Posts Tagged ‘Democracy for America’

Real Women Have Power

The year 2012 will go down in history, not just for its major presidential election or the Supreme

Courtesy of ACLU

Court of the United States surprise ruling, upholding the Affordable Care Act, but something far more important.

The war on women.  While both equally important, the war on women has got to take the cake.

In 2009, the Republican party ran on “jobs, jobs, jobs.”  By doing so (and our nation’s voters needing some instant gratification) the win went to Republican’s, who not only won the House of Representatives, a few extra seats in the Senate but many of the state houses across the country.

It was a declaration!  A referendum on President Barack Obama lackluster two years in office!

Republican’s, so committed to job growth and the economy, you know how many jobs bills have been introduced since 2011?

Let me put it this way…we’re still kinda waiting.

Instead, what Republican’s did introduce was legislation targeting women and their reproductive rights.  A long list of them…all across the country.

But what does that have to do with jobs, you ask?  Exactly.

Let’s take the state of Michigan for example.  It’s had a tough few years. Michigan is currently recovering from several years of economic downturn.  In recent months it has faced a threat to its democracy, one we’ve not seen…maybe ever.  But even more importantly, the Michigan state legislature apparently has an issue with the term, “vagina.”

That’s right, V-A-G-I-N-A, VAGINA!

I’m no expert.  I don’t claim to have the answers to anything or everything.  But in the case of Republican’s focusing on women’s issues, it is no coincidence. It is part of a master plan by the Republican party and an ongoing refusal to move forward on issues as basic and as progressive as those pertaining to a woman’s uterus.  Republican’s claim it is a party that respects the constitution of the United States, yet respects very little a decision that was made by the Supreme Court of this country back in 1973.

In order to fight this war on women, it’s up to many of us…a majority of American’s, actually, to gain the tools necessary to confront these so-called, “leaders” and keep them from taking away rights we have done everything in our limited power, to protect.

Democracy for America will soon launch a series called, “War for Women” in which it will provide tools to many of us who are committed to a woman’s right to choose, as well as many other issues women face, challenges we will need to confront in the coming months and years.

If the Republican’s get their way this year or next year or any year for that matter, our country will regress by generations — successes women have seen in the last thirty years, could all go away.  This is the threat we face.

We must equip ourselves.  We must win.

Netroots Nation Day 3 – When We Do Our Minimum, We Lose.

“We know we’re supposed to be fired up and we know we’re supposed to be ready to go.  But we’re pissed off.”     — Van Jones

This last day at Netroots Nation was one of great pondering and reflection.  The first few days were incredibly inspiring and awesome and the entire time I was there, I really couldn’t believe I was there.  I mean, in all honesty, I felt like a kid in a candy store and the candy was all this political conversation and blogging chat (nerd alert)  It was an amazing time.  However, Saturday morning I woke up, staring at my ceiling in the hotel room, feeling a bit melancholy because this was going to be the end of a beautiful weekend.

Picture courtesy of

I got up and rushed to my first meeting of the day at 8a.  I was meeting up with folks from America’s Voice and other Democracy for America scholars who had been selected to be part of a group of immigrant activists.  As someone that blogs a lot about immigration, I was incredibly honored to be there, especially because Congressman Luis Gutierrez was scheduled to meet us for breakfast.  Unfortunately, when I arrived (I was early by the way) I was told the Congressman was not going to make it because of some issues with travel.  However, I was asked to stay and join the others and mingle for a bit and eat some breakfast.  In the meantime, I had the great pleasure of meeting some incredible folks within the immigrant rights movement and learned quite a bit about what was going on up until that point (Remember:  It would be a week later before President Obama made his immigration announcement.)

One thing was certain during this weekend.  Immigrant rights activists, much like other activists across the board, were not entirely happy with President Obama and it was obvious.  Awhile later during the immigration panel, Gaby Pacheco, the DREAM activist and spokesperson for DREAMers made it clear, “Her relationship with President Obama was like that of an abusive relationship.”  President Obama keeps promising the world, yet never delivers.

I’ll be honest, up until that very moment, I did not understand why DREAMers were so upset at the President.  I mean, I understood why…1 million deportations, not keeping a promise of DREAM or comprehensive immigration reform within the first year of his presidency, etc…etc.    But it was at this point that I truly came to the realization that I would never understand. I am not undocumented.

