The (Right) Choice We Made

What many of Bernie’s supporters don’t understand about our politics is that there are other forms of oppression besides economic inequality and that fighting for civil rights, women’s rights, and the rights of the LGBT community is the main reason that Democrats lost control of Congress, and that it is the loss of control of Congress, far more than corporate influence on Democrats, that is responsible for the inability of the US to reduce economic inequality. I wouldn’t trade the Civil Right Acts or Roe or Obergefell for a $15.00 minimum wage today. And, that’s exactly the deal Democrats of my father’s generation and my own made. History will look back and say we were right to do so. And Bernie is right that economic inequality is a core issue we must focus on today (even if it is isn’t the only one.) Continue reading

For City Commissioner: Carol Jenkins and Lisa Deeley

Two candidates for City Commissioner stand far above all the others. Carol Jenkins and Lisa Deeley. City Commissioner is one of those row offices that carries out a really important function that is utterly unknown to most people. The City Commissioners are responsible for making sure that the machinery of our elections—from the books that contain the names of registered voters to the voting machines that record our votes—work and work fairly. When that machinery doesn’t work, as it nearly didn’t in 2012, people can be denied the basic right central to democratic politics. When the machinery of our elections is used to help one party or one faction or one candidate rather another—when polling places are moved to help some candidates or you have to know someone on the inside to even get the results of previous elections—then our elections are fundamentally unfair. When the Commissioners do their basic … Continue reading

Jim Kenney, With Pleasure

I’m going to vote for Jim Kenney for Mayor next week. One reason, as I wrote earlier in the week, is to stop the Four Billionaires from electing a Mayor. But there is another reason as well. I think he could be a really good mayor. That he’s even running tells you a lot about why. Kenney got into the race late when the most likely candidate to take up the labor / progressive mantel against Tony Williams, Darrell Clarke and Alan Butkovtiz declined to run. Clarke and Butkovitz had their own reasons not to run, but certainly one consideration was that Williams had broad support and the promise, which turned into reality, of getting a huge amount of funding from the Three Billionaires. Kenney had that reason to not run, as well. But, when the possibility of getting in late opened up when Ken Trujillo dropped out and Butkovtiz … Continue reading

Council at Large Choices

Here’s why I’m voting for Sherrie Cohen, Helen Gym, Bill Greenlee, Wilson Goode, and Derek Green for City Council at Large We have, it seems, almost an embarrassment of good candidates for Council at Large this year including both challengers and incumbents. But look closely and a few stand out above the others, not just because they have good characters and good ideas but because they have the potential to bring something to Philadelphia politics that we have long needed—a connection and commitment to engaging the public, and especially the progressive / labor community,  in politics. When I ran myself for this position in 2007 I said, repeatedly, that politics was broken in Philadelphia. That’s a little less so today in large because of some new voices, and reinvigorated old voices in Council and because of the efforts of Council President Darrel Clarke to make Council more assertive. But one … Continue reading

What Has to Change and What Doesn’t: A First Look at Klein

Introduction I’d been planning to read “This Changes Everything (TCE)” for a few months, both because I want to learn more about the climate change issue and because I want to learn more about Naomi Klein’s take on the world. I’ve doing preliminary work on a project of my own on progressive political and policy strategy. (I’m also finishing another book now about sexuality and politics but I always work on two projects at once.) I finally started the book a week or so ago because my friend Cate Poe invited to join an on-line reading group. I’m only about half way through at the moment so this is a preliminary report, some of my initial thoughts on the book. I normally wouldn’t write anything until I was done with a book and spent a good deal of time thinking about it, but I feel some obligation to Cate to … Continue reading

A Last Word on the Controller’s Race

The response to our letter on Brett Mandel has been predictable, and for the most part good. Many progressives who have shared our qualms about Brett have come out and taken a public position. And many of those progressives who support Brett have denounced us for joining a “ward leader, party hack” who is backed by Bob Brady and John Dougherty. To the larger first group I say thanks and I encourage you keep getting the word out. Share our letter via email and Facebook. Join the Progressives against Mandel group on Facebook. The second group, I want to suggest you take this episode as a learning experience about politics. First, politics is about coalition building. It’s about getting people together in support of legislation or a candidate who might not agree on other matters. People don’t wear black hats and white hats in politics. With very few exceptions, all … Continue reading

The Progressive Moment

This is a progressive moment, when we have an opportunity to once again reinvent the government to meet our goals. We have to recognize our opportunities, and also recognize that our task is not to mimic the right and talk only to ourselves but capture the imagination of the public as a whole. We have to articulate new innovative public policies that articulate the progressive ideals that Americans broadly share. Continue reading

Ask Allyson Schwartz to Run for Governor!

Barack Obama is back in office and moving in a liberal direction. So now it’s time to think ahead about building progressive power. The most important thing we can do in Pennsylvania is to replace Tom Corbett as Governor. So it’s a little surprising to me is that, with all the talk about this candidate or that, the one Pennsylvania politician who is best placed to defeat Governor Corbett, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, is not being asked by everyone to run. The main reason, I suspect, is that most people who pay close attention to politics don’t think she will do so. And some folks, for the usual reasons, have trouble getting their head around the idea of a woman as Governor. I have no inside knowledge about whether Congresswoman Schwartz is considering a race. But I strongly believe that she should run. After explaining why, I’ll come back to the issue of … Continue reading

What Do Do-Nothing Legislators Do?

There is a class of legislators who pundits sometime pick on for not being “effective.” They are politicians who typically stand a little to the left (for Democrats) or right (for Republicans) of their party. Then tend to come from relatively well-off, safe districts. Their constituents are more ideological than most and less in need of the pork barrel projects that are the stock in trade of other legislators. And they often serve in the minority party in the legislature, so they have little impact day to day legislative business. That gives them some freedom to push the envelope on policy by taking stands in advance of public opinion. Sometimes they push the envelope simply by being who they are—a woman, an out gay or lesbian, or the member of some other minority. These politicians are often criticized because they don’t have a lot of legislative achievements. They don’t have … Continue reading

Cohen and Josephs for State Representative

There are some difficult State Representative races for progressives in the city this year. In two of them, long time advocates of progressive causes, Babette Josephs in the 182nd  and Mark Cohen in the 202nd, are in races with younger and ambitious challengers, Brian Sims and Numa St. Louis. How do you choose between candidates who have no differences on issues? There are few if any differences on policy between the incumbents and the challengers. Babette and Mark simply have the best voting records in Harrisburg. (When I ran my own race as a challenger and was looking to find questionable votes taken by my opponent, Rosita Youngblood, I quickly compared her votes to those of Cohen and Josephs. There were many differences and, in each case, Cohen and Josephs had taken the progressive view.) So when there are no issue differences, how do you make up your mind in … Continue reading