News from the Frontlines of the Political Revolution!
Don’t miss our National Organize to Win Call on Monday, April 26 at 8:30pm EST, when we’ll talk about Criminal Justice Reform with former Bernie 2020 co-chair Ben Cohen, whose latest book is “Above the Law: How Qualified Immunity Protects Violent Police,” and progressive prosecutors Larry Krasner (Philadelphia District Attorney), Eli Savit (Washtenaw County, MI Prosecuting Attorney), Pam Price (District Attorney candidate from Alameda County, CA) and other progressive changemakers!
While we are relieved that the police officer who murdered George Floyd will be held accountable, we know we must continue to organize to defeat systemic racism and win real criminal justice reform.
As Minnesota Attorney General and Our Revolution Board Member Keith Ellison, who was lead prosecutor in the case, said after the verdict was returned, “We pursued justice wherever it led. Yet I would not call this verdict ‘justice,’ because justice implies true restoration. It is accountability, which is the first step towards justice.” True justice, he continued, “is not one case. It is a social transformation that says that nobody is beneath the law and no one is above it.”
Our Revolution is committed to working for transformative change at every level. In Congress, we supported passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which bans police from using chokeholds and no-knock warrants, the Breathe Act, and the Ending Qualified Immunity Act to make it easier to hold police officers accountable. Our members also helped pass sweeping police reform legislation in Maryland and Illinois this year, and helped elect progressive AGs and DAs across the country – like Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, Eli Savit in Michigan, and Monique Worrell in Florida – who are committed to changing the system.
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Our collective work illustrates how Our Revolution carries out our 5-Point Plan to Win on Criminal Justice Reform by:
(1) Mobilizing our national network of local Our Revolution groups from coast to coast to take action;
(2) Holding our elected officials accountable to support justice in policing;
(3) Electing progressive champions who will fight to end systemic racism in our criminal justice system;
(4) Fighting for policies like ending qualified immunity and cash bail, restricting use of force, and other needed reforms; and
(5) Pushing the Democratic party to adopt a progressive platform of justice in policing, and elect more of our members to Party positions.
IN THIS WEEK’S ISSUE:
Our Earth Day rally & hearing to end fossil fuel subsidies; Bernie’s College For All plan (and how to pay for it); New York’s single payer bill gains momentum; commentary from Jim Hightower; a come from behind election victory in Illinois; the progressives running to turn Texas blue; and MORE!
As the nation celebrated Earth Day this week, Our Revolution joined with Greenpeace USA, Friends of the Earth, This is Zero Hour and US Rep. Ro Khanna and others to hold a Virtual Rally to End Fossil Fuel Subsidies and call for immediate Congressional action. The burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil, and gas – is the single largest contributor to the climate crisis. Yet we give the fossil fuel industry billions in taxpayer subsidies every year. Our coalition held the rally to show that there’s strong grassroots support to stop our government from giving our tax money to dirty energy by featuring voices from frontline communities. Speakers included Kayley Shoup from New Mexico who spoke about how the oil industry is hurting the health of communities in the Permian Basin, and John Beard of the Port Arthur Community Action Network who described how communities of color on the Texas Gulf Coast are suffering at the hands of the fossil fuel industry. “We sit at the forefront of environmental racism, environmental injustice and climate change,” he said.
Our Earth Day rally was followed by a special hearing on “The Role of Fossil Fuel Subsidies in Preventing Action on the Climate Crisis” led by Rep. Ro Khanna, who serves as Chair of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Environment.
He grilled American Petroleum Institute lobbyist Frank Macchiarola over his statement under oath that the fossil fuel industry receives “no special treatment” under the U.S. tax code. The truth is that the fossil fuel industry enjoys a lucrative tax benefit that no other industry receives, costing taxpayers billions every year while propping up an industry that is a key driver of climate change. Rep. Khanna exposed how the fossil fuel industry gets this special Intangible Drilling Deduction – a subsidy that allows the fossil fuel industry to write off all expenses in the first year, instead of depreciating them over seven years like every other industry must do.
In a testy exchange, Rep. Khanna got the fossil fuel executive to ADMIT the industry gets preferential tax treatment and then AGREE it shouldn’t get the subsidy!
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg also testified virtually at the hearing, telling lawmakers: “It is the year 2021- the fact that we are still having this discussion, and even more, that we are still subsidizing fossil fuels directly or indirectly, using taxpayer money, is a disgrace. It is clear proof that we have not understood the climate emergency at all. We have to end fossil fuel subsidies, stop new exploration and extraction, completely divest from fossil fuels and keep the carbon in the ground.”
She said the U.S. needs to set an example for the rest of the world to follow. “If the U.S. — which is the biggest emitter in history — won’t take action, then how can we expect other countries to do that?”
Our Revolution Board member and syndicated columnist Jim Hightower talks trust-busting in this week’s commentary: “Busting the power of abusive and arrogant food monopolists would be of such immediate benefit to the bottom lines of farmers, consumers, and workers that even middle-of-the-road congressional Democrats and a few Republicans are turning into Rooseveltian trustbusters. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, for example, usually a reliable defender of corporate interests, sees the connection between inner-city food deprivation and the consolidation of power by industrial farm and food profiteers, which he says, “are contrary to our very idea of farming in our country.”
This week, Our Revolution endorsed the College for All Act of 2021, introduced by Bernie and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, that would make public colleges and universities tuition-free for working families and community colleges tuition-free for everyone. Rep. Jayapal said, “While President Biden can and should immediately cancel student debt for millions of borrowers, Congress must ensure that working families never have to take out these crushing loans in the first place.”
To help pay for tuition-free college and other progressive priorities, Bernie and Rep. Barbara Lee introduced the Tax on Wall Street Speculation Act, which imposes a modest financial transaction tax that would raise up to $2.4 trillion over the next decade from Wall Street investment houses, hedge funds, and other speculators. Bernie said, “Let us never forget: in 2008, taxpayers bailed out Wall Street speculators whose greed, recklessness and illegal behavior caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, homes, and life savings. Now those giant financial institutions are making record-breaking profits while millions of Americans are struggling…it’s Wall Street’s turn to rebuild the middle class.”
A financial transaction tax is one of several ways to fund national priorities like education, infrastructure, and healthcare. Bernie argues in a CNN op-ed that negotiating prescription drug prices, a wealth tax, closing tax loopholes, and ending fossil fuel subsidies can generate trillions of dollars without raising taxes on working families or the middle class.
New York State Sen. Gustavo Rivera joined our Monday Organize to Win Call to discuss the New York Health Act, a statewide single-payer bill which is moving through the legislature. Our Revolution announced our endorsement of the bill, which has unprecedented majority support in both state houses. Sen. Rivera, the Health Committee Chair and the bill’s Senate sponsor, said that after passing a flurry of historic bills in the past few weeks – including model social-justice cannabis legislation, a wealth tax, and a first-in-the-nation excluded workers fund – he believes the legislature has the momentum to pass single payer, with our support. “Health care is a human right, and we need to pressure state legislators to make it a policy priority.”
Our Revolution New Jersey members are keeping the pressure on their members of Congress to support single payer with the passage of yet another Medicare for All resolution! The Scotch Plains, NJ Township Council is now the 7th New Jersey locality to pass a resolution supporting nationwide Medicare for All. The resolution addresses the fact that even before the pandemic, 700,000 NJ residents lacked health insurance. Our Revolution Union County’s Sean Smith said the group is “sending a message” to our Congressional delegation: It’s time to put an end to for-profit health care.
Our members have six more local resolutions in the works and meetings planned with US Reps. Andy Kim, Donald Norcross, Albio Sires and Bill Pascrell to present the resolutions and show them that their constituents demand Medicare for All!
VICTORY! HR 51 – the bill to grant statehood to the District of Columbia – has passed the House! In the lead-up to the vote, Our Revolution DC members organized a public meeting with Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton. As Rep. Norton told us: “For too long, D.C.’s 700,000 residents – 46% of whom are Black – have been disenfranchised, forced to pay federal taxes but denied the right to self-governance and a vote in Congress.” As the legislation moves to the Senate, Our Revolution is ramping-up our work to fight the filibuster to ensure this bill – and other progressive priorities – become law.
“¡Sí se pudo!” Those are the words of Cesar Guerrero, the 25-year-old first-time candidate who came up from behind to win his race for Joliet City Council. On election night, Cesar was behind by 55 votes, but mail-in ballots put him ahead by 11 votes – enough to beat the incumbent and become the first Latino in Joliet history to be elected to citywide office. “The people of Joliet have been calling out for someone who will stand up to the special interests and fight for the working families who deserve a fair shake.” Cesar was part of a slate of winning candidates in Joliet who were supported by Our Revolution Illinois.
