Tag: VT-Sen

The 2016 Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards

As 2016 comes to a close, I hereby present the 2016 Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards. The Person of the Year will earn a spot on the list of members of the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner. Starting in 2017, listings of individuals on the list of recipients of the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner will become separate from the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards.

PERSON OF THE YEAR – JENNIFER WEISS-WOLF

2016 was, all around, an awful year for progressives, both in the United States and worldwide. However, one bright spot in progressive advocacy is Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, a women’s rights advocate from New York City. Weiss-Wolf’s advocacy for increased access to feminine hygiene products in public restrooms and advocacy for abolition of sales taxes on tampons and other feminine hygiene products has earned her support for her ideas from Democrats and even a few Republicans. States like New York and Illinois have eliminated sales taxes on tampon thanks to Weiss-Wolf’s advocacy, and Weiss’s hometown of New York City has mandated that tampons be made freely available in public restrooms of city schools, jails, and shelters. Jennifer Weiss-Wolf is the ProgMid Person of the Year for 2016.

ELECTED OFFICIAL OF THE YEAR – BERNIE SANDERS

For the second time in consecutive years, Sanders, who represents Vermont in the U.S. Senate and unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic presidential nomination this year, is the recipient of a ProgMid award. Although Sanders didn’t win his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination and isn’t technically a Democrat, he has had a significant and largely positive impact on the Democratic Party. Sanders successfully pushed to make the national Democratic Party platform, which is non-binding for Democratic candidates, more progressive than in previous years and decades. Sanders helped bring progressive policies like making higher education truly affordable, single-payer health insurance, and expanding Social Security into the American political mainstream, even though none of those ideas will be enacted in the near future, at least at a national level. Furthermore, Sanders’s candidacy has led to the creation of the DNC’s Unity Commission, which will examine potential reforms to the Democratic presidential nomination process for the 2020 presidential election and future presidential elections after 2020. For his advocacy for progressive ideals and his efforts to improve the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders is the ProgMid Elected Official of the Year for 2016.

ATHLETE OF THE YEAR – LILLY KING

While 2016 was a banner year for the far-right Vladimir Putin regime in Russia, one thing that did not go well for Russia this year was their performance in the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Russia sent considerably fewer athletes to Rio than originally planned after the Putin regime was caught running a large-scale doping operation. Even worse for the Russians, they were completely embarrassed by Lilly King of the United States, who, after publicly criticizing Russia’s Yuliya Yefimova for doping, defeated Yefimova in the pool for the gold medal in the women’s 100m breaststroke swimming event. King was also a member of the U.S. team that won gold in the women’s 4 x 100m medley relay in Rio. For continuing the time-honored tradition of Americans defeating Russians in international sport, and for promoting ethical competition in sport, Lilly King is the ProgMid Athlete of the Year for 2016.

PLACE OF THE YEAR – REPUBLIC OF AUSTRIA

While the far-right has gained significant ground worldwide, Austria is, to an extent, an exception. Austrians rejected a far-right presidential candidate not once, but twice, in 2016. In the first of effectively two presidential elections held in Austria in 2016, left-leaning European federalist candidate Alexander Van der Bellen received more votes than far-right fascist candidate Norbert Hofer in a runoff election after no candidate received an outright majority of the vote in the first round of the first election. However, the Constitutional Court of Austria annulled the runoff results because Hofer complained of election irregularities, resulting in the runoff being re-held. Voters gave Van der Bellen an even larger majority in the re-run of the runoff, and Hofer finally conceded. For rejecting a fascist would-be head of state not once, but twice, in the same year, the Republic of Austria is the ProgMid Place of the Year for 2016.

 

CONCEPT OF THE YEAR – POLITICAL RESISTANCE

As I’m sure that virtually everybody who reads this blog knows, Republican Donald Trump won this year’s presidential election despite winning a minority of the national popular vote. Not surprisingly, I’ve seen more than a few people on the left, and even many establishment Democrats, call for a non-violent political resistance to the incoming Trump Administration. With a barrage of right-wing federal legislation likely to be enacted starting early next year, progressives are going to expect resistance from the Democratic minorities in both houses of Congress. Political resistance is the ProgMid Concept of the Year for 2016.

