On Our "Virtual Route 66" : #RandomThoughts For the Week-End
American support for unions stands at a historic 71%, according to a new Gallup poll. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, workers for major companies including Amazon, Starbucks, Chipotle, Apple, REI, and Trader Joe’s have successfully won the right to unionize. These efforts have been cheered by the Biden administration, which has also worked to enact many pro-union policies such as creating the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, ordering a $15 minimum wage for federal contractors, and strengthening “Buy American” provisions. As Liz Shuler, who was elected in June as the first woman to lead the AFL-CIO recently remarked, “unions are a pillar of a healthy democracy, and we see it around the world that unions have always been sort of bedrock and the foundation of a healthy economy and a healthy society. And so as unions get stronger, our democracy gets stronger”.
Speaking of our democracy, last Thursday President Biden delivered a speech from Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, PA to speak on the continued battle for the soul of the nation. Notably, the speech was not carried by several major broadcast networks, which claimed that President Biden’s remarks, which focused on warning Americans about the threat to our democracy from extremist GOP members, were too political for primetime.
Saving our democracy is not a partisan political issue.
In his speech, President Biden specifically called out “MAGA Republicans”, who, according to a new analysis by The Washington Post, make up about ten percent of the American public, not half, as the GOP would like us to believe. As President Biden noted, these MAGA Republicans “represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic” and possess views that are out of step with traditional conservatives like Federal Circuit Court Judge Michael Luttig, who testified publicly during the January 6th hearings that FPDJT and MAGA Republicans are a “clear and present danger” to our democracy. In ending his speech, President Biden invoked another well-respected Republican when he cited President Lincoln’s first inaugural address, which took place just days before the beginning of The Civil War, as he urged Americans to “Speak up, speak out, vote…if we do our duty…then in the ages still to come, we’ll be able to say ‘We kept the faith, we preserved democracy, we heeded not our worst instincts but our better angels.” Interestingly, before President Biden’s speech, GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy gave a “prebuttal” in which he also attempted to invoke President Lincoln by remarking that “The electric cord of liberty still sparks in our hearts”, which is a badly bungled reference to a speech made by our 16th president in 1858.
On Tuesday, in another unexpected Democratic special election upset following Pat Ryan’s win in NY-19, former Alaska state legislator Mary Peltola won the contest to fill Alaska’s only U.S. House seat. We highlight her in the Candidate to Support section below. and finish the term of the late GOP U.S. Rep. Don Young. Former GOP Alaska Governor and 2008 Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin had been favored to win the seat, which had not been previously held by a Democrat for almost 50 years. Mary, who is Yup’ik, is now the first Alaska Native to serve in Congress and the first woman to fill Alaska’s only U.S. House seat. This was Alaska’s first-ever ranked-choice election. In the initial round of voting, Mary led Palin by nine points and after GOP member Nick Begich III was eliminated in the second round, Mary beat Palin by three points, 52% to 49%. Mary’s win is also impressive because Palin's campaign significantly outraised hers. Mary’s campaign brought in just over $379k and spent $254k, while Palin's campaign raised more than $1M and spent $996k. Mary, Palin, Begich, and libertarian Chris Bye will compete again in November in another ranked-choice election for a full two-year term, which is currently rated as a toss-up by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
Both Rep.-elect Ryan and Rep.-elect Peltola’s campaigns have been endorsed by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and neither candidate has shied away from making abortion rights a focus of their campaign as they seek to defeat GOP candidates who hold extreme anti-choice views. A new WSJ poll shows that 60% of voters say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, up from 55% in March, and 77% of Democrats also say that abortion is their top issue for the midterm elections. Frustratingly, last week the effort to enshrine abortion rights in the Michigan state constitution hit a roadblock when a 2-2 partly line vote by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers blocked the measure from appearing on the November ballot. In July, Reproductive Freedom for All, which is spearheading the campaign for the initiative, submitted almost 600,000 signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot, over 140,000 more than the minimum required. The opposition campaign, however, is now challenging the amendment over the petition’s lack of spacing between words. Reproductive Freedom for All is fighting back and has asked the Michigan Supreme Court to intervene, arguing that the Board’s decision violates Michigan’s election law and constitution.
