Pages tagged "progressive"

E-Cigarettes, Progressive Defeats, Affordable Housing and More

The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group that helps turn state and local elected officials, advocates and grassroots activists into progressive champions. To join, click here.

E-cigarette Smoke-Free Act: E-cigarettes are a significant public health concern and they mostly go unregulated. The E-cigarette Smoke-Free Act would amend existing state or local smoke-free workplaces laws to include vaping. Some jurisdictions are also prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

This year’s top progressive defeats in states and localities: Conservatives won a lot of battles this year, especially in state legislatures, and particularly involving abortion, guns, education, labor rights and social services. Read about it on IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

TODAY—Creating Affordable Housing in Your Community: Tuesday, July 21 @1:30pm Eastern, 12:30pm Central, 11:30am Mountain, 10:30am Pacific. Our friends at Local Progress are hosting a great discussion about inclusionary housing policy featuring experts from Cornerstone Partnership and some lawmakers who have successfully fought this battle. Register here.

Belief in science-based policies is largely, but not entirely, a question of partisanship: The Pew Research Center has released some polling data about people’s views on hot-button scientific issues and factors such as ideology, age, religion and education. The results are interesting and important, although kind of depressing.

How government contractors hide public records: States and localities that have “sunshine” laws often find that government contractors—when they assume control of public services—block access to vital information. This report from In The Public Interest explains how contractors hide information from the public and what you can do about it.

Going to the National Conference of State Legislatures, August 3-6 in Seattle? The Public Leadership Institute will passing out copies of the Progressive Agenda and Voicing Our Values in the Exhibition Hall, booth 1205. Come visit with us! 

A Golden Opportunity to Strengthen the “Progressive” Brand

“Progressive” is our nation’s most popular political term, but at the same time, most Americans don’t really know what it means. If we play our cards right, the Democratic presidential primary season can help us define our ideology. This is an exercise in branding.

While we wish that voters considered their electoral choices with a spirit of idealism and a dedication to the common good, that’s not a realistic expectation. Partisan politics requires some elements of marketing. We need swing voters to have a positive general impression about progressives because they will never really understand the details behind progressive policy.

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Job Piracy, Reproductive Rights, Winning State Elections and More

The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group that helps turn state and local elected officials, advocates and grassroots activists into progressive champions. To join, click here.

Job Piracy Cease Fire Act: This legislation is designed to stop the expensive and wasteful race to the bottom where neighboring jurisdictions compete to steal jobs from one another. Invite cities, counties and states to voluntarily stop the madness by enacting this simple bill.

A Golden Opportunity to Strengthen the Progressive Brand: While “progressive” is the nation’s most popular political term, most Americans don’t really know what it means. If we play our cards right, the presidential primary season will help us define our ideology. Read about it on IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

What’s going on in Reproductive Rights and how you can join the fight: Wednesday, April 22 @3:00pm Eastern, 2:00pm Central, 1pm Mountain, Noon Pacific. States have adopted more than 230 new abortion restrictions since the 2010 election. Our guest, Susan Frietsche of the Women’s Law Project, will explain what’s going on and—using Pennsylvania as an example—how reproductive rights advocates can change the debate with a proactive policy agenda.

Where do conservatives get their version of reality? Surely you’ve noticed that conservatives are denying more than science, they won’t even recognize basic facts. This Pew Research poll shows how that happens: conservatives are overwhelmingly getting their “news” from Fox and other ideological sources.

Latest update on legislation at the state and local levels: Read about it in our Compendium. And we welcome input! If you have additions, please contact Michael Weiss at

Promote “fair markets,” not “free markets”

Last week’s column bemoaned the fact that average Americans believe unquestioningly in “free markets,” even though there are no such things. Indeed, every market relies on a dense web of laws and regulations. Subsidies, loopholes, grants, contracts, trade policy, labor law and inconsistent enforcement all warp markets. To say the words “free markets” is to perpetuate a dangerous right-wing myth.

So promote “fair markets,” not free markets. Can this expression help persuade voters? Yes it can. For example, voters already prefer “fair trade” to “free trade.”

More important, every time we say free markets we hurt the progressive cause. Persuadable voters keep two somewhat-contradictory economic concepts in their minds. The words free markets evoke the conservative belief that governments should stay out of the economic sphere and let markets work things out. The phrase fair markets, in contrast, reminds voters of their firm belief that our economic system is rigged to favor the rich and powerful, and that governments should do something about it. We must reinforce the progressive concept, not conservative one.

Beyond pure messaging, “fair markets” should mean something substantive. It should reflect a philosophy. Progressives need to promote worldviews, not just words.

