Erica Johnson

Turning Back the Tide of Hate In Iowa and Beyond

There’s a phrase we use here in Iowa to say how people should treat one another: “Iowa Nice.” We think of ourselves as kind, generous, family friendly and closely-knit, and with a knack for finding common-sense solutions together. But “Iowa Nice” takes on a different ring in the Trump-Sessions era, when forced family separations and mass arrests of immigrants in small towns like the one where I grew up, Mount Pleasant, in southeast Iowa, are on the rise. Mount Pleasant, population 8,539, is about as Iowa as you get – it’s surrounded by soybeans and corn, with a handful of factories. One of these, Midwest Precast Concrete (MPC), is where they used to make the yellow Bluebird school buses. On May 9, ICE raided the plant and took away 32 workers – from Mexico, Guatemala and elsewhere in Central America. Iowans see families ripped apart like this, and it opens their eyes.

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Robert Borosage

How to Win Elections from the Ground Up

Mainstream media has settled into conventional themes about this year’s primary elections. After Tuesday’s voting in Wisconsin, Iowa, Vermont and Connecticut, the press trotted out the expected conclusions: “Democrats go for diversity; Republicans pick pro Trump candidates” trumpeted one headline from Salon. Midwest Democrats’ answer to Trump, Politico declared, is “white, conventional and boring.” According to analysts at 585, these primaries told us what we already knew  – Democratic turnout is up, Trump is remaking the Republican Party, and control of the House is still in play. Here’s the big story the mainstream media missed. Focusing solely on the top line – gubernatorial, Senate and House races – misses the critical story of these primaries:   Progressive populists are beginning to build for real power, starting from the ground up.

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Miles Mogulescu

The Constitution’s Case for Impeachment

Millions of Americans sit helplessly by as an unfit, narcissistic, ignorant, pathologically lying, misogynistic, racist, xenophobic President allies himself with Russia and Putin against our government. He does nothing to protect American elections against continued attacks from a hostile foreign adversary. He supports suppressing the votes of citizens who may oppose him, and attacks fundamental American and Constitutional values in a manner that may irreversibly damage our system of democracy. This, and much more, adds up to a constitutional crisis.

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Robert Kraig

Progressives Win Big in Wisconsin Primary

Mandela Barnes, Marisabel Cabrera, Jeff Smith and Sarah Godlewski: remember these names. These four members of Citizen Action Wisconsin, who all won primary races Tuesday night by wide margins, are proof the blue wave Democrats hope will crest in November continues to rise. But there’s more to this story. These four are the tip of a progressive iceberg, which is much bigger just below the surface. And like an iceberg, they’re getting ready to crash into the GOP’s “unsinkable” ship of gerrymandering and dark money and send it straight to the bottom of Lake Superior. Our Direction National headlines focus on the top of our ticket, but beneath the surface, there is an important battle shaping up in Wisconsin for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. The general Democratic trend in our state in 2018 has been unmistakable.

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Adrienne Evans

What’s At Stake When We Vote This Year

A lot is at stake when we go to vote this year. It’s about restoring our faith in our leaders, but more than that, it’s about restoring our faith in one another. Members of United Vision for Idaho at a Community Cookout in Garden City How did we get here? Let’s step back to November, two years ago. For some, that was a vote of privilege – a statement of dissent. But for others it revealed the deep and painful wounds of the oppression they’ve always experienced. It uncovered just how pervasive discrimination is, precisely because it was so shocking to others.  It uncovered just how entrenched institutionalized discrimination has become in America. Thank God we don’t all have to have the same experiences, but we must understand that we don’t all have the same experiences, or face the same limits and consequences for being who we are.

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Jeff Bryant

WI Governor’s Race Puts Education in the Spotlight

Tony Evers leads in polls among the slew of Democratic candidates vying to take on Scott Walker to become Wisconsin’s next governor. But is he pro-public school enough to win? U.S. Air Force/Kathleen D. Bryant Support for public education and public school teachers is burgeoning into a critical issue for candidates in primary races and November midterm elections in a year in which local and state issues are strongly influencing major electoral contests. Nowhere is this more the case than in Wisconsin, where governor Scott Walker has based his campaign on being the “education governor” despite a horrible record of slashing school funding, undermining teachers, and redirecting taxpayer money to charter and private schools funded by a voucher program he expanded.

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Negin Owliaei

How to Turn Back a Giant

What’s the best way to push profit-seeking corporations out of the public sphere? Don’t let them take over in the first place. Residents of Lancaster County, Penn. were thrilled to learn this lesson with their recent victory against Geo Group, a giant of the private prison industry. Photo credit: Shutterstock / cc Geo Group has gained notoriety for its shady practices, with a rap sheet as varied as the so-called services it provides. Geo has turned into a household name in recent weeks for profiting off the youth and family detention centers that have become hallmarks of President Donald Trump’s inhumane immigration policies. But the company’s heinous practices predate Trump — though their highly suspect lobbying relationship with the current administration is well-documented.

