The pandemic surges in state after state. More people are sick. More people are dying. As a result of the economic meltdown millions live in desperation — unemployed, hungry and facing eviction from their homes.
And, in the midst of all that, we have a president who seems more clueless, isolated and unhinged every day.
So where do we go from here?
As progressives, our job is not just to respond to the “news of the day.” We’ve got to think strategically and know where we want to go short-term and long-term and do everything possible to implement our priorities.
Now, Republicans may try to ignore the horrific reality facing tens of millions of Americans today, but they are smart politicians. In their heart of hearts, they may not want to do anything to help the working people of this country during this crisis, but they do realize if they want to get re-elected they have to act.
So our job, right now, is to put as much pressure on them as we possibly can.
Congress reconvenes next week. And between now and then the most immediate task we face is to demand that the do-nothing Republican Senate pass meaningful legislation to protect working families from the ravages of the pandemic and the economic anguish that so many Americans are experiencing. There are a lot of good ideas out there.
Here is what I am fighting for:
Passing the Paycheck Security Act to make sure that every worker in America who lost a job during this crisis continues to receive a paycheck.
Passing the Emergency Health Care Guarantee Act to empower Medicare to pay all of the medical bills of the 100 million Americans who are now uninsured or under-insured.
Providing $2,000 emergency payments to every working class American until this crisis is over.
Saving the Post Service to protect 630,000 good-paying jobs and to make sure that people living in rural areas continue to receive the packages, prescription drugs and supplies they need.
Extending the $600 a week increase in unemployment benefits that expires at the end of this month.
Canceling rent and mortgage payments until the pandemic ends to prevent up to 20 million Americans from being evicted from their homes.
Making sure no one in America goes hungry by substantially increasing nutrition assistance programs.
Manufacturing and distributing high quality masks for ALL through the Defense Production Act.
Secondly, it is absolutely imperative that we do everything possible to make sure that Trump is defeated in November, and that starts with substantially increasing voter turnout.
If we turn out in record numbers, we will win.
If we fail to turn our people out, Trump and the Republicans will win.
Incidentally, the Republican Party understands how true this is, as well. They fully understand the implications of expanded participation by the working class and young people in the electoral process.
That is why they are working so hard, in so many ways, to suppress the vote and keep people from voting.
We must also make sure that our progressive candidates, at the federal, state and local levels are elected.
Over the past several months we have won some major primary victories. Now, we must make sure that those victories carry over to the general election in November.
It’s imperative that we support these candidates. Not only do we need their progressive voices at the local, state, and federal level, their grassroots campaigns will energize the working families of this country to come out and vote for Democrats. This is how we begin to transform America.
Last, but not least, we must fight for our vision for where we want this country to be going in the future.
The goal of any democratic, humane and rational nation must be to create a society where people are healthy, happy and able to live long and productive lives. We should be judging ourselves not by the number of billionaires who live in our country, the size of our GDP or how many nuclear weapons we have. We should be judging ourselves by looking at our quality of life — health, longevity, happiness — and what the average American is experiencing. And, sadly, by that standard the United States is failing, big time.
Greed is not good. Buying elections is not good. Exploiting workers is not good. War is not good. Making huge profits off of human illness is not good. Monopolization of the economy is not good. Racism and xenophobia are not good. Producing carbon emissions and destroying our planet is not good. Ignoring the needs of millions of children, elderly and disabled people is not good. Making money by putting poor people into prisons is not good.
As progressives, our goal is to create a nation where billionaires do not buy elections and where we have a government that represents all, not just a few.
You should know that I intend to do everything I can throughout this election season to energize the progressive community and support candidates who will stand by our agenda.
And, by the way, that does not mean just “blue states.” It means “red states” and “purple states” and everywhere people are hurting in this country.
I know that these unusual times dramatically change the nature of the way campaigns and policy battles are waged and won. And it just so happens that the things we did well on our campaign for president — small-dollar donations, online organizing, phone calls and voter engagement — are the things that are needed now more than ever.
That gives us an outsized role in the political and electoral struggles of this moment, and an obligation to make our voices heard.
I hope you will join me in these fights.