Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) = Race to the Bottom

DSC_7198I am opposed to the President’s trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and I urge you all to oppose it too. 

Join me in speaking out and let’s STOP FAST TRACK! Visit this website to learn how to best use your voice: stopfasttrack.com

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would grant broad powers to multinational companies operating in North America, South America, and Asia. A total of 12 nations. TPP would allow companies and investors to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings – federal, state, or local – before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations. Thus far, TPP is supported by corporate Democrats, Republicans and various businesses. The trade deal would even allow multinational companies to sue in the United States and elsewhere. Therefore, the overall priority of TPP is to protect corporate interest at the cost of the consumers.

 

“Multinational corporations are increasingly realizing this is an opportunity to gut U.S. regulations they don’t like,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in an interview with POLITICO.

These corporations will be able to do this because of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) within the TPP. ISDS would allow foreign companies to challenge U.S. laws – potentially to pick up huge payout from the taxpayers – without ever stepping into a U.S. court. Moreover, from 1959 to 2002, there were about 100 ISDS claims worldwide. However, in 2012, there were 58 cases. Two recent cases include a Swedish company that sued Germany because Germany decided to phase out nuclear power after Japan’s Fukushima disaster, and a Dutch company that sued the Czech Republic because the Czechs didn’t bailout a bank that the company partially owned.

“Conservatives who believe in U.S. sovereignty should be outraged that ISDS would shift power from American courts, whose authority is derived from our Constitution, to unaccountable international tribunals,” said Sen. Warren (D-MA) in the Washington Post.

With more and more progressives coming out against the TPP, pro-TPP Democrats are combating our arguments by being dismissive of them, and especially of Senator Warren by saying that she has been stoking unrealistic fears. One of these pro-TPP Democrats said, “Throwing out ISDS based on trade opponents’ nightmare scenarios would be like tearing down the entire U.S. judicial system because someone sued Starbucks over spilling hot coffee.”

Another Democrat opposed to the TPP Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) had this to say, “It seems to indicate that savvy, deep-pocketed foreign conglomerates could challenge a broad range of laws we pass at every level of government, such as made-in-America laws or anti-tobacco laws. I think people on both sides of the aisle will have trouble with this.”

The TPP gets even better, under it, a member nation could be forbidden from favoring “goods produced in its territory.” Meaning that “every asset that an investor owns or controls, directly or indirectly, that has characteristic of an investment,” including, “regulator permits; intellectual property rights; financial instruments such as stocks and derivatives; construction management, production, concession, revenue-sharing and other similar contracts; and licenses, authorization, permits and similar rights conferred pursuant to domestic law.”

“You now have specialized law firms being set up. You go to them, tell them what country you’re in, what regulation you want to go after, and they say ‘we’ll do it on contingency,’” said Lori Wallach, director of Global Trade Watch and an opponent of the TPP.

For example, in 2013, Eli Lilly took advantage of a similar provision under NAFTA to sue Canada for $500 million, accusing Ottawa of violating its obligations to foreign investors by allowing its courts to invalidate patents for two of its drugs.

It has been reported that the Obama administration hopes the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be a centerpiece accomplishment of his second term. The officials also claim they are confident in passage of both TPA and TPP, however with largely Republican support and just some Democrats. The administration is asking Congress to “fast-track” the TPP, meaning that lawmakers wouldn’t be able to amend the deal, only vote up or down on what the administration negotiates.

President Barack Obama had this to say on the TPP, “I have fought my entire political career and as president to strengthen consumer protections. I have no intention of signing legislation that would weaken those protections.”

Even so, many progressives including myself cannot stand the TPP, they make up the organized left (trade unions, environmentalists, human rights, etc.).

Conversely, a group that calls themselves “Progressive Coalition for American Jobs” claim to be progressive and supports the TPP. They say they are a group of “progressives and Democrats committed to leveling the playing field for American workers,” according to their website. It goes on to say, “It’s critical that we give the president trade promotion authority and establish the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

Excuse me? Progressive?

“Who are they? Are they getting paid? And this group will convince anybody of what?” asks Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). “There is zero progressive interest in this [TPP].”

24Progressive Coalition for American Jobs (PCAJ) includes some of the most senior members of President Obama’s former campaign team. Daily Kos reported Mitch Stewart, former aide the president asked to run Organizing for America (OFA), and Lynda Tran, the former OFA press secretary. Earlier this month, a press release from 270 Strategies announced the campaign firm started by Stewart and President Obama’s former field director, Jeremy Bird.

This is very upsetting for me personally as a former OFA member and as a supporter of President Obama.

“If you look at the progressives – labor unions, activists, online organizations – who are lined up against the TPP, there are no credible groups left to build a ‘coalition,’” said an aide to a progressive House member. Even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi doesn’t seem to support the TPP, as she privately cautioned her members to keep their powder dry in order to negotiate the most liberal deal possible.

Candice Johnson, spokesperson for the Communications Workers of America said on PCAJ, “It’s insulting.” She went on to say, “You put progressive in your name and that’s going to convince people?”

“At this point, 270 Strategies is well known for its AstroTurf efforts to slap a progressive label to the endeavors of Wall Street Wing Democrats and their corporate masters, but this is an earth-shattering new low,” Neil Sroka, spokesperson for Democracy for America. “You can be a progressive committed to fighting for working families or you can be for this massive job-killing trade deal written by 500 corporate reps, but you can’t be both.”

PCAJ was asked about who funds the group and who the members are. Tran, the former Obama aide wouldn’t answer any of those questions. She did say, “We won’t be hosting rallies or organizing major field activities.” Instead she said they will focus on helping “get the word out” on President Obama’s trade deals.

“There is a progressive case to be made for this and I think the goal of this group [PCAJ] is to say, ‘There’s more than one kind of progressive out there with a message on trade’ and what hasn’t been heard,” said an aide to a member in the New Democratic coalition who has been working with the PCAJ.

The White House has been asked about the group, and a spokesperson said that the administration “welcomed” the group’s input. The spokesperson added, “It’s not surprising that groups that share this commitment have decided to add their voice to the discussion, and we welcome their input.”

Image found on google

Image found on google

A top progressive consultant in Washington, D.C., Mike Luz, wrote in an email on PCAJ and TPP, “Every progressive group and sector that works on economic issues – labor, consumer groups, enviros, the online groups, civil rights groups, human rights groups, you name it – is vehemently against TPP, so I don’t know what progressives are in this group’s coalition.”

Based on all of the above and additional resources, I believe I am better able to understand the TPP. Therefore, I stand against it, and I ask you all to join me in speaking out against this terrible “trade agreement.” I believe that President Obama does wish the best for our nation, however he is most definitely wrong when it comes to the TPP.

Join me in speaking out and let’s STOP FAST TRACK! Visit this website to learn how to best use your voice: stopfasttrack.com

 

*Sources: The New York Times, The Washington Post, POLITICO, and BuzzFeed News*

Orphan Disease

Do you fear your birthday? Do you worry about the fact that your days are numbered? Do you fear aging because you know death could be nearby?

I do, and many others like me do too. We do this because we have “orphan” diseases and know that our lives are numbered unless a miracle occurs and a cure is found.

1528646_689146354459709_255445209_nMy name is Mika J. Covington; I’m 24 years old and I have cystinosis. Cystinosis is a rare “orphan” disease that causes the amino acid cystine to accumulate in the cells. As the cystine accumulates in the cells, it slowly damages organs including the kidneys, liver, thyroid, eyes, muscles, and brain. Pharmaceutical companies’ control which diseases are to receive attention and funding from the medical and research communities by determining how much financial gain they will make from the disease. Pharmaceuticals created the term “orphan” disease.

An “orphan” disease is a disease that has not been “adopted” by the pharmaceutical industry. Critics maintain this because there is little financial incentive for the private sector to make and market new medications to treat or prevent them. There are almost 7,000 “orphan” diseases in the United States that collectively affect nearly 30 million people. An average of about 4,288 people for each disease. Specifically, in the case of cystinosis, only 2,000 people in the world are affected and in the United States there are only 500.

ki2011301f1Cystinosis has three forms, nephropathic (infantile), late-onset (intermediate), and ocular (adult). I have nephropathic (infantile) cystinosis, which is the most common and severe form of the disease. Patients with nephropathic cystinosis appears normal at birth, however before one year of age they have excessive thirst and urination, and failure to thrive. They are smaller than others their same age and often tend to be in the lowest percentile or even off the pediatric growth chart. And they have delays with walking and bearing weight. Late-onset cystinosis, kidney symptoms typically become apparent during adolescent years. With ocular cystinosis, cystine crystals are present in the eyes but kidney function remains normal.

970200_581143018593377_1471588441_nUnfortunately, cystinosis has only one treatment, cysteamine. Cysteamine slows the progression of the disease by removing the cystine from the cells. There are only two forms of the medication, Cystagon and Procysbi. Cystagon was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1994, and must be taken every six hours every day and has many side effects. Procysbi was approved by the FDA in 2013 for the treatment of only nephropathic cystinosis in adults and children six years and older. Procysbi is a delayed-release form of cysteamine that must be taken every 12 hours every day with many of the similar side effects as Cystagon. However, there is only one treatment for the corneal cystine crystal accumulation, Cystaran. Cystaran was approved by the FDA in 2012. The medication must be put in the eyes, one drop in each eye every hour while awake.

I have been on Cystagon for nearly 22 years of my life. I was on the drug for a part of the clinical research trial before it was approved by the FDA. Cystagon kept me alive, however it made me sick. It caused me to have nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal issues, headaches, bad breath and body odor. The medication did this because Cystagon dissolves quickly in the stomach causing the harsh chemical make-up to affect the stomach, which has been commonly known to cause stomach ulcers. Taking Cystagon, we don’t get a break because it must be taken every six hours every day. Now, I am on Procysbi.

Jon and me after our surgeries!

Jon and me after our surgeries!

Another major treatment for cystinosis is a kidney transplant, which has become a standard in the treatment of cystinosis because cysteamine only slows the progression of the disease. If not treated by cysteamine, kidney failure occurs at about 12 years old or younger. With cysteamine treatment, the damage of the disease commonly leads to kidney failure by the late teens. Most of the patients must be placed on dialysis to keep them alive before they receive their kidney, which causes more pain, and suffering; sometimes death occurs while waiting for the kidney.

1_HIV-AIDS-StatisticsNevertheless, being an “orphan” disease, cystinosis does not get the attention or research funding it need to help find better treatments or a cure. All the while, children and young adults are dying from this disease. Compare cystinosis to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), which affects 1.1 million people in the United States. Persons with HIV/AIDS tend to have a longer life-span than cystinosis patients. HIV/AIDS has more attention and gets more research funding for two reasons. First, it affects more people and thus is more profitable for pharmaceuticals to do so. (I fully recognize that this use to not be true and many people with HIV/AIDS face stigma.) Second, because of the larger number of people with HIV/AIDS, the more people are buying their products. (This is not a good thing; I believe that we should rid the world of HIV/AIDS too.) This is unlike many “orphan” disease, and especially unlike cystinosis.

what-is-hiv-aids-2

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

We must find a cure for all of these “orphan” diseases and certainly for cystinosis. Thus, I have been participating in a long-term clinical research study at the National  Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. In the study, I see Dr. William Gahl, one of the leading researchers in the world on cystinosis. Dr. Gahl’s study was one of the first studies of its kind on cystinosis. I currently see Dr. Gahl for the specialized study of the progression of the disease, which I hope will assist in finding a cure. I began seeing Dr. Gahl when I was a baby, shortly after I was diagnosed with cystinosis. I would spend a couple of weeks at a time there. Basically, I grew up there from 1992-1996. In addition, I have participated in several other studies, including at the University of California at San Diego Medical Center, where they studied the neurological and psychological effects of cystinosis.

Today, I am raising funds to help find that cure for my terrible disease. The money raised will go directly to the Cystinosis Research Foundation (CRF). CRF is a non-profit 501c3 organization that was started by the amazing Stack family in 2003. this was after their daughter Natalie Stack made a wish on the eve of her twelfth birthday,

“to have my disease go away forever.”

cystinosis_research_foundation_partnerCRF today supports bench and clinical research that is focused on developing improved treatments and a cure for cystinosis. CRF has funded every bench and clinical research study that led to Procysbi, allowing cystinosis patients like me to take the drug every 12 hours instead of every 6 hours, which has improved our quality of life. They established the CRF Cystinosis Gene Therapy Consortium, whose mission is to bring stem cell and gene therapy to clinical trial. They also work on effects of cystinosis on neurological function and cognitive development, causes of muscle-wasting and potential therapies.

Finding a cure may save my life, as well as others with cystinosis including my sister Mary, or even persons with other diseases. Pharmaceutical companies may not make a profit off the knowledge discovered by studying one “orphan” disease, however often those discoveries leads to advancements in other diseases.

To help find that cure, please make any kind of donation you are able to the Cystinosis Research Foundation (CRF) on my behalf here: Hope Through Research

*All funds donated going directly to research.*

Problem Facing America: Politics are not focused around Young Americans

In the United States, our politics on both sides of the aisle is not on the side of young Americans. Republicans claim the only way to grow the economy and secure a future for young Americans is to cut our domestic spending programs. Democrats claim the only way to grow the economy and secure the future for young Americans is to continue the same old policies pushed forth again and again. In the end, everything stays the same.

2015-02-18-EarningsbyLifeCycleHere’s the facts from the past 40 years via the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSA found that a typical employee, has the largest income gains between the ages of 25 and 35. However, the unemployment rate of 18 and 34 years old peaked at more than 13% in 2010 (doesn’t include underemployment or discouraged workers). While the average income increase for median earners fell to zero between the ages of 35 and 55. Finally, they found that incomes decline (“negative growth”) between ages 45 and 55.

During the recession, lower-wage industries constituted 22% of losses, but 44% recovery growth and higher-wage industries constituted 41% of recession losses, however only 30% of recovery growth, noted by the National Employment Law Project.  this caused an economic and perhaps even social crisis for young Americans are trying to enter or attempt to enter the workforce. Many of these young Americans are trying to get their first job to use their money to sustain themselves as they face the many challenges they have thrust upon them once they graduate high school. Many of them even use these jobs to help pay for their own education or to feed themselves while they are enrolled in college.

Now, they are not getting these jobs. Instead they are going to the people who before the recession were in middle-wage and higher-wage industries. These were people who had already made a life for themselves in many cases. Leading to young Americans with no avenue to work to start their lives to those who had good jobs now taking the jobs that use to go to young Americans just starting out.

Now, looking specifically at the jobs that were lost during the recession, Pew Research Center made some great points. the largest declines were in specialty trade contractors, construction 319, 800 jobs and local government, education 266,800 jobs. The largest gains have been in health care 1,481,400 jobs and food services and drinking places 1,385,400 jobs. Looking at these numbers you may notice that the second largest growing industry post-recession is also one of the industries that has the lowest pay and the least benefits for their employees.

2015-02-18-WhoOwestheMostAnother striking statistic, is the total amount of student debt owed, $1.3 trillion. Even further, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average amount owed for each graduate has risen from less than $10,000 in 1993 to more than $30,000 in 2013. With the bottom 25% of households owing 58% of student debt and the top 10% owing only 3%, according to the Pew Research Center.

Republican Message:

The new Congress is controlled by the Republican Party (GOP) and they could act on these issues and take meaningful actions. Instead, they seem to be focused on repealing Obamacare (ACA), rollback of immigration reform, and destroy agencies that protect the environment, consumers, workers, and taxpayers.

20141108_gdm333_10Specifically, on immigration the U.S. House took a vote of 236-191 on funding the Department of Homeland Security to February 27, until President Obama reverses his executive order on undocumented immigrants. The vote was poised at killing the President’s effort to enforce policies that limited deportations of people who aren’t criminals or serial immigration violators. One amendment to that bill even went as far as ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA stopped over 600,000 young undocumented immigrants from being deported and allowed them to work legally.

Progressive Confront:

Progressives have a plan to confront the Republican’s and the Democrat’s standard. The progressive plan is to regulate Wall Street, transform the U.S. global tax and trade policies (oppose TTP), enforce a progressive tax rate, curb perverse CEO compensation policies, revive anti-trust, equal pay for equal work, raise the minimum wage, paid sick leave, free community college (President Obama’s plan), 21st century infrastructure (President Obama’s plan), end the outrageous amounts of money in politics (Citizens United), and take advantage of the Green Energy Industrial Revolution.

international-maternity-leave-timeline-2013The plan includes supporting progressive legislators. Thus, people who disagree with the status quo should stand with U.S. Senators taking the lead on these policies such as Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Jeff Merkly, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren. It also means standing with the Congressional Progressive Caucus in the U.S. House, who are driving the same ideas.

Fundamental change comes only when the oppressed make it impossible to sustain the old order. – Robert Borosage, Campaign for America’s Future

In Mika’s Opinion:

Young Americans are our future, thus politics needs to take a major turn towards that which will benefit them. Right now, young Americans are turned off by both political parties.

Why? Could it be that both political parties have not spent much time focusing on the needs of young Americans? Could it be that both political parties are stuck in their same old ways, pushing their same old proposals?

This is why I believe in the progressive plan, the plan for our future, that includes and focuses on young Americans. That recognizes the need to take a turn and make changes. The plan includes some of the old proposals that are still relevant for today but recognizes that we are in the 21st century and need 21st century solutions. The progressive plan even will tackle social issues that many young Americans want to see dealt with. Many of these issues are not even seen as issues by many young Americans but are for older Americans and still are being debated within the two major political parties, which also turns off young Americans

It’s time we realize that immigration isn’t a side issue, it’s a national priority.marriage_equaltiy_3_0

It’s time we realize that women’s issues are not side issues but a national priority.

It’s time we realize that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA) rights are not side issues but a national priority. 

 

*Source: Campaign for America’s Future*

*Source: Politico*

 

I support HF 65, the Iowa Death with Dignity Act

10418868_898594466834939_2793299234189931894_nIn many states, including Iowa a person with a terminal disease does not have the right to decide their own death. I believe it is immoral and wrong that these people do not have this right. This is important to me because I have an incurable fatal disease called nephropathic cystinosis, there is only one treatment, and eventually I will progress to a state where my body cannot take any more and I die.

This is why I support the Iowa Death with Dignity Act, House File 65.

Nephropathic cystinosis is the most common form of cystinosis. Although all forms of the disease affect the body similarly, the disease causes the amino acid cystine to accumulate in the cells. As the cystine accumulates in the cells, it slowly damages organs including the kidneys, liver, thyroid, eyes, muscles, and brain. Those of us with this disease appear normal at birth, however before one year of age we have excessive thirst and urination, and failure to thrive. We are smaller than others our same age and often tend to be in the lowest percentile or even off the pediatric growth chart. In addition, we have delays with walking and bearing weight.

1424547_955425467818505_3206668591736846428_nUnfortunately, cystinosis has only one treatment, cysteamine. Cysteamine slows the progression of the disease by removing the cystine from the cells. There are only two forms of cysteamine, Cystagon and Procysbi. Cystagon was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1994 and must be taken every six hours every day with many side effects. Procysbi, on the other hand, was approved by the FDA in 2013 for the treatment of only nephropathic cystinosis in adults and children six years and older. Procysbi is a delayed-release form of cysteamine that must be taken every 12 hours every day with many of the similar side effects as Cystagon. For our eyes, we have only one choice, Cystaran, which was approved by the FDA in 2012. The medication must be put in the eyes, one drop in each eye every hour while awake.

1461542_843304242363962_5143102290265247608_nNevertheless, this is not a cure. Therefore, our organs fail, with the kidneys going first. Thus, another kind of treatment is indicated, kidney transplantation, which as become a standard in the treatment of cystinosis because cysteamine only slows the progression of the disease. If not treated with cysteamine, kidney failure occurs around 12 years old or younger. With cysteamine, the damage of the disease commonly leads to kidney failure by the late teens into the early twenties. Most of us will need to be placed on dialysis to keep us alive while we wait for a kidney, which causes us more pain, and suffering; sometimes death occurs while waiting for the kidney. 

Opponents claim that this bill is in violation of their moral and religious values because it is taking away life instead of supporting life. They claim that suicide is never the right or moral answer. This belief does not pertain to the bill, the bill is giving a terminally ill person who already is suffering and near death to have a choice in the manner in which that person dies. They wish to die with some dignity. This could be their religious way of ending their very intense physical suffering.

I believe forcing them down a path of pain and suffering to where they have no control is immoral.

My disease, nephropathic cystinosis is fatal. It causes pain and suffering.

We fight, I have fought, and I am fighting.

10710987_933353376692381_3075517113658853186_nHowever, when that year arrives and my family and I know that enough is enough, I would like to be secure in knowing that I will have the right to choose death with dignity instead of the current alternative. A painful death, where I have no control over my own body and its functions, where I will have tubes going in and out of my body everywhere. I have hope that there will be new discoveries in treatment and a cure, however anyone who is terminally ill should have the right to die with dignity. 

Please contact your legislator and ask them to support House File 65, the Iowa Death with Dignity Act. You can find them here: Iowa Legislature

Iowa Legislative Update: Iowans Facing Important Decisions

Iowa_Senate

Iowa Senate

This legislative session in Iowa, I have found that the Iowa Legislature is taking up some important issues. Issues ranging from updating sexual assault policies to raising the minimum wage. Iowans are faced with many important decisions to weigh in on this session. Nevertheless, there are harmful bills that have been introduced that would harm families and strip people of their civil rights.

The following are bills that I support:

Senate File 79 – Introduced by Bolkcom and Dvorsky

  • This bill would update and strengthen college sexual assault policies.
  • It would include an affirmative consent standard, meaning that consent is an act that must be affirmative, conscious, and voluntary, in terms of sexual acts. 
  • It would also update policies to include domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

LGBT-Teens-Equality-PetitionSenate File 31 – Introduced by McCoy

  • This bill prohibits mental health providers to engage in sexual orientation and gender expression so called “reparative” therapy for any person under the age of 18 years old.
  • It also provides disciplinary action for those mental health providers who violate this section.
  • Please sign my petition urging for the ban of Anti-LGBT reparative or conversion therapy in Iowa!

Senate File 18 – Introduced by Base

  • The bill would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to an employee based on medical conditions related to employee’s pregnancy or childbirth.
  • It also provides penalties for discriminatory actions.

House File 71 – Introduced by Hunter, co-sponsored by Kelly, Staed, McConkey, Gaskill, Keams, T. Taylor, Smith, Lensing, Anderson, Abdul-Samad, Winckler, Wessel-Kroeschell, Oldson, Dawson, and Steckman

  • The bill would raise the minimum wage to $8.20 by January 1, 2016, $9.15 as of July 1, 2016, and $10.10 as of January 1, 2017.
  • The wage would be indexed to the same percentage as the cost-of-living increase in federal social security benefits.

House File 76 – Introduced by Hunter, co-sponsored by Anderson, Abdul-Samad, and Oldson

  • The bill would prohibit the sale or transfer of semiautomatic assault weapons

House File 65 – Introduced by Meyer, co-sponsored by Winkler, Stutsman, Mascher, Brown-Powers, Wolfe, anderson, and Wessel-Kroeschell.

  • The bill would create the Iowa Death with Dignity law, for persons who qualify.
  • The bill would only apply to an adult of legal age of 18 years old and resident of the State of Iowa.

The following are bills that I am opposed to:

tumblr_lfe0onjnTd1qbpx9nHouse File 101 – Introduced by Heartstill, co-sponsored by Holt, Salmon, Gassman, Fisher, Sheets, Kooiker, and Watts

  • The bill would prohibit county registrars from granting civil marriages licenses where both persons are the same-sex until an amendment to the Iowa Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman is submitted to the electorate for ratification.
  • It would also establish that the Iowa Supreme Court has no appellate jurisdiction over any civil marriage licenses in the state. 

House Joint Resolution 4 – Introduced by Heartstill, co-sponsored by Holt, Wills, Baulder, Salmon, Gassman, Fisher, Sheets, Windshilt, Baxter, Kooiker, and Watts.