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Erik Shelley

Pohutsky’s Win Gives Voice To Michigan’s Real Voters

Voters in Michigan’s 19th district will have an alternative to the career politicians they are used to seeing on ballot in November. Microbiologist Laurie Pohutsky won the Democratic nomination in the Tuesday primary election. She was one of 5 aspiring state legislators who were endorsed by the Michigan People’s Campaign at their “People’s Voice Caucus” in July. The MPC endorsement didn’t come with a large check, but rather the pledge of voting members to do the work needed to get their candidate elected. By the time the polls closed Tuesday, they had knocked on 8,500 doors, talking to voters across the state. “Our door to door operation is unconventional by design,” said Bartosz Kumor, Director of Movement Politics for MPC.

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Robert Borosage

Measures of Heat in Tuesday’s Primaries

Voters turned out in primary elections across Ohio, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington on Tuesday. Any conclusions drawn from primaries three months out from a midterm vote are written in the wind. That does not stop the press from naming “winners and losers,” who’s up and who’s down. Here’s a common sense guide to this week’s votes. One: The Resistance Continues The special congressional election in Ohio-12, a strongly Republican district grounded in the northern suburbs and rural areas surrounding Columbus, ended in a dead heat. The hapless Republican candidate, Troy Balderson led by about 1,700 votes with more than 8,000 absentee and provisional ballots yet to count, despite $4.5 million poured in by the NRCC and the Republican Congressional Leadership PAC, as well as open support from Donald Trump and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

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Jake Jacobs

New York’s Religious Schools Reveal Hazards of “School Choice”

On a recent trip to New York City, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited two schools—not the public schools her agency is charged with overseeing, but two Orthodox Jewish yeshivas.  Photo credit: Shutterstock / cc DeVos used the opportunity to advocate for her lifelong crusade, “school choice.” As head of the Education Department, she’s proposed vastly expanding vouchers for private religious schools using public education funding, shattering the Constitutional barrier between church and state. While fourteen states allow tax dollars to fund religious school vouchers, thirty-seven state constitutions contain Blaine Amendments, limiting state funding to religious schools.

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Tim Wilkins

Hometowns Rise Up To Support Separated Families

All across America, residents of rural communities and small towns are stepping up to stand in solidarity with immigrant families and refuse the intimidation and fear the Trump administration wants to use to keep them apart. “It’s really concerning that in America, we would actually traumatize children and families on purpose, and not do the right thing and reunite them,” said Joel Lewis of Wausau, Wisconsin – population 134,000.   Lewis joined other members of Citizen Action Wisconsin to host a Community Cookout in Wausau this weekend to raise awareness about the ongoing struggles faced by separated families, and to discuss ways local communities like theirs can help. The Wausau cookout was one of fifty held across the country to raise awareness about the impact on families separated by the DOJ’s “zero tolerance” policy for immigrants.

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Jeff Bryant

“Portfolio” Boosters Want to Privatize Public Schools

Remember when Democrats, at the urging of their progressive base, defeated an attempt to privatize Social Security by President George W. Bush in 2005? As Bush barnstormed the country to sell his plan to let workers place a portion of their payroll taxes in personal account invested in stocks and bonds, “Democrats pushed back,” a retrospective for Vox recalls.

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Richard Eskow

Pandering to Deficit Hawks Is a Losing Strategy

The House Democratic leadership’s obsession with asserting a “centrist” – that is, fiscally conservative – fiscal ideology threatens to put the party at odds with its base. It endangers the party’s chances of retaking the House, and will make it difficult for Democrats to offer a credible alternative to the failed conservatism of Trump and his party should they win in November. Pay to Play Nancy Pelosi recently spoke to a forum hosted by the Peterson Foundation, which was founded by conservative billionaire Peter G. Peterson to promote his own obsession with reducing the federal deficit. Before his death earlier this year, Peterson spent hundreds of millions of dollars inculcating his brand of debt-fixated fiscal conservatism in politicians, journalists, and policy advisors.

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Ashana Bigard

Don’t Believe New Orleans is Regaining Control of its Schools

Ashana Bigard speaks on a panel about New Orleans schools after Hurricane Katrina at NetRoots Nation in New Orleans on Thursday, August 2 at 10:30 a.m. OurFuture education columnist Jeff Bryant moderates this panel, and leads one on 2018’s teacher uprisings on Friday, August 3 at 4:15 p.m. Prominent pundits in outlets like the New York Times and The 74 have been reporting that the state of Louisiana has returned control of New Orleans charter schools to a locally elected school board, and that they are thus accountable to the city’s residents. But citizens in New Orleans will tell you: that’s not the case. State Act 91 reunifies forty-nine schools that were placed under the jurisdiction of the so-called Recovery School District after Hurricane Katrina.

