Thoughts for Progressives on the Elections 2020

The great civil rights activist Bayard Rustin always emphasized the need for strategy in fighting for social change. Ava Duvernay’s wonderful Martin Luther King Jr movie “Selma” has Bayard Rustin constantly emphasizing to his fellow activists the necessity of thinking about tactics. Rustin believed that to fight for social change, you have to see it as a chess game where you plan several moves in advance for any possible contingency. What are our plans if situation A happens? How do we plan if we have a setback? If we win a victory, how do we plan for the eventual conservative backlash?

Many progressives are putting a lot of hope in 2020. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, and many of the Democratic candidates are proposing ambitious plans. I think 2020 has the potential to be a progressive wave year like 1932 or 1964, when FDR and LBJ were elected with huge majorities in both houses of Congress. To be able to enact any ambitious progressive program, Democrats are going to need to win the Presidency and both houses of Congress. We’ll also need to do several things to make progressive change possible.

One thing we need to do is find someone to challenge Mitch McConnell in his reelection bid in 2020. I think McConnell has been a terrible influence on both the Republican Party and in this hyper-partisan climate where his obstructionist tactics have destroyed the ability of Congress to function in a healthy way. Any Democratic President will be forced to abandon ambitious plans if the Democrats don’t get 60 Senators and they face McConnell’s obstructionist tactics. After seeing how well Stacey Abrams and Beto O’Rourke did in Georgia and Texas, I think a viable Democrat could really compete against McConnell. Emphasize McConnell’s record of cutting social programs that help the poor and middle class (especially McConnell’s eagerness to cut Social Security and Medicare), show how McConnell’s tax cuts only help the wealthy and hurt everyone else. Put McConnell’s record in stark relief to the Kentucky voters. Kentucky was one of the states that had massive teachers’ strikes. I think McConnell is more vulnerable than people realize.

Another thing that we need to do is reach out to the working class white neighborhoods that went for Trump in 2016. I know many progressives think that these communities are a lost cause or that we have to compromises our fight to defend minority communities in order to appeal to these white communities. I don’t buy that. If we look at history, liberals like Eleanor Roosevelt, Bobby Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, and Paul Wellstone appealed to both working class white communities and minority communities. These liberals constantly spoke out against racism and they fought for minority communities. But they also fought to protect working class white communities from the worst effects of the free market system.

Make the argument in Red states that progressive policies will do more to help them than conservative policies will. This is especially important in order to get our majorities in the House and the Senate. We’ll need to emphasize how our health care policies will help fight the opioid crisis afflicting those areas. We need to emphasize job retraining programs in areas where their jobs have been outsourced. We need to show them concrete ways in which the federal government is their friend and not their enemy. To do this, we’ll need to break the Fox bubble. This won’t be easy. Any Democrat, moderate or progressive, will be tarred and feathered by the right wing media. But we have to make the effort.

If we win the presidency and large majorities in both houses of Congress, we have to pass as much legislation as we can in a two year window. Both Clinton and Obama had the most legislative success in their first two years of office, before they both lost their congressional majorities in the midterms. Along with passing climate change legislation, health care legislation, legislation to tackle economic inequality, we should also pass legislation specifically to help Midwest and rural communities to undercut Republican appeals to demagoguery against immigrants.

If we get 60 Democratic Senators, we should go for Medicare-for-all. If we don’t get 60 Senators, we should work to improve Obamacare: lower the age to qualify for Medicare to 55, create a public option, and work on the flaws of Obamacare. Expect a huge fight from McConnell and the Republicans.

Tackle immigration reform. Even if Democrats do not win 60 Senators, there are several Republican Senators who are open to a bipartisan deal on immigration. The problem has always been the House of Representatives, specifically the Freedom Caucus. If the Democrats win the House and win 60 Senators, they can have an immigration bill with both border enforcement and a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million illegal immigrants. If we win the House but less than 60 Senators, then we’ll need to work with Republicans for a less ambitious bill. I think immigration reform may actually have the most potential for bipartisan support.

Senator Elizabeth Warren joins Chris Hayes for a town hall in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to talk about issues that are key in the Industrial Midwest.

On March 8, 2019 Senator Bernie Sanders spoke to supporters on day two of his three-day trip to Iowa.

Senator Kamala Harris held an MSNBC town hall from Spartanburg on Tuesday, May 28 and the following day she held events in Anderson and throughout Greenville.

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 did 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 Philippine News Today, a Filipino American newspaper based in the San Francisco Bay Area. 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 and 2018 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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