Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Celebrate the Life of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta

Celebrating Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta 


1972- Sacramento 

March 31  is Cesar Chavez’s birthday and Cesar Chavez Day – a state holiday in California,  one of eight states to recognize the  date, and one of the few holidays  in the nation  dedicated  to a labor leader.   Sacramento and dozens of cities, counties and labor federations will celebrate the life of Cesar Chavez.


The year 2012 was the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Farm Workers (UFW) by Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Philip Vera Cruz and others.  Celebrations held that year focused on the historic struggle for union rights and justice in the fields of California.

April 11, 2023 will be the 5th Annual Dolores Huerta Day in California. It will be her 93rd. birthday.  Dolores Huerta was formerly an Honorary Co-Chair of Democratic Socialists of America.

Dolores Huerta. 2023


For an update on the UFW 2023 see.



The UFW was the  first successful union of farm workers in  U.S. history.  There had been more than ten prior attempts to build a farm workers’ union.   Each of the prior attempts was destroyed by racism and corporate power. Chávez and Huerta chose to build a union that incorporated the strategies of social movements and community organizing and allied itself  with churches, students,  and organized labor.  The successful creation of the UFW changed the nature of labor organizing in the Southwest and contributed significantly to the birth of Latino politics in the U.S. The UFW showed unions that immigrants can and must be organized.    


Both Chavez and Dolores Huerta ( formerly a DSA Honorary Co Chair )  have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor and in the California Hall of Fame for their work. 


Dolores Huerta remains active as a staunch advocate for women’s rights and reproductive freedom.  She is an honorary DSA chair, a founding board member of the Feminist Majority Foundation and a member of the board of Ms. Magazine.  She is active in Democratic Party conventions and campaigns and frequently speaks at universities and organizational forums and union halls  on issues of social justice and public policy. Huerta  continues to develop community leaders and to advocate for the working poor, immigrants, women and youth as president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.


Today, school children study Chavez’s life - but the study of Dolores Huerta’s life is prohibited in Arizona and severely limited in Texas as socialist,  “revolutionary,” or anti-American.


César Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Philip Vera Cruz, and others deliberately created a multiracial union. Mexican, Mexican-American, Filipino, African-American, Dominican, Puerto Rican and Arab workers, among others, have been part of the UFW.  This cross-racial organizing  was necessary in order to combat the  prior divisions and exploitations of workers based upon race and language. Dividing the workers on racial and language lines, as well as immigration status,  always left the corporations the winners.


In the 60's, Chávez and Huerta became the pre-eminent civil rights leaders for Mexican and Chicano workers, helping with local union struggles throughout the nation.  They worked tirelessly to make people aware of the struggles of farm workers for better pay and safer working conditions. It is a testament to their skills and courage that the UFW even survived. They were opposed by major interests in corporate agriculture, including the Bruce Church and Gallo Corporations as well as the leadership of the Republican Party, then led by  Ronald Reagan.   Workers were fired, beaten, threatened and even killed in pursuit of union benefits . Non-union  farm workers today  continue to live on  sub-poverty wages while producing abundant crops in the richest valley, in the richest state, in the richest nation in the world.  


In response to corporate power, Chavez developed new strategies such as the boycott, based upon  his personal  commitment to  non-violence in the tradition of Ghandi and  Martin Luther King Jr.  César Chavez died in his sleep on April 23, 1993 near Yuma, Arizona. 


Today Mexican, Mexican-American and Latino  union leadership is common  in our major cities and in several  industries and Latino union leaders increasingly play an important role in local, state, and national elections.  For example, the mobilization of Latino families and voters was critical to the re-election of Barack Obama.  The UFW was a school for organizing.  Hundreds of activists in labor and community organizations owe their skills to UFW training and experience.    Along with improved working conditions, salaries, and benefits for the unionized workers, training this cadre of organizers remains a major legacy of the UFW.


The UFW is also known for helping to create the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975, under then-Governor Jerry Brown, which gives farm workers collective bargaining rights.  The law was made necessary by a 1972 Teamsters Union raid on UFW contracts.  Sadly, the victory was only partial. While farm workers are often able to win elections under the ALRB, they seldom can win a contract.  Growers stall and delay until the workers leave the area. 


