I’ve seen too many posts and comments here, and too many op eds around the country arguing that Democrats have to choose between an economic program that lifts working families up and fighting for civil rights for all Americans. Skeptics of fighting for civil rights mislabel it “identity politics” while skeptics of the working class agenda falsely equate it with the white nationalism of Trump.
What the hell happened to our party? We used to believe fighting for civil rights and the New Deal were our greatest achievements. Hillary Clinton’s maiden speech of the presidential campaign at Roosevelt Island eloquently linked the fight for economic equality with the fight for civil rights. So have Sen. Sanders and Warren. We’re all on the same page if we signed up for this party.
1) Civil Rights
Equal Justice for All. This means black lives must matter. This means stopping the inhuman deportations and travel bans of this administration. It means fighting on behalf of our Muslim and Jewish citizens when their houses of worship or burial grounds are targeted. This means making our schools bully free zones for Muslim, immigrant and LGBT students alike. And if the Feds won’t help us our states and mayors and school boards gotta step up. It means fighting for civil liberties and a free press. It means protecting our civil institutions from creeping facism. This is important and we have no excuse not to fight.
2) A New Deal for This Century
Globalization and automation can’t be reversed, but the unprecedented profits these advances generate gotta go back to the people. Progressive taxation, truly universal health care, universal college and more radical ideas like basic income have to be coupled with stronger labor unions, stronger worker protections and stronger safety nets. This is the most hostile administration to workers in American history. Time for them to own it and time for us to fight it tooth and nail while building a better vision for a fairer America.
3) Global Leadership
I feel like foreign policy got the short shrift in this election and continues to do so, even though this is where the administration has caused the most damage. Old allies like Mexico and Australia are being alienated while foes are being embraced as friends with false promised of change. We can’t have that.
A strong NATO, a strong UN, and strong alliances are Democratic achiemenrs that have been the hallmark of our foreign policy and kept the peace for a half century. America First always means America Next, and just as we couldn’t appease our way to better relations with Hitler or Stalin we can’t appease our way to better relations with Assad or Putin.
Keep it Simple
Civil rights, a New Deal, internationalism. These have always been the hallmarks of American liberalism and our party. We invented social security, the civil rights act, NATO and the UN. Our party built that and should own that. Our party has always been the party of immigrants since my ancestors came off the boat at Ellis Island and my wife and her family flew into O’Hare.
We don’t need to reinvent the wheel-we just gotta do a better job of being ourselves.