A recurring question on the political landscape at this point is, “What is the message of the Democrats following the November election?” There is a call for Dems to craft a single, coherent message that will help them win House and Senate seats in the 2018 midterm elections and to defeat Trump (or whomever might be President) in 2020. Pundits, activists and others seem to have a real problem with Dems being only “the resistance” to Trump and the Republicans, without a “catchy” message of their own.
Perhaps some help might come from progressives in Vermont. The People’s Platform has been crafted by Rights and Democracy and includes the following:
Fair Pay: Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Healthcare Justice: Implementing an equitably and publicly financed system of health care.
Protect Workers and families: Enacting paid family and medical leave and strengthening enforcement against worker misclassification.
Decarcerate Vermont: Supporting reforms to our criminal justice system to end systemic racial bias and enable a humane approach to justice.
Racial Justice: Ensuring that the recommendations of the newly created Racial Justice Oversight Board are followed in order to address implicit racial bias in our criminal justice system and other state institutions.
Gender Justice: Protecting women’s right to control their own bodies and destinies, advancing gender pay equity, and advancing more equitable public accommodations for transgender people.
Clean water, clean air, and clean soils for all: Investing in the infrastructure and protections necessary to ensure these key human and environmental rights.
Energy Democracy: Empowering communities to move toward a 100-percent renewable energy economy while prioritizing opportunities for local ownership and democratic participation in shaping our just transition away from fossil fuels.
Clean Elections: Stopping the bribery by closing the revolving door between elected office and lobbying. Giving every voter a voice by empowering voters to rank their top candidates to avoid “spoiler candidates”; and fixing our broken public campaign finance system.
About resistance, however: resisting Trump, white nationalists/supremacists, Republicans, conservatives and others who wish to regress the US back to at least the 1950s is very essential at this time. Resisting the “values” of bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, anti-immigration, anti-government services, anti-LGBTQ, and hyperpatriotism, is vital. The three main seats of power in the US are now in the hands of Republicans, many if not most of whom support regressive policies that would discriminate against people of color and the LGBTQ community, deprive millions of health insurance, deny the fact of climate change and remove protective regulations across most government agencies.
As we have noted before, our two-party system that pits the right against the left has become so divisive as to be nearly unworkable on behalf of the American people. This means that American voters have little choice at the ballot box – unlike voters in other advanced democracies who have many parties to choose from and whose governments are coalitions. Parties in those countries do not need to reach a majority to have a say in making laws; seats are awarded proportionally.
When American lawmakers and others on the right – represented mainly by Republicans – attempt so persistently to remove or diminish benefits that have accrued to vast numbers of citizens over the past 40 years, it is logical – if not inevitable – that there would be a “resistance” and uprising against such attempts, and that resistance must necessarily devolve to the Democrats. That is quite a burden for one party to bear! It is highly likely that the Democratic Party itself cannot succinctly or neatly put its progressive goals of social justice into a simple mission, catch phrase, bumper sticker, Tweet or slogan. It is thus unfortunate that Americans who might want to hear something simple from the Democrats – in a headline that might help them decide how to vote – might decide to take the easy route: vote for Republicans, whose slogans can be boiled down to a sound bite, or not vote at all because the issues seem too complicated or when their vote might not count in the long run.
As long as we insist on simplifying complex situations; as long as voter suppression and anti-democratic gerrymandering make it impossible for vast numbers of Americans to vote; as long as elected officials lie and distort messages on crucial issues to their constituents; as long as money speaks louder than law; as long as we have a broken, partisan political system; as long as Trump is President – we need courageous, strong, unyielding resistance to regressive policies that hurt millions. If the Vermont’s People’s Platform can help craft a workable, progressive set of policies, all the better!