Published July 28, 2020 in Warp& Woof
Manifesto for the Next Four Years
We Know What Needs to be Done
Joe Biden can get there, with help from Congress. But it will take more than a historic landslide on November 3. It will take clear-eyed commitment from the American (and world) electorate – no equivocating, no shrugging off responsibility, no media “bothsidesism.”
There are things to be done. And there isn’t much time. Right now, in our COVID summer, we should start by acknowledging that old saying “politics is a contact sport” may mean virtual contact sport. Canvassing for voter registration and actual voting can still happen, selectively, and cautiously – but it is much higher risk than in the “Before Times.” Social media discussion groups, sub-Reddits, and email lists must pick up the slack. And nobody ever answers their phone anymore. But volunteer opportunities do exist in all these areas.
Polls currently provide supporting evidence that a well-managed Biden campaign, together with down-ballot help from the DNC, may well lead to that historic landslide. But I seem to recall similar confidence in 2016. We know how that went!
The Biden strategy thus far seems to be to let the President hang himself – minimize his own exposure. It seems to be working.
After Labor Day, however, more will be required. Nobody will get a “convention boost” this year since there will be no live Party Conventions. That goes for Senate and House candidates as well. The battle will continue to be waged largely in the media and virtual worlds.
Biden’s “Unity Task Forces” were a good idea. The 5-3 split on each of the six task forces, between Biden people and Sanders people, was a stroke of genius. Bernie was a full participant in naming members from the beginning. The Democratic Platform drafting process will apparently follow on their 110-page report – although the Platform, itself, won’t necessarily be drafted by the Task Forces. It still looks like the Overton Window has moved leftward since 2016. Clearly a step in the right direction. Enough to force Trump to make outlandish references to “socialism.” This is good. The more he says, the weaker he becomes.
But the campaign between now and November 3 is only the beginning. The real test is what happens after November 3, and after January 20. Expect to hear nothing more about “Build Back Better” after the election.
The Senate is critical. And it presents a higher bar for that potential historic landslide. Mitch McConnell can no longer be Majority Leader. Full Stop. Nothing good can happen if the Republican Party remains in control of one house in Congress. But it may just be possible to push through “compromises” if Democrats gain the majority and control the White House. Even with the filibuster remaining intact.
What are these things that need to be done in the next four years? They include:
- A radical response to the climate crisis – it will be primarily economic, the Green New Deal is the model – and it needs top priority in my opinion, considering the enormous scope, and the urgency of the timeline.
- Full commitment to scientific research in public health and epidemiology, as well as clean energy matters – science is society’s tool, not its enemy! The pandemic will not be defeated without it.
- Make police the servants of their communities, not an occupying army – there is now good momentum for this project, we need to make sure it does not abate.
- Reversal of tax policy from the Republican dominance of last forty years – taxes need to be PROGRESSIVE once again, not regressive – and they must openly seek redistribution of wealth, not just income and inheritance – this is the traditional turf of the Left, valid now more than ever.
- Most important targets for redistribution’s benefits are health care and education – we need to fully accept that health care is a right for everyone, cost no object – and we must accept that future generations will only thrive if the highest level of education, limited only by abilities and desire, is financially attainable for them – end the starving of public education, end the enslaving of tomorrow’s workers to a lifetime of debt!
This is my five-point manifesto. There may be others. But the political machinery needed to bring it to fruition needs to start with November 3 and continue through local elections held over the next four years – the next eight years. As clear as it has become that the Republican Party is unalterably opposed to these points, it is not at all clear that the Democratic Party is supportive of this manifesto. If there is reluctance among Democratic officeholders to embrace these points, they should be subject to primary challenges. The objective is nothing short of “regime change.”
Change is coming. It is most visible in the younger generation of activists and office seekers – they will ultimately prevail. But it needs to start at the local, grass roots, level. So far, I’m encouraged by the apparent openness of the Biden campaign. The next four years will likely present opportunities to move on some of my five points, but the legislative strategy will have to be subtle and adroit. The White House may listen, but that’s not a given. And Congress may be the biggest stumbling block – even in Democratic hands.
Prepare for a long struggle! It will extend beyond the next four years for sure.