THE PCCC / Bold Progressives have been working hard in 2015 to have a major influence in the 2016 elections, from the presidential to congressional, state and local elections. Our support of +Senator Elizabeth Warren D MA got her appointed to the Democratic National Committee so we now have a powerful voice influencing the party's platform and agenda. +Senator Bernie Sanders I VT presidential campaign is being supported by the PCCC. Below are some of the highlights of 2015, check out the PCCC website for more on our progressive policies, actions and candidates and join the movement to restore America to our full potential for all Americans, not just the 1%. Followed by the +TIME article on the PCCC.....
This New Year, let’s be proud of what we did together in 2015!
Democrats lost the 2014 election because they lacked big ideas that inspire voters. So the Progressive Change Institute launched the Big Ideas Project, calling for a bold new agenda. PCCC members submitted their own ideas and voted on others, casting over one million votes.
Polling showed that big progressive ideas are popular with Democrats, Independents, and Republicans alike. These results were shared with dozens of members of Congress and presidential campaigns -- leading to many high-profile endorsements of the big ideas submitted by PCCC members.
One of the most popular ideas from the Big Ideas Project was debt-free college -- the idea that students should be able to graduate from any public college or university without debt.
Thanks to your phone calls, letters to the editor, and nearly half-a-million petition signatures, as well as a strong lobbying effort and coalition of allies like Demos and Democracy for America, we now have over 100 congressional co-sponsors on a resolution calling for debt-free college! Plus all 3 Democratic presidential candidates have called for debt-free college, legislators in 10 states are planning their own local efforts, and TV ads are hitting the airwaves. By next year, there will be a major mandate in this country for debt-free college… because of you.
As Bloomberg News reports, “The phrase ‘debt-free college’ was hardly present in the national political lexicon until the Progressive Change Campaign Committee launched a campaign in January to push Democrats to support the idea.”
3. Impact on the Presidential Debates:
We’ve been pushing these “big ideas” into the political mainstream, and the presidential debates are one great example of our success.
In all three Democratic debates, the candidates brought up issues like debt-free college, expanding Social Security, and Wall Street accountability! Meanwhile, our “Twitter army” helped spread bold progressive messages, sending thousands of tweets to 125 key reporters before and during the first debate -- helping to shape the narrative for the presidential race.
Sneak preview: In 2016, get ready for Open Debates -- where moderators ask questions directly submitted and voted on by the public.
Who could forget the National Candidate Training?
Nearly 200 local, state, and federal candidates gathered in Washington DC for four days of intensive work in fundraising, messaging, and field. The training gave these bold progressives all the tools they need to win. The candidates even took professional headshots and launched their websites with the help of our talented team.
If you are a potential candidate, or know a progressive candidate who might benefit from our trainings, the application is here.
For a trip down memory lane, check out the TIME magazine article about our “quest to create hundreds of Elizabeth Warrens” here.
5. Big Improvements in Campaign Software:
How do we support these "hundreds of Elizabeth Warrens"? We give them our easy-to-use campaign software!
Candidates can now design their own website, run their own email program, manage their endorsements and press contacts, and download templates and guides. We use this software to help hundreds of progressive candidates running for local, state, and federal office all over the country. If you are running for office (or know someone who is) you can request your own account here.
Americans won a huge victory in February when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a rule that stopped cable and phone companies from speeding up some web services while slowing down others -- making Net Neutrality the law of the land.
When a reporter asked President Obama about the PCCC's activism, the White House urged the FCC to do the right thing. Working with a big coalition, PCCC members gathered 147,000 petition signatures, submitted 25,000 public comments to the FCC, and made thousands of phone calls to members of Congress. We also partnered with Hollywood celebrities, video gamers, and political heroes like Sen. Al Franken to mobilize the public on this issue. What a great win!
7. Ready for Boldness:
In March and April, over 5,000 political leaders signed our “Ready for Boldness” letter, calling on all Democratic presidential candidates to run on “big, bold, economic populist ideas” like debt-free college, expanding Social Security, and breaking up big Wall Street banks.
This received media attention everywhere from the New York Times to MSNBC -- and set the tone for the 2016 election. Nearly 50,000 PCCC members signed on, creating extra momentum! (At the same time, the number of Senate Democrats who support expanding Social Security jumped from 7 to 42! Huge momentum for bold ideas!)
