Statewide calls build menu of progressive issues to advance working families’ interests

pm_state_house_background.jpgElections, as we say, come and go, but revolutions are continuous.

The way that paradox plays out is clear today, after the June 2 election. Although progressives won some, and lost some, the progressive needle moved in a positive direction in numerous Maryland jurisdictions.

Our issues are constants, and continue to be the building blocks of our campaigns -- and the way we measure our officials when they take office and we engage in co-governance with them.

Even as folks around the world and right here in Maryland struggled to cope with COVID-19 in all the ways we live, Progressive Maryland and Marylanders United, along with activists from across the state, have focused on critical issues of health care, housing, education, voting in a pandemic and prison reform/decarceration in our series of weekly Zoom events. Find out how that went here, as we look back and ahead.



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Elections, as we say, come and go, but revolutions are continuous.

The way that paradox plays out is clear today, after the June 2 election.

Not all races are settled and some will move on to new contests in the November 3 Presidential election. But although progressives won some, and lost some, the progressive needle moved in a positive direction in numerous Maryland jurisdictions.

Our issues are constants, and continue to be the building blocks of our campaigns and the way we measure our officials when they take office and we engage in co-governance with them.

Even as folks around the world and right here in Maryland struggled to cope with COVID-19 in all the ways we live, Progressive Maryland and Marylanders United, along with activists from across the state, have focused on critical issues of health care, housing, education, voting in a pandemic and prison reform/decarceration in our series of weekly Zoom events.action_for_ed.jpg

All our work – putting these issues in the context of the health crisis – has been altered still again by the nationwide uprising over police killings of African Americans, still a constant even in lockdown and economic collapse. The murder of George Floyd has shown that police are, if anything, emboldened rather than sobered by the pandemic.

Our first statewide call, back in mid-April (how long ago does THAT seem?), focused on wellness calls to folks to make sure they are coping and even thriving, and discussions on how to assemble and tweak the issue concerns we know will continue to be central to our consciousness and our work in an unequal society. At the same point, mid-April, Progressive Maryland joined more than forty other nonprofits in the state to send our state officials a detailed roadmap for recovery – not just for business and the rich, but meeting the needs of all the state’s people.

At the end of April our statewide call aimed to enrich and deepen our mutual-aid networks and get into the nitty-gritty of how the June 2 election would be different from previous elections – with at-will, mail-in voting – and how to cope with those differences. And on May 7, with the first of the month come and gone, our statewide call tacked the urgent housing needs of many low-income Marylanders and the requirement for rent and mortgage relief at the state level, with Del. Jheanelle Wilkins and reps from affordable-housing groups who work in our hard-hit counties. Watch that conversation here.

Wilkins was a leader among nearly 50 members of the House of Delegates who wrote an impassioned letter to Gov. Hogan about housing needs that you can read and follow up on.

cuffed_individual.jpgMay 14 our groups rose to the emergence of a virus outbreak in the state’s prisons and detailed what the dangers – and opportunities for change—were to the incarcerated and the public. Maryland has a high proportion of black men incarcerated and a record of poor concern for their health and well-being. The nuts and bolts of decarceration and criminal justice reform are a big order but the pandemic accelerates the life-and-death features of both. Here is the stream of our affecting and productive statewide meeting. This blog post from veteran prison guard and decarceration activist Tara Maxwell puts us inside the issue as the virus takes hold.

Larger questions of health care in the pandemic and beyond were tackled in our statewide call by Del Gabe Acevedo, Kristy Fogle of Maryland Progressive Health Care Coalition and Connie Huynh, health care specialist at People’s Action. Two critical bills needing your support are working through Congress, as Kristy and Connie ably explained on the call. See all of it here: https://www.facebook.com/watchparty/2459538571003984/

Or get a brief wrap in the COVID-19 Response lead in the Memo for May 26 https://www.progressivemaryland.org/progressive_maryland_weekly_memo_for_tuesday_may_26_2020

As a final statewide call before we took a break to plan the future menu, we heard from Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-22, Prince George’s) and Joe Francaviglia, the executive director of Strong Schools Maryland, about how much was lost when Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed some excellent bills boosting funding to bring our K-12 schools back toward world-class status – and how important a General Assembly veto override has become. A summary of some of their account is here. And there’s an online petition you can join to make sure legislative leaders get the message.Hchr.jpg

As we take a breather after the primary election, activist leaders all over the state will be refining what they heard on our calls, which were well attended beyond our hope and as you see included plenty of feedback from participants. We’ll keep shaping this agenda and discussing how the different parts fit into a reasoned plan to change the system that routinely leaves the rich richer and more powerful, at the expense of working families.

Watch for our next series of statewide meetings as we all (slowly) emerge from the absolutely unique situation that COVID-19 has brought to our family and public lives. We will build power and gain agency in the system – even as we change it. That’s how we organize, and that’s how we win.