Today, under the leadership of UFW president Arturo Rodriguez, only about 25,000  farm workers enjoy benefits on the job. Wages and benefits in non union  farm labor have again been reduced to the pre-union levels.  


Chavez taught us that all organizations have problems, that all organizations are imperfect. Many curriculum packages for schools stress his emphasis on service to others.  The service side of Cesar’s work was certainly inspiring. In the last decade, several books have been written criticizing the Chavez legacy. The union experienced both external and internal conflicts. But building popular organizations, while messy, builds people's power and democracy. In creating the UFW, Chavez and Huerta organized thousands into a union and inspired millions. 


The organizing side of the UFW legacy changed the Southwest and organized labor.      The movement led by Chavez and Huerta reduced the oppression of farm workers. Many people, descendents of earlier generations of farm workers, learned to take a stand for justice.  They learned to not accept poor jobs, poor pay, or unsafe working conditions as natural or inevitable.  Rather, these are social creations which can be changed through organizing for economic and political power.    


Today, thousands of new immigrants harvest the crops, often indigenous Zapotec and Mixtec people from the south of Mexico, and only a small percent are in unions.  The new generations of immigrants and migrant labor hardly know Chavez’s name nor the UFW’s contributions. Yet, in other regions immigrants are being organized into unions such as Justice for Janitors and Unite/Here by activists who learned their organizing skills working with the UFW. And, Latino political leaders often made their first commitments on a UFW picket line.


The generation that created the UFW is passing. A new generation of political activists, mostly within the Democratic Party, has emerged since the Chavez generation.  Organizing the May Day 2006 massive immigrant rights demonstrations was significantly assisted by persons trained within the UFW.  A new, significant Latino union and political base has been created in the nation. 


Chavez's and Huerta’s legacy is significant for popular struggles, Chicano/Mexicano self-determination and immigrant workers’ unions.  The UFW taught us how to organize for power and for justice.  Chavez is present in all of our work.  You can find out more about this remarkable leader at;; : and


Duane Campbell is professor emeritus of bilingual/multicultural education at California State University-Sacramento; author of Choosing Democracy: A Practical Guide to Multicultural Education, 4th Edition, (Allyn and Bacon,2010); and chair of Sacramento DSA.










Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Fight the Anti Immigrant Right

Whether you are a DSA member of not, you may find North Star's anti ultra-right work deserving of your attention.  We are preparing for DSA's 2023 convention by drafting a resolution about confronting the ultra-right. 

We propose to form a broad front against the US ultra-right which includes MAGA. neo confederates, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, ALEC, militias, too many Republicans, and numerous reactionary super PACs, foundations, and think tanks.  The resolution also proposes improving cooperation among DSA and its sister organizations that is necessary in order to organize the broad front.a-right.

This is the proposed resolution. If you are a DSA member please sign it..

I am reaching out to ask for your support for 3 proposals to this years 2023 DSA Convention.

1.    Unite Against the Ultra Right

2.    On the Defense of Immigrants and Refugees

3.    Big Tent amendment to bylaws

The first resolution is about confronting the ultra-right. It calls to form a broad front against the US ultra-right which includes MAGA, neo confederates, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, ALEC, militias, too many Republicans, and numerous reactionary super PACs, foundations, and think tanks.  

The second resolution I co-authored along with several members of the Immigrants' Rights Working Group on the Defense of Immigrants and Refugees.

The final proposal is an amendment to the DSA bylaws. To damp down the urge to purge, substituting "principles and policies" with DSA Constitution Article II Purpose.


More information



Sunday, March 26, 2023

In Defense of Public Education



On Tuesday, March 28, I’ll be delivering a major address, “In Defense of Public Education,” as the institution comes under renewed attack from extremist, culture war-peddling politicians.

We'll be livestreaming the address on Facebook and on AFT's website. See the graphic below for more details.

This is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on how public education provides broad-based opportunity for our children to thrive—even as now, for the first time in decades, its very existence is threatened. I’ll lay down a challenge to lawmakers to promote investment, collaboration, and family and community engagement in public schools instead of tarring them with the politics of division and hate.

We'll be livestreaming the address on Facebook and on AFT's website. I hope you'll tune in.

In unity,
Randi Weingarten
AFT President


Monday, March 20, 2023

Will the Education Culture War Backfire on Republicans?