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The First Annual Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards

For the first time ever, this blog will be awarding end-of-the-year awards to several individuals who I consider to be effective at advancing progressive causes during the year, regardless of whether or not one meets the typical criteria of being politically progressive or not. This is the first annual awarding of the Order of The Progressive Midwestern Awards, for the year 2015. All ProgMid Award winners for this year and years in the future are automatically inducted into the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner.

The award categories for the first ProgMid Awards are as follows:

  • Person of the Year
  • Man of the Year
  • Woman of the Year
  • American of the Year
  • International Person of the Year
  • Group of the Year
  • Athlete of the Year
  • Blogger of the Year
  • Activist of the Year
  • Elected Official of the Year
  • Entertainer of the Year
  • Young Person of the Year

There are two important notes regarding the awards:

  • Many award recipients will receive multiple awards. For example, if the Person of the Year in a given year is a female athlete from Canada, she would win Person of the Year, Woman of the Year, International Person of the Year, and Athlete of the Year.
  • Should multiple people or a group of people win award(s) other than Group of the Year, the plural form of the name(s) of the other award(s) will be used (People, Men, Women, Americans, International People, Athletes, Bloggers, Activists, Elected Officials, Entertainers, and/or Young People).

With that said, I hereby present the First Annual Order of The Progressive Midwestern Awards, for the year 2015!

Person of the Year – Bernie Sanders

Person of the Year is the only open ProgMid Award category.

No person has made a bigger impact on advancing progressive causes in the year 2015 than Bernie Sanders. Bernie, the junior U.S. Senator from Vermont, is currently seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in the 2016 elections, and he has made improving America’s economy a key part of his campaign. Bernie has publicly championed raising the U.S. minimum wage to $15/hour, guaranteeing paid family leave, making college in America truly affordable, breaking up large financial institutions, and many other progressive ideals. Bernie is the ProgMid Person of the Year for 2015.

Man of the Year – Bernie Sanders

Men are eligible for the Man of the Year Award.

Since the Person of the Year, Bernie Sanders, is male, Bernie is also the ProgMid Man of the Year for 2015.

Woman of the Year – Rachel Notley

Women are eligible for the Woman of the Year Award.

In Alberta, Canada’s most conservative province, Rachel Notley led the Alberta New Democratic Party to a landslide victory in the Alberta legislative general election in May of 2015, and, as a result of the election, Notley became Premier of Alberta. Notley and her party ran on a progressive platform that championed good government, Alberta’s environment, economic justice, and common sense, and they won in a very conservative part of Canada. Notley is the ProgMid Woman of the Year for 2015.

American of the Year – Bernie Sanders

In order for one to be eligible for the American of the Year Award, one must be a United States citizen, United States national, resident of the United States, or some combination thereof.

Since the Person of the Year, Bernie Sanders, is an American, Bernie is also the ProgMid American of the Year for 2015.

International Person of the Year – Rachel Notley

Those who are not eligible for the American of the Year Award are eligible for the International Person of the Year Award.

Since the Woman of the Year, Rachel Notley, is a Canadian, Notley is also the ProgMid International Person of the Year for 2015.

Group of the Year – The Black Lives Matter Movement

The Group of the Year Award is the only ProgMid Award that is required to be awarded to a group of people.

In response to racism, police brutality, and police shootings of black people in America, the Black Lives Matter movement, a group of progressive activists seeking reform of the criminal justice system and increased accountability of law enforcement in America, has brought the issues of criminal justice reform and law enforcement accountability to the forefront of American politics. Black Lives Matter is the ProgMid Group of the Year for 2015.

Athlete of the Year – Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Professional athletes and individuals primarily known for being amateur athletes (including, but not limited to, collegiate athletes and amateur Olympic athletes) are eligible for the Athlete of the Year Award.