Elizabeth Warren often points out that Wall Street has hundreds of lobbyists in Congress. We’re fighting back.
Thousands of PCCC members donated to help hire two progressive lobbyists on Capitol Hill, to build a staff for P Street -- the progressive alternative to K Street.
When you hear about 100 members of Congress supporting debt-free college, other big ideas from PCCC members being introduced in Congress, or media events that highlight heroes like Elizabeth Warren, you can thank this progressive lobbying operation -- and the PCCC members who made it happen!
When Rep. Hank Johnson introduced his proposal for special prosecutors to investigate police killings, PCCC members took action in support of that bill.
When Planned Parenthood was under attack -- both verbally from Republicans in Congress, and literally from domestic terrorists -- we responded by raising tens of thousands of dollars directly for Planned Parenthood.
PCCC members have stepped up this year in solidarity with these two movements.
Thousands of PCCC members donated a combined $600,000 to the first 2016 “Warren wing” candidates.
We endorsed great progressives early in their U.S. Senate races -- Russ Feingold in Wisconsin and Donna Edwards in Maryland. And we endorsed three progressive champs running in competitive U.S. House primaries -- Joseline Peña-Melnyk (MD-4), Jamie Raskin (MD-8), and Susannah Randolph (FL-8).
Our team is now working deeply with all these candidates to make sure their campaigns are as strong as possible. Get ready for more “Warren wing” endorsements in 2016!
We accomplished so much together in 2015. And we look forward to more big fights and progressive victories together in 2016!
Thanks for being a bold progressive. And Happy New Year!
Stephanie, Adam, Sarah, Kayla, Lacey, Keith, Kenton, Marissa, Ethan, Jackie, DeVeria, Max, Jen, Courtney, Ryan, Ian, Summer, Doug, Abby, and Molly.
(The PCCC Team)
Want to support the Warren wing? Senator Elizabeth Warren says, "When PCCC members donate millions in small-dollar donations and make millions of phone calls for progressive candidates, leaders in Washington, they take notice." Chip in $3 here.
The thumbs up came from the back of the meeting room, and two hundred future Sen. Elizabeth Warrens stood up and waited for their prototype to enter. Spindly and with a bouncy step, the Massachusetts senator strode rapidly into the room and was waylaid by a friendly sea of imperfect facsimiles calling for selfies. “What a way to start the morning!” Warren said at last, breathless at the podium.
Warren was stopping by a conference on Thursday just a 10-minute walk away from the Capitol building in Washington DC, where the goal was unabashedly to bolster the Warren brand of the Democratic party. In the belly of the swank Washington Court Hotel—also the host of a recent events for steel wire producers and the beef industry—progressive candidates for municipal and state office across the country had gathered for a four-day affair to create a surge of Democratic candidates in municipal and state elections, and build a movement of rookie Warrens.
The conference, organized by the advocacy group Progressive Change Campaign Committee, was intended to train candidates and activists from states far flung as Wisconsin and Louisiana to run for office and eventually shape national policy. TIME was one of the only publications granted access to the meeting.
Much of the focus was on the nuts and bolts of effective campaigning and fundraising. Questions flew: Do candidates need to fundraise within their own district? How much time should candidates spend on fundraising calls? How do you best target voters during get-out-the-vote efforts? Should candidates’ events have red wine, or are cookies enough? The PCCC offered candidates who attended back-end internet tools replete with website templates, and readymade email blasters and event managers.
And Warren was the star attraction. “You are the progressive bench, and we need a bench,” Warren told them. Dozens of attendees wore identical blue shirts that said, I’m from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic party. “Elizabeth Warren is the North Star,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the PCCC. And the enthusiasm for Warren has spilled over all across the left: “I want to clone Elizabeth Warren into every candidate,” said Tefere Gebre the executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, in an interview with TIME two weeks ago.
In the Washington hotel, building an army of Warrens to challenge establishment-backed Democrats was exactly the point. “Yes, this is about building campaigns and winning office, but this is also about building a movement,” Warren said during her keynote on Thursday. “You are the living spark of the progressive movement.” It was a sentiment made clear by the conference organizers. “How do we elect 300 more Elizabeth Warrens?” said Stephanie Taylor, the co-founder of the PCCC who dreamt up the conference. “This training is part of it: finding them and giving them the tools to run great campaigns.”
