In keeping with the spirit of Valentine's Day, here are my top five lists of top progressives and why we should show them some love:
Special Shoutout: Former Senator John Edwards: Despite failing in his bid for the White House, he raised the level of dialogue concerning poorer Americans and the need to clean up politics from corporatization. Also, he is married to one of the finest people on the planet and I wish Elizabeth well in her continued battle with cancer.
5.(Tie) Cynthia McKinney and Cindy Sheehan: These women have taken one for the team with more huevos than anyone. McKinney Former Dem Representative from Georgia now asserting herself for the Green Party's presidential nominee has this weird notion that politics should actually work for the people. Cindy Sheehan, who is not afraid of being arrested for civil disobedience, is running against the disappointing Nancy Pelosi for her Congressional seat.
4. Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold: They tried to stop the FISA bill going through with Telecom immunity. Thankfully the House progressive Dems may have saved the day, with some help of their unwitting Republican counterparts.
3. Dennis Kucinich: Other than having a lovely Valentine of his own, Dennis K is largely responsible for the top issues that the Democrats have been campaigning on. Don't hate the man.
2. Patrick Leahy, as the current chair of the Senate Judicial committee he has raised more hell to improve civil liberties--he just needs a few good men and women to join him.
1. Barack Obama: Who knew that a charismatic first term Senator with a name that would be fodder for the Tightie Righties would turn out to be such a force to be reckoned with? He truly has given the idea of hope --hope. With his plans for health care, the environment, ending the war, righting our relationships globally and the uncanny ability to work with folks across the aisle, I feel change coming.
Special Shoutout: Des Moines Worker House that contains fine people like Mona Shaw, Frank Cordero and others who walk the walk with moral courage. They have reminded us all that democracy is in our actions not just in our ability to vote.
5. Denise O'Brien: though she fell short of the mark in her race with Bill Northup, she proved that progressive values are not out of sync with being Secretary of Agriculture. We won't be hearing the last of her.
4. Mike Mauro: Our new Secretary of state is tussling with the Governor to make sure every vote counts and he may just get his way. He understands the value of transparency in making sure every vote counts.
3. Joe Bolkcom: The Senate's right hand man, Joe has been a fighter for fairness to working men and women in Iowa and was successful in defeating the onerous "pay day loan" companies charging 300% interest on car title loans. and he's still fighting.
2. Pam Jochum: From mental health, to a living wage, to the Clean Elections Act, this state representative is a progressive's friend in the state house. If it can be done, Pam finds a way to do it. She'll be running for the senate in the next cycle.
1. Ed Fallon: He may have failed to stop the Culver Express, but he may be the next US Representative from Iowa's 3rd District despite a massive difference of cash on hand with Leonard Boswell. But Hey, DFA loves him.
Special Shoutout: Mike Wright and Mitch Gross: These new Iowa City and Coralville council members defeated monied foes to gain their seats. Wright, as a historic preservation proponent, a former board of adjustment member, he brings a range of experience to the council and given time will shine. Gross is already making his presence felt and is a rising star in the area.
5. Regenia Bailey is the newest mayor in Iowa City and has progressive stripes. As a manager of meetings (e.g., through her leadership on JCCOG) she gets things done for the public good, as the soon to be done deal with the emergency communications center shows.
4. Janelle Rettig: If ever there was a fighter for the rights of the GLBT community, Janelle is the one. She is relentless in the pursuit of equal rights (including the choice of marriage for all).
3. Karen Kubby: Karen is the Queen Bee of all progressives in Johnson County. If there is a person who calmly and patiently works through issues, she is the model. Besides working with FAIR! and running the Emma Goldman Ctr., Karen finds time to tackle tough community problems like working with local affordable housing issues with dedication and tenacity.
2. Amy Correia: Now in her thid year on the council, Amy has found a strong voice on the subjects of youth engagement, housing, and continues to be unwavering in voting her conscience even if she is the lone voice.
1. Rod Sullivan: Now the chair of the Board of Supervisors, Rod has done yeoman's work in voicing a progressive vision on the BOS. With re-election this year, Rod will have his work cut out for himself, but he is respected and should be reseated.