Although one would usually not think of a NASCAR driver as advancing a progressive cause, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. played an important role in building public support for taking down the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State House in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. When asked about his thoughts about the Confederate flag, Dale Jr. called the Confederate flag “offensive to an entire race” and said that the Confederate flag “belongs in the history books, and that’s about it”. For his condemnation of the Confederate flag, Dale Jr. is the ProgMid Athlete of the Year for 2015.

Blogger of the Year – Kelly Wilz

Those who are an administrator of, editor of, author of, and/or contributor to a blog are eligible for the Blogger of the Year Award.

One of the newest members of the progressive blogosphere is Kelly Wilz, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County. Wilz is also the author of the progressive political blog Dissent and Cookies, which launched in May of 2015. As a blogger, Wilz has primarily focused on ending rape culture in America and supporting tenure protections for college professors, both of which are very important causes. Wilz is the 2015 ProgMid Blogger of the Year.

Activists of the Year – The Black Lives Matter Movement

Those who are largely or primarily known for being a political activist are eligible for the Activist of the Year Award.

Since the Group of the Year, the Black Lives Matter movement, is a group of political activists, members of the Black Lives Matter movement are also the 2015 ProgMid Activists of the Year.

Elected Official of the Year – Bernie Sanders

Those who were a public official elected either directly by the people or elected by a body elected by the people (such as the U.S. Electoral College) at any point in the year in which the award is given are eligible for the Elected Official of the Year Award.

Since the Person of the Year, Bernie Sanders, is an incumbent elected official, Bernie is also the 2015 ProgMid Elected Official of the Year.

Entertainer of the Year – Jon Stewart

Those who are entertainers (actors/actresses, comedians/comediennes, musicians, sports announcers, radio show hosts, television show hosts, etc.) are eligible for the Entertainer of the Year Award.

While Jon Stewart left the anchor desk of the Comedy Central news satire program The Daily Show in August of this year, Stewart has not abandoned the first responders who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Stewart passionately advocated for, and won, renewal of federally-funded health care for 9/11 first responders. Stewart is the 2015 ProgMid Entertainer of the Year.

Young Person of the Year – Keanan Sargent

In order to be eligible for the Young Person of the Year Award, one must be less than 18 years of age on December 31 of the year in which the award is given.

At an August 2015 LGBT pride parade and rally in Madison, Wisconsin, Keanan Sargent, the then-nine-year-old son of Wisconsin State Representative Melissa Sargent, did something incredibly creative when confronted by homophobia. Keanan used balloons to obscure a sign that anti-LGBT protesters were displaying at the pride parade and rally. For his creativity and progressive values, Keanan Sargent is the 2015 ProgMid Young Person of the Year.

Bernie strongly supports paid family and medical leave…Hillary doesn’t

If you support federally-guaranteed paid family, medical, maternity, and paternity leave for American workers, then Bernie Sanders is the Democratic candidate for president that strongly supports what you believe in on this important issue:

(Bernie) Sanders also backs a bill pending in Congress that would mandate employers provide paid family leave time after a child is born. The bill would be funded by an increase in payroll taxes estimated to cost the average worker about $72 a year.

(Hillary) Clinton has spoken out forcefully for the concept of paid family leave but not embraced the particular measure because it violates a campaign pledge not to raise taxes on families making less than $250,000.

While Hillary Clinton is busy twisting her own campaign platform into a political pretzel because of her Grover Norquist-like campaign pledge to not raise taxes on the low-end wealthy, Bernie Sanders is strongly advocating for actual legislation designed to allow workers to care for their families in times of need. For Bernie, supporting guaranteed paid leave isn’t just talk, it’s something that he’s actually proposed in Congress. Earlier this year, Bernie co-sponsored legislation that would allow “mothers and fathers to receive 12 weeks of paid family leave to care for a baby” and allow “workers to take the same amount of paid time off if they are diagnosed with cancer or have other serious medical conditions or to take care of family members who are seriously ill” (fact sheet here).

Meet Sady Doyle, the most vocal critic of Bernie’s Army out there

Sady Doyle, a Hillary Clinton supporter, resident of New York City, and freelance online journalist for the British newspaper The Guardian, has taken to Twitter in recent days to attack me, other Bernie Sanders supporters, the people of the State of Vermont, and rural America.

