This weekend progressives were given two middle fingers by the Democratic establishment and the Democratic National Committee. The first was with the selection of moderate Tim Kaine as Hillary Clinton’s pick for Vice President. The second was the confirmation of many Bernie supporters’ theories found in WikiLeaks’ release of DNC emails which implicate the DNC in actively trying to squash Bernie Sanders’ candidacy.
Following the release of the DNC emails, progressives can at least be joyous that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has beeen exposed and has subsequently resigned from her position as the Democratic party’s leader, but we do not have much to be joyous of in the grand scheme of things. Our voices are being squashed by those who run the “Democratic” party. We did not fail Bernie, the system failed us. Bernie Sanders has lit a fire in the hearts of progressives in his quest to win the presidency, but his mission is not accomplished yet.
If we as progressives want a real political revolution then we are going to have to move into new areas and compete for districts and Senate seats we do not have representation in. If we want real representation then we have to make changes to the electoral map for it to occur. We can’t sit in the cities where the majority think like us and convince the nation our values are the best path for the nation.
Don’t be confused though, this idea is not a call to convert people to think like us, it is a call to get more progressive representation in our government by changing the demographic layout of our country. If we are lucky, we can change the attitudes of our neighbors in the process. If Bernie can gain the support of large swaths of the conservatives in his mostly rural state of Vermont, then we can do it elsewhere in the country.
What is the progressive agenda and what are progressive values? The progressive agenda is interested in putting money into the nation’s infrastructure, taking away tax breaks from corporations who don’t deserve them, regulating Wall Street fairly, providing single-payer healthcare to our citizens, avoiding harmful trade deals, and avoiding regime-change in other countries, to name a few things. Progressives value helping our citizens out because the people are what make the country function, and we believe that if the people of our country are taken care of (within reason) we will all benefit collectively both economically and socially.
Many Democrats say they believe in the same agenda and values but their true nature shows in their voting records. There is a large portion of the Democratic party and independent voters that prefer progressive beliefs over the Democratic establishment’s ideas. This is why we as progressives need to capitalize on the rise of Bernie Sanders’ political movement and spread our ideas across the nation. The seeds have been sown for the progressive revolution, but we need to tend to them to make our ideas come to fruition in our political system.
Establishment Democrats don’t want a revolution, they mostly just detest the social positions and bigotry presented by the Republicans. Left-wing voters don’t seem to have the balls to come through with a political revolution like the Tea Party did with the Republican party. They are too logical and rational to a fault and will always fall in line, even with flawed candidates because they are too scared to be blamed if their candidate is not elected. Democrats and the DNC know the electoral math favors their opinions with the status quo as is, so they don’t have to change their platform.
There has been a wave since the rise of Bernie Sanders of progressives trying to defeat establishment Democrats in primary contests, but that is only due to Bernie having the chutzpah to stand up to the establishment and give us a voice. Progressives want a revolution because we are tired of only voting for candidates who are socially acceptable yet go against our beliefs on most everything else: Wall Street reform, regime change, trade partnerships, etc… We are also tired of voting for Democrats who profess support for these ideas to capture voters, but never come through with help for these causes. We need to do Bernie Sanders justice for giving us the voice to believe it is possible for a political revolution to occur and make it happen.
Bernie was right to call for a primary challenger for Obama when he ran for the 2012 election, but nobody agreed because they were too scared to look weak as a party. The Democratic party has catered too much to the right and needs to focus on true progressive values if it ever wants to be the party of the people, and while I love Obama and voted for him both times, he has been more of a centrist than he advertised himself as.
We, progressives who vote, need to stand up for our values, and cover more of the electoral map so that we don’t have to capitulate and give up so much potential progress at the negotiation table just to get a small amount of progress gradually.
How will we do it though?
Progressive values tend to be focused in concentrated areas across and incredibly vast nation (San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, etc.), but this concentration is leading to less representation in politics for progressive ideas. It may be nice that people are congregating to bastions of liberalism but when you focus your population in small areas you will see the same results: conservatives control a large portion of the country and the laws we pass because liberals and progressives don’t exist as much in small rural areas. Your representative may support your ideas, but because of how our country is divided electorally, their voice is being drowned out by the Republican party and those in the Democratic party who are more moderate or centrist.
Attitudes are more progressive and liberal in cities compared to rural areas. This is not to say that conservatives do not exist in cities, but statistics show that population centers are more left-minded than rural areas. In 2012 when Jeff Merkley ran in Oregon, nearly every county voted for the Republican candidate but Multnomah county carried Merkley over the top to victory late in the night in what was a close race until Portland and it’s suburban sprawl were officially counted.
Why is this? I do not think it is simply because of more diversity in the cities, especially since I came from the Portland area, where seemingly everyone is white and the diversity is substantially lacking. I think it is because when you are living closer to people and are more aware of the situations your neighbors are living in, you are more concerned with those around you than when you are more isolated and only tend to see people in a similar walk of life as yourself.
If progressives want to change the country then they need to become the neighbors and friends of conservatives, not a distant fellow citizen whom they will never see or agree with.
The reason liberalism is failing and we are seeing the rise of Trump is because a large portion of the nation holds onto conservative beliefs and liberals are not doing anything to understand them and why they believe their values are better for the nation. They want their voices heard, whether or not their beliefs are right, productive, or founded in fact or reality. You cannot change the opinions of a large portion of the country simply by telling them they are wrong and that they should accept your ideas. You have to show them through your own lifestyle that there is nothing wrong with the values you have and things you believe in.
If we use Missouri as a case study from the 2012 election we can see that Romney won with 1.48 million votes to Obama’s 1.22 million, a difference of only 260,000 votes. Romney won with roughly 54% of the vote to Obama’s 44%, but Obama only won a total of four counties out of 114 total counties in the state. A further look at the electoral results from the 2012 election shows that 46 of these counties were decided by under 2,000 votes. 12 of these counties were decided by less than 1,000 votes, and 5 counties were decided by a difference of just 500 votes.
According to Roy Blunt, a state senator for Missouri, Missouri is also home to around 100,000 individual farms, which is apparently the second-most in the nation. I submit to progressive-minded people that those across the nation with farming backgrounds should venture out of the urban areas to farm in the rural areas of places like Missouri in droves. Make a living doing something you already know in a place where people do not think like you.
If progressive-minded urban farmers are committed to their eco-friendly values, maybe they can move to areas where people don’t think like them and fundamentally change farming in these areas in addition to the attitudes of their neighbors in the process. Urban farming has already caught steam and popularity in cities, so I don’t think we need to worry about an exodus of urban farmers to rural areas causing urban farming to end.
Long story short: progressives need to move into these areas where only 500-1000 votes could swing whole counties.
Bernie Sanders lit the fire, now we have to tend to it and make his vision for America happen. Conservatives love to say that us Bernie supporters want free stuff, when in reality we want to work hard and be rewarded for our hard work. Let’s show conservatives how hard we can work and let’s put a progressive in the White House in 2020.