I’m A Progressive Woman Running For Office. Here’s What That Means.

Democrats have one goal — to elect the best democrats up and down the ballot in 2019 and in 2020. That is how we will defeat Donald Trump and his supporters. We should all be solely focused on that.

So what do we do when our own party seems to be split on what it means to be a Democrat? Is the division real? Is it just a compelling narrative pushed to add a little drama? Or, are we all saying the same thing, but calling it a different name?

As a party, we need to be united to win. But, what unites us, as Democrats, should be the ideals and goals we share. While we may have different strategies on how to attain those goals, we need to be clear on what we stand for. If we unite around our common goals, a primary race should serve as an opportunity to debate new ideas and ultimately leave us with a stronger platform to run our candidate. The diversity in opinions and challenging of ideas help create better candidates — better democrats.

I’ve read the op-eds saying that as a party, we need to move to the political Center in order to defeat Trump, and “progressive” is a dirty word that’s going to keep voters away. I’ve heard this not only in the media, but from Presidential candidates and congressional representatives, including my own.

I don’t know what the message in the Center looks like, because it’s rarely articulated as a platform, but usually as a defense against democratic progressives. But I can tell you what modern Progressive ideals looks like.

First off, the root of Progressivism is progress, literally and figuratively. Most of us want progress on the issues that affect us, and solutions in the shortest amount of time. That’s why progressive policies tend to be bigger, bolder and affect the most amount of people. They strive to do the most good. To say that ideas shouldn’t be big and bold is to say that we should never expect real progress.

To achieve progress, progressives passionately push against the status quo.

The status quo has brought us 10 years away from catastrophic climate change.

The status quo has created a generation where mass shootings have become normal.

The status quo has provided more Americans access to healthcare they still can’t afford.

The status quo brought us Donald Trump who has steamrolled our nation’s values and trampled on our Constitution.

The status quo hasn’t been working for a while. Progressives simply want to reinvigorate the Democratic Party to help them achieve the promises they have made to constituents all across our county. While my current representative likes to call progressives “left wing extremists,” I’d like to share my progressive ideals so you can judge for yourself.

I believe that no one should die because they can’t afford health insurance, medications or medical bills.

I believe that an economy’s health shouldn’t be evaluated by the stock market or unemployment rate when wages haven’t grown with the cost of living, the wealth gap is increasing, and the government can’t accurately track how many people are forced to work multiple jobs in order to put food on the table.

I unequivocally believe in a woman’s right to choose and that abortion access should not be limited by income.

I believe that a quality education shouldn’t put a person or their family into generational debt. Access to high quality education is key for every aspect of our economic growth and for our country to lead in innovation across every sector. I also believe in a strong public school system, where every child has an equal opportunity to learn.

I believe that everyone has a right to live and love however and whomever they choose without fear of discrimination socially, economically or professionally.

I believe that corporate money is not a freedom of personal expression but a way for corporations to buy policy through politicians and cancel out your voice. Politicians that take money from corporations can’t be trusted to vote in the best interests of constituents when corporations are looking for a return on their investment.

I believe in common sense gun laws that ensure our families are safe from those who intend to do us harm.

I believe that children should not be locked in cages. Everyone seeking asylum should have the opportunity for path to citizenship that doesn’t violate their basic human rights and due process as guaranteed by our Constitution.

I believe that our climate crisis is a world-ender and must be approached with the same urgency proportionate to the problem.

I believe that everyone should pay their fair share in taxes. Super wealthy people writing laws to give other super wealthy people a pass at the expense of the middle and lower class has never helped our economy and has only led to debt. In times when everyone has paid their fair share, our country has thrived.

I believe that our government representation should be representative of the community, not representative of a person’s wealth and means to run for office.

I believe that the U.S. has a responsibility to lead by example across the globe and be a broker of peace. We should be the shining example of compassion and fair treatment of marginalized populations at home and abroad.

I believe that strong unions are the backbone of our economy, are needed to protect the rights of workers, and are key to strengthening the middle class.

I believe that we need to be doing more for our veterans. They selflessly protect us, and we need to selflessly ensure that they never suffer from homelessness, food insecurity, lapses in adequate health coverage, and support them in their ability to transition into a civilian workforce, buy homes and get a proper higher education.

I believe in criminal justice reform starting with the banning of for-profit prisons. We cannot fix the system if corporations are incentivized to keep people in.

I believe Democracy works best when everyone is allowed to participate and speak up.

I believe that no one, including the President is above the law. Those who break the law need to be held accountable for their actions. Not doing so, sets a bad precedent, perverts our system of justice, and strips our Congress of one of its most basic powers. Corruption by those in power at any level cannot be allowed.

These are progressive ideals.

These are ideals that are wildly popular in my District and across the country.

These ideals are what set the progressive agenda.

If these seem lofty, it’s because they are. Change is hard, but we are a country founded through hard work and overcoming the impossible. We should all be fighting for the best possible future for our children, not doing what’s easiest or politically expedient right now. We need to recognize that the times have changed and the ways we solve the problems that face us need to change as well. We need to work together to fight for innovative solutions with a sense of urgency proportionate to the problems.

Like I said earlier, I’m not sure what the ideals to the right of these are within the Democratic Party, but basic human compassion, morality, equal rights, and ensuring our government works for all people, shouldn’t be labeled as “progressive,” or demonized.

Each of us gets to decide who we want to be, what we want our party to represent and how we vote. Like many of you, I don’t think our current system is working well. Fighting for the status quo won’t save our environment. It won’t stop school shootings, it won’t prevent people from dying because they can’t afford their medical bills, and it certainly won’t beat Trump..

I don’t believe Democrats should be taking corporate money. I don’t believe you can support all women and still support the Hyde Amendment. I don’t believe you can be solely focused on bipartisan solutions as long as we have a Republican Party unwilling to negotiate policies in good faith. I also don’t believe saying that you refuse to hold a President, implicated in multiple felonies accountable to the rule of law upholds the principles of the Democratic Party.

I believe we can fix our country if we energize young Democrats, who make up the majority of our quickly expanding electorate, which will soon grow into the face of our party, and inherit the world we shape. I believe we can unite if we help all Democrats realize we share common goals.

After talking to voters, community members and friends, I believe we are much more aligned within the Democratic Party than the media, pundits and the GOP would have you believe.

If you’d like to learn more or still have questions about what it means to be progressive, please sign up to be part of our campaign at www.DarrigoForCongress.com, follow us on social and come to one of our events.

If you’d like to donate, you can click here

Melanie D'Arrigo for Congress NY3

I’m Melanie D’Arrigo, a progressive Democrat, activist, organizer and mom, running for Congress in New York’s 3rd District. I’m an everyday person running for C

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