WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, with more than 400 state legislators and progressive leaders gathered together for the State Innovation Exchange (SiX) 2016 National Conference, U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called on lawmakers to take the fight to the states and to redouble their efforts to push back on the agenda of President-elect Trump and his conservative allies in Congress.
SiX Executive Director Nick Rathod opened the conference by reflecting on the 2016 election results and emphasizing the need for progressives to rebuild their power and political infrastructure at the state and local level.
“We are at a critical crossroads in this country,” Rathod said. “Looking at conservatives’ overwhelming control of state legislatures across the nation, this is not something that happened overnight. It’s the result of decades of steady investment by the right. As progressives, we need to grow our power and our bench by investing in young elected officials – that’s where it all begins.”
Holder spoke about how continued attacks on voting rights have diminished the voice of minority voters. He also detailed his upcoming plans for the recently announced National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), where he will lead a major nationwide redistricting effort aimed at helping progressives regain power in the states.
“We heard a lot this election about a so-called rigged system – but the biggest rigged system in America is gerrymandering,” said Holder. “As we move forward with the NDRC, I call on you to help at the state level. You’re exactly the people President Obama and I are going to need. Your name recognizes that the fight is in the states, where the basis for change resides.”
In her remarks, Leader Pelosi emphasized the urgency of the moment.
“So much talent that would have stayed in D.C. is now ready for a fight in the states,” Pelosi said. “We have important work to do. We know our commonality of interest. We can’t wait four years or two years.”
Sen. Warren encouraged attendees not to cede ground to conservatives despite the election results.
“In many cases, these battles are going to play out in state legislatures – where you’re going to be on the frontlines. And that means it is essential that we have progressive voices standing firm on the side of working families and standing up for the rights of all Americans,” she said. “In the fights to build more opportunities, we need you. When we’re loud enough and strong enough, person to person, city to city, state to state, then Washington won’t be able to ignore the progressive voices in this country.”
Sen. Booker rallied progressives to call out conservative hypocrisy on a range of issues.
“It’s time that we stand up, act up, and speak up,” he said. “We must now more than ever speak truth to power. We progressives know that child care, immigration reform, raising the minimum wage, criminal justice reform – they’re not only right, they grow a nation that is good for everyone.”