care (Ohio SPAN), women's reproductive rights (Planned Parenthood), gender rights (U.R.G.E.), racial justice (BLM) and political activism (Move To Amend and gerrymandering reform). Petitions were passed around and signed, pamphlets and brochures shared, and new members recruited.
No matter what the mainstream media says about the Left, there seems to be more agreement than discord among diverse groups, at least locally. And perhaps that's all that is really needed--cooperation at the local level. It's where most of our everyday governance come from and where we can make the most immediate impact.
Take courage from these happy marchers. They're taking action to protect their best interests and make the world a better place for all. Do likewise and encourage others to join you in your work. It's always better together.

Is It Possible For The Left To Unite?
by C.A. Matthews

Is it possible for the Left to unite and defeat the powers of corporatism, a.k.a. fascism? 

It's a question that haunts many progressives, and I'm no exception. For every successful "unity event" I've witnessed, I've also experienced a catty remark  from someone whose opinion boils down to  "It's my way or the highway." In other words, not everyone wants to build a future to believe in if it's not done in a manner they feel is best. They'd rather we all suffer together if they can't see their vision come to pass with their chosen candidate or through their particular plan of action. Selfish but true.

For instance, the drive to reform the Democratic Party from within. Groups such as Our Revolution and Justice Democrats have done their best to whip up support and increase progressive membership in the party. However, the same corporate-owned politicos remain entrenched in the highest positions, and they don't act like they're open to progressive newcomers in their ranks. The more things change, the more things seem to stay the same in the DNC. 
Still, you can't fault people for trying. It's better to say you tried and failed than you never gave the Dems a chance to reform themselves. But is it worth it to continue spending time, energy and resources to change a party that doesn't want to change? Can the Left unite around a party that wants to remain on good terms with their corporate paymasters? Wouldn't it be better to unite around the progressive ideals that Bernie Sanders and the Greens have espoused and wave good-bye to the DNC? Wouldn't it possibly be better to start a whole new party, a people's party?

For every progressive you meet, you'll get a different answer to these questions. So, we might as well agree to disagree on how we view the effectiveness of trying to reform an establishment party. Once we acknowledge that we hold slightly different takes on what it means to be a progressive, then we can build a coalition to work on the major building blocks of that future we all believe in--universal health care, free education from daycare through college, environmental protections, the development of clean energy sources, taking big money out of politics, among others. 

If everyone on the Left side of the political spectrum focuses on tackling these issues one by one, and puts all posturing aside, then we will be strong enough to create a united front against the fascists. We will have the power to put them out of business once and for all. 

It is possible to unite the Left. Anyone who fights against that unity is on the other side. Don't listen to them. Unite anyway. We have important work to do.

Look what happens when we work together...
From the Hightower LowDown--Ordinary People Working Together to Win Elections:

Beanstock's World takes a look at the advantages of voting on paper ballots and how it could strengthen democracy:

Why we need to work together, now more than ever:
Inequality Is Killing America's Children

Democracy is under attack in Ohio! Read on to learn more:

House JointResolution 5 (HJR 5), introduced in fall 2017 in both houses of the Ohio General Assembly, would dramatically change the already-difficult process to amend the Ohio Constitution and is stealthily making its way through the Ohio General Assembly.

Make no mistake, this is a direct attempt to thwart direct democracy by the people of Ohio. It is an attempt to make sure that only the state legislature has the power and ability to pass laws that WE must follow. It is an effort to make sure the people cannot propose legislation that the general assembly refuses to pass OR repeal legislation that the people find unjust or oppressive. Remember the people repealed SB5 in 2011.
This is a direct attack on the constitutional check and balance that the people of Ohio have over the state legislature. Here are the highlights (or lowlights) of this proposal:
·         Raise from 10% to 12.5% the number of petition signatures of Ohio’s registered voters (in the last gubernatorial election) to put a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. Based on turnout for the 2014 election for governor, about 318,000 valid signatures presently are needed to put an issue on the ballot, but the 12.5% requirement would raise the total by 79,000 additional signatures, to about 394,000 valid signatures.
·         Raise from a simple majority (50% + 1 vote) to 60% the total number of votes required to pass an amendment to the Ohio Constitution, or to pass a law proposed by the people. In 2017, about 1,600,000 people voted on the victim’s rights constitutional amendment, and 50% + 1 votes, roughly 800,000, would suffice to pass it. The proposed 60% super-majority requirement would make it necessary for 150,000 to 170,000 additional votes to pass a constitutional amendment or a new statute proposed by the people. Instead of about 800,000 votes, nearly 1,000,000 votes would be required. Funny how this 60% rule doesn’t apply to candidate elections to office.

