TPM Cafe: Opinion

On Tuesday, Bill de Blasio won a landslide victory to become the mayor of New York City, voters in New Jersey and SeaTac, Wash. supported minimum wage hikes and the Illinois legislature voted to legalize same-sex marriage. These are among the progressive victories that swept across the country.

Despite a few setbacks, progressives had much to cheer about, sensing that the tide is turning against the unholy alliance of big business, the Tea Party and the religious right. Growing protests -- such as the "Moral Monday" movement in North Carolina, militant immigrant rights activism, battles to protect women's health clinics from state budget cuts, local challenges to Wall Street banks that are foreclosing on "underwater" homeowners, strikes by low-wage workers, civil disobedience actions to challenge voter suppression and student campaigns against global energy corporations -- reflect a burgeoning progressive movement that is beginning to have an impact on elections.

By far the most impressive symbol of this rising tide is de Blasio's landslide win, which the New York Times called "a sharp leftward turn for the nation's largest metropolis." De Blasio campaigned on a bold progressive platform, promising to address the city's widening income inequality, gentrification, and hollowing out of the middle class. De Blasio, the city's public advocate, trounced Republican Joe Lhota (a transportation official and long-time advisor to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani) by a 73 to 24 percent margin. His victory represents a rejection of 20 years of business-oriented municipal policies under Giuliani and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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I waited until the polls closed to say this: It's insulting to have only men running on women's issues.

I live in Virginia. I am a feminist. I am a Democrat. And, I am disgusted.

This is me and my daughter doing a September literature drop in Arlington for the Democratic slate. At the time, she was 15 weeks old:

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Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio has emerged victorious in New York City's mayoral election, and the Michael Bloomberg era will come to an end. In Bloomberg's 12 years in office, his personal fortune increased sevenfold, from $4.5 to $32 billion, while 46 percent of the city's residents now live in or near poverty. If Manhattan were an independent nation, its income inequality would rank with South Africa's and Namibia's.

Bloomberg has a reputation as a "moderate" or even in some circles "liberal," but it would be far more accurate to describe his politics as Mitt Romney with a sex life.

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On Oct. 26, thousands of people from across the U.S. attended the Stop Watching Us rally -- the biggest domestic protest against surveillance to date. The event showed off a diverse grassroots coalition consisting of more than 100 organizations, including the ACLU, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Demand Progress, Free Press, Generation Opportunity and Young Americans for Liberty.

But while the NSA was the rally's official target, many of the speakers discussed events that predate the agency's post-9/11 spying programs. In fact, the mass surveillance of innocent people has been a problem for years.

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It's hard to imagine that Pennsylvania is preparing to become a failed state, but it is. Despite world-class universities, active industries, and a global economic footprint, the Commonwealth has decided to cut funding for students and place its bets on a growing prison population.

It's a shocking turn of affairs for a state that, on its own, would be the 20th largest economy in the world. But one need only look at a recent standoff between Governor Tom Corbett and the School District of Philadelphia to get a sense of how deeply a culture of failure has been ingrained in the state's governance.

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We hates us some poor people. First, they insist on being poor when it is so easy to not be poor. They do things like buy expensive designer belts and $2500 luxury handbags.

To be fair, this isn't about Errol Louis. His is a belief held by many people, including lots of black people, poor people, formerly poor people, etc. It is, I suspect, an honest expression of incredulity. If you are poor, why do you spend money on useless status symbols like handbags and belts and clothes and shoes and televisions and cars?

One thing I've learned is that one person's illogical belief is another person's survival skill. And nothing is more logical than trying to survive.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scheduled a climactic vote for Thursday on the nomination of attorney Patricia Millett to the Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, who Republicans have opposed for months. They have no particular objection to Millett -- they objected to all three of President Obama's nominees to the court. The opposition was enough to make the administration withdraw Caitlin Halligan's nomination in March.

The vote Reid scheduled this week may be filibustered, and Reid has signaled -- for the third time in 2013 -- he may "go nuclear" and change the Senate rules to remove the 60-vote barrier to judicial nominations. (Technically, nominees only need a majority to be confirmed, but the Senate needs 60 senators to "file cloture," or agree to move forward with the vote.) Backers of such a change argue that obstruction and delay in the judicial nomination process is worse than ever. Are they right?

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The Koch brothers, Pete Peterson and other billionaires are spending huge amounts of money trying to cut Social Security and other vitally important federal programs. As part of this campaign, an enormous amount of misinformation is floating around. Let me try to set the record straight by answering a few of the questions that people are asking my office.

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There's a topic that never fails to provoke long, heated discussions among feminists: weddings. Should you have one? If you do, how do you have a feminist one? Can you have a feminist one? Salon's Tracy Clark-Flory wrote an honest take on her own experience as a staunch feminist planning a wedding and how she ended up going in for things she never would have thought she would, like restrictive body-shaping undergarments called Spanx and a $125 make-up brush set.

The question resonates with me personally as I plan my own wedding. I find myself facing all the same choices and pressures Clark-Flory did. I've already spent more money than I thought I would on a venue and am wearing an engagement ring -- something I swore I'd never do. I will have at least two pairs of shoes for one day of festivities and have been tempted to spend hundreds on a "wedding sash."

But there may not be such thing as a feminist wedding - it's probably an oxymoron. Marriage is a patriarchal institution through and through, rife with privilege and creepy reminders of how women have traditionally been viewed. (Just think about fathers "giving away" their daughters to future husbands or grooms lifting the veil of purity from their new wives' faces.)

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On Wednesday morning the joint House-Senate Budget committee will convene for its first session. The group, led by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has until Dec. 13 to make its report on recommendations that will then go to the full House and Senate. The committee is charged with finding a compromise between the two chamber's versions of a spending plan for fiscal 2014. Perhaps before they start the debate, they should ponder this chart of the labor force participation rate.

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Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

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