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Is This Small City the Future of Democratic Engagement in America? | The Nation

It’s a fine spring Sunday in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and most people in this decidedly pious city in the heart of Amish country are at home or at church celebrating the Sabbath. Even the famous Central Market—with its traditionally dressed vendors, its German delicacies, its Muenster cheeses and cured meats —is closed.

When you’re trying to create a populist political movement from scratch, however, you don’t get a lot of down time. And so Michelle Hines and her partner, Daniel Levin, are out knocking on doors and telling their neighbors about the new grassroots group in town.

Hines, a young white woman who works a day job at a local laboratory, ascends the stoop of a gray stone row house and a middle-aged lady in a dressing gown and slippers answers the door.

Hines introduces herself and then asks the crucial question: “What do you think of the political establishment?”

“It sucks!” says the woman at the door, who gives her name as Judy and describes herself as a Republican who didn’t vote in the last election. “It ain’t good, I’ll put it that way.” The woman is open and garrulous, and Hines invites her to the next monthly meeting of the group she represents. It’s called Lancaster Stands Up.

The organization, Hines explains, is a way for people who are sick of the status quo “to come together, to get plugged in.” It’s a polite and strategic description, but there’s plenty more to say.

Founded in the wake of Trump’s victory and led by a 12-person leadership committee, Lancaster Stands Up aims to upend politics-as-usual in this central Pennsylvania city. It wants nothing less than to break the stranglehold of both the Democratic and Republican establishments here and replace them with a progressive multi-racial political force beholden to the people alone. And it is using the tools of long-haul grassroots activism—canvassing, vetting candidates, bird-dogging political foes, forming unlikely alliances, training leaders, convening meetings—to build its constituency.

A crew of young lifelong Lancastrians, some of whom have been organizing together since high school, launched the group on their own, independent of any national organization, last November. Through huge rallies and intimate conversations and more, they are reminding neighbors like Judy that democracy is a practice that must be pursued constantly and in community. There are no off days. There are no off years. When civil society is at stake, it’s campaign time all the time.

After describing her concerns about gentrification and the cost of a movie ticket, after lamenting the fact that “the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer,” Judy, standing on her stoop under the springtime sun, shares her contact information and tells Hines that she’ll try to make the next meeting. She promises to tell her politically active daughter about Lancaster Stands Up, too.

Continue Reading the Artcile: Is This Small City the Future of Democratic Engagement in America? | The Nation By Jimmy Tobias MAY 2, 2017

Photo by Lancaster Stands Up. (Jake Ratner)

California and President Trump are going to war with each other – The Washington Post


Donald Trump speaks with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) after a rally in San Diego during the election campaign. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

President Trump had harsh words for one of his most fervent opponents during the pre-Super Bowl interview with Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly that aired Sunday. Not President Vladimir Putin, mind you, whose alleged unpleasant habit of murdering journalists met with a shrug from the president. No, Trump lashed out at the nation’s largest state, California.

“I just spent the week in California,” O’Reilly said. “As you know, they are now voting on whether they should become a sanctuary state. So California and the U.S.A. are on a collision course. How do you see it?”

“Well, I think it’s ridiculous,” Trump replied. “Sanctuary cities, as you know I’m very much opposed to sanctuary cities. They breed crime, there’s a lot of problems. We have to well defund, we give tremendous amounts of money to California. . . . California in many ways is out of control, as you know. Obviously the voters agree or otherwise they wouldn’t have voted for me.”

“So defunding is your weapon of choice?” O’Reilly asked.

“A weapon. I don’t want to defund the state,” Trump said. “I don’t want to defund anybody. I want to give them the money they need to properly operate as a city or a state. If they’re going to have sanctuary cities, we may have to do that. Certainly that would be a weapon.”

Sanctuary laws received national attention in July 2015 after an illegal immigrant with prior deportations and a criminal history pleaded not guilty to murdering a woman at a San Francisco pier. President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to cut federal funding to sanctuary cities. Here’s what they are. (Jayne W. Orenstein and Osman Malik/The Washington Post)

Source: California and President Trump are going to war with each other – The Washington Post