The NY Times has an Op-Ed by Bernie Sanders up, advocating the Democratic party adopt a more progressive agenda.
In 2016, the Democratic Party lost the presidency to possibly the least popular candidate in American history. In recent years, Democrats have also lost the Senate and House to right-wing Republicans whose extremist agenda is far removed from where most Americans are politically. Republicans now control almost two-thirds of governor’s offices and have gained about 1,000 seats in state legislatures in the past nine years. In 24 states, Democrats have almost no political influence at all.
Bernie argues that the right way to reverse this decline is with a progressive agenda that shows working people the party is firmly on their side. He notes that the sharp spike in participation among young people in the UK is an example of how a progressive platform can help drive voter turnout among the young.
The Democrats must develop an agenda that speaks to the pain of tens of millions of families who are working longer hours for lower wages and to the young people who, unless we turn the economy around, will have a lower standard of living than their parents. A vast majority of Americans understand that our current economic model is a dismal failure. Who can honestly defend the current grotesque level of inequality in which the top 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent? Who thinks it’s right that, despite a significant increase in worker productivity, millions of Americans need two or three jobs to survive, while 52 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent? What person who claims to have a sense of morality can justify the fact that the richest people in our country have a life expectancy about 15 years longer than our poorest citizens?
Bernie highlights a number of issues he believes Democrats should campaign on and how these can be contrasted with Trump’s plans and those of the GOP’s billionaire masters. The list includes Medicare for All, a progressive tax system, an infrastructure plan, action on climate change, free public college, criminal justice reform and comprehensive immigration reform. Some of these issues have been part of the mainstream Democratic agenda for a while, others have been languishing in the progressive caucus for years. Bernie argues it is time for Democrats adopt an unabashedly progressive platform.
While Democrats should appeal to moderate Republicans who are disgusted with the Trump presidency, too many in our party cling to an overly cautious, centrist ideology. The party’s main thrust must be to make politics relevant to those who have given up on democracy and bring millions of new voters into the political process. It must be prepared to take on the right-wing extremist ideology of the Koch brothers and the billionaire class, and fight for an economy and a government that work for all, not just the 1 percent.
In many ways, the Democratic party has already begun moving in the direction Bernie is advocating for. John Conyers Jr. who has been a relentless voice for Medicare-for-All (and sponsor of the bill Bernie advocated for on the campaign trail) is seeing more Congressional Democrats than ever support his plan. Rep. Bobby Scott (VA-3), Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-5), Sen. Patty Murray (WA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) introduced a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15. They are supported by the Democratic leadership.