Mehrdad Azemun

Chicago Scores Major Victories for People’s Politics

Here in Chicago, our beloved City by the Lake, the People’s Wave is gaining momentum. What began in Philadelphia and New York last November continues in Chicago, as more machine politicians fall by the wayside and voters choose an unprecedented number of progressive champions, especially women of color, as their new generation of leaders. Chicago continues this trend, unseating Democratic insiders and forcing centrist and pro-corporate stooges into retirement. It’s not just about shifting our municipal-level policies to the left: it’s about how we win. We are practicing politics differently: not as a cynical tool of the wealthy, but as a way for people – especially poor and people of color – to find richer meaning in their lives and fight for their own liberation.

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Barb Kalbach

Rural America Needs Medicare for All Now

Rural America is facing a health care emergency – and Medicare for All is the answer. Hospitals in rural Iowa, where I live, are closing or teetering on the brink of closure at an alarming rate. Over a hundred have shut down since 2005, and hundreds more are on life support. In some counties, they no longer deliver babies. Long-term care facilities are vanishing all across rural America, or being bought up by large corporations who care more about profit than the care of our loved ones. I know firsthand – I’m a registered nurse, and a lifelong Iowan from the country. I’ve kept a close eye on where we’ve been with health care, and where we appear to be headed. The future does not look bright if we stay on our current failed path. Medicaid expansion was supposed to improve access to care.

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Devin Duffy

We Gave Pharma a Blank Check, Now We’re Paying the Bill

Click here to watch pharmaceutical executives testify to the Senate Finance Committee on February 26, 2019 at 10:15 a.m. Rebecca Hovde from Wellman, Iowa, has taken medicine to treat her rare autoimmune disease for years. Recently, she learned the drug her life depends on will now cost her $375,000 a year – three times the value of her house. After Catalyst Pharmaceuticals patented the drug Rebecca takes, they were granted market exclusivity for it in the United States. That means they could charge any price they wanted for the drug, and can also prevent others from selling it, or even giving it away. Now, Rebecca isn’t sure she can afford it. “If I can’t get my medication, I won’t be able to breathe, and I’ll wind up being hospitalized,” she told the Des Moines Register. Stories like Rebecca’s are all too common in the United States today.

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Griffin Sinclair-Wingate

Broke Students Need Solutions, Not A Magic Genie

Winter can be a miserable time in New Hampshire. When it’s cold outside, all you really want to do is curl up with a warm dog on your lap. This was especially true for me last Monday, when my phone rang after a long day at work. Instead of taking a breather, I found myself driving out into a snowstorm at 9 o’clock at night. Why, you may ask? It’s because the call was from CNN, to let me know I could attend Senator Amy Klobuchar’s Town Hall meeting that night in Manchester. Even though I’d submitted a request online to attend, to be honest, I wasn’t all that excited when I got the call. The event was an hour’s drive from my house, the weather was bad, and Klobuchar is just one of the dozens of presidential hopefuls who overrun our state every four years. But when Carry from CNN told me I could ask a question, I couldn’t say no.

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Sarah Schulz

Immigrants Aren’t the Emergency

Midland, Michigan, where my husband and I are raising our two young children, is a small town surrounded by rural communities. Many of us living here have seen, generation-by-generation, that we’re falling behind. Our anxiety is real, but we wholeheartedly reject attempts by those in power to blame immigrant families who have their own struggles, or to suggest that a made up “national emergency” is any kind of solution. We know better. One of my friends and her husband both work full time and each have separate health insurance through their jobs — but their three children aren’t insured. Their income is too high for the kids to qualify for the MIChild insurance the state offers children of working families. But their income isn’t high enough to allow them buy coverage independently. Their third child was born just a few months ago.

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Jock Toles

Chicago’s Homeless Are Freezing and Dying

Jock Toles in Chicago. Photo credit: Diego Morales, Chicago DSA The polar vortex froze Chicago’s city streets with temperatures as low as minus 23 degrees. It was subzero for 52 hours straight. This was hard on everyone, but it hit the city’s 80,000 homeless the hardest. How do I know? I’m one of them. I had a place to stay, but I saw a lot of people out there – freezing and dying – when they shouldn’t. I was thankful to be safe myself, but I had to sit back and say: This shouldn’t be happening. At all. When we heard the vortex was coming, we knew people would die. We could count on that fact. That disgusted me. What was the response of our Mayor, Rahm Emanuel? Too little. The city spent millions on buses and warming centers, and asked hospitals and non-profits to open their doors.