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Andy Spears

Move Our Nation Forward In Hope: Vote

Thursday, August 2, 2018 is Primary Election Day in Tennessee. To find out when and where to vote, click here. Tennessee is a national leader – in a race to the bottom. We lead the nation in hospital closures per capita. We have more people working for the minimum wage per capita than any other state. Our state’s teachers have one of the highest pay gaps in the nation – earning a third less than comparably educated professionals. We have the third highest rate of opioid prescriptions and an increasing rate of overdose deaths. Yes, we lead in the nation in plenty of ways we wish we didn’t. But this next one beats them all: Tennessee is dead last in the country in voter turnout. Dead last. Voting Matters Today is primary day, and early voting numbers indicate some room for hope this year. But the problems we face need far more than modest improvement in our voter turnout.

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Leo Gerard

Republicans: Up is Down, Medicare is Safe

Republicans live in an Alice-in-Wonderland World where they can pass $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that won’t cost anything. They’ll pay for themselves! Just like a worker’s mortgage does every month. Just pays for itself! And then the GOP can propose another $1 trillion in tax cuts that also won’t cost anything! They certainly won’t increase the federal deficit, or damage Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security! Or so we’re told. Magic Unicorn Money The reason Republicans believe in Magic Unicorn Money is that they never actually socialize with, or speak to, or even vaguely know minimum-wage workers, or middle-class workers or precariat workers who drive for Uber at night because their day jobs deny them full-time hours. These workers get paid in cold, hard currency that lacks the power of Unicorn Money to magically materialize whenever necessary to pay bills.

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Miles Mogulescu

Memo to Rudy: Collusion Isn’t a Crime, But Conspiracy Is

Hey Rudy: back in the day when you were a federal prosecutor, you were a pretty good lawyer. Maybe you’ve gone senile. Or maybe you’re just making stuff up to confuse the public about the possible criminal liability of top Trump campaign officials, or even President Trump himself. Monday on Fox you claimed, “I’ve been sitting here looking in the federal code trying to find collusion as a crime. Collusion is not a crime.”  On Tuesday, your client, Donald Trump tweeted the same claim, “Collusion is not a crime.” As a former prosecutor, you know full well that while the crime of “collusion” is not in the federal code,  the crime of “ conspiracy” is. 18 U.S.

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Justin Vest

Standing Up For Immigrants – In Alabama

Justin Vest and other members of Hometown Action are hosting a #FamiliesBelongTogether Potluck in Athens, AL on August 26, 2018. To attend or host a cookout in your hometown, click here.  This summer, people gathered in cities throughout the country to protest our government’s separation and incarceration of immigrant families. In Alabama, hundreds of local residents came together in Birmingham, Montgomery, and Dothan. Immigrant rights rally, Huntsville, AL. Photo credit: Shutterstock / cc It was only the Huntsville rally that made national news — after an armed counter-protester attempted to disrupt the event. Whether explicitly stated or not, the narrative was the same: A white Trump supporter threatening violence came to epitomize Alabama’s stance on immigration.

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Richard Eskow

An Economy in the Fast Lane – With No Brakes

Donald Trump has been bragging about the economy a lot lately. He says the United States is now the “economic envy” of the world. Unfortunately, Trump is once again trying to reshape reality to fit his own delusions. Reality is refusing to cooperate. It’s true the U.S. economy is in the fast lane, by some measures, just as it was in the final years of Barack Obama’s presidency.  But where, exactly, is it headed? And what will happen when the next blowout comes, as it inevitably will? We know one thing: average Americans, who have seen their incomes stagnate while inequality rises, and their wealth declines, will bear the brunt of the next recession. Less Than Amazing First, it should be noted that what Trump calls an “amazing” economy isn’t amazing for everyone.

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Robert Borosage

Dems Shouldn’t Defend Bad Policies Just to Resist Trump

When Trump strikes a populist tone, expose him as a fraud – don’t back the corporate stance. Last week on CNBC, President Donald Trump upbraided the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates. “I don’t like all of this work that we’re putting into the economy and then I see rates going up,” he said. The president’s remarks elicited a furious response in the financial press. “Attacking central bank is one more step in what seems like a Presidential strategy of turning the United States into a banana republic,” tweeted Larry Summers, Clinton’s former treasury secretary and wannabe Fed Chair.

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