State and Local Leaders Can Drive the Rebuilding of the Democratic Party

Co-authored with Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs

Headlines nationwide have proven that Democrats and progressives are effectively resisting policies of the Trump administration that take our nation backwards instead of forwards — from airport protests opposing discriminatory travel bans to backlash at town halls against taking away health care from millions of Americans.
For Democratic leaders hoping to see the Party rebuild, the enthusiasm is heartening, and we should encourage the activism that has fought egregious proposals that threaten our values.
The resistance is powerful — and paves the way for change — but we also know we need policies that will help people in their day to day lives, addressing the genuine concerns of Americans from coastal cities to Midwestern plains. We need a unifying agenda that responds to the one common message from voters in diverse regions in the last election: too many people have not shared in the prosperity of today’s economy.
Addressing the challenges and inequities affecting working Americans requires fresh ideas and a pro-growth progressive platform — one that gives everyone the chance to thrive in the new economy and embraces the unstoppable forces that are changing our world rather than trying to turn the clock back to a bygone era that will never return.
In our hometowns of Stockton, California and Lincoln, Nebraska, as well as any other community, future prosperity depends on a skilled and educated workforce, innovative entrepreneurs, a safety net for families that fits with the challenges of the new economy, and an effective and efficient government that people can trust. Democrats have no shortage of energy, fight, and good intentions, and now is our opportunity to harness that energy to prove that we are the Party with answers.
All of us in positions of leadership have a role to play, and that’s one reason each of us is joining an organization called NewDEAL, which connects 152 state and local Democratic leaders from 46 states to develop and share pro-growth, progressive policy ideas that expand opportunity in the new economy and make government work better. These are leaders from red, blue, and purple states proving that with the right policies and message, Democrats can succeed in every corner of the country.
We are excited for this chance to discover great ideas to better support the people who we represent, and to realize the potential of these ideas as part of a forward-looking agenda for our Party and the nation.
This agenda is beginning to take shape in places like Salt Lake City, where Mayor Ben McAdams has worked across party lines to coordinate efforts to end homelessness and provide better access to high quality preschool for low-income children.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has spurred job growth and economic development in the wake of the recession through programs like the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement, while reducing crime and using the Code Louisville initiative to provide youth in public housing with education in tech and business.
Connecticut Representative Caroline Simmons’ “Entrepreneurs Learning Permit” can help new business owners navigate state requirements to reduce obstacles that prevent great ideas from becoming thriving companies.
Absent progress on funding infrastructure and supporting construction jobs in Washington, D.C., Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read is implementing a program to leverage private investment throughout the region to rebuild roads, bridges, and more. The West Coast Infrastructure Exchange allows major investors, like unions and public employee pension funds, to invest in the very projects on which their members might work.
We look forward to adding new ideas to this mix, including Mayor Tubbs’ work to focus investment and opportunity in the less than one percent of the population that drives Stockton’s violent crime rate, along with Senator Bolz’s efforts to help Nebraska workers repay student loans and to give lower-income students and employees new opportunities to enhance their skills at community colleges.
Fighting back in the Trump era requires a combination of active resistance along with a genuine alternative plan to advance economic opportunity for everyone and restore faith in government. Through this work, we will ensure that Democrats are seen as the Party of solutions for making a new economy work for all Americans.