Yesterday I drove down to D.C. to catch a few hours of the SiX Legislator Conference – the State Innovation Exchange. It’s an annual meeting of progressive state legislators from across the country, to strategize and back each other in advancing and defending progressive legislation. Think of it like like ALEC, but instead of a cynical road-map for right-wing legislators to benefit corporations at your expense, it’s a resource for legislators who give a damn about the people back home and strategize to protect their rights. And 4 weeks into Trump, you’d think progressive legislators would flock to it.
Well, they did. There were 400 of them. Most states sent whole delegations, from airports that don’t even fly direct to Washington. But from New Jersey there was only one: Sen. Loretta Weinberg. Given the spirit I saw at SiX, the sense of responsibility legislators felt to defend their turf in the face of Trump, it was a shame Weinberg was alone. In New Jersey, we have to hold the line not only against whatever Trump will make of the federal government, but the progress Trump’s boy Christie already blocks here. Who else was there? Elizabeth Warren, Eric Holder, Pelosi, Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II of Moral Mondays, the pediatrician who blew the whistle on the Flint water crisis, the pastor from Standing Rock, Million Hoodies for Justice, all speaking. All our electeds had to do was roll down I-95 or hit the train. What a shame only Weinberg did.
Well, Weinberg and Cory Booker, who had the keynote last night, and frankly held the room in thrall. Yup, we hold our senator to standards he doesn’t meet, that we clash on issues like school privatization. But I’m telling you, his speech meant something in that room of front-line legislators. So, I’ll post that speech, Warren’s, Barber’s and others. But the star turns aren’t why I went down there. Readying a response to Trump – which we’re also organizing here in NJ – is. As SiX ends today, we’ll have more on that – and the big speeches – over the next day. Here’s Weinberg’s chat with Blue Jersey: