Please welcome Brian Tashman at People For the American Way Action Fund. PFAW Action Fund is sponsoring OpenLeft and will be doing a series highlighting young progressive candidates through the November election.
While young people in this country are far more likely to hold progressive ideals and vote for progressive candidates, right-wing organizations have led the way in training students and young politicians to promote conservative beliefs and policies. Groups like Young Americans for Freedom, the Young America Foundation, the Collegiate Network, the Leadership Institute, and Eagle Forum Collegians, created an infrastructure based on educating, motivating, and guiding conservative campus leaders and elected officials around the country. Even Tea Party groups have launched schools to instruct activists on their distorted views of the Constitution and political organizing strategies. As Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition said, the Religious Right’s main battles were fought in “neighborhoods, school boards, city councils and state legislatures” before coming to the national stage.
Young progressives across the country are leading the fights for reproductive justice, immigrant rights, marriage equality, and serious campaign finance reform. The state and local leaders of today are the national leaders of tomorrow, and progressive champions like Russ Feingold, Sherrod Brown, Steve Cohen, and Tammy Baldwin were all first elected to state and local offices at a young age before coming to Congress.
That’s why the People For the American Way Action Fund is working to identify, promote and assist young progressive leaders and we want your help. Between now and Election Day, we’ll be highlighting some of the extraordinary young people running for office. We hope you’ll visit their websites, chip in a few dollars, and volunteer for progressive candidates in your area.
Many of the Action Fund’s candidates are running in states such as Arizona, Oklahoma, and Georgia, where state legislatures have endorsed some of the most stringent, anti-women, anti-immigrant, and anti-LGBT laws in the country. Others are running in places such as New York, Illinois, and Maryland, where progressive legislation such as marriage equality has a real chance of passing in the next few years.
The PFAW Action Fund will be launching a new site featuring our candidates and ways to help them win elections, promote progressive principles and combat the Far-Right.
Please join me in the extended entry to meet the first of the progressive candidates we’re featuring.
Meet one of PFAW Action Fund’s top candidates: Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Kyrsten has emerged as a leader in combating the right-wing attack on civil rights in the Arizona State House, and she is now running for an open seat in the State Senate.
One of just five openly LGBT members of the State Legislature, Kyrsten is a vocal advocate for civil rights and equality for all Americans. When the Religious Right first attempted to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions in a 2006 referendum, Kyrsten chaired the group Arizona Together, which successfully defeated the measure. Kyrsten also led and won the fight against conservative activist Ward Connerly’s anti-equal opportunity initiative in 2008. She has stood up to GOP attacks on a woman’s right to choose, comprehensive sex-education, stem-cell research, public education, and health care for children. When Republicans proposed “birther” bills and absurd legislation to ban “human-animal hybrids,” Kyrsten spoke out against the GOP lawmakers who embraced the fringe conspiracy theories.
Facing a spike of anti-immigrant laws and anti-Latino sentiment in Arizona, Kyrsten is a principal defender of immigrants from discrimination and brought the fight against SB 1070 to a national stage. An ardent opponent of Arizona’s new draconian immigration law, you can watch her debate Sheriff Joe Arpaio on how SB 1070 hurts both immigrant families and law enforcement agencies. The Board President of Community Outreach and Advocacy for Refugees, Kyrsten has been honored by Planned Parenthood, the NAACP, and the Arizona Hispanic Community Forum for her work promoting equality and social justice.
While Kyrsten has a long record of defending civil rights, her opponent Bob Thomas is running on a fervently anti-choice and anti-immigrant platform. Thomas, who described Barry Goldwater as his “favorite political figure,” received the endorsements of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and State Senator Russell Pierce, the mastermind of SB 1070. Extreme Religious Right groups such as the Alliance Defense Fund and the Center for Arizona Policy are also backing Kyrsten’s opponent.
We hope you’ll support candidates like Kyrsten who have become leaders in fighting the Right’s dangerous agenda and ideology, and advancing progressive principles across America.