Will the Education Culture War Backfire on Republicans?: Conservative screaming about wokeness is a substitute for the old priorities of school vouchers and weakening of public education. Polls show that parents don’t agree.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Who Wants to Teach in Florida ?

Gov. Ron DeSantis’s culture warmongering has helped produce the highest teacher vacancy rates in the country.

Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis visits Pio Hot Bagels in Staten Island, New York on February 20, 2023., Kyle Mazza/NurPhoto via AP


Gov. Ron DeSantis wants Florida’s K-12 educators to do as they’re told. On top of low pay, difficulties in securing long-term contracts, the stress of high-stakes testing, and increases in student mental health issues, public school teachers must stick to the governor’s conservative script or risk being fired. That script includes the Parental Rights in Education Act, colloquially known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, the Stop WOKE Act, and the recent statewide ban on College Board’s Advanced Placement African American studies curriculum.

These developments have contributed to the highest teacher vacancy rate in the country by creating a climate of paranoia that has exasperated many teachers, chased others out of the profession entirely, and deterred aspiring educators. Culture-war turmoil combined with the pandemic era’s tight labor market means that Florida and most Deep South states have struggled to recruit teachers. When the far-right Republican became governor in 2019, there were 2,217 vacant teacher positions in Florida. As of early January, there were about 5,300 openings statewide, with an additional 4,631 support staff openings (excluding Miami-Dade County), the Florida Education Association told the Prospect.

In 2022, Florida allocated an additional $250 million over the previous fiscal year to increase teacher salaries. While the funding boosted the base salary for new teachers to $47,500, the pay increase for experienced teachers did not even cover cost-of-living increases. Overall, the pay raise bumped the state up from 49th to 48th in average teacher pay nationwide, according to the National Education Association. DeSantis has proposed $200 million in more funding for teacher pay in his fiscal 2023-2024 budget, which according to the FEA, will hardly move the needle. “Pay in the third-largest state can and should rank in the top 10 nationally,” FEA President Andrew Spar said in a statement.

Florida’s vacancy issue has its roots in the state’s decades-long role as a laboratory for the right’s assault on public education, with its Republican governors playing key parts. Former Gov. Jeb Bush made school choice and high-stakes standardized testing his signature issues in the 2000s, before his brother President George W. Bush took “reforms” like the No Child Left Behind Act to the White House. DeSantis’s predecessor, Rick Scott, now the state’s junior senator, also expanded charter schools and voucher programs while chipping away at long-term contracts for teachers. But DeSantis has not only built on his predecessors’ devotion to privatization and exploitative salaries, he has also squelched teaching, learning, and productive dialogues on American history, race, and gender.

The teacher shortages exhaust the remaining educators, and buttress DeSantis’ conservative takeover of public-school curriculums by whittling down institutional resistance to his culture-war inspired edicts. Educators are “frustrated to the point where they don't have a sense of hope anymore,” said Steve Frazier, Executive Director of the Florida League of Middle Schools, who worked as a teacher and principal in Broward County for over three decades. “It’s like anything, you keep getting beat down, eventually you just wave the white flag and say I can't do it anymore.”

Tawanda Carter, a literacy coach in Broward County for 23 years, took a classroom position this year because of the shortages. To support her students in the long run, Carter realized that she must pick and choose her battles to avoid burnout, especially when a parent objects to certain topics like learning about the experiences of other racial and ethnic groups. “At the end of the day, I recognize in myself and others that you just do what you can do,” she says.

Teacher vacancies also give DeSantis and Florida state lawmakers an opportunity to seed schools with instructors whom they believe would be more amenable to far-right positions. Under Florida’s Military Veterans Certification Pathway program, which came into effect on July 1 of last year, veterans with at least four years of service, an honorable or medical discharge, 60 college credits, and a minimum 2.5 GPA can apply for a temporary teaching certificate after passing a subject-area exam of their choice.

Florida teachers should have the leeway to design appropriate lesson plans for their students and not be shackled to politically imposed curriculums.

New teachers hired under the program are assigned a mentor teacher for at least two years, and will have five years to fulfill the requirements for permanent certification, including obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Many experienced educators worry that the program will not help fill vacancies but instead lower the standards for people entering the profession. DeSantis has also proposed offering bonuses to veterans and retired first responders who agree to teach full-time for at least two years. Such recruitment drives are a disservice to veterans and first responders seeking second careers, as well as to current students and teachers. The state has processed hundreds of applications, but only twelve veterans have been hired so far, the Florida Department of Education told the Prospect.