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Leo Gerard

Standing Together on Trade With China

The trade relationship between China and America is destructive: China’s deliberate trade violations drain America’s strength. Beijing is to America what Delilah was to Samson. Chinese trade officials are in Washington, D.C., this week in high-stakes negotiations. U.S. negotiators are trying to curb China’s illegal trade practices and restore American vigor. They are talking tough, which is appropriate, since no previous agreement and no previous penalties have even dinged China’s free-market-defying trade regime. But then President Trump let slip last week that he would consider postponing a tariff increase scheduled for March 1 if no deal is reached. Delay means nothing, but additional strength shorn from America. The bankers and lawyers on Wall Street don’t see it, and few politicians in Washington, D.C., care.

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Adrienne Evans

This Is How Democracy Breaks; This Is How We Fix It

This President’s Day, I stood with two hundred and fifty Idahoans on the steps of our State Capitol in Boise to protest our president’s demand to build a wall between the United States and the the world. We’re in a national emergency, he insists, one that can only be stopped by a fence as tall as his ego. The crisis is so grave that he must take billions away from other vital priorities. To show us his seriousness about the depth of this crisis, he jets off to Florida for a weekend of golf. This is a #FakeTrumpEmergency – the latest sideshow in the Big Trump Circus. Indeed, this would all be laughable, if it didn’t reveal the deep, dark vein that runs through his administration. This is a power grab, and the very foundations of our democracy are at stake. Let’s not put lipstick on a pig. What Trump and his cronies want in this country is white supremacy.

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Alexis Pleus

We Can Save Lives If We Confront Our Opioid Crisis

As a New York State Trooper handcuffed me at our State Capitol, I told him, “I lost my son. This is for him.” Alexis Pleus, founder of TruthPharm, under arrest at the N.Y. State Capitol in Albany Jeff was an amazing kid, a chef, who was 28 when he died of a heroin overdose. I was willing to face arrest because our elected officials know what they can do to save lives like Jeff’s – but they don’t. When Jeff was alive, no one told us how hard it is to beat an opioid addiction. No one offered us Suboxone or other proven treatments. No one told us about Naloxone, which can reverse an overdose. Give him “Tough Love,” treatment providers told us, so we did. Doctors are able to prescribe unlimited amounts of opioid pills for pain, but few of them understand the addiction this creates, nor offer help for it.

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Miles Mogulescu

Bezos Confronts Pecker, But Is Still a Greedy Di*k

Jeff Bezos deserves props for standing up to blackmail by The National Enquirer’s  publisher, David Pecker, who threatened to print sexually explicit pictures and texts of the Amazon founder if he refused to issue a false statement that The Enquirer doesn’t have a pro-Trump political agenda. And Bezos also deserves props for buying The Washington Post and apparently keeping his hands off the editorial content, so far. In a changing media economy, there are a dwindling number of outlets like the Post which can afford the resources needed for the kind of in-depth local, national, and international news coverage that maintains an informed electorate a democracy needs. It does take some courage for Bezos to stand up to The National Enquirer’s threats, even if he is the richest man in the world.

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Deborah Rainey

Now’s The Time For The Health Care We All Deserve

Deb Rainey and other Monadnock Progressive Alliance members I would love to wake up in the morning and not worry my siblings are having a health crisis. I would like our family to have the peace of mind we all deserve. I have two siblings with debilitating illnesses. One is on disability, the other should be. Neither is free from the fear they might lose everything if they get sick. My brother’s job includes insurance, yet health care costs are a constant strain. My sister wanted to run her own business,  but being self-employed is rough when you pay massive amounts for insurance! People like her can’t afford to leave jobs they dislike. How many great ideas never get off the ground in our country because of these expenses? My daughter, Jessica, lives in the U.K. There, the National Health Service provides health care to everyone.

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Jeff Bryant

Charters Push Public Schools to the Brink

Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/cc When striking Los Angeles teachers won their demand to call for a halt to charter school expansions in California, they set off a domino effect, and now teachers in other large urban districts are making the same demand. Unchecked charter school growth is also bleeding into 2020 election campaigns. Recently, New York magazine columnist Jonathan Chait berated Democratic Massachusetts Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren for having opposed a ballot initiative in her home state in 2016 that would have raised a cap on the number of charter schools. “There may be no state in America that can more clearly showcase the clear success of charter schools than [Massachusetts],” declared Chait.

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Cindy Garcia

Trump Said He Would Protect Families, Then Deported My Husband

Photo courtesy of Cindy Garcia A year ago, my husband Jorge was torn from our family and deported to Mexico after living peacefully in the United States for nearly 30 years, working and raising a family with me in suburban Detroit. Just a few weeks later, I was invited by my congresswoman to attend President Trump’s State of the Union address and listened carefully to his words as he promised to “protect” Americans from immigrants like my husband. In his State of the Union speech this year,  Trump again ratcheted up his divisive message and fear-mongering. But his attacks on immigrants don’t make us safer, and they do nothing to help the millions of American citizens who are struggling financially. Let me tell you from firsthand experience here in Michigan: Immigrants don’t steal jobs.