First off, Doyle has aggressively attacked and mocked Bernie Sanders, his home state of Vermont, and rural America:

I want to make two points here. First, Doyle, who is from the New York City borough of Brooklyn, is attacking Bernie for being from Vermont, a state that is mostly rural with small towns (although Bernie is from Burlington, Vermont, the state’s largest city, and was the mayor of Burlington for much of the 1980’s). This is a classic example of urban Democrats trashing rural Americans, which is one of many reasons why Republicans control both houses of Congress and most state governments. Second, U.S. Senators are responsible for representing the people of their home state, not serving as some kind of absolute monarch or imperial ruler, and, unlike most politicians in this country, Bernie completely lacks any kind of a royalist mindset.

Doyle didn’t stop at attacking Bernie himself. She mocked and attacked the legions of Bernie supporters, which I like to call Bernie’s Army:

There are two main themes that Doyle is using to attack Bernie’s Army. First, she’s accusing Bernie’s Army of being a group of racist and sexist Bernie supporters. Second, she’s attacking Bernie’s Army for supporting a presidential candidate who actually agrees with them on the vast majority of issues.

Regarding the first point, Doyle thinks that it’s a valid crime for white men (who are considerably less than 100% of Bernie supporters; there are many women and people of color who support Bernie) to be politically active in this country. In my opinion, if you’re a U.S. citizen, and you’re old enough to vote, it’s an important civic duty to be politically active, regardless of your race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

Regarding the second point, in regards to the Democratic nomination process, I’d rather support a candidate that I agree with nearly 100% of the time than a candidate who doesn’t really share my values but is the favored candidate of party bosses. Since America’s political party system is a strong two-party system, I support the candidate nominated by the left-most of the major parties (in this country, the Democratic Party) in the general election. However, for the Democratic Party’s nomination process, I usually, but not always, support what I think is the most progressive candidate running in a Democratic primary, caucus, etc. For the 2016 presidential election, that candidate is Bernie Sanders.

Pivoting back the first point, while I’m a Bernie supporter, I am not someone with a “bro” personality. I’m from a redneck part of Illinois, I consider myself to be a redneck, and I love country music (especially older country music) and NASCAR. I guess one could me a “BernNeck”. Also, Doyle made an implicit comparison of Bernie supporters and “PUMA” supporters of Hillary in 2008. For those of you who don’t remember who the PUMAs were, they were a group of Hillary supporters in 2008 who refused to support Barack Obama after he won the Democratic nomination. While PUMA officially stood for “People United Means Action”, it unofficially stood for “Party Unity My Ass”. While there are probably a few Bernie supporters who would not support Hillary if she were the Democratic nominee, I’m not one of those kind of Bernie supporters, as I’d vote for Hillary in the general election should she win the Democratic nomination.

Doyle didn’t stop at just attacking Bernie’s Army as a whole. She took a couple of swipes at me:

While I thank Doyle for referring to me as “heroic”, she clearly attacked me for criticizing a lame reference to pop music singer Miley Cyrus that she made about the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, as well as for saying that female supporters of the Bernie campaign (which there are a large number of), aren’t interested in silly pop culture references. Most supporters of the Bernie campaign, both male and female supporters, aren’t interested in silly pop culture references; they’re interested in making America a better place to live.

Oh, and while she was at it, Doyle admitted that Hillary is a bought-off corporatist politician:

I thank Doyle for reminding us what the primary reason we dislike Hillary so much is! Oh, and regarding Doyle’s claim that no other moderate Democrat has faced as much criticism of Hillary has, I can think of several moderate/conservative Democrats that have faced far more criticism than Hillary has. The most notable one that I can think of off of the top of my head was Mary Burke, a charter school supporter who was the Democratic nominee in last year’s election for Governor of Wisconsin (losing to Republican incumbent Scott Walker).

Last, but certainly not least, Doyle claimed that the vast majority of women that she knows are leaning towards supporting Bernie:

Keep in mind that Doyle is a known Hillary supporter, and she admitted that the vast majority of women that she knows are…you guessed it…leaning towards Bernie. Bernie is going to win the Democratic presidential nomination, and no Miley Cyrus references or attempts to divide Democrats based on gender are going to convince us to support Hillary for the Democratic nomination.

