On Thursday in Newtonville, Progressive Massachusetts will be joined by allies and activists, as well as Jordan Berg-Powers from Mass Alliance and Don Berwick, to celebrate a successful year, and discuss the upcoming legislative session.
It’s also one of our most critical fundraisers of the year; I am asking for your financial support.
I know this community understands the important resource we provide. For the vast majority of us who can’t spend all our time on Beacon Hill, learning the ins and outs of an opaque political process, Progressive Massachusetts creates a comprehensive progressive scorecard. And you can count on our blog to provide in-depth explanations of the inner workings of public policy making (or not) at the State House. At our core, we believe that having good information is important to building an engaged citizenry.
But we’re not just proud of the education and awareness work we do. In just two years, we have built a statewide network that is recognized in the media, on Beacon Hill and through the work of our chapters. In our first legislative session, we helped pass the most comprehensive election modernization law in over a decade, played a critical role in the grassroots field effort to win the highest minimum wage in the country, and were a lead organization on the earned sick time ballot question that passed last week.
Obviously, an incoming Republican administration only compounds the problems already presented by a conservative, risk-averse legislature, which have been so productively discussed in recent days on BMG. These are exactly the kinds of discussions we have been having — and must continue to have — with members and at the chapter and Board level. We can use your insights and activism as part of our membership.
As we work towards a more progressive Massachusetts, a few imperatives are becoming clear;
We need to fight for social justice with a clear message of economic populism. That’s why we will focus on our Shared Prosperity Agenda this legislative session which identifies long term goals and steps along the way to get there. For example, we won’t get a progressive income tax in this session, but the legislature certainly could close a few corporate tax loopholes.
We are in this for the long term, and we know it takes the incremental, small victories to build to the big ones. With a clearly articulated vision, and strategic campaigns focused on winning now, we can make the Commonwealth just a little bit more fair, day by day.
We must redouble our “outside the building” grassroots engagement with elected officials at the State House. Not only when they are wrong (though it is important) but also to provide encouragement and stand strong with them when our progressive friends when they take a tough stand against leadership.
We must also continue to work with them “inside the building” to overcome the top-down dynamic on Beacon Hill. We know the state-of-play in Massachusetts: few electoral challenges, very safe districts for the most part, and a nearly non-existent State House media all mean incumbents are protected.
We need to continue to develop our progressive power over time, so that when opportunities to change this dynamic (open leadership positions, special elections, retirements, etc.) we are ready to take advantage.
We need to keep reaching out to our neighbors and friends, and learn how to better connect people to the goings-on at the State House. We need to give people a reason to care about state government. It’s tempting to blame Tuesday’s results on those who wouldn’t show up to vote, but there’s a lesson we, as grassroots activists, should not miss: It’s up to us, those of us who live and breathe politics, to remind people that state government matters to their lives, and that there are real choices on the ballot (and this work must happen year-round, not just in the 2 months before elections).
Baker and Coakley ran campaigns that sought to not offend, and hewed as close to the ‘mushy-middle’ as possible: no wonder so many people saw little at stake and did not vote. We need to build voter engagement by authentically telling stories that matter about the issues that matter (Check out johntmay’s diary for a good discussion about this).
Progressive Mass was created by the grassroots for the grassroots. We are not bankrolled by generous millionaires. We aren’t underwritten by Bill Gates or George Soros, and while we wouldn’t refuse the check — because it will help us get to where we want to be someday — our dream is that someday we are funded by modest yearly memberships by liberals across the Commonwealth. Because big checks come with strings: the only way to have a truly grassroots organization is if we have truly grassroots funding.
Your contribution to Progressive Massachusetts goes towards year round progressive organizing and infrastructure building. I believe that January phone banking for a local organizing meeting is just as important as GOTV phone banking for a statewide candidate.
Make no mistake, elections are important, but the issue organizing between when we go to the polls is a huge opportunity for progressives, and the more that we as a movement embrace issue work, the better the Commonwealth will be. And progressive candidates will in turn be better positioned to win elections.
To do our work effectively in 2015, we need to raise at least $150,000 to cover our staff, overhead, office space, etc. In order to hit the ground running next year and support our Shared Prosperity agenda, we really need to raise $50,000 by the end of December.
$150,000 can buy a candidate a mid-sized chunk of TV during a Pats game and a few hit shows in October. We use the same funds to instead invest in full-time organizers who stick around after the first Tuesday in November, working with all of you to build a more progressive Massachusetts. (And if you ever have questions about how your contributions are being used, give me a call).
You, the bedrock liberals of the BMG community, are critical to our long-term success. We need your input as stake-holding members of our organization. We need your energy and ideas as we move forward with our ambitious agenda of a vibrant, engaged, grassroots organization that not only helps elect progressives, but sets the agenda for the work that needs doing. We’re not there yet. But we are on our way.
Thanks so much for everything, I really do love being part of this community, you all have taught me so much over the years. I look forward to thanking you in person on Thursday.