[COMM-ORG] 25 Best Progressive Victories in 2012 - and more

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Sun Jan 13 09:44:34 CST 2013

From: dreier at oxy.edu

25 Best Progressive Victories in 2012

An occasional message from Peter Dreier

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**Dear Friends and Colleagues,***

*An occasional message from Peter Dreier ***

*Ideas and Issues for the New Year…*

*25 Best Progressive Victories of
** *After soliciting recommendations from activists around the country, I
compiled this list of key progressive accomplishments during the past year,
just published by*Truthout*. The list includes the election of progressive
candidates, passage of ballot measures, court rulings, legislation, and
new waves of grassroots mobilization. I know I left out many important
victories, but this list shows that there’s lots to celebrate, and – of
course – more work to do in 2013 and beyond.

*My DC/Baltimore Book Tour**. * I’ll be speaking in the DC/Baltimore area
during the last week of January about my book, *The 100 Greatest Americans
of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of
I’ve lined up three speaking gigs so far and expect a few more. I hope to
see my DC/Baltimore friends at one of these events. Harold Meyerson wrote a
thoughtful review
the book for *American Prospect*.

- *Tuesday, January 29,* at George Washington University in DC, 2-4 pm.
(Room 411, Phillips Hall, aka Academic Center)
- *Tuesday, January 29,* at Red Emma Bookstore and
Baltimore, 7 pm
- *Wednesday, January 30*, at Busboys & Poets
DC, 6:30-8 pm

*Battling the NRA**. *When it comes to the epidemic of mass shootings in
the U.S., the National Rifle Assn., especially its CEO Wayne LaPierre is
Public Enemy #1. He has blood on his hands for the deaths of many innocent
people, as I wrote in this
*CommonDreams*. The Newtown, Connecticut massacre put the NRA in the public
spotlight and catalyzed a growing grassroots movement for tougher gun laws.
Contrary to its own self-promotion, the NRA doesn’t speak for most gun
owners, and even most NRA members disagree with the organization’s stance
on gun control laws. As I wrote in an article
for* Huffington Post*, NRA is primarily a front group for gun
manufacturers. The Obama administration has pledged quick
push strong restrictions through Congress, but we’ll need a strong
movement to overcome the NRA’s influence and to use the hearings on Sen.
Dianne Feinstein’s bill to keep the heat on the gun manufacturers, gun
retailers, especially Walmart (the largest
guns and ammo) , the Wall
back the gun industry, and the NRA. The voices that need to be heard
include: (1) law enforcement officials, (2) families of victims of gun
violence; (3) survivors of gun violence, (4) gun owners and NRA members who
support tough gun restrictions; (5) clergy and faith-based organizations;
and (5) celebrities, athletes, and rappers. Our entire society is a victim
of the epidemic of violence in America, but poor black Americans are
disproportionately the victims of gun violence, as David Cole points out in
this *New York Times* op-ed column, “Who Pays for the Right to Bear
It turns out that, like most bullies, the NRA is a paper tiger. The
candidates endorsed by NRA mostly lost in November. They can be beaten if
Americans mobilize.

*The Phony Debt Crisis**. *Pete Peterson and his Wall Street friends have
spent millions of dollars to manufacture a phony fiscal crisis, as Slate
reported in this recent
The lastest incarnation is the influential corporate-backed lobby group
called Fix-the-Debt. It is pushing an agenda that emphasizes cuts in
government social programs and lower taxes on business. This would mean
“austerity” for most Americans but higher incomes and profits for the rich
and corporate America. The mainstream media and many politicians have
swallowed their propaganda, including a fawning profile in the New York,
as I point out in this
*Huffington Post,* which also offers an alternative way of framing the
so-called "debt crisis" Bob Kuttner exposed Fix-the-Debt, which he calls
the "austerity lobby," in this great
*American Prospect*.

*Divestment Movement Against Fossil Fuel Industry*. One of the more
exciting new movements is a growing campaign to challenge the fossil fuel
industry. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn agreed to divest municipal
fossil fuel corporations. Other cities, universities, and union
pension funds should follow Seattle's lead. This is an important movement
with a simple but effective strategy. As *The Nation*
student-led campaigns to get colleges and universities to divest from the
fossil fuel industry have spread to almost 200 campuses. Several colleges
have already purged their endowments from fossil fuels. At Harvard, 72
percent of students endorsed a resolution supporting divestment. Students
at many other colleges have persuaded their administrations to explore

*Eleanor – the Radical Roosevelt*. Most Americans know little about Eleanor
Roosevelt, who was a bold progressive and a powerful influence on her
husband and own her own. Unfortunately, none of the films made about FDR
and Eleanor, including the most recent one, “Hyde Park on Hudson," do
justice to Eleanor’s activism. So I wrote this
Mrs. Roosevelt for
*Truthout*, an expanded version of the chapter on her in my book, *The 100
Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame. *

*Walmart’s Death Traps**. **New York Times* reporters Steve Greenhouse and
Jim Yardley exposed Walmart’s
a recent fire at a Bangladesh sweatshop that killed 112 works.
knew about the dangerous conditions but decided not to fix them because
they didn’t want to spend the money. Walmart is on the defensive on several
fronts, including the *Times*’ expose of Walmart's widespread
Mexican officials and its role as the nation’s largest
retailer of guns and
including the Bushmaster assault-weapon that killed 26 people in Newtown,
Conn. The first-ever strike by Walmart workers that began in October in a
few California stores – and spread to over 100 cities around the country by
the day after Thanksgiving, the nation’s biggest shopping day – indicates
that the effort to organize Walmart employees if finally gaining ground.

*How Right-Wingers Go Over the Sanity Cliff*. The ultra-conservative Club
for Growth opposes government relief
victims of Hurricane Sandy. Even conservative Republicans like NJ Gov.
Chris Christie and Cong. Peter King aren’t that stupid.

*Beating the Billionaires**.* Among the biggest losers in November’s
election were the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Koch brothers, the National
Rifle Association, and Karl Rove. According to a great study by the
groups spent more than $1.3 billion in independent expenditures to
influence the outcome of the November elections. The most visible
conservative groups, however, had a terrible “return” on their investment –
meaning, most of the candidates they backed lost.

*America’s Most Honest Politician.* After the Republican-controlled
Michigan legislature passed its anti-union "right-to-work" law in December,
Brandon Dillon, a Michigan legislator, gave a remarkable speech on the
floor of the legislature attacking the law" as "freedom to freeload." He
said "this is where democracy goes to die," attacking the Republicans'
failure to hold any hearings. Watch this incredible speech
We need more politicians like Dillon.

*“The Central Park Five.”* This powerful
Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon tells the story of the
Park jogger controversy, revealing how the racism within our criminal
justice system – and media – convicted five innocent black and Latino
youths (age 14 to 16) of raping a white middle-class jogger in New York in
1989. The five youths ended up serving between seven and 13 years in
prison before they were exonerated in 2002 as a result of a jailhouse
confession by the actual rapist. The film interviews all five victims and
their families, the prosecutors and detectives, reporters, and Mayor Ed
Koch, who comes off as a self-serving bigot. The documentary is an
incredible indictment of racism and a great teaching tool. Michele
Alexander’s extraordinary book, The New Jim
racism within the criminal justice system, is great background
reading to put the film in broader context.

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*The opinions expressed are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of
Occidental College or its employees. Occidental College is not responsible
for the content of this communication.*

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