As progressives across the Commonwealth are looking to get more engaged in politics at the state level, a new resource from Progressive Massachusetts (scorecard.progressivemass.com) can help voters see where their State Representatives and State Senators stand on critical issues and bills.
Voters now can easily monitor how their senators and representatives on Beacon Hill are voting on priorities identified by the grassroots organization. Bills from the Progressive Mass Legislative Agenda are highlighted, focusing on policies advancing economic and social justice, democratic participation, and investments in a sustainable future.
Caroline Bays, co-chair of chapter Progressive Watertown, argues that the best way to fight the reactionary agenda from Washington is through vigorous leadership at the state level.
“MA should be a leader in treating health care as a human right, dismantling racist mass incarceration, funding quality education for all our kids, fighting climate change, guaranteeing a living wage, and protecting the rights of our immigrant neighbors. But despite a Democratic legislature, we are not. The scorecard helps show where we need more courage and leadership. If not during a Trump and Paul Ryan era, then when?”
Many voters new to state-level advocacy are surprised to learn how difficult it is to track their elected representatives’ positions, even while some Beacon Hill insiders caution that scorecards are a limited view into a legislator’s record.
Yet, “roll call votes are one of the few records available to us,” co-chair of the Progressive Mass Issues Committee, Jonathan Cohn, said. “A fuller picture could be achieved with transparency in Committee votes, open meeting laws, and more roll calls from the floor.”
Progressive Mass began its scorecard in 2013, as a densely packed grid of color-coded pluses and minuses. The clean and user-friendly new presentation of was developed by Alex Holachek, a Cambridge-based front-end developer.
“Progressive Mass’s research helped me assess my legislators’ priorities; it was everything I was trying to learn, but the presentation was daunting,” she said. “In developing this new searchable and sortable interface, my aim is to expand the audience for this valuable work.”
After November’s election, many tech innovators and designers are eager to put their skills to work for progressive causes, according to Harmony Wu, who is on the Progressive Mass board.
Progressive Massachusetts was founded 5 years ago by grassroots organizers from the Patrick and Obama campaigns.