Democratic-Socialist Is the New Green
Will progressives of all stripes come together to form the movement the country needs?
It is an exciting time in Progressive politics. It may not seem like it with the contentious atmosphere that emanates from the Trump administration, but with all of the bad, there has also been an awaking of sorts. Ideas that were once scoffed at or considered “radical” are being looked at as viable alternatives to a broken system. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez winning as a Democratic-Socialist is proof of this, along with Beto O’Rourke in Texas refusing to take corporate money, and Kennth Meija running a full-on progressive campaign in California. Although these seem like fresh ideas, there is a party in the United States that has held these ideas for over 30 years. I’m talking about the Green Party.
Though the Greens tend to be thought of as outliers, or subjected to the stupid “election spoilers” narrative, the party itself has been the keeper of the progressive flame in the United States. With the emergence of these ideas once again into the mainstream, progressive thought is no longer on the defensive.
Medicare for All
The notion of a national health exchange is not new or unproven ground. There are many countries that have universal health insurance such as; Canada, the UK, and France, along with about 100 others. It has also become a buzzword recently, with the Democratic party shifting to adopt it into its platform. Bernie Sanders has famously championed it for years, though the notion has been around for a while. There is only one party that has always called for this system, and that’s the Green Party who made calls for universal health care coverage on a national level since at least 2000, and unofficially much earlier than that. Why wouldn’t they? It only makes sense if implemented properly and would’ve been even closer to fruition if Obama had gotten his way in the first place. There was aspects of universal health care in the original Obamacare bill, but it was scuttled by Joe Liberman in the final drafting.
Green New Deal
The Green New Deal is something that has been kicked around for a while. Putting money into a massive sustainable energy building program is smart. It takes into consideration that we are entering a warming cycle that we as humans can influence if we choose to. With an investment into sustainable energy infrastructure, you’re not only committing resources to what is obviously the future, but also securing your present with a plethora of new growth in the economy. This idea is not new to this election cycle, as it has been a staple of Green Party thought since the last presidential election. What Ocasio-Cortez has done that is commendable is to take that message and simplify it. The Green New Deal of the Green party is arduous and sweeping, a broad stroke to try and challenge all of society’s ills, all at once. By narrowing the scope of the meaning to simply focus on a green building program, Ocasio-Cortez makes the implications of such an investment palpable to folks.
Criminal Justice Reform
There is now a realization on both sides of the aisle that the criminal justice system in our country is broken. Prisons are filled with non-violent offenders and the cash bail system is essentially punishment for poor people, even before they are proven to be guilty. Before Trump came to power, there was some movement on this in the right direction. It was something that Democrats and Republicans could agree on, at least those who weren’t receiving contributions from the private prison industry. Before this started to gather steam, it was already on the radar of the Green party and was a major part of their platform. Senator Bernie Sanders has recently taken action on this topic by introducing a bill to disband the cash bail system. It is also a major part of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s platform, and should be on the radar of every American.
$15 Minimum Wage
Stagnant wages are killing the economy and allowing for an accumulation of wealth in the upper echelons of society. This is something that cannot be denied and its only gotten worse since Reagan lowered the tax rates on the top tax brackets by over 20 percent. Trickle down was a fluke and now our society is paying the price for it. The best way to stimulate the economy? Give it to the folks who will spend it, not hoard it away or throw it towards stock buybacks. If the average American were to receive a $15 minimum wage and the corresponding increases that would have to go up the chain as well, the economy would boom. If I get an extra $200, you can bet I’m spending that on food and other necessities, which directly stimulates the local economy. It is also an actual living wage for folks who deserve it. Thanks to the pressure exerted on Amazon and Disney by activists, they have agreed to raise wages in such a manner.
Tuition Free University
Education benefits everyone, so making it accessible only to those who have an abundant amount of money available fosters inequality at a class level. Some people have the money, but most have to go into massive debt in order to obtain a degree. This can lead to a stagnation in economic growth as people strapped with debt don’t have a disposable income available. By making university affordable, or offering free community college, you are directly benefiting your community. There is more than enough wealth in this country to allow this to happen, it is just a matter of allocating the resources properly. Greens have long pushed for reforms in the education for profit sector of the economy, and now other progressives are joining the call.
The Third Way
In the end, all of the disparate parties of the American progressive movement are starting to coalesce. Some are running as a candidate in one of the majors, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Michael Tubbs, the mayor of Stockton, CA also comes to mind. Winning as a Democrat, Tubbs is ushering in a pilot program to see if universal income can benefit his city.
Others like Kenneth Meija are trying to enter a third way, as a Green. An honest and hardworking candidate contesting the 34th assembly district of California, Kenneth is an energetic progressive that helps directly in his community. Whether it is unfair rent increases or the lack of compassion in treatment of our homeless neighbors, Kenneth is down on the ground working as hard as he can to make his community a better place. Oh, yeah, and he doesn’t take any money from special interests or corporations, only small dollar donations from grass roots folks.
The beauty of what is happening in this moment is that there is a chance for a true, lasting movement to occur that would finally give progressives a strong voice. The power of grassroots has been recognized once again, allowing for a break away from the control of interest groups and lobbyists. By disavowing corporate contributions and talking plainly about programs that make sense, but for so long have been decried as unreachable, the new Progressive movement is quickly separating itself from the policies of the old.
If you would like to read a little more about the candidates that I discussed in this article, here are some links to their websites: