February 14, 2019

Progressive positions are incredibly popular!

They are not the positions of the “far left,” the newest boogeyman in political circles. But progressivism is actually middle of the road. It is what the majority of people want!

How did we get here, to a place where good people are repeating tropes like “extremes on both sides are hurting us?” Newsflash: the extreme on one side are literally murdering people for their beliefs, race, political affiliation, and those portrayed as  “extremists” on the other side are fighting for justice for all. It’s obvious that right-wing pundits have won the “framing” wars and reality has lost the fight.

Fortunately, the little known truth is, what some call “radical left” or “socialist” ideas, are actually the common ground we have all been looking for.

If you listen to the narratives in the media or from many Democrats, you would think that the only way to win elections in any communities that aren’t solidly “blue” is to appeal to the right. Our Represent Me AZ community has been challenging this long-held assumption since we first hit the scene in the race for Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District. We aren’t naive enough to think that progressive principles alone could win elections, but coupled with strong Democratic volunteer support, candidates with clearly communicated progressive values can win in places like Arizona.

Single Payer Medicare For All

As recently reported in a CBS story, “The vast majority of Americans, 70 percent, now support Medicare for All, otherwise known as single-payer health care, according to a new Reuters survey. That includes 85 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans. Only 20 percent of Americans say they outright oppose the idea.”

New Green Deal

Also, the Green New Deal enjoys approval by a “whopping 81 percent of all registered voters (including 40 percent of Republicans) and 92 percent of Democrats,” according to this story by the Black Agenda Report.  

And in 2017 the ACLU reported the following:

  • 91 percent of Americans say that the criminal justice system has problems that need fixing.
  • 71 percent say it is important to reduce the prison population in America, including 87 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Independents, and 57 percent of Republicans — including 52 percent of Trump voters.
  • 2 in 3 Americans (68 percent) would be more likely to vote for an elected official if the candidate supported reducing the prison population and using the savings to reinvest in drug treatment and mental health programs, including 65 percent of Trump voters.

Americans oppose war spending, particularly when faced with major cuts in the social programs that help the most vulnerable among us. According to a poll by the Institute for Middle Eastern Policy, “When presented with a list of expenditure categories, and polled about which should be the single top priority for budgetary cuts by Congress, ‘US military actions in the Middle East’ was far and away their top choice. But most Americans probably have little idea how enormous those costs truly are.”

A study from Brown University estimates that the cost per individual US taxpayer for wars since 9/11 is at least $23,386. But they point out that the true figure is actually higher because of the ongoing interest paid due to having to borrow to pay for the war.

Fair Taxation

Yet, rather than listen to the will of the people, tax cuts were made to the wealthiest among us. The Tax Cut and Jobs act of 2017 had only a 25% approval but was rammed through Congress.

Conversely, a plan to tax the most wealthy among us has shown a great deal of support in early discussions. Market Watch reports that a plan floated by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to tax all income over $10 million at a 70% rate has a great deal of favorability.  “A poll published by The Hill and HarrisX found 59% of registered voters support the idea. It polls relatively well among Republicans, with 45% supporting it. Independent voters support the idea by a 60% to 40% margin and Democrats overwhelmingly do, by 71% to 29%.

Immigration

Two Pew Research Polls were released in 2018 that identified Americans’ changing attitudes towards immigration in general and  immigrants and refugees specifically. A changing attitude towards immigration and sympathy for immigrants could be the reason for the ramped up Trump Administration’s heavy-handed xenophobic campaign to paint them as dangerous criminals, justifying further militarization at the border. And rather than speak about the values that most Americans share, many Democrats pandered to the xenophobia in their messaging during the midterms of 2018 by either praising the Department of Homeland Security’s agencies that are enforcing inhumane practices, or by remaining silent on issues such as family separation, the most systematically inhumane agenda in recent history.

Yet time and again, politicians and those who profit from politics, tell voters that we have no right to expect our candidates and representatives to reflect our values. This is not a spectator sport with teams and fans checking the scoreboard for who will win and lose. The constant struggle to survive for those of us who are less privileged is more than a political spectator sport. There are life or death consequences to the actions of our representatives, and yet the consideration of a candidate’s’ qualifications is often reduced to a philosophical discussion about “winnability.” We have been sold on the idea of winnability, but it is the elite that perpetuate that fallacy –  the ones who are doing well under the current status quo while the rest of us suffer. And perhaps what they have been selling us is wrong. Perhaps even those assumptions about winnability are wrong! Perhaps it is not only the just position to hold those progressive values unapologetically; but, it is also the road to success for candidates. As demonstrated above, these ideas are not “radical left” as those who profit from our current system like to frame them. The favorability numbers show these concepts are actually middle of the road!

Commander Mark Kelly just announced his long anticipated candidacy for Senate. His goal,  to remove Martha McSally, the appointed placeholder in that seat, is a worthy one. His policy positions, so far, as supplied to Capital Media Services, are a familiar conservative-sounding brand, to those of us who have been paying attention to a recently elected Democratic Senator.

Some examples: Kelly says we need more border checkpoints (militarizing borderlands), won’t definitively say whether he supports single payer Medicare for All (even Ann Kirkpatrick, who in her first Forum with us said she couldn’t see how to pay for it, signed on supporting it as our Congresswoman!), says he is running as a Democrat but he is an independent.

So, while Mark Kelly is clearly a better choice than Martha McSally, we want to ask him to consider not using the Sinema formula for “winning in Arizona.” Rather, we would love to see him learn about the progressive positions that are embraced by so many because they include us all.
The key, we assert, is to craft the messaging that demonstrates a commitment to even the most marginalized among us. It can be done without pandering to fear and hate. We must close the gap between what people actually want and what our representatives and candidates will talk about. It can be done by speaking about our values and not by avoiding the topics that might upset those who don’t share our values. And it can be done in a way that moves the collective consciousness toward justice for all.  We say it is the ONLY way to win in Arizona. We convinced ourselves and other progressives to get Sinema elected despite our concerns. We won’t be able to do that again. Democrats and Independents who held their noses and voted for Sinema have no motivation to do that again if we are just going to get another Senator who won’t stand up for our values.  Sinema is voting the way we feared she would. Let’s end the cycle of “lesser of two evils.” The time is now to have the courage to stand for what we believe is important, for what we deserve.

We Are The 99%

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