The Progressive Legislative Action Network (www.progressivestates.org) has launched their website after months of waiting for their launch. It's a great site, with a nice blogroll that includes this little piece of the pie.
I think it will be a helpful reminder to progressives that state and local governments are the best tools for implementing justice. The federal government is largely a sinkhole of depressing ideologues and corporate power-brokers figuring out how to roll back the New Deal. Some of the most active ideologues wear black robes, and those guys can really get you down.
Not so in the states. It's fun and refreshing to be around Springfield. The good guys are running the show. And consistent with their good guy way of running things, they let Republicans have far more influence and ability to participate in the legislative consensus-seeking process than the federal GOP allows the federal Dems. And before Illinois GOPers start complaining, I think the fairest comparison is between a member of the minority party in DC to a member of the minority party in Springfield. How many Democrats are co-chairs or chairs of Congressional Committees? How many Democratic bills ever get called for a vote in DC? Yeah, not so much.
I've had a project in mind for months and hopefully someone in bloggerland will take me up on the offer. The project is to look at every single bill that the General Assembly has passed (and the Governor has signed) and explain it. Not in any great detail, but a few paragraphs about what the bill does would help to lay out how life has gotten better for people in Illinois because of the work of a Democratic government.
We don't do a very good job of telling that story. And we should, because we've got a great story to tell.
Groups like PLAN can help with the effort to tell the story of what Democratic governments are doing. I did notice that PLAN's tone is rather negative. "The right-wingers dominate politics! We must stop the total tsunami of right-wingers who infiltrate our federal, state and local government!" (Read the report or the cover story in In These Times here to see what I mean). And the Center for Policy Alternatives (www.cfpa.org) has been very helpful, certainly to me, for the last few years at laying out the successes of progressive legislators and suggesting lots of model bills for advocates and legislators to work for.
But, maybe I'm biased because I'm living in the Capital of Blue America, where the real debate is in the Democratic primary over the best way to raise the standard of living for most people. Speaking of which, 30 days until the primary grind is over. If you haven't sent in a check to a candidate of your choice, do it now. And if you haven't ever volunteered for a political campaign, now is the time. It really is the efforts of thousands of volunteers that make the Democratic Party the party of the people -- and that have given us the chance to help implement the best public policies in the nation.