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Ben Ishibashi

Clean Energy Is A Human Right

Rev. Tony Pierce and other members of Illinois People’s Action speak out at the EPA’s “Affordable Clean Energy” hearings in Chicago. Photo credit: People’s Action Our planet is being pushed to the brink. Pollution burns our lungs and our children fall sick while those who profit from dirty energy show no signs of relenting. The time to strike at the heart of our climate emergency is now. It’s time for bold action for the communities who bear the brunt of our environmental crisis. We won’t settle for crumbs, the half-measures Washington insiders tell us are all we can hope for. We demand fundamental solutions to rebuild our economy and avert ecological collapse. That’s why People’s Action is proud to join movement allies, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Edward Markey and other progressive leaders in Congress to support the Green New Deal.

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Miles Mogulescu

America Is Already Socialist, And That’s a Good Thing

During Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, many of the old, white, Republican Senators and Representatives must have gotten more exercise than in weeks, jumping to their feet to applaud almost every sentence of the endless rhetoric. One of the moments that got the loudest applause was Trump’s attempt to blame progressive Democrats for the problems of the current Venezuelan government, proclaiming the U.S. “will never be a socialist country” to a loud standing ovation from Republicans (and too many Democrats) and chants of “USA, USA, USA.” Like so much of Trump’s speech, the statement was false. I have news for the Donald: The United States—like every other country with an advanced economy, such as the U.K., Germany, France, and Japan—is already a partly socialist country, with a mixed economy and many government programs that serve the public good.

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Mehrdad Azemun

Trump Offers Cold Comfort to Immigrants

While Trump didn’t follow his dictatorial instincts in his State of the Union speech to declare an “emergency” on the U.S.-Mexico border – yet – we know what the real emergency is: the thousands of children who have been ripped from their families. There are so many, in fact that the administration now says it may be impossible to ever reunite them, because they’ve lost track. Even worse, Republican lawmakers cheered Trump on as he doubled down on cruel and illegal immigration rhetoric and policies that hurt children, mothers and families. It was striking that a full quarter of his guests had to do with immigration, including a Latino immigrant who is now an ICE agent. Trump and the GOP know he will never win a majority of the Latino vote – but they still want to get a large enough portion of that electorate to win.

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Jessica Juarez Scruggs

Trump Invokes Compassion to Justify Violence

During President Trump’s State of the Union address, I was enraged by his racism, his rampant lies, his narrow self-interest and his twisted and cruel vision for our country.  None of that is new in Trump’s America. In fact, his speech was all too familiar. Not only was his speech littered with tired cliches, it tapped into an age old and blood-soaked tactic over and over again: pitting an “innocent” victim against an imagined, and dehumanized, other. This is the story behind some of our countries lowest moments.  It is a story that haunts our history. Time and again, horrific violence is justified – even created – by pitting the dehumanized “aggressor” against an “innocent” victim.  As a white woman, I can’t forget how often my image has been invoked to excuse the murder of black and brown people.

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Sam Pizzigati

Egalitarians Gain Ground in Washington

If you worry about inequality, and if you want an end to grand — and dangerous — concentrations of income and wealth, pinch yourself. We have entered a new political moment. Egalitarians have suddenly seized the policy momentum. They have forced onto the nation’s political center stage initiatives for shearing the ultra rich down to democratic size that no major elected leader in America would have dared propose only a year ago. Maybe even a few months ago. This stunning shift began early in January when Rep. Alexandria Olivia-Cortez from New York proposed a new 70 percent tax rate on income over $10 million. Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, in quick order, then put on the table a “wealth tax” on the grand fortunes of America’s richest 75,000 households.

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Leigh Friedman

Get Ready for 100% Just

VIRGINIA — People and Planet First leaders gathered to build a long term strategy to grow their base of low-income people and communities of color in the fight for climate justice. Since its founding, People’s Action Institute has been organizing to address the climate crisis and put people and planet first. In 2018, climate organizers came together and co-created the next chapter of our work: the 100% Just Campaign, which will launch publicly in Spring 2019. There is momentum around the push toward 100% renewable energy sources—we want to add energy to that push. We also want to be 100% sure that equity runs through the transition to a renewable energy economy, and that all extractive energy systems are stopped.

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Leo Gerard

More Billionaire Presidential Candidates: A Bitter Pill

Billionaires are pretty damn sure they know what’s best for you. No more taxes on the rich and none of that Medicare-for-all is what’s best for you, according to two billionaires toying with seeking the presidency. Or, maybe, that’s what’s best for them. One of those billionaires, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, called Medicare-for-All un-American. Actually, the only thing that makes Medicare for-All un-American is the fact America is the only First World country that fails to provide universal health insurance. Schultz and Michael Bloomberg, the other billionaire who thinks he should be president, revealed themselves as out-of-touch, private-jet-riding, multi -mansion-owning, gold-leaf-latte-sippers by condemning lawmakers who have proposed raising taxes on the nation’s most obscenely rich.

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