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Monday, 21 April 2014 19:26

PDA History 2011 — Working in a Hostile House

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If progressives were frustrated by failure to win major victories in  previous years, after the GOP / Tea Party takeover of the House we faced  a far more difficult task. Friendly Committee Chairs like PDA Board  Member John Conyers had to hand over their gavels to Republicans.  Legislation that made progress from 2007 to 2010 suddenly slammed into  brick walls. National Director Tim Carpenter led PDA’s response, with  help from Deputy Director Conor Boylan, the revamped national staff,  along with our tireless Issue Team organizers and our state and local  coordinators.

We continued to take our message to district offices, calling on  Congress members to cosponsor or vote against specific legislation. PDA  organized an average of 30 letter drops per month in 2012, and also  expanded our efforts on Capitol Hill. Understanding that members of  Congress depend upon staffers to plow through hundreds of bills, PDA  worked to develop relationships with legislative aides responsible for  healthcare, trade, labor, and other subject areas.

Undeterred by a tougher legislative climate, PDA took on new issues including efforts to amend the Constitution. We joined the effort to  ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) through the three-state  strategy, working with coalition partners to advance Rep. Tammy  Baldwin’s House Resolution. Virginia, Maryland and D.C. PDAers worked  with National Organization for Women members and other activists  persuading Sen. Ben Cardin to sponsor a Senate version, and gaining  cosponsors for both resolutions. PDA also worked with activists  supporting efforts to overturn Citizen’s United and corporate  personhood, ed by our End Corporate Rule Working Group. Deputy Field  Director Andrea Miller led the effort and created a database of contacts  in Congressional offices. National Communications Coordinator Mike  Hersh and Virginia State Co-Coordinator Stephen Spitz helped with these  Hill visits working to protect our social safety net, support jobs  legislation, end the big pharma price-fixing scheme, and more.

In Arizona, PDA worked with a large coalition to successfully recall  right wing State Senator Russell Pearce. PDA members were instrumental  in this fight. We invested two years in this very important campaign,  which finally paid off in 2011. Dan O'Neal, PDA Arizona co-coordinator,  was our PDA Activist of the Year. His tireless work for PDA locally and  nationally helped lead the way with the Pearce Recall, and led the  Arizona team pushing through numerous progressive state resolutions, Dan  also organized a statewide PDA conference, raised funds at the national  level, and helped with logistics at our annual leadership conference in  Winslow.

PDA Community Year in Review 2011 from conor boylan on Vimeo.

 

To close out 2011, PDA joined with National Nurses United, the  Rainbow-Push Coalition, and The Nation Magazine with an electrifying  forum called “Building the Progressive Movement Inside and Outside the  Democratic Party.” Progressive Iowans and leading national progressives  including Rev. Jesse Jackson; Jean Ross, President of National Nurses  United; John Nichols, Political Writer for the Nation, and MSNBC  contributor; and National PDA representatives participated. We also  distributed thousands of Healthcare NOT Warfare (HNW) signs and stickers  at the forum for people to bring that message to the Iowa Caucuses, to  get 2012 off to a progressive start.

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