Building a Blue State Congress

What is a Blue State Congress?

The Blue State Congress will initially act as a loose affiliation of blue state leaders working together to take major actions, passing legislation collaboratively in their states to limit the power of Donald Trump and the Republican party. Successfully fighting Trump’s immigration ban is an example of the power of blue states working together.

Innovative action by blue state leaders can seize the national agenda with a positive vision for the country. The Blue State Congress will allow everyone who values our democracy to take the offensive and challenge Republicans as they try to harm everyday Americans.

Today, we’ll highlight fourteen initial ideas for actions blue states can take together.

Why Impede on Trump’s Leadership?

While Trump’s not yet been charged with treasonous affiliation with Russia, he’s clearly unfit to serve. Currently, only 23 Republicans stop Congress from impeaching him under the 25th Amendment and Emoluments clause.

Despite Hillary Clinton’s nearly three million vote popular vote victory, Trump acts as if he has a mandate, following a pro-Russia, fascist dictatorship model. He’s acting without regard for our status quo democracy and our most commonly shared American values.

Whereas, the Blue State Congress will act on principles such as truth and fact, science, compassion, environmental preservation, social justice, equal opportunity for all, education, nonviolence, transparency, efficiency, and innovation.

Who are the Blue States?

We’ve identified the strongest blue states based on how they voted in the 2016 election, whether they have a Democratic legislature and governor and whether their democratic state legislatures can override vetoes of a Republican governor.

blue states and red states

Strongest Blue States of the United States

Blue state economies have tremendous power. California’s economy is bigger than all but five nations. California and New York provide more than a quarter of our national economic output. Altogether, blue states represent 53.9% of national GSP.

Actions of the Blue State Congress

We’ve divided beginning steps the Blue State Congress can take into two categories, actions that would require no additional revenue and those that will require funding.

Actions Requiring No Additional Funding

Here are seven actions the Blue State Congress could take today that would require little or no additional cost. To the extent that blue state actions challenge established law, they will lead important national conversations, seize the news cycle and pointing the way forward.

  1. Constitutional Convention. It’s been 229 years since the first Constitutional Convention in 1787. It’s past time for Americans to gather and discuss what’s working and what’s not. For example, is the electoral college working? Should corporations be treated as people? Should money be allowed in elections? Are we doing enough to preserve our environment for future generations? Is our privacy guaranteed in the digital age? How about gun rights? Have we done enough to support descendants of slaves?
  2. Election Reform. Together, the Blue State Congress can strengthen the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact which will replace the electoral college without waiting for a Constitutional amendment. They can end gerrymandering within their states and begin to re-establish districts where representatives aren’t safe to ignore the will of the people they represent. They can also pass legislation to better safeguard voter access and voting rights.
  3. Amnesty for Immigrants. The Blue State Congress can grant legal amnesty for immigrants already living within their state, making them state citizens with equal rights and protections as national citizens. Furthermore, they can eject U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), from their states and challenge the President’s attacks on the most vulnerable among us.
  4. Federal Trust Fund for Taxes Paid by Blue State Residents. Donald Trump violates basic truth, fact and science on a daily basis and mocked Americans who pay their taxes. Many Americans will not want to pay their taxes to the Federal government as long as Donald Trump is President. The Blue State Congress could set up state trust funds for blue state citizens to pay their federal taxes, protecting them from Trump’s violations of the Constitution and common sense and decency. These funds could be kept safe until Trump is impeached or they could be used to pay for funding that Trump and the Republicans take away from states, as they’ve threatened to do to sanctuary cities and women’s health initiatives. Or, they could be used to fund some of the revenue-based actions below.
  5. Strengthen Environmental Protection. Working together the Blue State Congress can impose taxes, regulations and laws restricting corporations in their states from collaborating with the Trump administration’s agenda against clean air, clean water, wild lands and national parks.
  6. Raise the Minimum Wage. Blue states have some of the most successful economies in the nation. They can afford to raise the minimum wage and raise the standard of living and quality of life for residents.
  7. Organized Divestment from Corporations Linked to the Trump Administration. Just as Berkeley is the first city to divest from companies involving themselves with Trump’s border wall, together, blue states can wield tremendous power by divesting from Trump-affiliated companies.

