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February 21, 2006

Forget DC- The Battle is in the States

This is the title and cover from an In These Times cover article based on a report by yours truly for the Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN), where I recently took over as Policy Director.

The point of the report, "Governing the Nation from the Statehouses: The Rightwing Agenda in the States and How Progressives Can Fight Back", is that progressives are too fixated on the White House and Capitol Hill and are ignoring the rightwing's campaigns in the states, where the Right can not only have as much influence on changing policy in the country as at the national level but can also undermine progressives political power in profound ways.

But there's another reason progressives should be paying more attention to state politics and policies. If you hadn't noticed, those in power in DC don't care what progressives think. We can win an occasional defensive fight, as with protecting social security, but we can't win any progressive victories. But if the rightwing is taking state politics seriously, it's because they also know that progressives have the opportunity there to make real advances in policy, as they have done in areas like the minimum wage, smart growth and energy policy, or protecting gay rights- all areas where advances have been blocked at the federal level.

Which is why the Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN) was formed, to both take on the rightwing network and help progressive legislators more effectively move forward policy. Backed by MoveOn, unions like AFSCME, SEIU, and the AFL-CIO, and Goerge Soros's Open Society Institute, PLAN is going to be building the infrastructure for political victory in the states. And here's the thing about building a policy agenda in the states: Because we can win actual policy victories, voters will understand progressive policy by seeing laws enacted in reality, not see progressives as an ineffectual opposition talking about policy in the abstract.

Our website is here, you can sign up for PLAN's twice weekly update on state politics here and if you can help out financially, you can contribute here. We definitely need the support, both those who can sign up and keep up-to-date on what they can do to help change policy in the states and by those who can contribute financially.

Posted by Nathan at February 21, 2006 07:46 AM