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The next four years will determine whether our country continues as a democracy or whether we elect another president like Donald Trump who permanently puts us on the path towards authoritarianism. This will in part be decided by how well the Democratic Party, with control of the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate, does at enacting policies that make a difference in the lives of working people.
It is also dependent on building a Democratic Party that can truly speak to the working class of our party — Black, white, Latino, Native Americans and Asian Americans. The party must reach out and organize all Americans who believe in the principles of economic justice, racial justice, social justice, and environmental justice. It must be a party that has the courage to stand up to the powerful special interests who have so much control over the economic and political life of our country. Finally, it must be a party driven by grassroots activism, not one that serves the interests of well-paid political consultants.
During this unprecedented moment in American history, we must make it clear that we will not return to the same old establishment politics. We cannot continue to ignore the needs of tens of millions of working families. And we cannot accept government policy which enables the very rich to get much richer while a majority of Americans live in economic desperation.
Unbelievably, over the past ten years, an increasingly reactionary Republican Party has become the party of the working class. A recent poll shows that since 2010 there has been a 12 point increase in the percentage of white blue-collar workers who identify as Republican, a 13 point increase among Latino blue-collar workers and a 7 point increase among Black blue-collar workers. In all, the percentage of blue-collar voters who identify as Republican has grown by 12 points and those who identify as Democrats has declined by 8 points.
And, in 2020, while Joe Biden won a convincing victory over the least popular president in modern history, Republicans did better than expected in races for U.S. House, U.S. Senate and state legislatures.
Simply stated, the way we will regain support from working class voters is by acknowledging their very real pain, by reaching out to them and by advancing an agenda that addresses the realities of their lives.
If we’ve learned anything from the recent runoff election in Georgia, it is that the future of the Democratic Party must be focused on grassroots organizing. Instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on 30-second TV ads two weeks before the election, we have got to invest heavily in organizations and people who are working in their communities 52 weeks a year. The party must continue to bring more young people and working people into the political process, and we must begin communicating with Americans in every state in this country — including those who have never voted before.
This is going to require an enormous amount of work, and the path forward will not be easy. There will be many powerful special interests, including some in the Democratic Party, who will try to stop us.
But what we have got to do in order to be successful is mobilize the people that powered our presidential campaign. We are going to use the tools we deployed contacting voters and use those same tools to begin educating and mobilizing our friends and our neighbors.
It is going to require all of us working together to transform this country and move the Democratic Party in a more progressive direction.
The truth is that the crises we face in this nation are enormous, and we have got to think big, not small.
What history has told us is that two years after President Obama won the presidency in 2008 and two years after President Clinton won in 1992, Republicans did phenomenally well. And the reason they did so well was because Democrats had the power, and they did not exercise that power to help working families.
We cannot make that mistake again, which is why it is imperative that we come together around a bold, progressive agenda.
We must join every other major country on earth and grant health care to all of our people as a basic human right.
We must take on the incredible greed of the pharmaceutical industry and not force the American people to pay higher prescription drug prices than everyone else.
We must raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour and guarantee equal pay for equal work.
We must combat systemic racism and pass comprehensive immigration reform.
We must make public colleges and universities tuition-free and forgive student debt.
We must create millions of jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and confronting the climate crisis.
This agenda is not some kind of wild, radical idea. It’s what the American people want, and it’s where the Democratic Party has got to go.
We have made tremendous progress in recent years in our efforts to transform this country, but it is a fight that is far from over.
Now is not the time for business as usual. We need a grassroots movement which forges a new vision for America and creates a government based on the principles of justice, not greed.