Here in the Golden State, last week the legislature made history when it passed the largest and most comprehensive abortion protection and expansion bill package in the nation. The 14 bills included in the package will shield patients and providers from potential prosecution, penalties, or civil actions from states where abortion is banned, bar California law enforcement from cooperating with other states’ investigations if an abortion was allowed under California law, block tech companies in California from providing out-of-state law enforcement with information for the purpose of enforcing an abortion ban, and allow specially-trained nurse practitioners to provide abortions without physician supervision. The bill package is expected to be signed into law by Governor Newsom soon and comes in advance of the November vote on Proposition 1, where Californians will weigh in on an amendment to explicitly enshrine abortion and contraception rights in the state constitution.
Over the past several weeks the climate emergency has worsened as historic weather events have touched nearly every part of the globe. On Thursday, Death Valley, California hit 127 degrees, the hottest September day anywhere on the planet. One-third of Pakistan is now underwater and millions of its residents have died or been displaced due to unprecedented flooding. People living in Jackson, Mississippi haven’t had enough clean water to safely brush their teeth or flush their toilets for almost a week and lakes and rivers across Europe and China are running dry. These tragedies came as President Biden’s White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy announced her resignation last week, leaving the task of overseeing the spending of almost $370 billion in clean energy tax incentives and other programs in the Inflation Reduction Act to John Podesta, current chairman of the Center for American Progress, who will join the White House as a Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation. Following the passage of the historic Inflation Reduction Act, Climate Power Action and the League of Conservation Voters are launching a $12M digital ad and direct mail effort to mobilize young college-educated women ahead of the midterms.
Next Monday we will release our first-ever UpRising State Candidate Guide to highlight the most important gubernatorial, attorney general, and secretary of state candidates across the nation who are worthy of your candidate funds and volunteer time. This year with our democracy under threat from MAGA GOP members, these state-level races are more important than ever. In the guide, you’ll see familiar incumbents who are in tough races as well as exciting new candidates who are looking to flip red seats blue or fill open ones. There’s something for everyone and we hope that you’ll find the guide useful and share it with your networks.
One of the candidates you’ll see in the guide is Democratic Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who is up for re-election. Jocelyn was presented with the prestigious John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award earlier this year for her work to defend the 2020 presidential election results in her state even as she and her family faced attacks from armed protesters and FPDJT. Jocelyn’s GOP opponent is Kristina Karamo, an anti-LGBTQ election denier whose campaign is endorsed by FPDJT. Late last week court filings were published in which Karamo’s now ex-husband claimed that Karamo, who once likened abortion to human sacrifice, threatened to kill herself and her two daughters in response to his request for a divorce.
Elsewhere on the campaign trail, incumbent GOP Wisconsin U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and Arizona GOP U.S. Senate nominee Blake Masters have both hired fake electors to work on their campaigns and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s running mate Burt Jones is a fake elector himself. GOP candidates have also continued to scrub their campaign websites in an attempt to shield their anti-democracy and anti-choice views from voters. One of the newest offenders is Tiffany Smiley, who is challenging longtime Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Patty Murray (WA). Smiley’s campaign website used to include mention of her doubts over the integrity of the 2020 election but it’s no longer there. Over the weekend, however, Smiley appeared on CNN and when asked about the election results, she repeatedly failed to acknowledge President Biden’s win. New reporting also shows that 95% of the $181.5M haul that the NRSC raised by the end of July is now gone, due to the group’s new chairman GOP U.S. Senator Rick Scott (FL) who directed the NRSC to employ sketchy and untested fundraising tactics that have mostly backfired. Scott, who was fined $1.78 billion after committing Medicare fraud in 2002, is the chief architect of the GOP’s policy agenda if they take the Senate in the fall, which should motivate us to do everything we can to protect and expand our Senate majority. Though Democratic U.S. Senate candidates are defying traditional midterm election performance expectations in their fundraising and polling, we must remain vigilant and take nothing for granted.
