To Get Progressive Legislation, The Democrats Need to Win Back Both Houses of Congress

Many of today’s Democratic candidates are proposing ambitious progressive ideas that they hope to convince American voters are necessary reforms to fix many of America’s problems. As a liberal, I think these progressive proposals are necessary. But it’s not enough for Democrats win the Presidency for these ambitious programs to be enacted. The Democrats also need to win majorities in both houses of Congress. They’ll need to keep their majority in the House of Representatives and they’ll need 60 Senators to overcome Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s obstructionist tactics. If neither happens, then a Democratic President will have to scale back his or her ambitions.

The two greatest eras of progressive legislation were the New Deal era and the Great Society era. In 1935, when the most radical stage of the New Deal legislation was passed, there were 322 Democrats and 103 Republicans in the House of Representatives and 68 Democrats and 25 Republicans in the Senate. In 1965, at the height of the Great Society legislation, there were 295 Democrats and 140 Republicans in the House of Representatives and 68 Democrats and 32 Republicans in the Senate. At that time both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party were more ideologically diverse, with moderate and conservative Democrats and moderate and liberal Republicans crossing party lines often to vote for bipartisan legislation. That sort of ideological diversity in both parties is gone.

Both Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson were shrewd political strategists who knew how to get legislation passed through Congress. Roosevelt and Johnson had good working relationships with the Democratic leaders in the House and Senate and they were blessed with progressive legislators like Robert Wagner, Ted Kennedy, Robert La Follette, Mike Mansfield, and Birch Bayh.

Along with majorities in Congress, we’ll need a Democratic President to be a shrewd political strategist to get any ambitious progressive legislation passed. This President will need to be able to coordinate well with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, and they’ll need the help of progressive legislators who are skilled in forming coalitions within the Congress. This President will need the communication skills to make their case to convince the American public and to defend their proposals from the inevitable right wing attacks.

This year, I’m more willing to support a Democrat with a more ambitious plan because I think the Democrats have a chance to have sizable wins in both Houses of Congress. As long as the centrists and the progressives don’t get into a huge fight and know that they need each other to win the diverse areas of our country, I think the Democrats will do well.

Here is a video of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, the last great era of progressive legislation, and it’s positive benefits to American society.

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About angelolopez

I’ve wanted to be an artist all my life. Since I was a child I’ve drawn on any scrap of paper I could get a hold of. When I went to San Jose State University, I became more exposed to the works of the great fine artists and illustrators. My college paintings were heavily influenced by the humorous illustrations of Peter De Seve, an illustrator for the New Yorker magazine. I also fell under the spell of the great muralists of the 1930s, especially Thomas Hart Benton and Diego Rivera. I graduated with a degree in Illustration. Angelo Lopez has had illustrations published in Tikkun Magazine, the Palo Alto Daily News and Z Magazine. From April 2008 to May 2011, Angelo's cartoons were regularly published in the Tri-City Voice, a weekly newspaper that covers the Fremont, Hayward, Milpitas, Neward, Sunol and Union City areas in California. He does a political webcomic starring his cartoon character Jasper for the progressive blogsite Everyday Citizen. Since December 2011, Angelo does a regular weekly political cartoon for the Philippines Today, a Filipino American newspaper based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since March 2013, he has also contributed cartoons to the Manila Mail, a Filipino American newspaper based in Washington D.C. Angelo is a member of the Sunnyvale Art Club, and the Northern California chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. During the 1990s, he was a member of the part-timer workers SEIU unit in the city of Sunnyvale. Angelo won the 2013, 2015 and 2016 Sigma Delta Chi award for editorial cartooning for newspapers with a circulation under 100,000. He has also won the 2016 RFK Book and Journalism Award for Editorial Cartoons. Angelo won first prize for the Best of the West contest in 2016 and third prize in 2017. Angelo is married to Lisa Reeber. They enjoy taking walks, watching movies and hanging out with their nieces.
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