We are all emotionally spent from the debacle on the Potomac that played out recently over raising the debt ceiling. The politics were brutal and those who lost will be the same middle class and working class Americans who've been getting the short end of the stick in this country for the past 30+ years, those "ordinary" people. The winners, as usual, will be the filthy rich and corporate America, who remain unscathed by reality and unburdened by conscience. There will be no new tax revenue coming from them to pump into our anemic economy and help fuel a recovery. Their future is secure -- ours, anything but.
The states, meanwhile, will take another hard hit, as the slicing and dicing of imperative municipal services continues while they struggle to deal with fragile budgets and shortfalls. Much has already been written about our dysfunctional government and its inability to govern, and the inability of our "leaders" to even identify what the major national issues are. Jobs, jobs and more jobs has always been the main issue. Our president, at last, has begun his "pivot" to this issue. What will that mean?
We as progressives, public citizens and voters must get involved to take back our democracy and put our country back on the right track (sound familiar?) before the Republicans and their rabid-dog Tea Partiers burn America completely to the ground. When good men and women do nothing, evil triumphs (to paraphrase Edmund Burke), and we have seen over and over again how low voter turnout -- especially in primaries when we really have some choices -- has resulted in victories by radical elements who are dangerously unqualified to hold public office. One only has to look so far as the hijacking of the debt ceiling debate by the Tea Party lunatics in the House to see the results of our failing democratic system.
It has often been said that politics is not a spectator sport. There is no greater truth, especially these days. Yet we do see glimmers of hope surfacing here and there, including in exciting places like Wisconsin, where on Aug. 9th the recall vote was held for the State Senate. Scott Walker's attack on the bargaining rights of state workers set off a national furor, and when state workers in Michigan and Ohio also came under fire, the progressive and union communities finally stood up and said, "No more!" Unfortunately, only two of the three seats Democrats needed to win in Wisconsin were won, and the State Senate majority remains Republican. But the fight will continue, as the defense of collective bargaining and the protection of workers rights (both public and private) are national issues. Wisconsin has been a bell-weather of what will surely occur nationwide if we are not diligent in fighting for a voice in our political decisions. Governor Scott Walker can expect a recall election next year for his gross policies that deny workers rights and hurt the people of Wisconsin.
People from across the country have followed the lead of progressive organizations like the PCCC, DFA and Progressives United, to rally support and donate to the recall efforts in Wisconsin. The DNC could learn a thing or two from these organizations in gearing up for the 2012 elections. The DNC must focus more on educating Americans on the issues, enrolling new voters across the nation, and keeping us informed and active throughout the year -- every year, not just during election cycles. State parties must also coordinate better with the national Democratic party on messaging. We as voters can and must get behind progressive candidates and volunteer in their campaigns, in our own states or outside them, if there is an exceptional candidate that speaks to our own values. But we must become involved and better informed -- it is our responsibility as the citizens and caretakers of this great nation.
Here is the campaign I am committed to outside of my own state:
Dr. David Gill, an emergency room doctor and intrepid campaigner, has launched his 2012 campaign for Congress; will his fourth run finally be the charm? In the past he chased an impossible dream by running in a very conservative district, but this is a new day and a new district, with the newly drawn 13th IL offering an evenly divided voter pool that boosts his chances of winning considerably. Due to the demands of campaigning, Dr. Gill can only work 8-10 shifts per month, down considerably from his usual 16 shifts. As an hourly paid employee, he pays for his own health insurance and knows all too well what a burden a deductible-heavy healthcare plan can be. After his shifts, Doc Gill then heads out on the campaign trail. His commitment and sacrifice to serve is enormous, and he deserves our support. We should remember that Senator Dick Durbin is from the same state, and the current Majority Whip, ran four times for Congress before succeeding. Now he is the second in command in the Senate, no small potatoes.
The only real hindrance for Dr. Gill is, as usual, "da money," as the Democratic party establishment continues its disheartening practice of supporting incumbents (even if they are deadwood and deadbeats) and party insiders, so long as they can raise money. Meanwhile, fresh blood like Dr. Gill is neglected and, at times, even actively dissuaded from entering into public service, another maddening Catch-22 in our political system. Merit does not seem to be a factor in selecting who the party should support, only "da money."
So this extraordinary ER doctor is building his grassroots campaign with many new and longtime volunteers, taking his message to the highways and byways of rural America in a district 150 miles from the bustle of Chicago. He is going directly to those ordinary Americans who struggle every day, as he does on the battlefield of the toughest branch of medicine, treating his neighbors in the emergency room. The people of his community have depended on Dr. Gill for 20 years, and his commitment to service has compelled him to run again for Congress. Who better to understand the needs of the People than this doctor toiling for an hourly wage in a hospital's ER, who is also a husband and a father of six.
