The Democratic Party wants to be the party of social and economic justice. It wants to be the party that supports healthcare for all, good environmental stewardship, a living wage, pay equity, consumer protections, and an end to mass incarceration.
But, over the past 40 years, big-money interests, combined with the relentless assault of a well-organized, well-funded opposition, have caused the party to lose its way. Instead of advancing a bold progressive agenda, the party has internalized the Right’s message with a tepid approach to policy that has sometimes made it hard for ordinary Americans to see the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Instead of building a strong back bench of progressive leaders, it has given us market-tested candidates who appeal to the party elites while having little to say to most voters. And, while the party has been sapped of its energy, it has ceded the territory to Republicans who now control 32 state legislatures, 33 governorships, both houses of Congress, and the Presidency – gains they protect through gerrymandering and voting restrictions because they know that their brand of populism amounts to little more than a mirage.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
The Democratic Party provides a mechanism through which it can restore itself and begin to fight back more forcefully. Put quite simply, it starts with everyday progressive Americans who take open positions within the Party so that they can have a vote on things like the party platform and the candidates the party chooses to support. These positions are not restricted to party insiders; they are open to anyone through the same democratic process by which people get elected to their town council or school board. And, by their strength in numbers, progressives who take their seat at the table can give the Democratic Party the energy and strength it needs to, once again, be a credible voice for ordinary citizens.