Herman Bennett, a historian of the African diaspora at the City University of New York, helped the College Board draft the African American Studies AP curriculum. He says the Florida moves remind him that fifty years ago a teacher’s credentials were irrelevant for some schools. “It's reminiscent of what history teaching once was in my generation, there was the idea that the historian could be the football coach,” he says. “Because it really didn't matter. You could have a knucklehead who was responsible for the civics course.”

For Bennett, DeSantis’s rejection of the College Board’s African American studies course signals the debasing of teaching and learning loud and clear. “If the AP course was simply Black names, dates and facts, DeSantis wouldn’t have a concern about it because that would just produce an inert and passive citizen.” Bennett said. “Afro-American studies demonstrate that there are histories of struggle, and if you don’t have those understandings, then you see the possibility of change as limited.”

With the College Board caving into DeSantis’s demands, the state’s educators can only do so much to get around these obstacles. By removing African American and other racial, ethnic, and gender studies topics from public school curriculums, and diluting discussions of contemporary issues like Black Lives Matter, another Republican governor is once again trying to export new limitations on learning across the country. Florida teachers should have the leeway to design appropriate lesson plans for their students and not be shackled to politically imposed curriculums. Stifling creativity in classroom instruction ultimately means that teachers can only teach exactly what they are told to teach and nothing more—if they decide to stay in the profession at all.


Luca GoldMansour is an editorial intern at the Prospect.


Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Realizing the Promise of LCFF


Public Advocates was instrumental in shaping the Local Control Funding Formula, California’s landmark school funding policy. Signed into law in 2013, LCFF is one of the boldest public education experiments any state has ever taken to improve student outcomes through greater equity, transparency, local accountability, and meaningful community engagement. However, while it changed the way public schools were funded, a decade into this legislation, there is more work needed to address systemic inequities that create barriers to student success. 

We are proud to share our findings from the research and recommendations for leadership in our latest report, Realizing the Promise of LCFF: Recommendations from the First Ten Years. Using 72 districts as case studies, this report, written with our partners at the ACLU Southern California, reviews LCFF implementation to offer guidance on improving equitable outcomes and community engagement. While the report highlights some bright spots, it underscores the need for significant innovation in order to strengthen accountability measures that can ensure a comprehensive strategic planning process and better engagement. Top level recommendations include: 

  • More oversight, support and authority for County Offices of Education to hold districts accountable

  • Investing in an innovative, usable, web-based strategic planning platform that can make funding transparent and easier to understand

  • Strengthening community engagement with families, students, and community based organizations to meaningfully address disparities in student outcomes and improve opportunities for all students, including Black students

Establishing the LCFF was a critical first step, but 10 years later, as California enters the next phase of this bold work, it must continue to improve this system to ensure high-needs students in our state receive the resources they need to thrive in school and beyond. 
In n 

Saturday, March 11, 2023

AMLO on Organizing Against Republicans

 AMLO on organizing against Republicans. 

“We are not going to allow any foreign government to intervene and much less foreign armed forces to intervene in our territory,” López Obrador said at a news conference, adding that he would ask Americans of Mexican and Hispanic origin not to vote for Republicans if their “aggression” continued.

Farmworkers Union Seeks A California Revival

antiracismdsa: Farmworkers Union Seeks A California Revival:       Farmworkers Union, a ’60s Liberal Icon, Seeks a California Revival Decades after Cesar Chavez made the union a power, it has lost much...

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Creating Community Schools in Sacramento

 Community schools are a $3,1 Billion dollar program to create community schools in California. Community schools are to be responsive to local community and parent needs. For example, they might include a health center, or not.  Planning has begun.  Money is already being spent without the notification of parents.  Here is an opportunity to get involved. 

Scholarship Funds Available


Monday, March 06, 2023

Publisher Fights Back agains DeSantis Censorship Campaign


Ramenda Cyrus 
February 20, 2023
The American Prospect
This lefty publisher is giving out censored books for free in Florida. We know that books in and of themselves don't change the world. But people reading together, learning together, organizing together; people coming together to know these ideas, and to think about how our side wins is actually dangerous.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to reporters at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida on Feb. 15, 2023., Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo


Haymarket Books, a prominent left-wing publishing company, has waded into the battle for education at-large. In the wake of a coordinated right-wing attack on public education led by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the nonprofit is offering some Black history books for free to everyone and sending free print copies to requests made out of Florida. 