Now is the perfect time to read and share our 2022 U.S. House and U.S. Senate Guides and Giving Recommendations where we’re tracking this year’s most competitive federal races and providing regular updates on polling, campaign ads, fundraising, and other important news.
On November 8th, our democracy will face its first major nationwide test since MAGA Republicans threatened its livelihood on January 6th. In his speech on Thursday, President Biden remarked that “for a long time, we’ve told ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed. But it is not. We have to defend it. Protect it. Stand up for it. Each and every one of us”.
Susie T. Buell
IMPORTANT DATES & RESOURCES
This section includes upcoming dates for the 2022 election cycle and other resources.
- Tuesday, September 13th: Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island Primary Elections
- Tuesday, September 20th: Massachusetts Primary Election
Voter Registration Deadlines:
- Wednesday, September 7th: New Hampshire
ActBlue is on the search for their next CEO & President. This new CEO & President will be deeply passionate about people-powered democracy and will be an inspiring people manager, culture builder, technical strategist, and partnership crafter. Ideal candidates will have strong strategic skills and an understanding of Democratic electoral politics and the progressive nonprofit landscape, along with experience managing a large and growing team of mission-driven people. The location is flexible.
ActBlue invites all nominations and applications for the position of CEO & President. Please send your recommendation or resume to email@example.com.
You can access our Abortion Resources document here
CANDIDATE TO SUPPORT
In this section, we identify and profile noteworthy candidates running for the upcoming 2022 elections. Inclusion in this section is not an endorsement.
★ On Tuesday, August 31st Democratic former Alaska state representative Mary Peltola won the at-large congressional district special election. NBC
Bio: Rep. Mary Peltola, a Yup’ik Alaska Native, was born in Alaska and raised on the Kuskokwim River. In college, she worked as a herring and salmon technician for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
When she was 22, Mary served as an intern in the Alaska state legislature and eventually ran for office, winning a seat in the Alaska state legislature representing the state’s Bethel region from 1999 to 2006. While in office, Mary became known for her kind demeanor and served as chair of Alaska’s Bush Caucus, a nonpartisan group of lawmakers focused on the unique needs of rural communities.
After leaving the Alaska state legislature, Mary worked as executive director for the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and the Alaska Humanities Forum’s Alaska Salmon Fellowship. She has also served on the Orutsararmuit Native Council Tribal Court and the Bethel City Council, and on the boards of the Nature Conservancy, the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Alaska Children's Trust, and the Russian Orthodox Sacred Sites in Alaska.
• Primary election date: Mary advanced to the November election on August 31st
• Cook Political Report Rating: Toss-Up
• Endorsements: Alaska AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NOW PAC, Juneau Pro-Choice Coalition, etc.
Opponents: Mary will compete again in November in another ranked-choice election for a full two-year term against her special election rivals former Alaska Governor and 2008 U.S. Vice Presidential Nominee Sarah Palin and businessman Nick Begich III.
Palin’s campaign is endorsed by FPDJT, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (KY), former FPDJT advisor Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump, Jr., and National Right to Life Committee. Her campaign platform includes support for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, enforcing the Hyde Amendment, and bolstering school choice efforts and charter schools. During her campaign, Palin falsely claimed that ranked-choice voting leads to voter suppression.
Begich’s campaign is endorsed by Jim and Faye Palin, Americans for Prosperity Alaska, and FreedomWorks for America. He supports work requirements for Medicaid recipients, believes that abortion is a states’ rights issue, and opposes gun control legislation. Begich has also said he believes that we have a “crisis of confidence” in our elections systems.
Learn more: Mary Peltola for Alaska
Give to: Mary Peltola for Alaska
Volunteer for: Mary Peltola for Alaska
This section includes details of the legislative progress being made and bills sponsored by Democratic members of the 117th Congress.
HEALTH CARE & COVID-19
- H.R. 8765: To prohibit the use of organophosphate pesticides on food.