·         Raise from 3% to 3.75% the number of registered voters’ signatures to propose legislation to the Ohio General Assembly, an increase of about 24,000 signatures. Currently about 94,000 valid signatures are needed. The proposed change would increase the requirement to about 118,000. The proposed legislation would require, first, obtaining an additional 3.75%, instead of the current 3%, of registered voter signatures, followed by a vote by a 60% super-majority.
·         Prohibit payment of any compensation to a petition circulator for gathering signatures. 

About the sponsor of this resolution:

State Representative Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) released the following statement regarding the announcement of the potential initiative constitutional amendment for the adult consumption of recreational marijuana:

"The initiative constitutional amendment proposed today is yet another ill-conceived ballot initiative with dishonest intentions, amplifying the need to pass House Joint Resolution 5, which I introduced recently. This is another proposal attempting to use the Ohio Constitution as a means for a special interest to make a profit at the expense of the taxpayers of Ohio, a gross misuse of our democratic process. HJR 5 would preserve the integrity of our state’s founding document and prevent moneyed special interest groups from buying our ballot. Today’s proposal is exactly what I am trying to stop with HJR 5. We must pass HJR 5 to stop this additional attempt for a moneyed special interest to hijack our ballot and buy their way into the Ohio Constitution.”

This misleading statement is appalling for many reasons—
·         Representative Antani wants to make it more difficult for the people to have a check on a state legislature that is bought and paid for by corporate special interests, while he presents the amendment as being in the best interests of the people.
·         Representative Antani has received campaign money from First Energy, Dayton Power and Light, Nisource, the Automobile Dealers Association and other corporate interests. He, like most of our elected officials, are beholden to and represent the interests of corporations over the interests of the people of Ohio.
·         If Representative Antani was serious about special interests hijacking our ballots and buying our Constitution, then he would be sponsoring legislation limiting corporate lobbyist donations to issues and candidates. He would be proposing a Fair Elections constitutional amendment along the lines of what Youngstown tried to get on their local ballot, until the state blocked it. http://www.protectyoungstown.org/fair-elections.html
·         If this is so important to protect the people, why, without any public debate, is this being proposed for the May 8 ballot in Ohio?
·         If this proposal gets on the ballot, it will only need 50% + 1 to become a law that will limit and stifle democracy forever after to a “super majority” of 60%.
We the people of Ohio cannot continue to allow a corrupt state legislature to slowly take away the people’s voice in governing decisions. Our democratic rights are being sabotaged, and we the people must say NO and say it loudly. We must support initiatives and organizations that are attempting to reverse this corporate state agenda and put democracy back in the hands of the people who will be affected by the laws that are passed. We must recognize that we the people are following laws written by and for corporations, and work to reverse this so that we the people are writing laws that corporations must follow.

The OHCRN is proposing two constitutional amendments to do just that. The Ohio Community Rights Amendment and the Initiative and Referendum for Counties and Township Amendment. Visit our website at http://ohcommunityrights.org/projects/statewide-constitutional-change/ to read both proposals full text and contact us to find out how you can help.

Join us in the effort to “legalize” and protect democracy by the people in Ohio.

Tish O'Dell

CELDF Ohio Organizer

OHCRN State Coordinator, www.ohiocrn.org

 Tree Media presents We the People 2.0 – The Second American Revolution, a film featuring the new democracy movement building across the United States. 

Support OHCRN. Make your contribution today.  Thank you!


