1. Sen. Elizabeth Warren heads this list, with a clip of her doing what she does best- bringing the facts, identifying real problems, and coming up with solutions to those problems. Here's an example from a couple of weeks ago, where she rightly describes a "retirement crisis" brought on by the decline of pensions and flat wages, and comes up with the common-sense solution to expand Social Security to meet this economic problem.
This type of honesty is why the Elizabeth Warren wing is in ascendance these days. Because members of that group get to the root causes of our issues in ways that no Republican and far too many Democrats wish to take on, out of fear of big-money contributors and a fear of having to actually earn their paycheck. Average, everyday citizens are recognizing that the Warren wing is making a difference, which clearly scares Third Way and other "moderate" oligarch organizations.
2. Moving down into the House, Madison's own Mark Pocan also shows how it's done. In addition to another Congress member that asks for Social Security be expanded, he is once again shining the spotlight on the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. The Guardian reported today on how it is trying to rebrand its image after receiving major criticism for supporting ultra-conservative policies, and is now running a deficit after losing large numbers of corporate and legislative members. It is now trying to set up a 510-c-4 organization called the Jeffersonian Project, which will separate it from ALEC's current 501-c-3 "apolitical charity" status. Pocan pointed out the lipstick on the pig known as ALEC.
“The only charity work ALEC does is on behalf of needy corporations and lonely legislators,” Pocan said. “It is past time that ALEC is exposed for what it is—a corporate lobbying firm doing the bidding of corporations. As the article details, they are now trying to not only hide their intensions, but their funding as well in a new “social welfare” organization. The IRS needs to step in and strip ALEC of its ability to rig the democratic system and rob the American taxpayers.”Pocan also exposed ALEC's doings by going undercover and attending a couple of ALEC conventions while he was in the Wisconsin Legislature (a tradition continued by Pocan's east side Madison successor, Chris Taylor), and calling "BULLSHIT!" on these secretive corporate puppetmasters is the type of standard that Dems should follow nationwide.
Last year, Pocan sent a letter to the IRS urging them to investigate ALEC’s tax filing. He also wrote a letter to the ALEC Chairman asking him to justify its tax filing status. He never received a response.
3. Wisconsin State Sen. Julie Lassa is the third legislator that deserves props, as she wrote a strong editorial today asking the GOP-controlled Legislature to come to its senses, and take the expanded Medicaid funding available in Obamacare when it meets later this month.
Along with refusing to set up a state exchange, the Governor chose to reject federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid. And the administration has not taken advantage of the ACA’s provisions that allow the state to prevent insurance companies from increasing rates. The result is that fewer Wisconsinites are being covered and those who are will be paying much higher rates.Sen. Lassa is unapologetically supporting policies that are fiscally sensible while also covering the most Wisconsinites. That's the type of tone Dems need to have for the next 11 months, to show a real alternative to the failing, ideological track that we have been on in Fitzwalkerstan for nearly three years. It not only illustrates the uncaring mentality of the Walker Administration when it comes to health care, it shows that we are falling behind our neighbors to the west because we didn't make the same choices they did- and it reiterates that this failure is Walker's, not Obamacare's. Lassa's strong statement has another benefit- it happens to be true, and anyone made aware of this WisGOP sabotage is not likely to vote Republican next November.
Our neighbors in Minnesota went in the exact opposite direction, and chose to implement the ACA the way it was designed. As a result, health care premiums in Minnesota are between 25 and 35 percent lower than in Wisconsin, despite the fact that per capita health care costs are basically the same in both states. Thousands of Minnesotans have enrolled in coverage through their state-run exchange, as compared with only a few hundred in Wisconsin using the federal website...
This situation wasn’t caused by Obamacare. It was created by a governor and a Republican majority in the Legislature whose ideological approach to health care made preventing the implementation of ACA more important than making sure people got coverage.
The problems with the federal website are being repaired, but Wisconsin’s health care coverage problems will be long lasting until our state government stops playing politics with the Affordable Care Act and starts taking the steps other states have taken to make affordable health care available to more of our citizens.
Candidates like Elizabeth Warren, Mark Pocan and Julie Lassa that stand up for values such as providing insurance to the sick, rewarding people who have put in a lifetime of work, and demanding fairness in our economic system are people we should rally around, and demand more like them. Not just due to the better society that results from these things, but because it will lead to more wins in November for Democrats, which increases the chances of the Overton window finally moving back toward the middle, sending our policies into the 21st Century.
These examples are also why the whole argument of "Democrats must unite" and supporting "electable" centrism rings hollow for me. The mealy-mouthed, pro-corporate approach doesn't inspire people, it doesn't win many elections and doesn't get things done that make for real change. It's why I approve of a Kathleen Vinehout challenge to Mary Burke in the August 2014 primary for governor of Wisconsin. A vibrant exchange of ideas will push the conversation in the governor's race in a more progressive direction, spark interest in the winning candidate for casual voters (regardless of who that candidate is), and help other Dems downticket due to a strong message that majorities agree with.