Berning Up the Democratic Party
In today’s New York Times Sen. Bernie Sanders makes a very compelling case as to why the Democratic Party in the United States needs to abandon their recently-held and failed electoral strategies and once again focus on reaching out to working class families and the middle class constituency that once formed the backbone and strength of the Democratic Party throughout most of the twentieth century. I strongly agree with Sen. Sanders when he states that the Democratic Party must, “open its doors wide to working people and young people,” and that we, “must make it clear to the working families of this country that, in these difficult times, [we as Democrats are] prepared to stand up and fight for their rights.”
As I campaign for the Democratic nomination in PA’s 7th Congressional District, I am aware that in order to beat Pat Meehan I must embody an inclusive message to all working class individuals and families. Rather than hedging on a centrist message of perceived safety, I am running on clear principles and my promise to use my scientific training to approach problems with an independent mind and see the evidence without invoking my personal ideologies. I pledge to listen to these people, their needs and struggles, before assuming what they want or the best way to solve it. I pledge to represent them, ahead of the interests of corporations and the extremely wealthy. I realize representing them is a responsibility. Representing them is not about telling these citizens what their needs are, but rather to engage with them in conversation, no matter their party, or interest, and work with them, and for them, to ensure they once again they have economic stability in their lives.
Bernie Sanders is not the only one calling for Democrats to be more inclusive in their organization. In Will Progressives Only Talk To Themselves, Les Leopold also warns that Democrats should abandon their practice of silo organizing whereby they focus their organizing around walled-off single-issue groups in an attempt to maximize contributions. By relying on a bunch of single silo groups, they may have raised money but they did not create a widespread and shared network of support that works together on their intersectional goals.
Economic justice is intersectional with racial justice, feminism, and environmental protection. You cannot truly protect a vulnerable population without providing them the means to financial independence and to have their basic needs met. By failing to court and develop such a broad and connected constituency, the reliance upon the silo model has resulted in losses for Democrats at all levels of government throughout the nation.
The bottom line is that the Democratic party must once again invest their outreach towards people, not money. That is why I am committed to running a grassroots campaign that will appeal to the needs of all of the people in the 7th Congressional District. I will not be a special interest candidate. I will work on the issues that affect the people of the 7th most, that will improve our economy and stabilize the lives of the working class.
Senator Sanders was also correct in saying that “many in our party cling to an overly cautious and centrist ideology.” If the ACA’s success had been boldly championed and defended by the Obama Administration then it would not face the threats of repeal as it does today. As Democrats we must not be afraid to boldly suggest that healthcare is a fundamental human right and should be guaranteed to all citizens. We must not shy away from paid family leave, a livable minimum wage, nor in suggesting that our tax code should indeed be progressive and should address the ever widening economic inequality in American society today.
These should once again be the central tenets of the Democratic party. Fairness, and economic and social justice are what inspired and created the legacies of the modern Democratic party after the Great Depression.
Alas, here is where I would like to remind you that fixing our democratic institutions and Democratic party is not a spectator sport. It will require standing up now for candidates that will stand up for working people. Primaries may not be good-vs-evil but this is when truly progressive candidates need support. If you want candidates who are not bought by big money, you have to support them now. Our success requires grassroots organizing and donations.