Funding-Driven Actions

The following seven actions would require funding. Each state could raise their population-based share how they choose to. All would pay into a shared entity that pays for these programs across all the blue states.

  1. Universal Healthcare. Bernie Sanders calls this Medicare for All, raising the standard of living in America so that everyone can access the healthcare they need, even the poor.
  2. Revive the Public Works Administration. The Public Works Administration (PWA) was part of Roosevelt’s New Deal priming the pump for infrastructure investments in tunnels, bridges, dams, airports and more. This is partly what Obama tried to do but unfortunately he didn’t turn to blue states to self-organize. A new approach to the PWA would focus on clean energy, wind and solar farms, public transit such as light rail and high speed trains and vital infrastructure for growing cities.
  3. Fight Climate Change. There are many avenues by which blue states can fight climate change. One significant action would be instituting a blue state carbon tax. Revenue from a carbon tax would help pay for clean energy projects and support the Paris Accord until Trump is gone.
  4. Invest in Education. Since the 1970s, America’s population has grown by one hundred million. The Blue State Congress could raise funding to build a network of free colleges to fill the growing needs of our population. Also, blue states could forgive portions or all of residents’ student debts.
  5. Election Innovations. Republicans have been winning elections for decades by gaming the system from shutting down the recount in Florida in 2000, to partisan Secretary of State’s such as Ken Blackwell in Ohio reducing voter access and overturning key aspects of the Voter Rights Act. Blue states can innovate set a new standard for free, fair and verifiable elections that everyone can participate in. Aspects of Awoken’s Voter Bill of Rights include vote by mail, the ability to verify your vote over the internet and transparent and fully verifiable elections. Blue states could even realize Trump’s fantasy of millions of immigrants voting (after they’re granted amnesty). And finally, blue states could work together on publicly financed campaigns such as Seattle’s democracy voucher program.
  6. Universal Basic Income (UBI). “Universal basic income is a system in which all citizens receive a standard amount of money each month to cover basic expenses like food, rent, and clothes,” as described in an article about Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s call for one: “There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better.” As the New Yorker reports, “The U.B.I. is often framed as a tool for fighting poverty, but it would have other important benefits. By providing an income cushion, it would increase workers’ bargaining power, potentially driving up wages. It would make it easier for people to take risks with their job choices, and to invest in education.”
  7. Digital Currency. We’re in an internet age but credit card companies maintain a 3% margin on nearly the entire economy. It impacts both small business and consumers the most. Banks hold an additional margin restricting people’s access to cash with exorbitant ATM fees. Blue states could do what the U.S. Treasury will not, create a secure digital currency for the digital age. The currency would allow for an alternative to credit cards for fast electronic transactions in person and on line with much lower fees.

Of course there are many areas for the Blue State Congress to innovate and lead, but these are just a start.

What are Next Steps?

The Blue State Congress will leverage the opportunity before us to lead with compassion and vision away from Trump’s and the GOP’s fascist, corporate world view. Together, we will seize the offensive from Trump and the Republicans pulling people’s attention away from him, which will further unnerve and weaken him.

To the extent that these trigger Federal lawsuits, they will raise the profile of these ideas and focus the news cycle on constructive reforms. Let’s lead the conversation for America forward with a positive vision.

Help jumpstart the Blue State Congress, call your governor and state legislative leaders to begin working together in an official capacity. Tell them about what you like about our ideas.

Perhaps ask that our democratic lieutenant governors launch the Blue State Congress. Imagine California’s Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Minnesota’s Tina Smith and New York’s Kathy Hochul working together to fight Trump’s agenda with an innovative offensive. Giving secondary democratic leaders a new way to make a difference will also increase their visibility and build strength in the Democratic party.

Help us spread the word about the idea of a Blue State Congress and a stronger generation of Democratic leadership.

Posted by Jeff Reifman