I now await the Twitter wrath of Sady Doyle…

Unlike what Mike Bloomberg and the media want you to think, Bernie Sanders is not a gun nut

Pro-gun control groups backed by former Republican-turned-independent New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and the corporate media are not going after any of the many Republican gun nuts who are running for president. Instead, they’re going after Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, and trying to paint him as a frothing-at-the-mouth gun nut, which is not true at all.

In reality, Bernie Sanders supports increasing background checks on gun sales, closing the gun show loophole, banning assault weapons, and banning high capacity magazines. In fact, in recent years, Bernie has received very high ratings from gun control groups, such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and very low ratings from gun rights groups, such as the NRA and the Gun Owners of America. Bernie believes in protecting the rights of responsible, law-abiding citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms, while, at the same time, doing everything possible to prevent guns from getting into the hands of people who want to carry out mass murders. Additionally, Bernie supports increasing access to mental health care in this country, which would prevent thousands of murders every year.

Also, many, but not all, groups supporting gun control measures are financially supported by Mike Bloomberg, whose views on many other issues are not in line with progressives at all. For example, Bloomberg openly made offensive remarks comparing teachers to gun nuts and supported efforts to privatize public education in New York City, most notably supporting the creation of 139 charter schools in New York City, when he was mayor. Additionally, Bloomberg has staunchly opposed efforts to decriminalize and legalize marijuana despite having smoked marijuana himself when he was younger. Bloomberg also supported George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election, who, in his second term as president, badly botched (for lack of a better term) the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina and saw the collapse of the American economy on his watch.

While Hillary Clinton, Bernie’s main rival for the Democratic nomination, is emphasizing her support for gun control measures on the campaign trail, Hillary had no problem attacking supporters of gun control measures for speaking their mind the last time she ran for president. During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) remarked that right-wing extremists “cling to guns or religion” when they “get bitter”, which is the truth about the vast majority of right-wing extremists in this country. Hillary responded to Obama’s remarks by calling Obama an “elitist”, which the right-wingers swiped from her and used as one of their favorite anti-Obama talking points, and talking about her dad teaching her how to shoot a firearm when she was a child. Guess who won the Democratic nomination and went on to get elected president that year…

As much as Mike Bloomberg and the corporate media want you to think otherwise, Bernie Sanders is no gun nut.

Why Bernie Sanders is the Democrats’ most electable presidential candidate

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has become one of the toughest tickets in America, and he backed that statement up once again by drawing several thousand people to a political rally in Portland, Maine, a city with a population of 66,194 people.

You might be asking yourself…why is Bernie Sanders gaining so much support? Well, long story short, Bernie is actually the most electable presidential candidate that Democrats could nominate, and there’s a number of reasons why:

  • Bernie is a progressive – When I say that Bernie was progressive before it was cool, that’s the truth. Bernie has stood up for workers’ rights, LGBT rights, progressive taxation, and other progressive ideals for decades. With America becoming more and more polarized politically, Democrats need someone who stands up for progressive values to be the party’s standard bearer.
  • Bernie talks about ideas – The political hallmark of Bernie is that, when he talks about politics, he talks about actual political issues. While far too many politicians and the corporate media view politics as if it were a sporting event or a soap opera, Bernie talks about actual issues that affect the American people, such as infrastructure, the environment, income inequality, and college affordability.
  • Bernie is consistent – Throughout his decades-long political career, Bernie’s views on most political issues have gone unchanged. Very few politicians can claim that.
  • Bernie is not a puppet for the wealthy – Bernie is for the people, not the billionaires. In fact, his campaign has received its financial support from people donating small amounts of money to his campaign, and his campaign message has reflected the fact that he’s not for the billionaires.
  • Bernie inspires people – Bernie has drawn large crowds to rallies in places like Madison, Wisconsin and Portland, Maine. That’s because his campaign message and platform resonates with a large segment of the American population
  • Hillary Clinton is too insular to win the general election – While I’m not a fan of the corporate media in this country, operatives for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign recently used a lasso to keep the media away from Hillary at a parade in New Hampshire. The fact that Hillary thinks that she can win a presidential election while her operatives treat members of the press like cattle gives you a general idea of how much of a trainwreck Hillary’s campaign is, and the fact that Hillary has run an insular campaign so far isn’t helping matters at all.
  • Berniementum has left no room for Democrats other than Bernie or Hillary to gain traction – The rise of Bernie’s presidential campaign has made Bernie the progressive standard-bearer against Hillary, the Democratic establishment’s candidate for president. That leaves other Democrats running for president without any ability to build a political base, and they don’t have any chance of winning the Democratic nomination.