Dr. Gill is an unapologetic, proud progressive and Democrat, and I asked him to tell us in his own words why he is running for Congress again and why he is willing to endure the brutal rigors of another campaign for the next 15 months?
Dr. David Gill, Democratic Candidate for Congress, IL-13:
"I am an Emergency Room doctor-not another career politician. Washington, D.C., is swarming with professional politicians. We need citizen legislators with common sense who understand the conflicting pressures of daily life and the needs of people struggling to get access to health care, find jobs, and make a better life for their children.
"Every day at work, I encounter patients who must weigh impossible tradeoffs: go to the hospital or pay rent; pay for tests and medical procedures or risk their own lives. I'll never forget a patient I had two years ago.
"She came to my Emergency Room with a heart attack in progress, and we were unable to save her. While talking to her distraught husband afterward, I learned that she had been treated for chest pains recently and had been advised to get surgery. She and her husband knew how deadly important it was that she get the needed operation, but they had no insurance and they just didn't know how they could afford it. She was only in her 40s.
"Now my Congressman Tim Johnson and other Republicans in Washington want to replace our current Medicare system that guarantees seniors' care with a voucher program. The Republican plan tells seniors that if their medical problems cost too much money, they're on their own. Seniors will have to make tough decisions that my patients face every day-whether to buy food or medical care-on fixed incomes. That's not acceptable-not in America.
"I ran in the past in an overwhelmingly Republican district to hold Tim Johnson accountable. This time, I'm running to win. We're taking back IL-13 for the people.
"Year after year, Johnson has been more in touch with the needs of lobbyists and millionaires than with the needs of families on Main Street in Bloomington and Springfield, Illinois. During his 40-year political career, he hasn't sponsored even one significant piece of legislation. Illinois' 13th district needs a Congressman who will stand up to corporate-written trade deals and stop the outflow of good union jobs from places like Decatur.
"Working families, young people, returning veterans and senior citizens who cannot afford to retire want to know, 'Where are the jobs?' Yet, in a time of economic insecurity, the 112th Republican-led Congress has cut the social safety net, restricted women's reproductive rights, choked funding for sorely needed financial and health care reforms and done nothing to create jobs or improve the economy. All the while, these politicians have been diligently looking out for the priorities of corporate lobbyists and Wall Street. Tim Johnson has been an enthusiastic foot soldier for John Boehner's job-killing agenda every step of the way.
"I will work to protect our social safety net for seniors, children, and veterans. I will champion collective bargaining. I will insist that future trade agreements carry sufficient environmental protections and do not outsource American jobs. I will bring good-paying jobs to our district through wind farms and sustainable energy policies. I will work tirelessly for an Improved Medicare for All health care system that favors patients' interests over the corporate bottom line. Most of all, I will be a strong independent voice for the people of Central and Southwestern Illinois, not multinational corporations.
"I ran better than most statewide Democratic candidates in 2006 and 2010, including incumbent governors who were re-elected both times. When redistricting transformed our district-the most Republican in the state-from one President Obama lost in 2008 into a lean-Democratic district he won by 11 points, I knew Tim Johnson's time in Congress was finally up. We can take IL-13 back from the Republicans. I hope you'll join me in bringing common sense to Congress.
"We must return common sense to Congress. If you want to be part of a grassroots campaign powered by real citizens, then I ask for your support today. You can join our campaign on facebook (David Gill for Congress) and follow me on Twitter @davidgill2012."
Link to original article on Huffington Post Politics.
You can also find out more and donate to Dr. Gill's campaign on his website, www.gill2012.com.
For more information, read this CNN article entitled "45,000 American deaths associated with lack of insurance" and see my Huffington Post article "The DNC, DCCC and DSCC Need Makeovers."
It’s official: Illinois on Wednesday joined 15 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing same-sex marriage.
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, accompanied by state Rep. Greg Harris, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and several other dignitaries, signed into law a measure allowing gay couples to begin marrying on June 1. “It’s a triumph of democracy, a triumph of government by the people,” said the governor, shortly before signing. “We want to have a new birth of freedom across America, and love is not relegated to second-class citizen status.”
The historic nature of...
Emma Margolin | MSNBC.com 21 Nov 2013 Hits:307 Illinois
On Monday, November 18 at noon almost 100 voters rallied in Springfield to ask Senator Richard Durbin to keep cuts to Social Security off the table. Senator Durbin has proposed possible changes such as lifting the Social Security eligibility age and implementing “Chained CPI” for individuals that earn more than $24,000. After an informational picket along Edwards Street the group followed lead organizer JoAnn Conrad retired AFSCME, IEA-NEA, chair of the Progressive Democrats of Greater Springfield, led the rally across Edwards to the senator’s office. The message was “Scrap the...