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The State of the States and Localities

Due to the ghastly 2014 elections, more state legislators are Republican and the GOP controls more state legislative bodies than at any time since the 1920s.

Republicans now control the governorship and both houses of the legislature in 23 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Statehouse Republicans won’t want to appear too extreme in 2016, both for the presidential election and for their own reelections. Therefore, we must expect a deluge of ultra-conservative legislation in 2015; we’ll start to see it within weeks.

The business wing of the conservative movement will push for long-term structural changes—measures that make it easier for right wingers to win future elections, or policies that tilt the system to benefit the rich even more. And these changes are hard for progressives to undo. They include: bills to weaken the political influence of key progressive allies like labor unions, trial lawyers, and public school teachers; measures making it harder for people to vote, like voter ID and rolling back early voting; and bills to cut taxes on rich individuals and corporations, starving governments for revenue so that, in Grover Norquist’s words, right wingers can shrink government “down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."

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Policy Models, Bill of Rights, Ballot Initiatives, and more

The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group that helps turn state and local elected officials, advocates and grassroots activists into progressive champions. To join, click here.

Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights: San Francisco enacted a first-in-the-nation package (Hours &  Retention bill and Scheduling & Treatment bill) to protect hourly workers. The package promotes full-time work while protecting part-time workers, it encourages predictable and reasonable hours, and is focused on the largest and most profitable retailers and fast food businesses. Read more here.

When progressives cry “freedom,” what does it mean? Freedom should be fairly easy to understand—it’s a defense of our basic constitutional rights and civil liberties. This is very intentionally a limited definition of freedom, often called “negative freedom.” Why? Read IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

Fifty great policy models for 2015: Wednesday, December 17 @3:00pm Eastern, 2:00pm Central, 1:00pm Mountain, noon Pacific. We just published the 2015 edition of the Progressive Agenda for States and Localities. In our next webinar we’ll describe some of the great legislation that lawmakers should consider in 2015. Register here to participate.

Progressives plan multiple ballot initiatives in 2016: Expect to see minimum wage, paid sick leave, equal pay, medical and recreational marijuana, and gun sale background checks on many state ballots in November 2016. The push is based on the expectation that the presidential General Election will turn out progressive voters. Read about it here.

Huge public support for police body cameras: According to a new Pew/USA Today poll, 87 percent of Americans think it’s a “good idea for police officers to wear body cameras that would record their interactions.”

Progress in the States and Localities: What happened in the states, cities, counties and towns over the past eleven months? Our new Progress in the States and Localities is now online. If you have some victories or defeats to add, please send suggestions to Michael Weiss at

Are today’s progressives bad at message framing?

Looking back, without expensive consultants or focus groups, liberals of the 60s and 70s brilliantly framed their federal programs as the Peace Corps, Head Start, Model Cities, Fair Housing, Equal Employment Opportunity, and the Clean Air Act. Nowadays, we often moan about the ineffective language that progressives use, but in fairness we've found success with frames like clean elections, environmental justice, living wage, smart growth, assault weapons, hate crimes, predatory lending, and racial profiling.

A problem, perhaps, is that much of the left doesn’t really understand “framing.” Here's a simple way to think about it. We all know words that are universally understood to contain “cues” inside them, passing judgment on the activity described. For the same behavior, a person could be called “thrifty” or “a miser.” The same person could be called “brave” or “foolhardy.” The words we use tip off the audience whether to feel positively or negatively about that person or activity. Obviously, there are words we use in public policy where everyone gets the same “cue,” like freedom, responsibility, public safety, or clean water. But there are also words which bring to mind positive images in some people and negative images in others. “Government” is generally a positive or neutral word to progressives, but it is a negative word to people outside of our base. This is the simplest explanation for why we frame. When we persuade, we need to be aware of the way our audience feels about words and phrases—most especially when the audience gets a different “cue” from the language than we see inside our heads.


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Is there a progressive economics?

By highlighting income inequality, President Obama has opened the door to a serious conversation with voters. The problem is that persuadable voters support an idealized concept of conservative economics based on low taxes and free markets. And they strongly believe that “free enterprise has done more to lift people out of poverty, help build a strong middle class, and make our lives better than all of the government’s programs put together.”

And yet, as economists occasionally explain, no truly “free” markets exist. Every market relies on a dense web of laws and regulations, and rather than seeking free markets, conservatives use government to rig market outcomes in ways that redistribute income upward.

The argument for capitalism is that by harnessing individuals’ economic drive, all of society is enriched by their hard work and innovation. We are entirely for that. But society does not win—in fact, it loses—when people get rich by gaming the system, by exploiting tax or regulatory loopholes, by dismantling viable companies, or by creating scams that aren’t technically illegal but should be.

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