Bernie Sanders draws massive crowd to Madison, Wisconsin rally, lays out progressive vision for America

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders laid out his progressive vision for America’s future in front of a roaring capacity crowd at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum (also called the Alliant Energy Center) in Madison, Wisconsin last night.

Here’s a couple of photos of the crowd at the event:

Crowd filing into Bernie Sanders rally in Madison, Wisconsin prior to Bernie's appearance (photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Defender Twitter account)
Crowd filing into Bernie Sanders rally in Madison, Wisconsin prior to Bernie’s appearance (photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Defender Twitter account)
Bernie Sanders Madison WI Rally Crowd Doug Cvetkovich
Massive crowd at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Madison, Wisconsin during Bernie Sanders speech. Sanders is standing at the podium on the stage at the bottom left of the picture. (photo courtesy of Doug Cvetkovich)

I’m going to share a video of Bernie’s speech from the YouTube channel Bernie2016.tv (which is not directly affiliated with the Sanders campaign), but I want to make two notes before I do so: First, I’ve set the video to start playing at around the 42:20 mark, which is about 20 seconds or so before Nichols takes the stage to introduce Sanders. Second, several technical glitches occur during the video, most notably the first part of Nichols’s introduction not having any audio at all and an audio echoing issue occurring in at least one segment of Sanders’s speech.

Here’s the video of Bernie’s speech:

Bernie did a masterful job outlining a progressive vision for America. In his speech, Bernie called for reducing income inequality in America, rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, expanding workers’ rights, protecting women’s reproductive rights, getting big money out of politics, ensuring that women are paid the same as men for the same amount and type of work, reforming the criminal justice system, opposing free trade deals, providing high-quality education to Americans without burdening them with student debt, raising the minimum wage, and enacting many other progressive policies. Bernie energized a large crowd in Wisconsin’s second-largest city, and I think he can win the general election for president.

According to arena officials and Sanders campaign staffers, the attendance was 9,600, although I’ve seen reports on social media that so many people tried to show up at the 10,231-seat arena, some people had to be turned away from the event because the venue couldn’t handle any more people than the stated capacity. Sanders was introduced at the event by John Nichols, a progressive political author and columnist for The Nation magazine. Nichols mentioned during his introduction of Sanders that Ed Garvey, the 1998 Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Wisconsin and the founder of the annual Fighting Bob Fest progressive gathering, Wisconsin State Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison), and Wisconsin State Representatives Terese Berceau and Melissa Sargent (both D-Madison), were present at the event. Of those four, Sargent livetweeted Sanders’s speech, in which Sanders talked about issues like money in politics, climate change, education, higher education, workers’ rights, reproductive rights, income inequality, poverty, criminal justice reform, the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, breaking up “too big to fail” banks, and international trade. Here’s every one of Sargent’s tweets about Sanders’s speech in Madison:

Note that there is an apparent typo in one of Sargent’s tweets (the one she sent at 8:05 P.M. about Sanders talking about how climate change affects our future; Sargent likely meant to type “We must leave this planet in a condition that is habitable for our children”); other than that, Sargent did an absolutely fantastic job paraphrasing Sanders’s speech and livetweeting the key points that Sanders made. Please also note that Sargent has, to my knowledge, not formally endorsed a presidential candidate.

It is perfectly fitting that Bernie Sanders laid out his progressive vision for America in the hometown of Wisconsin progressive legend Fighting Bob La Follette.

