Progressive victories from Maine to Washington inspire hope

Progressive victories from Maine to Washington inspire hope

Off-year elections are almost never good for progressives, and 2015 is no exception. But this off-year election held some surprising victories for progressives in Maine, Ohio, Washington and elsewhere that could lay the foundation for more victories to come.

Earlier this week, I wrote about campaigns in Seattle and in Ohio that had the potential to change how we do politics in America.

  • In Seattle, Initiative 22 proposed a new take on an old right-wing trick: vouchers. Except in this case they’re “Democracy Vouchers,” designed to loosen the grip of the “donor” class — which accounts for 0.3 percent of Seattle’s population but half of contributors to local political campaigns — on local politics.
  • Ohio’s Issue One took on gerrymandering with a constitutional amendment that banned political gerrymandering, established a bipartisan commission to determine the shape of legislative districts, and gave the minority party a bigger voice in how districts are drawn.

Maine voters also took aim at Citizens United with Question 1, a ballot initiative that strengthened the state’s already famous system of publicly funding elections, created by the Maine Clean Elections Act in 1996. Under Question 1, not only will candidates who agree to participate be eligible for public funding, but they will be forced to disclose top donors in their political advertisements.

Voters in Maine and Seattle approved ballot measures aimed at amplifying the voices of ordinary Americans, and reducing the influence of big money in politics. Maine voters approved Question 1 by a vote of 55 percent to 45 percent. In Seattle, preliminary results showed Initiative 22 passing with 60 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed.

Meanwhile, Ohioans overwhelmingly voted in favor of reforming Ohio’s partisan process for drawing and redrawing legislative districts. Issue 1 passed with 71 percent of the vote according to final, unofficial counts. The success of Issue 1 has encouraged activists to look ahead to passing the same reforms for congressional districts next year. If successful, Ohio could point the way for more activists to do the same in their own states, with far-reaching implications for the makeup of Congress.

The wins in Seattle, Maine, and Ohio are game-changing victories for democracy. Each represents an impressive effort by state and local activists and coalitions, and will no doubt inspire more Americans to take action. Each shows what people-powered movements can do.

In the post-Citizens United world, every day Americans weren’t supposed to be able to take on the big money poisoning our politics, and win. Yet, that’s exactly what happened. Seattle, Maine, and Ohio proved that We The People can fight back against big money’s influence in politics.

There are even more victories to celebrate:

Photo of Yes on 1 volunteers from official website. This text is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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Terrance Heath
Terrance Heath 1 posts

Terrance Heath is the Online Producer at Campaign for America's Future. He has consulted on blogging and social media for a number of organizations and agencies and is a prominent activist on LGBT and HIV/AIDS issues.

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