Is Beacon Hill Ready to Stand up to Trump?

If you're like us, your inbox has been swamped over the past few months with rallies and action alerts about how to fight the reactionary Trump-McConnell-Ryan agenda coming out of Washington.

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Massachusetts is in position to be a leader in the resistance against Trump's agenda--and a beacon of progressive policy for the rest of the country.

Although our Republican governor, Charlie Baker, is not going to stand up to Trump as much as he should, Attorney General Maura Healey has been at the forefront of fighting for civil rights and environmental protection, among other issues, in the Age of Trump.

And Massachusetts has the third largest Democratic supermajorities in the country, with 34 out of 40 senators and 126 out of 160 representatives. In theory, then, whether or not Baker is willing to fight Trump, the Legislature has the votes to do so.

But...

The Legislature, as our scorecards (and brand new scorecard page) show, routinely fails to live up to the ideal of what one might hope for from a Legislature this overwhelmingly blue.

Trump has created a sense of urgency among progressive voters. But, based on statements on policy and priorities, we have yet to see that same urgency from the State House.

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Watertown Hosts a Public Forum: What is the Role of the Media in a Democracy?

If you’re angry that Trump spewed lie after blatant lie during the election and yet somehow won, you’re not alone. As a candidate and now as President, Trump has consciously eroded trust in traditional news sources by wildly calling any unfavorable coverage “fake news”. Meanwhile actual fake news has some people convinced that Clinton was responsible for the murders of dozens of people, and that a pedophile ring was being run out of a pizza restaurant (also connected to the Clinton campaign, of course). Yes, really. During this election we’ve witnessed the alarming movement of conspiracy theories from the fringe to the mainstream.

Short of grabbing our Trump-befuddled friends and family members by the shoulders and shaking some sense into them, what can we do to fight this disinformation campaign? What can we do to prevent ourselves from being taken in by half-truths and outright lies, and what can the responsible journalists do to stop their propagation?

To get to some answers, Progressive Watertown hosted the public forum "What is the Role of the Media in our Democracy?” last Sunday, April 2nd.

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The Democratic Platform Process: Make it Progressive, Make Sure They Act on It

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Many of our activist member volunteers work with the Democratic party, a fundamental principle of our point of view is that the Democratic party—especially in Massachusetts—needs to be pulled, and sometimes pushed, to the left. While  the Democratic ideals are on the whole worthwhile, the actual practice of governing has not yielded progressive policy:

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2017 MassDems Platform Hearing Tools for Progressives

Fight for a strong Platform. But Remember: a Platform needs an Agenda to realize its vision. Elected MassDems can live up to their platform by passing the bills on our Legislative Agenda

Before digging in to our MassDems platform recs, please read our note on the limitations and opportunities of the Dems platform process--and what we need to do as next steps: progressivemass.com/demplatform


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We’re #1…But Don’t Celebrate Too Fast

Last week, Massachusetts had the honor of placing #1 in the U.S. News & World Report state rankings. The 50-state analysis included more than 60 metrics, and on many of them, Massachusetts shines. We ranked #1 in education, #2 in health care, and #5 in economy. When it comes to education, Massachusetts is the birthplace of US public schools, and when it comes to health care, our 2006 health care reform law created a model for the nation.

But don't crack open the champagne yet. Although, overall, we outperformed other states, Massachusetts fared abysmally on a number of key metrics.

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Protecting the Earth from Supervillains, Locally

A Congress that is set on gutting environmental protections. An administration filled with climate change denialists and close friends of the fossil fuel industry. It looks like the environment will have a tough time over the next few years if we don’t step up big league at the local level to protect it.

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Beacon Hill, How About a Raise for Massachusetts Workers, Too?

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A new legislative session in the Legislature typically kicks off with a string of votes setting the rules for the following two years.

But this year, before taking up the rules (or even finalizing offices and committee assignments), the House and Senate voted to raise the salaries and stipends for ranking legislative officers (such as Senate President Stan Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, among others), state constitutional officers (Governor Charlie Baker, AG Maura Healey, etc.), and judges.

And then the Thursday before last, both chambers easily overrode Governor Baker's veto, with dissent coming from Republicans, a handful of conservative Democrats, and a trio of progressive Democrats (Jon Hecht of Watertown, Denise Provost of Somerville, and Mike Connolly of Cambridge).

Let's be clear: paying public servants well is important to good governance.

If such offices are not well-compensated, then only those who are already well-off will be interested in running or serving.

And sufficient compensation can also reduce the need for legislators to have jobs on the side, a Pandora’s box of ethics conflicts.

Nonetheless, given the details and the context of the pay raise, it should be no surprise that it has rubbed many progressive voters the wrong way.

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Hundreds Strong for Progressive Pioneer Valley

Unstoppable! That’s what we are.

230 of us crammed into the library community room on Monday night, representing critical movements up and down the Valley. The energy was amazing, and we accomplished three big things:

1- In 17 breakouts, we dove deep into climate justice; LGBTQ rights, race and anti-hate; economic justice and the foreclosure crisis; immigration, and voting rights and democratic engagement.

2- We clarified how Progressive Massachusetts’s concrete legislative and electoral resources can augment the region’s heroic grassroots movements.

3- We triumphantly announced the first Progressive Mass chapter in western Mass: Progressive Pioneer Valley!

 

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Scorecards are out: measuring progress (189th Session)

Scorecards from 189th Legislative Session, House and Senate are finalized. Compare legislators’ last session records with your values and the district’s. See where there’s room for improvement or need for a thank you! 

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Engaged democracy doesn’t end at the doorknock!

To win on our big issues--such as single-payer health care, a living wage, a stable climate, a robust public infrastructure, a healthy democracy, among many others--we know we must elect politicians who align with our values.

To get progressive champions elected, we’ve learned the mechanics of grassroots campaigning -- to knock on doors, host house parties, make phone calls, enter data from sign in sheets, cut lists, recruit volunteers, GOTV.

It feels like victory when our progressive candidates win -- but our work must not end there.

We also have to hold them accountable to the principles and goals we share.

And if they aren’t fighting for our progressive goals, we need to organize and mobilize again. As presidents like FDR and Obama have said, we need to make our elected officials do the things that are difficult.

Words and Actions

Legislators’ votes are an obvious means to assess how hard they are working for our big, urgent long-term goals. But “How did my State Legislator vote on these issues I care about?” is, in Massachusetts, not easy to find out. If we don’t know, how can we hold them accountable?

The new Trump administration is rolling back progressive achievements and pushing a reactionary, racist agenda at a breakneck pace. The moral urgency of our goals has never been more acute.

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Make Massachusetts a Progressive Fortress: Step 1 by Friday

Progressive Massachusetts proudly announces our 2017-2018 Legislative Agenda for the 190th session of the Mass General Court.

The Moral Urgency of Now: Massachusetts Must Lead.

We are watching the federal government under President Donald Trump, with little braking from the Republican Congress, move us rapidly in a fascist direction that deeply contradicts Massachusetts values and liberties. Resistance is imperative.

What are the ways we can resist? Where can we effect the most dramatic changes, shape a progressive alternative and protect the most people vulnerable under this regime?

Our efforts on the national scene are important--but our impact, as liberals served by Democrats in a majority Republican Congress, is unfortunately, realistically, quite limited.

But, we can make Massachusetts a blue, progressive fortress against Trumpism. There is no excuse for not passing a vigorous progressive agenda in one of the bluest states in the country.

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