ENDORSEMENT: Bernie Sanders for President of the United States

I am pleased to announce that multiple media outlets are reporting Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will announce his bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination on Thursday.

I’m also pleased to announce that I am probably the first person in the entire country to officially endorse Bernie’s presidential bid.

While most Americans are not yet familiar with Bernie and his style of politics, those who know him know that he’s a progressive firebrand who wants to put the American government in the hands of the people, not just political elites and the wealthy. As Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Bernie helped make Burlington one of the most attractive places in America to live. As a member of both houses of Congress, Bernie has fought for progressive policies to rebuild the American middle class, protect American consumers and workers, and provide for the well-being of all Americans. Most recently, as a U.S. Senator, Bernie has railed against the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and fast-track authority for President Obama’s Global Trading Regime. The TPP and other proposed free trade deals, if fully implemented, would destroy much of what little American economic sovereignty remains and cost America thousands of jobs. In his upcoming presidential campaign, Bernie has promised to make universal health care, rebuilding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, making the U.S. Tax Code more progressive, and putting Americans back to work.

For those of you who doubt Bernie’s ability to win the Democratic presidential nomination, the Iowa caucuses, the first presidential nomination contest of any kind in the entire country, usually see extremely low turnout, which means that, if Bernie can get Iowa progressives to turn out in a big way, he could very well win many of Iowa’s delegates to the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC). After Iowa is the New Hampshire primary, which will be held in a state that is trending more and more Democratic thanks to people from Bernie’s home state of Vermont moving to New Hampshire and bringing their progressive political views with them. If Bernie can win both of those contests, he’ll be in a hotly-contested race for the Democratic nomination, if not the favorite for the nomination.

I hope that I’ll be able to vote for Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination in the Illinois primary next year. I’ve longed for a Democratic presidential candidate who is more than willing to make the wealthy and the political elites squeal, and now we’re going to have one!

Bernie Sanders campaign website re-designed for likely presidential run

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is considering running for the Democratic presidential nomination in next year’s presidential election, has launched a redesigned campaign website at berniesanders.com. The redesigned Sanders website only references Sanders’s home state of Vermont on the biography portion of his campaign website and on the campaign mailing address at the bottom of the website, which is a clear indication to me that Sanders is likely going to run for president. Given that Sanders has public stated that he’s not interested in being a spoiler in a general election, Sanders is likely going to run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Please note that Sanders has not formally announced his intention to run for president at this time.

I find Sanders’s new campaign website to be very cool-looking and informative. Sanders’s new website has a detailed biography, which includes information about his progressive track record as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, the smallest city that is the largest city of a state in the entire country, as well as his progressive track record as a member of both houses of Congress. Sanders’s new website also has a detailed campaign platform, which includes support for fixing crumbling infrastructure, taking “bold action” on climate change, expanding social safety net programs like Social Security and Medicaid, support for single-payer healthcare, breaking up large banks, making higher education more affordable, ending NAFTA and other “disastrous trade policies”, equal pay for equal work, raising the federal minimum wage to $15/hour, allowing for the card check method to make it easier for workers to organize a labor union, and providing assistance to worker co-ops. About the only things in the platform I’d change if I were running Sanders’s campaign would be to replace the “pay equity for women workers” heading with a “pay equity for working women” heading and add more policy specifics to many of the parts of the platform. Finally, Sanders has a list of scheduled events on his campaign website. I rate the new Sanders campaign website a 9 on a 1-to-10 scale.

While Bernie Sanders has yet to formally announce a presidential bid, he’s taken yet another step towards running for president by launching a redesigned campaign website.

16 elected officials and soon-to-be elected officials I’d like to meet in person

Since this will be my last blog post of 2014, I’d like to take the opportunity and list 16 elected officials and soon-to-be elected officials that I’d like to meet in person someday.

16. Minnesota State Representative Carly Melin (D-Hibbing) – Melin, a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from the Iron Range region of the state, is like me in many ways: Progressive on a wide range of issues, millennial, not from a large city, loves to use Twitter, and not afraid to criticize Republicans and corporate Democrats.

