For many of us scared and angry about our current President, it’s become a mantra for a good reason. Protecting basic health care, opposing turning our schools over to corporations, and defending America’s credibility worldwide are all vital to our future.
But it is not enough. Recently, 52% of Americans polled only define Democrats by our work to fight Trump. If we are going to really change communities for the better, and regain people’s trust, we have to be proactive and bold in pushing for real change. What does that mean?
While unemployment is low and the stock market continues to rise thanks to President Obama’s work after the Great Recession, wages have stayed flat. So while the average CEO now makes 335 times that of the average worker, most people feel like no matter how hard they work the best they can do is keep pace on a treadmill. And if working families have any problem, like unexpected health bills or a major house/car problem, that treadmill kicks them right off.
Higher minimum wages that rise with inflation, paid leave plans allowing for people to take time for ailing kids or aging parents, and increasing the earned income tax credit for people who work hard for a living can all help them keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets.
Globalization and new technology are generally good, but international supply chains and new robotics/artificial intelligence systems are making many traditional jobs obsolete. Of the 11.6 million jobs created since 2009, 11.5 million of them require some form of college education. Because of this, we have to keep public universities and community colleges affordable, flexible, and make sure they provide the new skills necessary to find work in a 21st century economy.
While Obamacare has been a success in allowing more people to see doctors and decreasing costs per patient, it obviously still needs work. Insurance costs have risen for some because more sick people are part of insurance plans and companies have pulled themselves from health exchanges, decreasing competition. Real solutions need to be offered.
For instance, Medicare is popular and works. Why not allow younger individuals to purchase a Medicare insurance plan as a public option for health care? Furthermore, giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices is a no-brainer that will lower prices for the people that need them most.
We also cannot be afraid to work with Republicans when we can. For instance, a majority of Republican voters want a realistic pathway to citizenship for those that want to come here, work hard, and live the American dream. Let’s try and work with their representatives to get it done. Engaging private sector investment while protecting public tax money for infrastructure like broadband internet and the repair of crumbling bridges and roads has been embraced by states as diverse as Texas and California.
And Gov Jerry Brown in California recently got Republicans to vote for his bill to fight climate change by embracing a cap and trade policy using private sector concepts.
At the end of the day, though, our message has to be simple. Democrats aren’t just a road block. We need to always ask the question, “How do we get better?” and offer real, courageous, and effective ideas that create jobs, keep people healthy, and continue the role our nation has as a world leader.
Now let’s make them happen.
Bill McCamley is a State Representative from Las