 Donald Trump has made a political career out of demonizing people like me.
He announced his presidential campaign by calling Mexicans rapists, criminals and drug dealers. Just last week, he called Haiti and nations in Africa “shithole countries,” saying we should accept more immigrants from Norway instead. 

Beyond these racist words, Trump and his administration are rapidly advancing hateful policies. The day before his “shithole countries” comment, ICE raided more than a hundred 7-Eleven stories across the country. 

Faced with Donald Trump and the Republican Party’s relentless attacks on immigrants of color, it may be tempting to give up. To let their words define me and my family.
But I choose hope. I’m in this fight because, like my mother, I have hope that the power of the people will change our country. 

My name is America Reyes. I’m a Mexican immigrant who migrated to the US when I was 5 years old. I’m a leader with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, a People’s Action member organization. 

My parents brought me here with a dream. They wanted a better life for me. Just like them, I work every day to fulfill my dreams and thrive without fear of deportation again. I’ve been an active community member advocating for immigrant communities. I hope to become a lawyer and a judge one day. I want to have the power to carry justice forward and to continue the legacy of generations before me.
I also want to set an example for my younger sisters — I want them to know that we can win when we fight for our dignity. And I fight for a clean Dream Act to honor the fights my parents have gone through to be able to dream. 

Every day, about 122 young people like me lose their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. That means there are over a hundred youth each day at risk of being torn from their families and the country they call home. 

This is a moment of crisis for my family, as it is for so many families across the nation. 

I fear for how my younger sisters will feel being torn apart from their big sister. I worry for how my parents will fare having their daughter stolen from them. 

I am young woman with rights and dreams. And I deserve to see them through. 

Congress is negotiating the fate of 700,000 Dreamers this week. You can call 888-778-6856 and be directly connected to your member of Congress.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. Please join me in making the dreams of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants come true. Call Congress today and demand they pass a clean DREAM Act. 


America Reyes
Leader Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada and People’s Action

From Credo:

There is a massive new threat to fragile bee populations, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the power to stop it.
Syngenta, the Swiss-based agro-chemical rival to Monsanto, is seeking government approval to spray its bee-killing pesticide thiamethoxam on more than 165 million acres of American crop land.1

If the Scott Pruitt-led EPA under Donald Trump’s regime approves the company's application to apply massive amounts of this toxic pesticide on popular crops like wheat, barley, rice, alfalfa and potato, we could see even more dramatic and rapid declines of bee colonies. We must urge the EPA to deny Syngenta's application immediately.

Tell the EPA: No mass spraying of toxic, bee-killing pesticides. Click here to sign the petition.

In recent years, bee populations have plummeted significantly due in large part to the expanded use of bee-killing pesticides. More than 700 North American bee species are at risk for extinction, and in 2016-2017 alone, beekeepers lost 33 percent of their bees, yet the EPA has failed to take significant steps to limit pesticide use.2,3 In fact, just before Donald Trump took office, the EPA publicly acknowledged that neonic pesticides pose a significant risk to honeybees but backed away from a proposed rule to limit their use.4

Incredibly, this proposal by Syngenta to significantly ramp up its use of this toxic chemical on crop land fell on the very same day the EPA released a stunning new report detailing the dangers neonicotinoids such as thiamethoxam pose to animal life, including birds of all sizes.5 This most recent EPA study comes on the heels of numerous studies detailing the risks neonics also pose to invertebrate aquatic life.

As Lori Ann Burd, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's environmental health program, put it:

"If the EPA grants Syngenta's wish, it will spur catastrophic declines of aquatic invertebrates and pollinator populations that are already in serious trouble."6
Activism to protect bee populations works. Hundreds of thousands of CREDO members have mobilized in recent years to pressure the EPA to restrict expansion of Monsanto's bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides. But with Trump occupying the White House and Pruitt leading the EPA, we need to double down our efforts to keep these toxic pesticides from dramatically worsening the bee crisis.

