Monday, January 08, 2007

Greater Chicago Caucus

Crossposted from Bridget in the Sixth.

After the March 21, 2006 Democratic primary, Christine Cegelis went to work for Americans for Democratic Action as a multi-state organizer on their Working Families Win campaign. Considering that, to Christine, politics is simply an avenue to promote her mission of social and economic justice, this made complete sense. Just as Tammy Duckworth was looking to further her mission of public service, so was Christine. And when she lost, she did, and when Tammy lost she did, and I'm pretty impressed with both of them for it. We're all a little bit better off because these two fine women have chosen a life of service.

Anyway, back to my point.

In 7 of the 11 congressional districts where the Working Families Win campaign was actively promoting a populist economic agenda and where the candidate's message echoed the campaign, the candidate won. Both of the U.S. Senate candidates that supported their agenda won. I really like this idea of 527's controlling the conversation on the issues in the community which in turn backs up a candidate's messaging. Well, if the candidate supports the agenda, anyway. I suppose that's where it gets slippery!

I like that they were able to focus around a core group of unifying issues important to middle class people of all political persuasions and steer the conversation away from wedge issues like abortion and gay marriage. A 527 can, with credibility, say "We don't deal with the issue of gay marriage. We are focused on raising the minimum wage, healthcare for all Americans, etc." and control the conversation at these events and when contacting voters. And, because they are a non-partisan campaign, the issue of party division isn't on the table. People who may not have been receptive to this message from a Democrat will listen to a 527.

During Christine's congressional campaign, she was very successful at building coalitions of diverse groups of people. I think this has a lot to do with her very down-to-earth demeanor, complete sincerity, and desire to see progress for people in all communities. It really shines through and people do notice. A good example is how she was repeatedly invited to speak to both the female and male audiences at local mosques.

So, to continue her coalition-building for the common good, Christine is in the process of forming the Greater Chicago Caucus (website coming soon). You can read more about the Greater Chicago Caucus on SoapBlox/Chicago here and here.

Also, the Greater Chicago Caucus will be having it's first fundraising dinner on January 27th. I am going to try to go, but I have an election to win at the moment so that may not be possible.

Greater Chicago Caucus Inaugural Dinner

First annual fundraising dinner for the Greater Chicago Caucus.
The Greater Chicago Caucus has emerged from the desire of many different organizations and individuals, including those of us who are committed to peace and justice issues, to band together to form a political alliance. As separate groups, we have limited political impact. United, we will have the strength to accomplish our goals.

We realize the crucial importance of being involved in electoral politics. Our focus will be on local, state, and federal campaigns in the suburbs and the city of Chicago. I am excited to work with these powerful community leaders who have committed to make the Greater Chicago Caucus their priority. Through these leaders we have unprecedented access to multiple media outlets. We are all concerned about the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, affordable housing, living wages, affordable health care, and solid educational opportunities for our children.

I know you care about economic justice for everyone, a sustainable peace for our world, and creating a better country to leave to the next generation.

We will have our Inaugural fundraising dinner on January 27, 2007 at the Ashyana Banquets in Downers Grove. Congressman Danny Davis has agreed to be our keynote speaker. It will also be a time to lay out our plans for 2007 and 2008
1620 75th St
Downers Grove, IL

When: 06:00 PM - 09:00 PM
Cost: $40 (contact ccegelis at comcast dot net)


Pat Hickey 8:05 AM  


This is as cogent, timely, intelligent, and compelling as any posting I have ever had the pleasure to read on Illinoize.

Free of the non-sense, politics can be a path to service for working people and this presentation of a hard working public servant like Ms. Cegelis works on this cynical old fat-boy. I'm there.

Bill Baar 8:07 AM  

I like that they were able to focus around a core group of unifying issues important to middle class people of all political persuasions and steer the conversation away from wedge issues like abortion and gay marriage.

Is Todd Stroger a wedge issue?

Bridget 8:08 AM  

Aww, thanks, Pat! I am going to try my hardest to get there, so maybe I'll see you.

Pat Hickey 8:14 AM  


Any time a writer can get a guy like me into a warehouse like room with Danny Davis must be a great one!

I have a 19th Ward event that night as well; I'll make my drop meet the talent and breeze.

Bridget 8:15 AM  

Yes, Bill, I suppose that Todd Stroger is a wedge issue in certain circles.

But we aren't talking about him, are we? We're talking about many diverse groups of people all over the greater Chicagoland area uniting together to work for mutually beneficial change. Focusing on the issues that unite us rather than divide us. Many small groups of people become more powerful when they unite as one driving force. A "seat at the table" is much more possible this way.

You really don't do a very good job of controlling the conversation, Bill. If I had the time I could debate you all day long and I bet my point would be made better than yours.

So there. ;)

Pat Hickey 8:38 AM  

Okay, Bridgey! Step Awaaaayy from the Louisville Slugger - don't pick it up -please!

Bill, back out sloooowly - don't show fear - that's it out slooowly.

Thank God -it went no farther. I'm too old for this . . . Bridgey, he didn't mean it - Bill's Ok.

Bill Baar 8:53 AM  

Yes, Bill, I suppose that Todd Stroger is a wedge issue in certain circles.

