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Wednesday, October 12, 2016


No more boomer pipe dreams

by Tom Sullivan

Aerial photo of the California Aqueduct at the Interstate 205 crossing. Photo by Ian Kluft GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The rump fraction of "real America" that still supports Generalissimo Trump for president had best turn in its flags and lapel pins and burn its Lee Greenwood records. After Sunday night's debate and taking nothing for granted, Donald Trump's egomaniacal visions of glory will be consigned on November 8 to the ash heap of history. With extreme prejudice. Then what?

After the Berlin Wall fell, boomer friends talked about what America could do with the "peace dividend." There was no peace dividend. That was a progressive pipe dream. America spends deficit dollars like there's no tomorrow to blow up things. Or even to build the potential to. America wrings its hands and grouses about cost and the national debt and whether they are deserving when the talk is about spending to build up people.

Yet after November 8, half a century after passage of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and Medicare, progressives face the opportunity to again make America great in the same way we never imagined possible when President Lyndon Johnson of Texas took office. If the spirit of America rises to crush the Trump faction at the polls, Hillary Clinton will have a chance again to be the "change maker" her husband tells stories about. If we push her to make it so.

Mike Lux pointed yesterday to surveys sponsored by Democracy Corps and Women’s Voices Women’s Vote. From the report:

Millennials are poised to give Hillary Clinton and Democrats a big margin in November’s election if they are engaged to vote and if progressives are smart in dealing with the third party vote. Millennial voters are in a very different place than they were two weeks ago, according to a new web survey of likely millennial voters in the eleven most competitive battleground states...

Democratic millennials have started to consolidate for Clinton, but their Republican contemporaries have not done the same for Trump. Gary Johnson’s millennial vote is now a repository for most of those anti-Trump Republicans. The biggest, genuine problem is whether millennials will vote. The emerging battle over the economy - centered on taxes, trickle down and corporate responsibility - is getting their attention. Millennials are in an anti-corporate mood and desperate for change, and this new focus may move them to the polls on Election Day.
Lux writes:
It is clear that the voters we need to turn out — especially young people — are populist and progressive to the max. They want millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes. They want to end the destructive cycle of student debt. They want good jobs and good wages and dignity in the workplace. They want Wall Street to be held accountable. And that is exactly what Democrats have said they will do, in our party platform, in speeches all over the country, in the legislation our elected officials have introduced in Congress.

If Democrats and progressive movement leaders alike give those voters a reason to turn out, the data tells us they will respond. With Republicans in open and ugly civil war, a lot of their voters either won’t vote for Trump; won’t vote for the GOP candidates who aren’t supporting Trump; or won’t vote at all. Given that circumstance, a big turnout by young and progressive constituencies will give us a big wave election for Democrats, meaning not only that Hillary wins, but that we win the Senate and, yes, the House too.
Then what?

A sweeping Democratic win, for example, will increase the clout of both Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders. A Clinton win will be worth it just for the looks on the faces of John Stumpf and Lloyd Blankfein on November 9. As I point out to my Sanders friends in North Carolina, if they help Deborah Ross defeat Richard Burr and Democrats take back the Senate, Bernie Sanders will likely chair the Senate Budget Committee. (Sanders is sending out fundraising letters for Ross.)

Sanders' team fought tirelessly to write his vision into the Democratic platform. Affordable education. Economic fairness. Combating climate change. Rebuilding the country's infrastructure. Those still doubting Clinton's commitment will get to hold her to those goals.

There is still much work ahead before Election Day. But Lux is right. We need to start thinking now about how to enact a new, progressive agenda. If Democrats win and win big, young voters in an anti-corporate mood will have new clout for changing their future from one in which people serve the economy into one in which the economy serves people. Twenty-five years ago, progressives had pipe dreams about what they might build again in this country. Their kids and grandkids might have a real chance to do it starting in 2017.

Lux's advice to focus more on that than on Trump is sound. Besides, ignoring Trump will piss him off even more.