JoAnn Conrad 18 Nov 2013 Hits:344 Illinois
Those who rely on food stamps will have to make do with a little less beginning today as a boost in funding from the federal stimulus package is set to expire.
The change will affect more than 2 million low-income residents in Illinois who are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, according to the Illinois Department of Human Services. Nationally, about 47 million people are expected to feel the pinch.
The move marks the end of an extra $45.2 billion the federal government funneled into the food stamp program beginning in...
Monique Garcia | The Chicago Tribune 03 Nov 2013 Hits:307 Illinois
As another coal train derailed in southern Illinois last weekend, the Illinois State Historical Society teamed up with the Illinois Coal Association on Saturday for their own collision with history during the installation of a historical marker for the state's "First Coal Mine." The real train wreck: Among numerous errors, the Illinois State Historical Society marker fails to mention that other coal mines abounded in southern Illinois, thanks to enslaved African American labor -- including the so-called "first coal mine" -- while the Illinois Coal Association took the occasion...
Jeff Biggers | The Huffington Post 28 Oct 2013 Hits:352 Illinois
The pinnacle of last week's Take Back Chicago rally at UIC came near the end, when the 11 aldermen onstage were asked point-blank whether they support pending proposals to slow privatization and tax increment financing deals. Yes or no?
As more than 2,000 of the city's most dedicated activists looked on, the aldermen all said yes—even though a couple of them are among the most consistent council supporters of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
They then sat there smirking, as if to say, you can't trap me, because I'm too slick.
Things got so absurd...
Ben Joravsky | Chicago Reader 23 Oct 2013 Hits:295 Illinois
Two sections that essentially told kids that coal was safe and good for the environment disappeared today from the website of a state agency in Illinois.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has removed coal-related educational sections from its website, less than two weeks after the launch of a grassroots campaign demanding that the pages be taken down.
The website sections were supposed to educate children about energy, but had been widely denounced because they focused on misleading pro-coal messages.
It wasn't just environmentalists who objected to the way Illinois was...
Jeff Biggers | Yes Magazine 14 Oct 2013 Hits:389 Illinois
As absentee oil and gas companies register with the state of Illinois this month, downstate citizens groups are taking the lead among statewide environmental groups and laying out scientific and legal standards for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to consider prior to drafting the controversial horizontal hydraulic fracking rules.
In a letter sent this week to the key legislative committee and state IDNR agency officials, the groups representing rural communities targeted for fracking operations cite "several new scientific studies and academic research papers that...
Jeff Biggers | Huffington Post 08 Oct 2013 Hits:532 Illinois
Dear Rep. Schock,
I am a constituent, writing in my role as coordinator of the Greater Peoria Chapter of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA).
I and other PDA members were at your town hall meeting in Heyworth, where some of your constituents encouraged you to vote to shut down the government unless the Affordable Care Act is defunded. In reply, you made the sensible point that ACA can't be defunded through the budget process, and that shutting down the government would bring extremely negative political consequences for Republicans. You also stated that...
Larry Jones | Journal Star 29 Sep 2013 Hits:494 Illinois
For many residents in southern Illinois dealing with the fallout of a sanctioned coal and fracking rush, the time has come to revamp the historic Illinois South organization and its role in providing impacted residents with a voice in state and federal regulatory matters.
Call it deja vu all over again.
And perhaps no one understands this better than Rev. Dave Ostendorf, the co-founder of the Illinois South citizens group in 1974, and a long-time community organizer for civil rights in Chicago and across the heartland and nation.
"Building critical mass around the...
Jeff Biggers | Huffington Post 06 Sep 2013 Hits:459 Illinois
Two years after a national campaign exposed a coal industry-bankrolled curriculum foisted on unwitting teachers and children, the state of Illinois is still dragging its feet to revamp its own widely denounced, misleading and climate change-denying "Coal Education Program" for schools.
Here's the punchline, kids: On the heels of a recent study that the coal industry annually drains nearly $20 million from the Illinois state budget, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's Office of Coal Development now says it's too broke to promptly respond to a long-awaited evaluation of the...
Jeff Biggers | Huffington Post 29 Aug 2013 Hits:490 Illinois
On the cusp of a hydraulic fracking rush, southern Illinois should recall its boom-bust history
CARMI, Ill. —
When an oil rush swamped her town of Carmi in the early 1940s, my great-grandmother leased her small farm acreage for drilling, but the wells came up dry. So she installed a new bathroom and cashed in like the rest of her neighbors, boarding the roustabouts. At 150 million barrels per year, Illinois pumped out more petrol in those days than Iraq and Iran combined.
(photo: A pump jack works on Wednesday, April 4, 2012, in...