But we aren't talking about him, are we?

The Docs at Provident found Stroger worth talking about last night.

Guess this isn't a circle where a fellow like Todd Strogers appointmetn of Cedric Giles would be a topic.

Progressives weren't always like this.

Pat Hickey 9:12 AM  

Yikes! Hum-Bug on Page One! Blood, teeth, bones!

Bridget 9:21 AM  


Many people find Tod Stroger worth talking about. So what else is new? All representatives in government are worth talking about.

Given Todd's position of power as Cook County Board President, I'm sure that many of his actions will be of concern and under great scrutiny by many diverse groups, just as ALL legislators will be.

That is what a group like the Greater Chicago Caucus is about. Many smaller groups collectively working for a common goal and having greater power because of it. It's about holding government and folks running for office to account. This includes Republicans, Democrats, independents, and every other shade of the spectrum.

At it's most cynical, politics is about a series of seemingly endless voting blocs with vastly different interests and demands. This way of thinking says that a small group that isn't worth many votes is not worthy of a seat at the table when it comes time to form policy.

Since we must deal with the world as it is and not as we think it should be, it only makes sense for groups working for a common goal to band together and create one large voting bloc.

This is not rocket science. Bill, you are welcome to come. Somehow I doubt you would have anything constructive to say, but you are certainly welcome.

Hugs and Kisses,


Pat Hickey 9:23 AM  

Thanks be to God; and no claret on the good linen.

Pat Collins 11:06 AM  

invited to the male and female audiences at the mosque

And a progressive doesn't see the irony meter being pegged here?

I wonder when attending a segregated mosque will be like belonging to a segregated golf club......

Bridget 1:04 PM  

What irony are you speaking of? I certainly don't see a problem with folks exercising their right to practice their religion. Apparently you do. That's not very American of you.

So there.

Pat Collins 1:12 PM  

People have the right to belong to exclusive golf clubs, too. But they tend to get hosed for it when they run for office, or even if they show up at one.

Seems that segregated worship isn't exactly a religious demand, rather a cultural one.

So, when do progressives "go with the flow" and when do they be, well, progressive?

Pat Hickey 1:16 PM  

When Comon sense and good manners collides with edgey activism, it is there that you will always find the Progressive peeing in the common bowl of Wheaties, Pat Old Son!

Bridget 1:21 PM  

Well, I can only speak for myself, Pat C.

I don't particularly care about people going to "exclusive golf clubs" just as I don't particularly care about gender separation in mosques.

Does that answer your question?

Bill Baar 2:08 PM  

Far be it from me to tell anyone how to organize the seating at their Church.

And far be if from me to tell a Church what kind of families they can place Children for adoption. Which is why I felt Catholic Charities getting booted out of the adoption business in Mass was a horribly reactionary intervention of the State into the Church.

Now I do tell Muslim friends, who in fact are the ones who alerted me to it, is please sign the petition from the International Committee against Stoning women.

Amercians fight and die each day with Muslim allies in a fight for moderate and liberal Islam and that's a point I home Ms Ceglis points out in those, I suspect, Sunni-Whahabi Mosques she's visiting.

If Cegelis spoke out on those issues, she would be Progressive indeed.

Bridget 8:42 AM  

Bill, I am sure that Christine is against the stoning of Muslim women. In fact (gasp) I would bet money that she's against stoning ANYONE.

However, unless I've REALLY been missing something, I wasn't aware that stoning of Muslim women was aa huge problem in the greater Chicago area. Has this reached epidemic proportions and I am simply not aware of it?

Bill Baar 8:53 AM  

It's an issue around which progressive Muslims and progressive non-Muslims should unify. It's common ground.

If Cegelis speaks to Mosques in Chicago, it's an area of commonality she should seek to build on (I would think.)

Could Cegelis say, my Church posts the international petition against stoning. Does your Mosque? We both should because it's an example of progressives uniting.

That's the point I think Cegelis would be making... as a progressive.

Bridget 7:06 PM  

You should email her this suggestion yourself. ccegelis at comcast dot net

Bill Baar 8:28 PM  

I will, she just sent me an email on the caucus.

I'll also send her Gates of Vienna's Letter to Rep. Keith Ellison on his excellant opportunity.

Many women in Iran are in prison awaiting execution by stoning or hanging for the crime of being raped. Often these are rural women who do not speak Farsi, and have been inadequately represented in court. Some of them had to have their sentences explained to them after the fact.

You have emphasized your Muslim beliefs by choosing to take your oath of office using the Koran. With this public emphasis on your religion, it is imperative that you follow through on this symbolism with vital action on behalf of Muslim women everywhere.

Why not begin in Iran, where women like and support our country, where people have begged the United States to intervene on behalf of the homeless children and the underage sex slaves who are sold into lives of degradation in other Muslim countries?

With many others, I await your response to your historic calling.

Although I'd argue one needs to be a Muslim to answer this call. A liberal, a progressive, a conservative, anyone committed to basic human rights, should be able to answer history's call on this one.

PS but let's hope she's and Illinoiz reader!

Bill Baar 8:29 PM  

..argue one doesn't need to be a Muslim..

We shouldn't let it fall Ellison's shoulders. We're in it together.

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