Sen. Nina Turner and Our Revolution Ohio’s Diane Morgan joined our Monday Organize to Win Call with an update on Nina’s campaign. Since January, Diane said our “amazing team” signed up over 1,000 volunteers and made over 81,000 phone calls. “People are truly excited at this chance of a lifetime to have Nina represent us in Congress.”
Nina thanked Our Revolution for putting her campaign in a strong position, while cautioning, “We cannot rest. Lots of billionaire Republicans and special interests who have no interest in changing the material conditions of the poor, working poor, and barely middle class are donating to other candidates in the race. They’re not going to let us win this seat without a fight.” Nina’s establishment opponent has refused to take a pledge to refuse “dark money” corporate contributions and instead, launched a smear campaign against Nina and
Our Revolution’s grassroots campaign.
Ahead of today’s election, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez added her name to roster of progressive endorsements for Karen Carter Peterson, our candidate to represent Congress from Louisiana’s 2nd District, saying: “I have no doubt that she’ll be a partner in the work to make our country work for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected. She would make a fantastic colleague in Congress.” KCP’s opponent Troy Carter was removed from the “No Fossil Fuel Pledge” for taking large contributions from the fossil fuel industry and refusing to return them. He’s also been endorsed by over 70 top Republican donors and electeds. Our Revolution was one of the first progressive groups to endorse KCP in her fight against the establishment and made over 12,000 one-on-one voter contacts in the race.
Our Revolution Texas members have been knocking doors for dozens of candidates leading up to their May 1st elections, including Deborah Peoples, who’s running to be the next mayor of Fort Worth, Texas. Deborah is chair of the Tarrant County Democratic Party and an unapologetic progressive who was endorsed by Bernie in 2019. She’s running against the Republican machine in Fort Worth – the 13th largest city in the U.S. and a crucial battleground in the fight to turn Texas blue. On our Monday Organize to Win Call, Deborah said she will “put people first” by fighting for access to healthcare and affordable housing, a living wage, and student debt relief. “Our Revolution gets it. You get it, and you understand what we have to do. We cannot afford to walk down the middle of the road.”
Our Revolution’s endorsements are game-changers in critical races. Unlike other organizations, we don’t just send out press releases and emails – we also do on the ground organizing. Our Revolution is made up of local organizers across the country who are mobilizing our local group members to engage local voters through public organizing meetings, candidate forums, door-knocking, phone-banking and more.
THE RESULT: Last year, over 75% of our endorsed candidates won their races!
DNC SURVEY! From the beginning, Our Revolution has been focused on transforming the Democratic Party so that it represents working people, not corporate donors. That means fighting for a progressive platform and it means working towards structural change within the party. After the 2016 election, we successfully organized to get so-called super or non-elected delegates out of the nominating process, open up primaries to unaffiliated voters, and allow vote by mail for both primaries and caucuses. These reforms are all part of how we build a party that represents working people – and we need to make sure these reforms are kept in place, and expanded.
That’s why, at last year’s Democratic Party Convention, we helped pass a resolution that calls on the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee to solicit public input on the on-going reform process. As a result, the DNC has just released a public survey about party reforms on its website, and we need to make sure that the party leaders hear from the grassroots about our organizing priorities, like permitting same-day party registration for primaries, encouraging vote by mail, and continuing to keep superdelegates out of the nominating process.
Our Revolution California, along with Rep. Ro Khanna, has endorsed The Troublemaker’s Slate to lead the California Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus. The California Democratic Party is the largest state party in the nation, and Our Revolution members – like Amar Shergill, Brandon Harami, Fatima Iqbal-Zubair – are running to make sure progressives have real power to hold party leadership accountable.
Join Our Revolution Massachusetts and activists from Raise Up as we host a forum on passing the Fair Share Amendment to raise taxes on millionaires to invest in education and transportation.
Join Our Revolution Ohio, Nina Turner and activists from the Buckeye State to talk about the race for Ohio’s 11th Congressional District and the campaign for bail reform!
On May Day, Our Revolution Virgina is holding a rally to call on Sen. Mark Warner to support the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and rebuild America’s union movement. Senator Warner is one of only three Democratic Senators who have yet to stand with workers.