Tell the EPA: No mass spraying of toxic, bee-killing pesticides. Click the link below to sign the petition:

Thanks for all you do.
Josh Nelson, Deputy Political Director CREDO Action from Working Assets

Add your name:

Sign the petition ►

  1. Grace Guarnieri, "EPA Might Let Bee-Killing Pesticide Be Sprayed On 165M Acres of Farmland," Newsweek, Dec. 21, 2017.
  2. Justin Worland, "More than 700 North American Bee Species Are Headed Toward Extinction," TIME, March 2, 2017.
  3. University of Maryland, "American beekeepers lost 33 percent of bees in 2016-17," May 25, 2017.
  4. Center for Biological Diversity, "Same Day: EPA Acknowledges Proven Dangers of Bee-killing Pesticides But Refuses to Restrict Them," Jan. 12, 2017.
  5. Center for Biological Diversity, "EPA Considers Allowing Bee-Killing Pesticide to Be Sprayed on 165 Million Acres of U.S. Farmland," Dec. 19. 2017.
  6. Ibid.

From Social Security Works:
As all eyes are focused on a potential government shutdown, the Senate is attempting to sneak through Alex Azar. He’s Donald Trump’s new pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, the cabinet post that oversees Medicare and Medicaid. And he might be even worse than Trump’s first HHS Secretary, Tom Price.
Azar is the former president of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly USA. During his tenure, Eli Lilly more than tripled the price of life-saving insulin medication―protecting drug company profits over patient care.

Alex Azar is the definition of the “revolving door” in Washington. He used his time serving in George W. Bush’s Department of Health and Human Services to cater to big pharma’s whims, auditioning for a cushy corporate job. He then spent nearly a decade personally profiting off of an industry he once regulated. And now he wants back in at HHS.

At a time of skyrocketing drug prices, we need a health secretary who will take on the drug companies, not pad their pockets!

Thank you for taking action today.
Michael Phelan
Social Security Works



  1. Great article about uniting! :-) We do indeed have work to do and must not diss each other over the different existing strategies. I have been arguing similarly. Here is a quote from something I wrote in April last year (Source: https://beanstocksworld.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/the-strongest-case-for-a-third-party/):

    "A last word: Personally, you may loath the existence of so many efforts when, in your opinion, only one effort is worth pursuing (the one you believe in) and all the other efforts are merely weakening THE ONE. In this case, I would like to point out that the splintering occurred long ago and was quite unavoidable. It won’t go away, at least not until one of the many party-reform or new-party efforts I mentioned races ahead of the others and proves itself as the one we can all unite behind. I think that, until we have a clearer picture of unity, we should give all the varied efforts our best, as long as they appear to have a chance and not engage in a kind of family feud. The splintering can, in fact, be an advantage: it makes us a more difficult target. Furthermore, in the military, splintering is often the path to victory. We talk about combined arms, pincer movements, and encirclement when overwhelming a foe from many sides. The splintering also provides flexibility and fallback solutions when some efforts go wrong."

    And then, of course, there is the growing idea of building a people's coalition that transcends party lines, focuses on our shared goals, uses some actions outside of candidacies (like ballot initiatives), and allows anti-establishment parties to collaborate getting true people's representatives into office no matter to which of those parties they belong. They may also be completely independent. In the ideal version, such as I outlined back in 2016 (see https://beanstocksworld.wordpress.com/apc/), we would have not just a single candidate running for the presidency or your local this-or-that office, but a whole task force of mutually endorsing candidates, including something like an entire presidential cabinet running as an alternative to such an awful duopoly offering as the choice between cholera and the plague (Trump and $Hillary).

    1. Thanks for the great quote from your article, Dirk. I feel the time has come for a "people's coalition" and it can call itself whatever it wants as long as it WORKS TO IMPLEMENT PROGRESSIVE REFORMS to make our world a better place. Our government's goals and objectives should be the betterment of our country and planet and less filling of individual politicians' pockets with lobbyist money. The Left (or whatever it wants to call itself) needs to be united in working to implement positive changes and be against anyone or any group that wants to line their pockets at everyone else's expense. Power to the people!


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