July 24, 2015
By: Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director, Democracy for America.
The Netroots Nation presidential candidate town hall made clear that the progressive movement and the Democratic Party need to do more, right now, to support the Movement for Black Lives.
I say that as someone who was in the convention hall watching as young, powerful Black women demanded that progressive leaders actively address the state of emergency that has exploded over the last year as friends, family, and neighbors have been murdered at the hands of a structurally racist criminal justice system. As the #BlackLivesMatter protest at Netroots Nation emphasized in asking the presidential candidates to #SayHerName, the arrest and death of Sandra Bland is just the latest tragic example.
Of course, it matters that Gov. Martin O’Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders immediately failed to empathize with and adequately respond to the demands of these organizers. Both O’Malley and Sanders missed a clear opportunity to lead a united progressive movement dedicated to actively confronting power wherever it exists -- from the Wall Street banks that are rigging our economy to a criminal justice system that is brutalizing Black and Brown people.
However, the most important effect those brave voices in the Movement for Black Lives are having isn’t on the 2016 presidential candidates, but on the broader progressive movement.
Democracy for America (DFA) has over one million grassroots members around the country in all fifty states, and for ten years we’ve worked to elect progressive candidates up and down the ballot. As the Movement for Black Lives has grown, we’ve helped battle police militarization in the wake of the protests after the killing of Mike Brown, raised money for community organizations in Baltimore following Freddie Gray’s death, joined our allies to financially support this month’s Movement for Black Lives convening of organizers in Cleveland, and supported successful local efforts to increase voter turnout in Ferguson’s city council elections this past April.
But real solidarity means not just taking action in response to racial injustice and police brutality, but doing everything we can to connect the fight against structural racism and our country’s culture of white supremacy to every aspect of the work we do. And, after hearing the calls of our friends at Netroots Nation, that’s exactly what we intend to do at DFA.
Going forward, DFA will be changing the questions we ask the candidates we endorse for offices from dog catcher to the President. Just as we’ve asked candidates where they stand on LGBTQ rights, comprehensive immigration reform, making college debt-free, and expanding Social Security, we’re going to ask every candidate who wants our support how they will stand with the Movement for Black Lives and what they will do to confront structural racism and our culture of white supremacy. We want the candidates we endorse to not only say that #BlackLivesMatter, we want these candidates to know that progressives -- including those in organizations with largely white memberships and staff like DFA -- expect them to stand up to, name, and address systemic racism as fundamental and foundational to the movement to end income inequality.
We also know that if candidates don’t speak out and campaign on issues of racial justice, it will be exceedingly difficult to build the political will to aggressively combat the deep-seated racism that underlies our most powerful cultural and political institutions. A good example: Often, racial justice issues aren’t included in the battery of questions pollsters ask voters, making it very unlikely that candidates will see the many opportunities to use their campaign, not just to win office, but to respond to the state of emergency that exists in Black and Brown communities right now.
That’s why, as an organization that works closely with candidates running for office, DFA is committing to actively help campaigns poll on racial justice issues, amplify messaging that takes on structural racism, and work with campaigns to communicate with voters more often and more effectively about race.
Most importantly, DFA wants to work to change the kind of candidates that are running for office. According to a recent project by the Reflective Democracy Campaign, 90% of the 42,000 office holders in the U.S. are white and 65% are white men. Clearly, the skills and talents of progressive women, and especially progressive women of color, are not being tapped for the critical problems our country needs to solve.
We can no longer afford to exclude some of our best and brightest leaders; we need leaders that reflect the full array of talent that America has to offer. That was one very important reason why we proudly worked to draft Rep. Donna Edwards for her U.S. Senate run this year and backed Nina Turner in 2014 for Ohio Secretary of State, but it’s also why we intend to work even harder to recruit and support progressive people of color to run for office and win in 2016 and beyond.
At Netroots Nation, #BlackLivesMatter leaders called on all of us to use our power to respond to the current state of emergency, say the names of those who have died at the hands of a racist criminal justice system, and to build a more equitable society where our elected leaders reflect and honor the full breadth and depth of the lived experiences of their constituents. Democracy for America is ready to heed that call to action and make sure it has real electoral consequences in 2016 and beyond.
July 18, 2015
JOINT STATEMENT OF DEMOCRACY FOR AMERICA & THE PROGRESSIVE CHANGE CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE FOLLOWING NETROOTS NATION PRESIDENTIAL FORUM #BlackLivesMatter ACTION:
"Black lives matter and we stand in solidarity with every single organizer and activist who stood up and demanded that presidential candidates challenge power and respond to the crushing consequences of structural racism.
"Our country needs a president who is committed to progressive policies and is willing to challenge power -- from deep-seated racism in America to corporate interests that rig the game against working people.
"But more important than any statement we might make today are the names of the people who have been killed by a powerful, racist system that we must take on together, like:
Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr.
John Crawford III
Oscar Grant III
Daniel Simmons, Sr.
Malissa Williams ...and too many more."
Communications Director, Democracy for America
July 14, 2015
Earlier today, the six major world powers announced a historic agreement that will dramatically restrict Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.
Response from Democracy for America's spokesperson on the agreement with Iran:
"After the difficult fight over Fast Track authority for the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership, progressives have good reason to be wary of any massive international agreement that emerges from secret negotiations led by the White House.
"However, it's clear that this historic deal with Iran is a good one that will make our world safer by blocking every potential path Iran has to a nuclear weapon and keeping us out of yet another disastrous war of choice in the Middle East.
