What many had called the election of our lifetimes is over, and while any moment for reflection was immediately stolen by Trump’s purge of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the subsequent fallout with regard to the Russia investigation, there are still big, important questions that progressives inside and outside of power will face in the coming months if we hope to present a vision that does more than say no to Trump while getting trapped in his diversions.
Can the Democrats in the House and elsewhere at the national level set a bold economic agenda?
If progressives hope to retake power in 2020, they will need to expand their appeal beyond the current coalition to attract even more working-class voters, particularly in the Midwest where Trump won in 2016. Will they be able to articulate an economic populism that can peel off some of the voters they have been losing for decades?
Surely the emphasis on healthcare in the midterms was productive, but can progressives ditch neoliberal office park centrism and relearn how to talk about bread and butter economics in a way that appeals to voters who aren’t getting anything out of the tax cuts, aren’t seeing significant wage gains, and are still afraid of falling out of the middle class?
As Thomas B. Edsall argues in his insightful analysis of the midterms, given the Electoral College playing field at present, the Democrats can’t afford to wait for the demographics of the country to shift.
Thus, right now, the road to the White House runs through the Midwest: “If Democrats can come up with a compelling presidential candidate — a candidate who can carry the Midwest — they will be as, or more, competitive than Trump and his Republicans.”
Sherrod Brown 2020?
Will anyone in the Democratic party put catastrophic climate change at the center of the national discourse?
The recent United Nations report told us that we have about a decade to stop the worst impacts of climate change from destroying our children’s future. Since then we have gotten more terrible news about how the oceans are warming faster than scientists had previously thought and that we are racing toward the mass extinction of animal life at an alarming rate.
Perhaps the party that likes to think of itself as the more humane wing of American politics could figure out how to make this a prominent part of the national discussion. Maybe a bold proposal to rebuild American infrastructure, create the jobs of the future, and address the climate crisis at the same time would inspire peoples’ imaginations.
A Green New Deal anyone?
How big will Gavin Newsome go?
Here in super blue California, Gavin Newsom campaigned like someone who wanted to push the progressive agenda further than his predecessor.
Will his policy proposals match his rhetoric? Will we see new initiatives aimed at ending homelessness, addressing the deep roots of poverty and economic inequality, establishing universal healthcare, and fully funding education?
Will he, unlike Jerry Brown, stand up to the Charter Schools Association and insist on quality education for all rather than the unregulated expansion of charters advocated for by the corporate education reform lobby? Will he go even further than Brown in fighting catastrophic climate change?
Will Newsom’s actions match his big talk?
Will the Democrats in Sacramento actually use their likely Supermajority?
As of this writing, it appears the Democrats will have a 2/3rds super majority in the legislature. Might Newsom and his Democratic colleagues touch the 3rd rail of California politics and push for progressive tax reform by using their legislative super majority to pass a split roll on Proposition 13 before the impending 2020 ballot initiative battle?
Will they actually take the political risks needed to establish a model healthcare system in California by coming up with the resources to pay for it? Will they finally adequately fund our public education system K-12 through the UCs and CSUs and restore the promise of the California dream?
Can California become not just a leader of the resistance but a vanguard of progressive policy?
Will Democrats, Labor, and Progressives in San Diego find a way to establish real community solidarity?
The hotly contested, divisive campaign for the District 4 City Council seat revealed some uncomfortable, but familiar fractures in the local progressive community. Will labor, the Democrats, and community activists be able to bridge the gaps that currently separate them and find a way to use the new Democratic veto-proof majority on the City Council to forge a real progressive agenda that can change the game in San Diego?
A historic opportunity is there for the taking if we can avoid the usual circular firing squad antics that have defined San Diego’s progressive community for as long as most of us can remember.
Can local progressives avoid being divided and conquered and succeed in leading from the council?
What will happen with Community Choice Energy in San Diego?
Will environmentalists, labor, and Democrats on the city council be able to forge a partnership in order to create a Community Choice Energy program that fights climate change and economic inequality at the same time?
Can an unproductive stand-off between labor and environmentalists be avoided? Will we instead be able to create a program that provides for a green future with solid, local union jobs? If we can, it might just be a model of climate justice for the nation.
Do we have what it takes to get it done?