Movement-building with Warren in the lead is in part about catching up to conservatives. Republicans can boast of presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, Rush Limbaugh and a formidable coalition of right-wing legislators threatening to unseat their house speaker. Meanwhile the left has a few big-city mayors, a struggling cable network (MSNBC), handful of legislators (Sherrod Brown, Keith Ellison) and a upstart presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who counts Eugene V. Debs and the nation of Denmark among his biggest influences. And Warren, the progressive nonpareil, has refused to run for the White House.
Republicans have taken notice of Warrens influence over Democrats. While the activists met in Washington, her name came up on the Republican campaign trail in Cedar Falls, Iowa. “The fact is the Democratic Party has a problem,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said. “Their problem is that Elizabeth Warren is taking over that party.”
“They’re all running to be just like Elizabeth Warren,” he added, saying that Hillary Clinton has borrowed from Warren’s playbook on the campaign trail.
Though Warren was only present for the first hour of the four-day training session, her name came up again and again. When she ran for Senate in 2012, Warren liked to make fundraising calls from her kitchen at home while boiling a pot of tea and wearing a headset, an alumna of Warren’s fundraising team, Sarah Badawi, told trainees. Joel Silberman, a speech trainer, said in a session that when he consulted Warren before a Massachusetts state convention speech, he told Warren a trick to cure nerves: count the number of steps to the podium.
Taylor and Green of the PCCC once sat on Warren’s front porch and shared lemonade and iced tea to convince her to first run for Senate, Warren noted during her address. The former director of research for Warren’s senatorial campaign, Peter Jones led a class on opposition research. (A quick Google search on Warren’s defeated opponent for Senate, Scott Brown, shows him shirtless in photos hawking diet pills, a fact that Warren recently noted in a speech.)
Most of those hoping to follow Warren’s lead at the conference don’t look anything like her or share her Ivy League background. There was the black state senator who represents Ferguson, an Indian-American candidate for Congress from a Detroit suburb, and as many pairs of sneakers as suits. Union organizers, mothers, climate activists, feminists and campaign staffers were in Washington from Vermont and Georgia.
“You are a part of a global re-owning of a populist, progressive vision of America,” said Zephyr Teachout, chief executive of the Mayday PAC which aims to get money out of politics.
Many at the conference argued local victories could sway their states, and ultimately, Congress. Over a lunch of ravioli and tagliatelli with lemon sauce and iced tea, two attendees from Rhode Island debated the merits of the conference. “The more states have something like paid leave, and it’s successful, the more likely we’ll be able to get Congress to move it forward,” Shandi Hanna, an activist at the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island. “We need to infiltrate the system and change it.”
“You look around this room people—the people I’ve met makes me realize the country is moving in a good direction,” said Margaux Morisseau, a candidate for Rhode Island state Senate.
So far, the left has been unable to create the kind of movement that caught fire on the right after President Obama’s election. But in some ways, things have changed in recent years. Cities and states like California and Rhode Island are requiring businesses to provide paid family leave; activists in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle have with mixed success pushed for a $15-minium wage; Bernie Sanders has attracted crowds of 10,000 and more in purple and red states like Wisconsin and Arizona. To progressives, those are signs of shifting winds. “People will start to realize there’s a change happening from underneath. They’ll either have to evolve or die,” said Chris Larson, a state senator in Wisconsin.
Some date the recent wave in progressive activism back to Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign. A left-backed candidate, Dean’s loss in the primary spawned Democracy for America, a progressive PAC. The past five years has seen a slow increase in organizational support for progressive Democrats. DFA, MoveOn.org, Progressive Majority also aim to train progressive candidates for office.
It’s Warren’s message that has helped motivate them in recent years, and attendees repeatedly mentioned Warren’s name during the conference. “We can whine about this, we can whimper about this, or we can fight back,” Warren said Thursday. “I’m fighting back!”
The goal, of course, is victory against Republicans, and against old-line Democrats in primary contests. If they win, it will come the way of conquerors of old: by conversion, or a rout.
“It’s our movement,” said CM! Winters Palacio, a Chicago librarian (with punctuation in her first name) who is running for City Council and says she is facing pushback from the moderate Democratic mayor, Rahm Emmanuel. “We will eat the elephant one bite at a time.”