Grassroots progressives put Biden in the White House… but what do we get for that?
Nothing guaranteed, but at least he gives us the possibility of winning some progressive policies. Unlike when Clinton and Obama fleetingly raised hopes in 1992 and 2008 that progress was possible—only to disappoint us—two new factors give progressive proposals a greater chance this time. First, is Biden himself. A core part of his political make-up is that he’s Joe Labor, coming to the job with a genuine affinity for working stiffs. For Biden, labor rights are not wonkish issues, but about showing gut-level respect for working families, actually caring about the well-being of workers.
Second—and most important—is you and me.This is not ’92 or ’08, when our incoming presidents simply said “Thank you and goodbye” to grassroots backers, then handed the government’s economic keys to Wall Street bankers and corporate lobbyists. We won’t allow Biden to do that and he knows it. Today, there’s an organized, battle-tested Left on alert in practically every congressional district. Plus, we now have a growing cadre of unwilting agitators who’re influential members of Congress, willing to expose and oppose insider sellouts.
This time, progressive forces are not about to be shushed or shooed away by the Democratic Party’s go-slow establishment. We’re akin to the insistent forces of fundamental change who asserted themselves after Roosevelt won. FDR had not run as a New Dealer, but as a centrist Democrat promising little more than to rid the White House of the clueless Herbert Hoover. But the moment he was elected, grassroots movements were in his face. They created the historic New Deal reform agenda... and then made Roosevelt spend political capital to pass it.
There’s one big lesson from the New Dealers we should heed: Push hard and fast for the Big Change America needs.
Populist author, public speaker and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America’s ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at www.hightowerlowdown.org.