Haymarket’s commitment comes at a time of large-scale upheaval in the education system. DeSantis is just the start: the whole Republican Party has launched a campaign to drastically censor what can be taught in schools, often targeting Black and queer content. At the same time, conservative parents have become more involved than ever in the education system through school boards and groups such as Moms For Liberty. 

The plot to censor left-wing ideas in school comes on the heels of a moral panic around critical race theory that culminated in more than 15 states imposing restrictions on its use in the classroom as of 2023, according to an analysis by EducationWeek

The attacks on education are coming at the school boards level as well. According to Pen America, from 2021 to 2022, more than 130 school districts across 32 states have instituted some sort of book ban. Of these bans, the report notes that more than 40 percent dealt with LGTBQ themes or had a person of color as a protagonist or secondary character.

The latest escalation is Rep. Cory Mills (R-FL) introducing a bill that would federally censor LGBT content being taught in schools. GOP Reps. George Santos (R-NY) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) cosponsored the bill, which could be used to restrict queer content in schools, under the guise of preventing the “sexualization” of children, which is often just a code anything involving for the LGBTQ community.  

At the state level, the most notable example is Florida’s Stop WOKE Act, which was passed last year, and prohibits, among other things, content that teaches that a person’s “status as privileged or oppressed” is dependent on their race or sex. The act is just one part of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ multi-pronged attack on “woke indoctrination” in education. His censorship law is so sweeping and punitive that many teachers have packed up their entire classroom libraries out of fear they’d be thrown in prison.

As Vox reported, DeSantis has largely focused on K-12 schools, but has also set his sights on higher education. College Board’s original Advanced Placement (AP) African-American Studies course was rejected in Florida under the Stop WOKE Act, which led to its revision to exclude certain themes related to Black history, and figures such as Audre Lorde and bell hooks. Haymarket Books’ move is a direct response to this growing agitation over progressive ideas being taught. 

While there is no exact definition of what “woke” means, for conservatives it is obviously a thinly veiled villainization of non-white people or the queer community. Perhaps most tellingly is their obsessive focus on the idea of intersectionality, which advocates for solidarity and understanding across the groups that have suffered under various forms of oppression—racism, homophobia or transphobia, poverty, and so on.

The reason for DeSantis’s objection is a very old one—the fear from an oppressor that the downtrodden will unite against him.

Its inclusion in the AP course drew DeSantis’s ire: “Now who would say that an important part of Black History is queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids, and so when you look to see they have stuff about intersectionality, abolishing prisons, that’s a political agenda. And so, that’s the wrong side of the line for Florida standards,” he said in defense of the rejection of the course. 

DeSantis’s objection rejects the idea that two different kinds of oppression could ever be intertwined, which is obviously nonsense. They can’t help be, and would be considered so by anyone taking the field seriously. But the reason for his objection is a very old one—the fear from an oppressor that the downtrodden will unite against him.

Still, in response, the College Board dropped Kimberlé Crenshaw, who originally developed the concept. 

“We know that books can be dangerous to those in power, especially when they are in the hands of folks who are organizing to fight for liberation. That’s why we publish them. That's why they’re trying to ban them,” Haymarket Books wrote in the blog post announcing the free e-books. 

The company is also offering free hard copies to people and groups based out of Florida. Dana Blanchard, program coordinator for Haymarket, told the Prospect that the interested groups have ranged from educators to community organizers. 

Haymarket’s move serves as a reminder of the ways the left-wing movement can be forward-thinking and claim the mantle of protecting liberties from conservative attacks on freedom. All too often, progressives are simply reacting to marginalized groups having their rights stripped systematically, instead of taking concrete steps to fight back. 

“We know that books in and of themselves don't change the world,” Blanchard said. “But people reading together, learning together, organizing together; people coming together to know these ideas, and to think about how our side wins is actually dangerous.”

Ramenda Cyrus is the John Lewis Writing Fellow at The American Prospect.

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Friday, March 03, 2023

We are not a nation divided by political ideology: Rev Barber


Here’s The Ultimate Truth About Marjorie Taylor Greene’s ‘National Divorce’ Myth


Far too many Americans accept the premise that we are a country divided between red states and blue states.


