June 20, 2012
Fighting the Right, and Winning
Two weeks after PFAW played an integral role in flipping control of the Wisconsin Senate away from right-wing Republicans, and effectively halting Gov. Scott Walker’s extreme anti-middle class agenda, we continue to see victories and progress in the various areas of our work.
ALEC on the Ropes
Last week, Johnson & Johnson announced it was leaving the American Legislative Exchange Council, making it the 19th major corporation to sever ties with the right-wing bill factory since PFAW and our allies began a grassroots and media pressure campaign to get ALEC’s member companies to leave. For a long time, PFAW and our affiliate PFAW Foundation have tracked and exposed ALEC’s deleterious right-wing agenda and influence in state legislatures across the county.
President Leads the Way on Positive Immigration Reform
On Friday, President Obama announced a new immigration policy that would allow undocumented residents who would qualify under the DREAM Act to gain work authorization and avoid deportation. Marking a victory for common sense, basic fairness and the American Way, the move also shows a sharp contrast with a GOP whose moderate voices on immigration issues have been drowned out by the nativist far-right faction now firmly in control of the party.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney drew perhaps the hardest anti-immigrant line of all the candidates during the primary and in the wake of President Obama’s decision could only respond by saying his position was whatever Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s was. Meanwhile, the Cuban American Sen. Rubio himself proposed an alternative to the DREAM Act that would create an apartheid-style second class citizenship and is woefully unpopular with Latinos.
The upcoming election could very well be determined by Latino voters. That’s why People For the American Way is making sure Latino Americans are engaged and aware of how the Far Right’s attacks not just on immigrants, but on education, healthcare and voting rights affect their communities.
Fighting the GOP’s Judicial Obstruction
Last week started off on a good note with the Senate voting to break the filibuster of Andrew Hurwitz, confirming him to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and filling one of the 90 vacancies, and 31 officially-designated “judicial emergencies,” nationwide. Then, on Friday, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell announced his party’s senators would completely refuse to do their job of confirming nominees to federal appeals courts until after November’s elections. Citing the so-called "Thurmond Rule," McConnell is misconstruing a nebulous Senate tradition to kick what has been three years of unprecedented judicial obstruction by Senate Republicans into overdrive.
This invocation of the “Thurmond Rule,” named for South Carolina Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond, who famously conducted the longest filibuster in Senate history in an attempt to stop passage of the Civil Rights Act, is just the latest reminder that Senate Republicans will cling to anything they can to keep judicial vacancies open indefinitely until they can be filled by extreme right-wing ideologues.
PFAW is working with the White House and Senate Democratic leadership, as well as mobilizing activists, to break through this latest obstruction tactic. And we’ll be working hard to make sure voters remember Republicans obstruction and, come November, remind Mitch McConnell of the "Trent Lott Rule" -- invoke the wisdom of Strom Thurmond too many times and you're no longer a Senate Leader.
Stopping Right-Wing Election Theft
Protecting the right to vote has been a central mission of both PFAW and our affiliate PFAW Foundation for years. We’ve worked hard to expose the rash of aggressive voter suppression laws that have been passed in state legislatures across the country, particularly since the Tea Party “wave” election in 2010. We’ve seen burdensome voter ID laws, draconian restrictions on voter registration activities and, now, massive purges of voter files -- all of which are ostensibly aimed at stopping the imaginary problem of individual ‘voter fraud’ but do far more to disenfranchise eligible voters, especially from poor and minority communities.
In Florida, right-wing state officials have said they intend to push forward with a massive purge of their voter despite widespread reports of inaccuracies in their data, lawsuits from civil rights groups and stern warnings by the Department of Justice that the purge is not just reckless but illegal. We’re working hard to stop the purge and stop what happened in Florida in 2000 from happening again in 2012.
75,000 PFAW members have signed a petition urging Florida state officials to stop the purge and county supervisors of elections not to comply with it and implement the state’s recommended changes to their voter files. And PFAW Foundation is working with allies on the ground in Florida to contact potential eligible voters who have been targeted by the purge to make sure they know what to do to protect their rights and stay on the rolls.
We’re in the fight of our lives this election, but we’re confident that our strategies, hard work and the amazing commitment of supporters like you can help deliver the victories in November America so desperately needs. As always, thank you.
Michael Keegan, President