"Over the next sixty days, we will work with our allies to defend this precious chance for peace and urge every congressional Democrat not to cave to right-wing efforts to defeat this deal and launch our country back on the path to war." -- Neil Sroka, Communications Director, Democracy for America
As a part of its support for the deal, DFA has joined other progressive allies on the StopWarWithIran.com joint petition.
July 13, 2015
Reaction from Democracy for America ahead of Sec. Hillary Clinton's big economic speech.
Statement from DFA's Chair Jim Dean on Sec. Clinton's economic policy speech:
Additional background on Democracy for America:
"Secretary Hillary Clinton's economic policy speech reflects a very clear understanding that the Democratic Party and the vast majority of the American people want a President who will fight alongside Senator Elizabeth Warren and refuse to kowtow to wealthy and powerful interests on Wall Street.
"Coupled with Senator Bernie Sanders' early 2016 surge, today's speech illustrates the dominant force the Elizabeth Warren Wing is in the Democratic Party and the critical role it has already played in ensuring that income inequality, the moral issue of our time, sits at the very center of the 2016 presidential debate." -- Jim Dean, Chair, Democracy for America
- Founded in 2004, DFA is a people-powered PAC with 1 million members who have raised and contributed more than $32.7 million and made more than 10.1 million volunteer calls to help successfully elect 831 progressive candidates nationwide.
- Following last month's suspension of the Run Warren Run campaign, DFA has not endorsed any candidate for President.
July 9, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 9, 2015
Contact: Omer Farooque, [email protected], 262-391-2653
Democracy for America backs five progressives for Seattle City Council
BURLINGTON, VT – This morning, Democracy for America (DFA), the national progressive organization founded by Governor Howard Dean, endorsed five progressive champions for city council in Seattle, Washington.
The five Seattle City Council candidates that DFA endorsed today include:
Tammy Morales (District 2)
Kshama Sawant (District 3)
Halei Watkins (District 5)
Mike O’Brien (District 6)
Lorena Gonzalez (Position 9)
Each endorsed candidate has shown a commitment to combating income inequality and fighting to continue Seattle’s leadership on populist progressive policy priorities.
If helpful, here’s a quote from Democracy for America Executive Director Charles Chamberlain:
“From raising the minimum wage to passing paid sick leave, Seattle has been a national leader in the battle against income inequality and the people of Seattle deserve a city council that will protect those critical gains and continue that leading role.
“Tammy Morales, Kshama Sawant, Halei Watkins, Mike O’Brien and Lorena Gonzalez are precisely the kind of progressive fighters the Emerald City needs to continue leading the country and we look forward to working with DFA members in Seattle and across the country to make sure they do.” -- Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director, Democracy for America
DFA is a people powered Political Action Committee with 1 million members nationwide, including 39,296 in Washington.
Since its 2004 founding, DFA members have raised and contributed more than $32.7 million and made more than 10.1 million volunteer calls to help successfully elect 831 progressive candidates nationwide.
FULLY QUOTABLE EMAIL TO DFA MEMBERS:
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Robert Cruickshank, Democracy for America <[email protected]>
Date: Thu, Jul 9, 2015 at 5:00 AM
Subject: SEATTLE: Progressive picks for the City Council
DFA Member --
Progressive champions like Bill de Blasio in New York have shown how much can be achieved when cities are led by people committed to fighting against income inequality. Cities are also a launching pad for the next generation of leaders. For example, Bernie Sanders got his start in politics by serving as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, back in the 1980s.
Seattle is at the forefront of the battles to make our country more progressive. We're raising the minimum wage to $15 and we passed paid sick leave. We need to not just defend those wins, we need to go even further. Police reform has begun, but it's become bogged down and needs strong leadership to put a stop to racism and police brutality on the force. Rising rent is making this city unaffordable, making inequality even worse and forcing people to leave their homes.
Today, DFA is making our first endorsements in the race for Seattle City Council. We're starting with five progressive champions who will fight for the working people of Seattle: Tammy Morales in District 2, Kshama Sawant in District 3, Halei Watkins in District 5, Mike O'Brien in District 6, and Lorena González in Position 9.
Ballots will be mailed next week, and Election Day is coming up fast. Can you help volunteer to elect these candidates?
YES, I will volunteer to support these progressive champions.
NO, I cannot volunteer right now, but I will chip in $3 more to help DFA elect progressives to the Seattle City Council.
DFA's five endorsed candidates are backed by a growing movement of progressives who want our City Council to respond to the public interest, not the special interest. Local unions, the Sierra Club, and activists across Seattle have come out in support of these leaders in this crucial election year.
Incumbents Kshama Sawant and Mike O'Brien have proven they will fight for a higher minimum wage, for more affordable housing, for publicly funded elections, and for fixing a broken police department. Tammy Morales, Halei Watkins, and Lorena González will each bring a strong commitment to social and economic justice to a City Council where those values are in short supply.
It's time we had a City Council that's as progressive as the people of Seattle. Starting with these five candidates, Seattle can lead the nation in building a progressive future. Election Day is August 4 -- can you help get out the vote for these candidates?
YES, I will volunteer to help DFA's endorsed candidates in Seattle.
NO, I cannot volunteer right now, but I will chip in $3 more to help DFA elect progressives to the Seattle City Council.
Thank you for supporting these progressive champions.
Robert Cruickshank, Senior Campaign Manager and Seattle resident
Democracy for America
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