By The Rev. Dr. William Barber



Feb 24, 2023 - One hundred and sixty-three years after the South tried to secede from the Union, starting a war that killed more Americans than all other U.S. wars combined, it is troubling to hear Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene propose a “national divorce” of red states from blue states. 


In the wake of Jan. 6, we know that talk of insurrection is more than mere rhetoric for a minority of Americans who’ve been radicalized by the lies of right-wing extremism. But Greene’s call for secession depends on a lie that’s far more widespread than the propaganda of insurrectionists. From leaders who bemoan that we’re “more divided than ever” to political operatives who insist that Democrats simply can’t win in the deep South or the Midwest, far too many Americans accept the premise that we are a country divided between red states and blue states. 


This dichotomy is a myth. We are not a nation divided by political ideology. We are, instead, a people who have been pitted against one another by politicians who depend on the poorest among us not showing up to the polls.


We are not a nation divided by political ideology.


Even with record turnout in the 2020 presidential election, 80 million eligible voters did not vote, more than those who backed former President Donald Trump, and only slightly less than those who turned out for President Biden. Lower-income voters were three times more likely to sit out the election than higher-income voters.


Maps that show “red” counties and “blue” counties are representations of election results that have important implications for our government’s capacity to pass legislation that would benefit the American people. But we know from survey data and experience that those maps do not represent most Americans. They are a myth in the truest sense — a story told to us in order to reinforce the values of the storytellers. 


Why a national divorce wouldn't work out well for red states


The political strategy we are seeing from Greene to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' war on "wokeness" is not simply an effort to imitate Donald Trump. It is the Southern strategy, whose origins trace back to the post-Civil War South. 


From 1865 until the 1890s, trans-racial fusion movements were able to exercise political power in parts of the South. Scared, the white establishment fought back. The tactic of “positive polarization” was identified by Richard Nixon’s campaign strategists and has been used since 1980 by those who wanted to roll back voting rights, labor rights, and living wages while increasing corporate power. These are the values the myth of red states versus blue states reinforces. The story of our division is told to persuade us that things could not be otherwise. 


Monied interests in the United States have long understood that their power depends on maintaining division in public life.


For the past five years, the Poor People’s Campaign — which both of us have been part of — connected with poor and low-wage people in every U.S. state, listening to the issues that matter most to them. Whether we have been among white millennials who are unhoused in Aberdeen, Black folks struggling to survive in Alabama, Native Americans fighting for their lands in Arizona, or Latinos facing evictions in Southern California, poor and low-wage people in this country are clear about the burdens they face. The cost of housing, transportation, education and health care have soared while wages have stagnated for most Americans. 


This is as true in counties that elect Democrats as it is in those represented by Republicans. In a national audit we published in 2018, we found that there wasn’t a single county in the country where someone working full time at minimum wage could afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment. Poor and low-wage people are not divided on this basic fact: It’s gotten harder to get by for most folks in America. 


The vast majority of Americans not only agree on the problem, but also on some basic solutions. In survey after survey, most Americans support raising the minimum wage and making sure everyone has access to health care, a safe place to live and quality public education. In the 2022 midterms, ballot measures to raise the minimum wage passed not just in the District of Columbia, where a majority of voters elected Democrats, but in Nebraska, where most voters elected Republicans. 


So if we are not as divided as the “red state/blue state” myth would have us believe, how do we explain the extreme polarization in American politics? The short answer is that monied interests in the United States have long understood that their power depends on maintaining division in public life. This is at the root of the long story of race in America, as well as the overlapping anti-immigrant narratives, culture wars and voter suppression tactics. When the Poor People's Campaign surveyed poor and low-income eligible voters to ask why they often do not participate in elections, the No. 1 answer was that they do not hear politicians campaigning on issues that would benefit them. Almost every other reason is some barrier of timing, location or documentation that makes casting their vote one more thing they don’t have time to do. 


