Progressive, activist voices on Obama victory and going forward in a new America

The consensus bottom line: This is just the beginning.

Gloria A. Totten, Progressive Majority

The message couldn’t be clearer: voters wanted progressive change. They elected an outstanding progressive as the next president. They put Democrats solidly in control of the Congress. And, they elected 79 great Progressive Majority candidates to state and local office! More results will be coming in as the votes continue to be counted.

The state and local champions Progressive Majority helped elect yesterday will ring in a new era of leadership committed to our progressive values – and they will be a formidable ground force to enact the change we need.

Tim Carpenter and Laura Bonhan, Progressive Democrats of America

At least we know, for the first time in eight years, the person on whom so much planetary security depends has a solid intellect. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell called Obama, “a transformational figure.” We may need no less than that to address the challenges ahead. If tremendous damage has been done to America’s reputation, tremendous healing may come from having as president a man who extolled the need to engage even with one’s enemies, whose extraordinary, world-wide upbringing embodies the maxim think globally, act locally,” and will present a new face to a planet that has become wary of the nation which not long ago was its ideal.

PDA can have a huge role in what is to come. At this year’s annual PDA conference, we were particularly struck to hear John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation, describe Franklin Roosevelt’s less-than-progressive roots, and the degree to which FDR was swayed by the great Fiorello La Guardia and other progressives. This should give us plenty of hope about what is possible in moving an entire administration.

Ron Pollack, Stand Up For Health Care

For those of us fortunate to see, and participate in, this transformative election, our work must not only continue, it must start anew. This election is an opportunity – an opportunity to bring fairness and decency and dignity for those who have yet to share our nation’s bounty.

Our work is far from over.

It’s important we do everything we can to make sure the new Congress and President-elect Obama work together to make quality, affordable health care a reality for all Americans, as soon as possible.

Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund

Elections are about change and this election offers us the
greatest opportunity we have ever had to change course on global

We must do everything we can to pass climate legislation here at
home and to craft a global compact that unites the world against
the common enemy of rising temperatures, melting ice caps,
erratic weather and the spread of disease.

Here is our post-election campaign memo: It details the steps
our scientists, economists and policy experts are taking to
seize this historic opportunity.

Frances Beinecke, Natural Resources Defense Council

Hundreds of NRDC attorneys, scientists and policy experts have worked night and day for eight long years to stop the Bush-Cheney juggernaut from laying waste to our public lands, national forests, wildlife refuges and ocean ecosystems. Thanks to your phenomenal support, we have succeeded to an extent that few thought possible.

Barack Obama’s election is a huge win for everyone exhausted from playing defense. Count us among them. It rekindles our hope that environmental protection may be restored to its rightful place as a treasured American value.

On the most important issues of the day — from global warming controls to clean energy solutions to wilderness preservation — President-elect Obama campaigned on behalf of far-sighted policies that NRDC has championed for years.

But hope alone will not turn those promises into reality. It’s time to get to work.

Mary Beth Maxwell, American Rights at Work

One of the most remarkable stories of this campaign season is
how corporate-funded front groups tried – and failed – to use
the Employee Free Choice Act as a wedge issue.

They spent nearly $20 million dollars to smear candidates who
would defend the right to form a union, freely and fairly. And
in almost every race, those candidates beat the lies.

These anti-union groups thought they could scare Americans into
voting for candidates who would look out for CEOs while leaving
the middle class holding the bag. Even Wal-Mart thought it could
bully employees into voting against pro-worker candidates. You
proved them wrong.

Eli Pariser,

Remember back in 2001 and 2002, when so many of you joined MoveOn? When President Bush had an 80% approval rating, when you held candles to stop a war the media was cheering on, when there were few politicians with the courage to stand up for the truth? Back then, a victory like this seemed impossible.

But yesterday you proved that nothing is impossible. If we stand up together and if we fight together and if we believe together, we can change the course of history.

Today, a new day has dawned in America.

Richard Cohen, Southern Poverty Law Center

Around the world, people everywhere are seeing a new face of America, one that is more tolerant and more just. This is a credit to the sacrifices and the determination of millions of people, like you, who have worked so hard to make equality in our country more than just a dream. As President-elect Obama said to his supporters last night, “This is your victory.”

This election, of course, can never erase the ugly stain of slavery and cannot reverse overnight its terrible, enduring legacy of poverty, discrimination and bigotry.

Nor does it mark the end of overt hate and racism. The campaign exposed deep hostility and even rage among some white Americans who cannot yet accept the idea of a black man as our nation’s leader. And many white supremacists believe this election will rally white people to their cause, especially when our economy is teetering on the edge of an abyss.

I hope and believe that they are wrong, that the growing number of Americans who cherish justice and tolerance will drown out the fear and bigotry that have held our country back for too long.

For now, let’s all celebrate the promise of a new era. Tomorrow, let’s get back to work to make that promise a reality.

