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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/31/17

The 2017 Progressive Honor Roll

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Most Valuable Union

AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION

If you want to see solidarity in action, consider the response of the union that represents more than 200,000 US Postal Service employees and retirees to last summer's Nazi violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. APWU president Mark Dimondstein explained to his members that rallying "for equality and against the hate-mongers" is essential union work. "What does all this have to do with the APWU? Everything!" argued Dimondstein. "Fascists are bitter enemies of workers and our unions. Their race and religious bigotry, intimidation, and violence are a direct threat to our unity and ability to stand up and fight back to save the public Postal Service, win good contracts, gain better working conditions, enjoy a better life, and live in a more just society."

Most Valuable Grassroots Activism

ADAPT AND DISABILITY ACTION FOR AMERICA

The greatest credit for blocking repeated attempts by congressional Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid goes to disability-rights activists, who rely on the ACA and Medicaid for their survival and for that of their families. They traveled to Washington at great physical and economic expense to save the ACA -- and to argue for a health-care system that provides all Americans with the care and dignity they deserve. Called to action by ADAPT, a grassroots disability-rights organization with chapters in more than 20 states, as well as Disability Action for America and other groups, and supported by passionate allies such as Ben Wikler, Washington director of MoveOn.org, they took the lead. "While it's important to work with our allies fighting against [ACA repeal], the importance of disability-led efforts cannot be overstated," ADAPT said. "We are the ones who will be harmed first, and most, by this bill. We are responsible for getting our message through. Nothing about us without us!" These activists were everywhere in Washington, and they never backed down. In saving the ACA, they taught us all a lesson in resistance.

Most Valuable Arts Publication

CINEASTE

Founded 50 years ago, Cineaste provides cutting-edge commentary regarding filmmaking and smart, incisive reviews of new movies. But that's just the beginning of the contribution this magazine makes to the broader discourse in the United States. Cineaste editor in chief Gary Crowdus has assembled a team of editors and writers who are determined to explore the role that films play in shaping our understanding of race, class, gender, and more. For decades, this journal has challenged the status quo in the film industry and in our culture -- celebrating mavericks and independents, objecting to stereotyping and dumbed-down commercialism, and highlighting the contributions of women and people of color in Hollywood and around the film world. As the lines between entertainment and politics blur, Cineaste provides clarity.

Most Valuable Media Intervention

PUBLIC NEWS SERVICE

When journalist Dan Heyman was arrested at the West Virginia State Capitol in May after he questioned visiting Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on whether victims of domestic violence would be protected under one of the GOP's "repeal and replace" health-care schemes, we were all reminded of the essential role of statehouse reporters. Heyman was able to fight back against the charge of "willful disruption of governmental processes" -- which was eventually dropped -- because he is part of a network of state-based reporters organized by the Public News Service. Developed to fill the void created by declining newspaper, radio, and television coverage of public-policy issues, PNS gets coalitions of organizations to fund journalism that covers neglected state issues. The reports are aired by commercial and community radio stations and often end up in print and online. PNS manages news services in 37 states, including West Virginia -- where Heyman is still on the beat.

Most Valuable Local Radio Show

ROSE AGUILAR'S YOUR CALL

Every weekday morning on San Francisco public-radio station KALW, Rose Aguilar hosts one of the finest hours of political and cultural discussion in the country. An accomplished journalist and author, Aguilar comes prepared with probing questions and deep analysis. This is smart, serious radio that emphasizes new voices and new issues -- with regular appearances by activists, authors, and callers from around the world. Aguilar's Media Roundtable program (which features many Nation writers) highlights the work of journalists who are on the ground from the Midwest to the Middle East, and she's never afraid to ask why other outlets aren't covering the stories that matter most.

Most Valuable Song

"I GIVE YOU POWER," BY ARCADE FIRE & MAVIS STAPLES

Protest music made a comeback in 2017. Fiona Apple wrote an anthem for the Women's March ("We don't want your tiny hands anywhere near our underpants..."). Bruce Springsteen and former Iron City Houserockers leader Joe Grushecky ripped the new president on "That's What Makes Us Great" ("I never put my faith in a con man and his crooks..."). Joey Bada$$ spoke truth to power with "Land of the Free" ("And Donald Trump is not equipped to take this country over..."). Eminem delivered a freestyle anti-Trump rap that declared: "Any fan of mine who's a supporter of his/I'm drawing in the sand a line: You're either for or against." But there was something epic -- and refreshingly optimistic -- about the collaboration between Mavis Staples, who's been singing freedom songs since the civil-rights era, and indie rockers Arcade Fire on "I Give You Power." Released on the eve of Trump's inauguration (with proceeds directed to the American Civil Liberties Union), the song asked, "Who gives you power? Where do you think it all comes from?" It answered: "I give you power. I can take it all away."

Most Valuable Book

DEMOCRACY IN CHAINS, BY NANCY MACLEAN

Donald Trump did not turn the Republican Party into the debacle it has become, and Paul Ryan did not squeeze the conscience out of conservatism. They simply took advantage of the dirty work done by the Koch brothers and their co-conspirators. The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America--as MacLean's book is subtitled -- puts today's crisis in context, describing the six-decade project of the elites who have used their billions to warp academia, the media, and democracy itself. MacLean, a professor of history and public policy at Duke University, explains how the far right created the conditions in which it's become easier for billionaires to buy elections and harder for voters to cast ballots in them. Her book is a powerful indictment -- and an even more powerful call to action.

Most Valuable Modern Pamphleteer

BILL MOYERS

When no one else seemed to get it, Moyers embraced and amplified the work that Bob McChesney and I have done on media issues; his support for reform was a huge boost to groups like Free Press. Countless other movements could say the same. Moyers, 83, announced in December that the last of his many media platforms, BillMoyers.com, would "go into archive mode." It's a good bet he'll keep speaking out, but his decision inspired an outpouring of appreciation, reminding us that, as his pamphleteering hero Tom Paine did in the 18th century, Moyers has popularized revolutionary ideas, radical proposals, and transformational movements that will come to be seen as the common sense of the 21st century.

Copyright 2017 thenation.com -- distributed by Agence Global

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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