Sponsored by Rep. Nydia Velázquez (NY-07)
THE ECONOMY & JOBS
- H.R. 8758: Building Credit Access for Veterans Act of 2022
To require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program on using alternative credit scoring information for veterans and members of the Armed Forces.
Sponsored by Rep. Mike Levin (CA-49)
HOUSING & INFRASTRUCTURE
- H.R. 8764: To change certain household income eligibility requirements for low-income home energy assistance in fiscal years 2023 and 2024.
Sponsored by Rep. Chris Pappas (NH-01)
EDUCATING & PROTECTING OUR YOUTH
- H.J.Res. 93: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to require the United States and the States to jointly ensure a high-quality education to all persons within the United States.
Sponsored by Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11)
THE BIDEN-HARRIS ADMINISTRATION ON:
FOREIGN POLICY & NATIONAL SECURITY
Biden sounds newly strong alarm: Trumpism menaces democracy. AP
Biden administration pivoting to long-term strategy to assist Afghans. CNN
THE ECONOMY & JOBS
$1 billion in federal economic grants headed coast to coast. ABC
Yellen kicks off month-long economic victory tour. Axios
ENVIRONMENT AND TRIBAL LANDS
Biden climate adviser Gina McCarthy leaving White House, John Podesta joining staff. The Hill
Biden Calls Out Republicans on Guns and Crime in Pennsylvania Speech. The New York Times
HOUSING & INFRASTRUCTURE
Biden declares state of emergency in Mississippi due to capital's water crisis. CBS
Biden administration sends clear message on anti-Semitism. The Hill
'I am more than grateful:' Millions of Americans over 50 may benefit from Biden's student loan forgiveness plan. CNN
CRIMINAL & SOCIAL JUSTICE
Garland bans political DOJ appointees from participating in campaign events. The Hill
1. Join the Field Team 6 Volunteer Fair! Featuring Special Guest Volunteers from The Union!
The do-or-die midterms are fast approaching, and we have got to keep our Democratic majorities in the Senate and House. The good news is we have a secret weapon... YOU.
Activism is just talking to people. It turns out that's how you change the world, whether that's in person, on the phone, via text, postcard or social storm.
So whether you're just curious about Field Team 6 or a seasoned organizer, join us at this volunteer fair – find out all the fun (actual fun!) ways you can help – and see if you can resist signing up for an upcoming event!
It's too important to not try once – and too much fun to not try again. Can't wait to see you there!
2. How to help people in Jackson, Mississippi
This week, Mississippi governor Tate Reeves announced that the city’s long-suffering water system was failing, indicating a water shortage for basic needs like drinking water, plumbing, and firefighting. Reeves subsequently declared a state of emergency, allowing Mississippi to direct funds toward the crisis, but state officials have said Jackson residents will be without drinkable water “indefinitely.” Jackson, Mississippi’s capital city, is home to roughly 150,000 people with another 30,000 in surrounding communities affected.
Residents have been directed not to drink the tap water, which Reeves warned is “raw water from the reservoir being pushed through the pipes.” Local government efforts to distribute bottled water are underway, but the city temporarily ran out on Tuesday.
Repairing the state’s water system will take considerable time and funding, but in the meantime, please consider donating funds for water to community organizations. You can find a list here.
(via The Cut)
3. How to help Pakistan
Extreme flooding has decimated communities in Pakistan and killed more than 1,000 people, many of them children. Millions more have been displaced, their homes destroyed. Crops have been ravaged, heightening concerns of malnutrition. As the crisis continues to unfold, officials have called on the international community for aid, estimating it may cost billions of dollars to recover from the damage.
Here are some organizations you can donate to.
(via The Washington Post)
4. Changing your bank can help fight climate change
Atmos measures the carbon impact of your deposits, powered by a portfolio of clean energy assets. Atmos will donate to Soil Centric when you open and fund an account through this link. Plus, Atmos will increase your savings rate when you choose to donate a little extra cash fee-free each month, at no cost to you.
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