The Democratic Party, and the Mantra of “Wait Your Turn”.
Thoughts on leftists always being told that now just isn’t the time.
With the 2020 election finally behind us, and Joe Biden’s cabinet shaping up to be exactly what leftists like myself feared it would be, I can’t help but reflect on not only how we got where we are today, but where we go from here. I’ve been doing my best to find silver linings in the midst of what undeniably feels incredibly bleak, and to be clear there have been some. With the election of Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman adding to the ranks of grassroots motivated legislators in congress, and congress passing historic legislation to legalize marijuana that would remove federal penalties and erase records related to it, for the sake of my own sanity I have had to remind myself that progress is in fact being made.
As encouraging as these gains have been, I also can’t help wondering how much quicker progress would be made if the powers that be within the Democratic party weren’t constantly telling the left that our time will come, we just need to trust them, and to wait our turn. In other words: we should wait for the old guard to finally relinquish power, and step aside.
At the start of the 115th congress, the average age of House Democrats was 71 years old, with “baby boomers” making up the overwhelming majority of the Democratic and Republican party’s representatives.
California Senator Diane Feinstein is 87 years old, and will be in her nineties before her term is done.
The thing is, it’s not just the fact that Feinstein is elderly, it’s that her ideas and political calculations when it comes to governing are old as well. At 25 years old, the fact that someone who is older than my grandparents, whose unwillingness to pass meaningful climate change legislation will be negatively impacting my grandchildren is frustrating to say the least. And yet we’re consistently being told that she knows what she’s doing, to trust her judgement, and that she has our best interests in mind. Meanwhile millennials, with the older amongst their generation now approaching 40, are still being told to sit tight and wait for these legislators to retire.
When 70 percent of voters overall support Medicare for All but Nancy Pelosi won’t even hold a vote on it in the House, at what point do we admit that “wait your turn” means ignoring the fact that our representatives are not representing the will of the people?
Imagine, just for a moment, being 35 years old with children, and having your grandparents making the decisions for you that will directly impact your future and the future of your children. Imagine approaching them as adults with with your own ideas and perspectives on what the future should look like that are shaped by your own lived experiences, and being told “we know what’s best”, or to “just wait” in response. It would be utterly absurd and frustrating in any other context, so why are young adults treated like naive ideologues for simply wanting our legislators to represent us?
We have been told “just wait” for so long, the fact is that we’re objectively running out of time. Will we still be told to wait when climate change has all but destroyed the chances of our grandchildren having a habitable planet to live on? How much longer must we be brushed aside for wanting single-payer healthcare after so many of us have lost loved ones because they were unable to afford to go to the hospital when they needed to, or get the cancer treatment they needed? I am entirely aware that change does not happen overnight. I know that progress is slow, and will not always happen as quickly as we want it to. But there’s an undeniable difference between slow but steady progress, and politicians standing in the way as intentional, active barriers to the change we want and need to see.