"What does it mean to be a Democrat?"
Over 1,000 of you have sent the Courage Campaign your passionate responses to this vital question, continuing the conversation catalyzed by your grassroots movement to censure Senator Dianne Feinstein for her regrettable Judiciary Committee votes supporting Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Judge Leslie Southwick.
While the California Democratic Party used parliamentary procedure to prevent a discussion or vote on the censure resolution, your 35,031 signatures succeeded in fundamentally changing the conversation inside the party.
The mainstream media is also taking notice of this unique grassroots and netroots movement for accountability, as exemplified by the editorial board of the New York Times:
"The censure motion may have failed, but Feinstein's critics say they are not going away. Rick Jacobs, the founder of the Courage Campaign, vowed that if Ms. Feinstein continues to vote the wrong way, as his group sees it, 'we'll be back.'"
Senator Feinstein failed us all by not standing strong against the condoning of torture, homophobia and racism. To hold her accountable, we rallied the California progressive community in support of a censure resolution authored by Mal Burnstein, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus, and subsequently supported by 40 other Democratic Clubs and progressive organizations, including MoveOn and Progressive Democrats of America.
Now, we are concerned that Senator Feinstein will fail us all again on one of the most important issues currently facing the Senate -- a likely floor vote next week on an Intelligence Committee bill re-authorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This Intelligence Committee bill includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies guilty of wiretapping Americans without a warrant, a violation of our fundamental constitutional rights.
"What does it mean to be a Democrat?" As many of you wrote to us, it means standing up for the Constitution and standing strong against retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies. If you agree, please click here to send a letter to California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres, perhaps the only person in California capable of convincing Senator Feinstein to stand strong in opposition to retroactive telecom immunity:
Senator Chris Dodd, Senator Russ Feingold and several other Senators have recently said they will filibuster any legislation that contains retroactive telecom immunity.
However, to date, Senator Feinstein has failed to indicate that she will support such a courageous stand in defense of our Constitution.
Fortunately, California Democrats have a potential friend in California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres. He may not agree with us on censuring the Senator but he does agree with us on retroactive immunity for telecom companies. In a passionate speech defending Senator Feinstein at the CDP Executive Board meeting last week, the Chairman expressed his sincere opposition to censure and reported a conversation he had with the Senator about granting telecom companies retroactive immunity, indicating that it is an issue that is "very important" to him.
In the spirit of catalyzing an open dialogue about what it means to be a Democrat, the Courage Campaign would like to highlight the YouTube video of the Chairman's speech, as posted by the California Democratic Party. Please click here to watch it and then sign our letter to Chairman Torres encouraging him to represent California Democrats in asking Senator Feinstein to stand strong in opposition to telecom immunity:
As Chairman Torres said in his speech, "if we don't have transparency in our rules, if we don't have open discussions, and if we don't argue with each other, we're not the Democratic Party. We're the Republicans."
He's absolutely right. And that's exactly what many of you said last week when we asked you: "What does it mean to be a Democrat?" Over 1,000 of you responded with heartfelt, passionate statements expressing your core values as Democrats, progressives and Americans, including John W., who said:
"I don't even want to talk about what it means to be a Democrat; I want to talk about what it means to be a good American who supports the Constitution and wants our country to act with integrity..."
"What does it mean to be a Democrat?" Click here to read the rest of John's comment as well as other eloquent statements we'll be sending directly to Chairman Torres. Then take just a few seconds more to sign the letter to the Chairman encouraging him to represent California Democrats in asking Senator Feinstein to stand strong against immunity for telecom companies:
The New York Times isn't the only media outlet taking notice of your activism in collaboration with the Courage Campaign. From the Los Angeles Daily News and Fox News to the Huffington Post and community blogs like Calitics and Daily Kos, your movement to hold the Senator accountable has fundamentally changed the conversation.
But we can't be satisfied with just changing the conversation. We also need to change the direction of California and our country. That means standing up for core American values that keep our nation strong, starting with the Constitution itself.
Please encourage the Chairman and the Senator to stand up for our Constitution and stand strong against telecom immunity today.
Thank you for taking action to keep America free and safe.
P.S. The Courage Campaign does more than just hold our elected representatives accountable. From working to block Blackwater's plans to build a mercenary base on the California border to our "NoDirtyTricks.com" campaign to stop the Republicans from stealing the White House, we are fighting for you on multiple fronts.
To build a people-powered progressive California, we need to build progressive infrastructure today. Please join with us in common cause by making a contribution to the Courage Campaign, in whatever amount you can afford:http://www.couragecampaign.org/contribute