Kevin Martin, Peace Action

This morning, I’m thinking about two things: the incredible historical achievement of this country electing an African-American president; and, what that means to people of all colors in this country. What an incredible moment – historically, socially and spiritually.

The other thought is more sobering – President-elect Obama is inheriting quite a terrible mess, on so many fronts, and his policies are frankly not so progressive on war and peace issues. However, at this defining moment we have an opening for positive change, after eight long years of Bush’s and Cheney’s all-out assault on world peace.

We in the peace movement, have steadfastly fought against the war in Iraq, successfully (so far) stopped an attack on Iran. We’ve prevented Bush from moving forward with his new nuclear weapons programs. Now, we have the opportunity for a more positive and proactive type of organizing for peace, social justice and disarmament.

Barack Obama’s message last night was that change is not something he will just deliver for his supporters in some consumerist fashion. He called on us to work harder for the changes we want to see in our country, saying “This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.” He said we have to keep organizing for change. I could not agree more and I intend to take up his challenge!

I know that among our more than 160,000 supporters across the country there is no consensus about Barack Obama. Some folks are passionate supporters, others are highly critical of his positions on various issues.

For me, the celebration today is not just about Obama’s victory or the repudiation of miserably failed Republican politics. The celebration is about the tens of millions of Americans who empowered themselves to take the country in a new, better direction.

Larry Cox, Amnesty International

We have a great opportunity. The world faces overwhelming human rights crises. But with your help, we can turn this country’s policies on human rights back in the direction of alleviating, and not contributing, to these crises.

President-elect Obama has promised to restore the rule of law, to repair America’s damaged perception in the world, to close Guantánamo, and to renounce torture.

These promises bring hope. In the coming days, we will need you to help make those promises a reality.

John Sweeney, AFL-CIO

Because of years of work by people of all ages, races, stations
and faiths hungry for change, the political pendulum is swinging
back toward sanity. It took the inspiration of a rare leader to
translate that hunger for change into an election the likes of
which we have not seen in our time.

Barack Obama brings new hope to America’s working families, and
our increased majority in the U.S. Senate means we can translate
that hope into reality. So thank you for your hard work in
educating and mobilizing voters. (Click here to read AFL-CIO
post-election commentary on our blog:

Last night was a time to rejoice, but now it is time to get back
to work fighting for working families.

Cecile Richard, Planned Parenthood:

I’ve been wondering what it would feel like to know that the president of the United States supports women — it’s been a while — and I must say, it feels amazing.

People around here are finally exhaling, after eight long years. Just think, the massive amount of time, energy, and resources that the Planned Parenthood community had to spend shielding women and teens from the harm caused by the Bush administration can now be directed to expanding women’s access to the reproductive health information and services they urgently need.

Not only that, we also defeated anti-choice ballot initiatives by decisive margins in California, Colorado and South Dakota.

Nancy Keenan, NARAL

Thanks to your hard work, Barack Obama is on his way to the White House! In the House of Representatives, the election of at least 16 new pro-choice members means we have more support to protect a woman’s right to choose. And we moved five Senate seats out of the anti-choice column, with four more still being counted. Check our website for a complete list of winning pro-choice candidates.

South Dakotans – thanks in large part to the efforts of NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota and its allies – rejected another attempt by the anti-choice movement to ban abortion by referendum in the state. With the help of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, voters in that state also rejected an anti-choice initiative. And while California’s anti-choice ballot measure is too close to call, the results are promising.

And the advocacy to our new president-elect begins.

Jerry Fowler, Save Darfur Coalition:

A champion for Darfur in the Senate has been elected as the next president of the United States.

President-elect Obama has been a consistent voice for Darfur. But now it is time for more than strong words—we need strong action to end the suffering.

Our voices together can compel the next president to act. …

Presidential leadership can end the genocide. Click here to send your postcard and Be a Voice for Darfur today.

I absolutely believe that thousands of voices, united as one, will compel President-elect Obama to act. That’s why we set a goal of 20,000 new voices by Election Day—and met it. And, that’s why we’re setting a new goal: 100,000 online postcards signed by Inauguration Day.

Nancy Duff Campbell and Marcia Greenberger, National Women’s Law Center

The nation has no time to spare in providing guaranteed, affordable health care for all, passing essential legislation that provides basic fairness in the workplace, like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and undoing some of the onerous restrictions on women’s access to reproductive health that were imposed by the Bush Administration.

A first order of business is to pass and implement an economic recovery plan that addresses the needs of women and their families, including by extending unemployment insurance benefits and by increasing nutrition, energy, housing, child care, and Head Start assistance. In addition, the plan should provide fiscal relief to the states to avert cuts in education, Medicaid, child support enforcement, and other critical services.

We’re eager to begin working with the Obama Administration and the new Congress to expand opportunities for women and their families. And NWLC has developed A Platform for Progress with concrete proposals to address the unmet needs of women and their families in the areas of education, employment, basic economic security, health, and legal rights:

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