I left this panel and participated in a panel of my own.  Honestly, it was kind of random.  The last thing I expected when winning a scholarship for Netroots Nation was actually being asked to participate in a panel of my own, but I did.  On Friday during Elizabeth Warren’s keynote speech, I live tweeted the whole thing and it was during this time that I got an email from Andrew Villaneuve, Founder and Executive Director of Northwest Progressive Institute, asking me to participate in the panel, “Revitalizing State and Local Blogging.”  Honestly, I’m not that experienced in blogging, in fact…I was actually quite surprised that I was asked considering my experience, but it turned out to be a very good time.  The panelists were amazing, in fact…I left learning so much more and ready to implement much of what I learned, to my own blog.

After this session…I rushed to grab my seat to the keynote and fortunately for me I could always count on Bryant

Chuck Rocha from Solidarity Solutions and I after the Keynote

Berganza, a local journalist for, “Street Sights” a local paper in Providence that sheds light on homelessness in Rhode Island, and who always made it to the keynotes with just enough time to get a great table and great seating and always had a place for me.  (Thank you Bryant!)

Ok…so first up was Chuck Rocha.  This guy was a trip! He not only declares himself to be the “Mexican Redneck,” he also just recently started up his own consulting firm in Washington, DC called, “Solidarity Strategies.”  He was high energy and high volume, but he was real.  It’s something many of us were happy to hear after all that we’ve been through as progressives these last few years.

One really great thing about Mr. Rocha’s presence is that we finally had the chance to hear a Latino speak during the keynote.  Considering that we’re [Latinos] in so many levels of government and activism, it was great to have someone like Chuck on board, even if for just a few minutes.  (I’d say for next year…Netroots should really work on getting more Latino’s and I’m willing to volunteer as a guest Latina.  Just sayin’)

The last two speakers were really important to me.  I was looking forward to both gentleman and was excited to hear what they had to say.  However, I was completely surprised at the level of engagement there was, even if it was just complete silence amongst us all.

President and CEO of the NAACP

Ben Jealous, the NAACP President and CEO, was present on the last evening of Netroots Nation and provided the second to last keynote.  The major theme from his speech was simple.  While we’ve attempted to equalize the playing field for all groups in this nation in the last few decades, there is still work to be done.  But more importantly, we face incredible threats to many of our everyday freedoms, particularly those living in our communities of color.

Take New York City for instance.  Last few years you hear about the “amazing” things Mayor Bloomberg has done for the city, but very few of his supporters realize the enormous burden faced by people of color, specifically black and Latino men in “stop and frisk” operations throughout New York City.

Below is some video of Ben Jealous’ interview on Melissa Perry Harris show last Sunday, an interview that occurred just hours before a silent march took place in protest to Mayor Bloomberg and his stop and frisk initiative.

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What you see in the interview with Melissa Harris Perry, was just as powerful on the final night of Netroots Nation.  It wasn’t just Ben Jealous’ powerful and passionate voice, either.  The stats for “stop and frisk” are astonishing.  According to the numbers Ben Jealous provides, police officers stopped nearly 700,000 people last year, 87 percent of them black or Latino. Of those stopped, more than half were also frisked.  One thing that I really took away from this message was the fact that other cities like Los Angeles, for example, have also seen a drop in crime much like New York City.  The difference, however, is that there is no “stop and frisk” operation taking place in LA or any other major city where a drop in crime has been significant.  So how does Mayor Bloomberg explain that?

By the time Van Jones joined us, it was time to finally get real about what this nation faces in the coming elections.  Most of the time I spent at Netroots Nation, I was overwhelmed with the feelings many like-minded progressives had and were not afraid to vocalize their utter disappointment in President Obama these last 3 1/2 years.

I’m going to be honest. I’m not one of those people. Although there are things I’m disappointed in, overall I’ve been pretty confident in the President and the ability to do what he can do under the circumstances that we face. The one thing that I took from Van Jones and I can honestly say others around me did as well, is that it’s not just the President, but it’s Congress and the Supreme Court we need to worry about. If we do not win in November, progressives are toast. Toast.

I won’t say more about Van Jones, other than ask you to watch the video. If you aren’t worried about November, you should be.

“If last time it was a hope election, this year it’s a fear election.”

Our democracy is at great risk, folks!

Overall, Netroots Nation was fabulous. I am so honored to have attended on behalf of Democracy for America’s scholarship program. I met some really amazing people doing the same kind of work I am doing, all over this country and that is encouraging. To be frank, I did not have to in the presence of all those I mention above, because the general population who attended were that inspiring and I look forward to working with many of them in the coming months and years.  If there is one thing I took from this year’s Netroots Nation it’s that although we have a lot more to do, there are many out there ready to take charge and really change the world.

Netroots Nation 2013 is in San Jose next year.  I will be there.