15. U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston, Illinois) – Schakowsky is one of the most progressive members of my home state’s delegation to Congress, especially on economic issues like the minimum wage and worker’s rights. We don’t have too many politicians who are willing to stand up for worker’s rights here in Illinois, but she’s one of them.

14. Montana State Representative Amanda Curtis (D-Butte) – Curtis won’t be an elected official for much longer after losing her bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Montana, but Curtis is surprisingly progressive for a Montana Democrat. She’s a supporter of background checks on gun sales and she’s progressive on many other issues. Also, she also seems like a wonderful person to be around.

13. Michigan State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) – Whitmer won’t be an elected official for much longer, but, during her two terms as a Michigan State Senator, she was a fearless advocate for progressive ideas and a vocal critic of the far-right Republicans that run Michigan’s state government.

12. Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette (D-Kenosha) – The only member of the La Follette political family (which produced legendary progressive Robert M. “Fighting Bob” La Follette) that is still in public office, Doug La Follette has served as Wisconsin’s Secretary of State for decades (although his office has very little power nowadays); prior to that, he was a Wisconsin state legislator who was known for championing environmental protection.

11. U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Hennepin County, Minnesota) – Klobuchar is perhaps the nicest elected official in the entire country, and she’s built up a solid track record of serving her constituents in Minnesota as a U.S. Senator. I’m not exactly sure what Klobuchar’s hometown is, so I’ve listed her by her home county instead.

10. U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-Atlanta, Georgia) – Lewis, one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, is an important person in American history, as he fought to end the Jim Crow laws that discriminated against Black Americans for over a century after slavery was abolished.

9. U.S. Representative Mark Pocan (D-Madison, Wisconsin) – Pocan, by some measures, has the single most progressive voting record of any member of either house of Congress, and he’s also a cool guy.

8. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Burlington, Vermont) – Sanders, who is considering running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, is a strong progressive, especially when it comes to his opposition to rampant income inequality.

7. Dane County, Wisconsin Supervisor Jenni Dye (D-Fitchburg) – Most of you probably don’t know who Jenni Dye is, since she’s a local elected official in Dane County, Wisconsin (specifically, a county legislator), but she is a Twitter master, an all-around cool person, and a strong supporter of women’s rights. Dye is elected to an officially non-partisan office, although she is a known Democrat, so I’ve listed her as such.

6. U.S. Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-Tuscon, Arizona) – Grijalva is a strong progressive from a congressional district that includes much of southern Arizona. Grijalva understands better than anyone else the issues that Hispanics face in this country.

5. U.S. Representative Alan Grayson (D-Orlando, Florida) – Billed as a “Congressman with Guts”, Grayson is a notorious progressive firebrand who is often willing to speak his mind in support of progressive values and ideals on a wide variety of issues. More importantly, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get progressive ideals enacted into law, even against conservative opposition.

4. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Cambridge, Massachusetts) – No, she’s not running for president, but, make no mistake about it, Elizabeth Warren is the elected official that scares Wall Street fat cats more than any other. She is a fearless advocate for protecting consumers from Wall Street greed and is progressive on many other issues as well.

3. Illinois State Representative-elect Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) – The only person who is not currently an elected official (although, in just a couple of weeks, he’ll be sworn in as one), Guzzardi ran as a progressive for a state house seat in Chicago’s North Side, took on the corrupt Chicago Machine in the Democratic primary, and won.

2. Wisconsin State Representative Chris Taylor (D-Madison) – One of the most progressive members of the Wisconsin State Assembly, Taylor is a fearless advocate for progressive ideals on a wide range of issues. Prior to entering electoral politics, Taylor ran Planned Parenthood’s Wisconsin political operation.

1. Wisconsin State Representative Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) – If I could only meet one elected official that I like in my entire lifetime, it would be Melissa Sargent, the Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from the East Side of Madison. Sargent is a fearless advocate for collective bargaining rights, raising the minimum wage, reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work, internet privacy, legalization of recreational marijuana, and many other progressive ideals. More importantly, Sargent is a down-to-earth person who cares about people.