Even still, we have watched poor and low-income people invest thousands of hours to organize themselves and their neighbors, increasing turnout in the 2020 and 2022 elections in key areas that made a difference in terms of federal policy. Though the impact was only temporary, the legislation that Congress passed and President Biden signed in 2021 did more to reduce poverty in America than anything we’ve witnessed in over 50 years. We did not do that because we were a nation “more divided than ever” during the worst pandemic in a century. We did it because poor and low-income people stood together with people of conscience and produced an electoral majority that passed some of the things most Americans agree would be best for all of us. This recent history makes clear that we don’t need a divorce; we need, instead, to fire the home-wreckers who aren’t representing our interests and reconstruct an America that works for all of us. 


The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is president of Repairers of the Breach and founding director of the Center for Public Theology and Public Policy at Yale University.  ...Read More

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Candidate for Chicago Mayor

Throughout his campaign, Johnson made fighting inequality across the city a central theme, prioritizing working-class communities while taxing Chicago’s wealthy. He received major backing from the CTU and United Working Families, a coalition of left-wing organizations and unions that has become a highly influential player in city politics over the past decade. He also received support from national groups like the Working Families Party.

Johnson’s ascent sets up a stark choice for Chicago voters, who will decide in April whether to embrace a progressive approach to urban politics or return to the neoliberal model that created many of the problems now plaguing the city. Crime, in particular, will be central to the campaign, making the runoff a test case of whether Johnson’s anti-carceral, pro–social services approach can defeat a traditional law-and-order, reactionary appeal by Vallas.

A Movement Mayor?

Johnson got his start teaching in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) in 2007, first at Jenner Elementary in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood on the Near North Side and later Westinghouse College Prep on the West Side. He then joined CTU’s staff alongside its then president Karen Lewis, who helped reshape the union into a democratic and militant force that fought austerity not only in public education but in city politics generally. In that role, Johnson helped coordinate the historic 2012 teachers strike, worked to block school privatization schemes, joined hunger strikers at the shuttered poor and working-class Dyett High School and successfully advocated for its reopening, and fought to win an elected school board (rather than one handpicked by the mayor), which finally became law in 2021.

In 2018, Johnson was elected to the Cook County Board, where he continues to serve. In office, he has sponsored the Just Housing Amendment, which ended discrimination against the formerly incarcerated, as well as the Budget for Black Lives, which helped lead to a multimillion-dollar investment in community resources and violence prevention — including affordable housing, health care, and other supports — as part of the 2021 Cook County budget. Johnson also helped to create a program aimed at canceling up to $1 billion in medical debt, secure legal representation for immigrant refugees facing deportation, and launch a guaranteed income pilot that offers $500 per month to thousands of low-income residents.

In his mayoral run, Johnson’s stated priorities include increasing funding to neighborhood schools, year-round youth employment programs, reopening the city’s public mental health clinics shuttered by former mayor Rahm Emanuel, reducing fares on public transit, investing in new affordable housing, and instituting a “Chicago Green New Deal” to boost environmental protections. To pay for this agenda, Johnson proposed a real estate transfer tax on luxury home sales, a financial transaction tax, a head tax on large, profitable companies that do business in the city, and new user fees for high-end commercial districts. According to Johnson, “The ultra-rich and large corporations continue to benefit from the subjugation and the isolation of poverty, and my budget plan speaks to these critical investments.”

When it comes to public safety, which played a central role in the mayor’s race, Johnson plans to pass the “Treatment Not Trauma” ordinance advanced by socialist city council member Rossana Rodriguez, which would create a hotline to deal with crisis response, invest in violence prevention programs, end no-knock warrants, establish a dedicated office to deal with illegal guns, and end the city’s gang database, which opponents have claimed in a class action lawsuit is racially discriminatory.

Taken together, Johnson’s agenda represents a profound break from the corporate-friendly politics that have dominated Chicago in the neoliberal era. As the leader of the third-largest city in the country, a Mayor Johnson could be positioned to usher in a new era of urban progressivism unseen in recent memory, if he and the forces supporting him can overcome the massive pushback that capital will mobilize against him.

In order to win, however, he will first have to overcome both a well-financed opponent and a political and economic establishment fully at odds with his platform, especially as it relates to the issue of policing.

Johnson made it to the runoff — even while competing for liberal votes against García, who was the standard-bearer of left-wing politics in the city’s mayoral race two cycles ago — by articulating a progressive approach to crime that does not include massively expanding policing. He noted on the campaign trail that the Chicago Police Department’s budget of $1.94 billion is “bigger than it’s ever been, and we’re still not safe. 

From Jacobin. 

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