Jeff Biggers | Aljazeera America 16 Aug 2013 Hits:414 Illinois
When farmers, families and besieged Hillsboro residents gather this evening for a public hearing on a controversial permit proposal by a coal company to build a second 77-foot-high high hazard toxic coal slurry impoundment within city limits, the stakes will go beyond the threatened health of this iconic central Illinois farm town.
(photo: Jeff Biggers article: Coal Slurry Scandal: Gov. Quinn, the High Hazard Dam in Hillsboro Is a National Disgrace. Construction on High Hazard Coal Slurry Impoundment at Deer Run Mine, Hillsboro, IL, 8/12/2011, prior to receiving proper permit, photo courtesy...
Jeff Biggers | Huffington Post 14 Aug 2013 Hits:545 Illinois
Inside the 40th annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Chicago, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and other right-wing big-wigs addressed ALEC members and on-the-dole politicians.
Outside, the people, who have been cut out of the legislative process by ALEC and big money donors, protested in the streets. (Photos here.
In its 40-year history, ALEC has done more to destroy the American Dream than any other group. According to a report by the Center for Media and Democracy, 466 ALEC bills were introduced in 2013, and 84 of them...
Pamela Powers Hannley | Tucson Progressive 10 Aug 2013 Hits:571 Illinois
Has Rep. Brad Schneider finally gone too far with his recent vote against implementing the very small amount of health care reform that was so very hard won?
In case you haven't heard, this week, Schneider voted with the Republicans to pass H.B. 2668, the very Orwellian-ly named Fairness for American Families Act. The Fairness for American Families Act takes up on the Obama Administration's delay implementation of the employer mandate, and extends it to individuals. While I was not in love with the Obama Administration's reasoning to extend the large...
Ellen Beth Gill | Daily Kos 22 Jul 2013 Hits:575 Illinois
Brad visiting the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge with Rep. John Lewis earlier this month. (From his Facebook page)
While I have been very pleased with the fact that our congressman, Brad Schneider (IL-10), has been voicing his support for marriage equality and rejoicing over it repeatedly on his Facebook page; I have not seen a single post or heard a single word from him about the Supreme Court’s striking down of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Marriage equality is great and I do support it, but what about the right...
Jeanne Dauray | PDA Illinois 28 Jun 2013 Hits:786 Illinois
It is too bad Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-08) was not on the House floor last Wednesday when they voted on the McGovern Amendment to the Farm Bill which would have…
Parents and students occupied a Chicago school Wednesday, refusing to budge from a Lafayette Elementary classroom on the final day of education before the school is permanently shut down by…
The backroom negotiations behind the midwestern state’s new fracking regulations may be a taste of what’s to come in other places.
What happens in Illinois, doesn't stay in Illinois.…
On the eve of the historic fracking bill vote in Illinois, a citizen uprising led by nationally acclaimed scientist Dr. Sandra Steingraber, health workers, community groups and threatened downstate residents…
What happens in Illinois, doesn't stay in Illinois -- especially when you're dealing with the national ramifications of a combined fracking and coal mining rush unparalleled in recent memory.
Within hours of renowned climate scientists announcing a staggering milestone in carbon dioxide emissions, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn rolled out the booster wagons for Big Coal and celebrated his state's…
Whether she runs for governor or not, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan would need nine lives to bring the state's notoriously broken regulatory system into compliance with the nation's most…
"We are over-tested, under-resourced and fed up!"
Hundreds of Chicago students are taking up the mantle in the fight against the role of standardized tests in public school closures as they…
“Every Constitution written since the end of World War II includes a provision that men and women are citizens of equal stature. Ours does not.“ Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader…
\ By John ByrneClout StreetChicago Tribune, 4:03 p.m. CST, March 4, 2014Chicago aldermen today gave the preliminary go-ahead to a plan to earmark $55 million in special tax district funds to help pay for a new hotel next to McCormick Place.The...
Carol Ammons is the pro-pension, pro-labor candidate for State Rep. Dist 103 , Champaign-UrbanaFrom John Laesch: Bookmark/Search this post with:
By Debra SchrishuhnThe word “progressive” gets thrown around a lot during Democratic primary season, and some candidates pretend to be progressive to court Democratic primary voters. Others spew a litany of ideological talking points—so-called...
Amara Enyia says the Emanuel administration’s culture of intimidation is a major reason she is so determined to unseat him. (Photo courtesy Amara Enyia)By Kari Lydersen, In These Times, February 20, 2014Bookmark/Search this post with:
Progressive Voices from Chicago Neighborhoods Bookmark/Search this post with:
Look who’s advocating for public schoolsThe National School Boards Association is launching a campaign in support of public education — with some unexpected help.By Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, February 15, 2014Bookmark/Search this...
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Legislators Who Have Cut Ties To ALEC