  • The bill would add an amendment to the Iowa State Constitution redefining civil marriage as being only between one man and one woman. 

In addition, Republican Senators and Representatives have introduced several anti-family and anti-reproductive health bills, all of which I am opposed to.

Please be sure to visit the Iowa Legislature website to tell your Senator and Representative how you feel about these bills. Visit: Iowa Legislature

*Don’t forget to sign the petition demanding the ban on Anti-LGBT conversion therapy in Iowa: petition*!

2014 in review & How You Helped!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared my 2014 annual report my blog. I am not all that big into numbers. However, getting my story out there does mean a lot to me. I would like to say thank you to everyone who reads my blog or just passes by from time to time!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 52 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

2014 Election: Democrats forget their Principles

Post-Election: Progressive Values Needed

 

Image by the Times.

Image by the Times.

This past election in November did not go the way many progressive Democrats would have liked.  I know I am one of many who were deeply disappointed in the results along with the voter turnout. Specifically in Iowa, nearly all of our candidates lost.

The Iowa House stayed in the control of the Republicans and the Iowa Senate fortunately took another seat and is Democratic plus one. Federally, the House will have nearly a super majority of Republicans (250) and the Senate will be in the control of the Republicans (55).

20141108_gdm333_10Thus, it is very difficult as a progressive Democratic, and especially to be positive about this last election.

However, if you look at the states you might see a different story. For instance, in the two states where ‘Personhood’ amendments were on the ballot they were rejected. They were not simply rejected, but by wide margins. The amendments were on the ballots in Colorado and North Dakota. Colorado voters rejected ‘Personhood’ by about 64% to 36% and North Dakota by 64.1% to 35.9%. In Colorado this was the third time voters took the issue up and rejected it. It lost in 2008 and 2010.

In addition, progressive policies such as raising the minimum wage, paid sick days, and paid family and medical leave were approved by the voters in the states. In all five (Alaska, Arkansa, Nebraska, Illinois, South Dakota, and the District of Columbia (D.C.))  states and D.C. that had the minimum wage on the ballot, it passed. In Massachusetts, Oakland, California, and Montclair and Trenton, New Jersey voters approved paid sick days.

It is my belief that with these results and the results of polls such as the poll by the National Partnership for Women & Families and the Rockefeller Family Fund that one of the major faults in the 2014 campaigns is the lack of positions and debate of policies that promote economic security for families. To be specific, I mean paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, fair pay, such as the Paycheck Fairness Act, and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

Maternity-leave-chartThe poll found that 81% of voters said it is important for lawmakers to consider new laws that help keep working families economically secure. With 57% indicating that it is “very important” that they do so. Additional key findings indicate that there are strong support for family friendly policies across party and demographic lines. Such as 96% of Democrats, 73% of Republicans, 87% of women, 75% of men, 95% of voters under 30, 97% of African Americans, and 95% of Latinos. In addition, of all candidates running for Governor, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House only 23% featured their positions on these policies.

It is my opinion that a part of the reason so many of the Democrats lost is because the campaigns seemed to be focused around what we are not but forgetting to run on what we are for. I felt that many Democrats did not have a backbone when it came to Democratic Party principles. It seemed as though many candidates were running campaigns saying,

“Hey, I’m a Democrat, vote for me because I’m a Democrat.”

I also felt campaigns telling people to just fall in line and vote for a party instead of the candidate. That is not something voters under 30 like to hear and will turn them off. I felt that the way some of these so-called coordinated campaigns were run didn’t do a good job at relating to the people in their community and acknowledging them, which in turn may have led to the lack of youth and minority interest.

Most importantly, I believe the problem was not having strong progressive platforms on women’s and family issues and standing strong for those positions, defending them, and making them public.

international-maternity-leave-timeline-2013Many of these issues have have broad support and are winnable. Not to forget how vital they are to the working class and families to ensure their economic security. This area is one that the Democratic Party can and must improve on. These policies have even been instituted by nearly every industrialized nation in the world except the U.S. (NYTimes) Not to mention, how ensuring our candidates include them and support them proudly could motivate young adults to be more interested in our candidates. For they could feel and see them fighting for their needs as many of them would currently apply.