OP-ED: A progressive wish list for 2020
The term “progressive” gets bandied around a lot, even by people who aren’t talking about insurance. As the editor of a 111-year-old publication called The Progressive, I like pointing out that this designation is not about belonging to any political party (my magazine’s founder, legendary Wisconsin Sen. Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette, was a Republican) but believing in a set of ideals.
Progressives stand in opposition to war and militarism, and champion equality and social justice. We believe, as “Fighting Bob” once put it, that “those of every generation who love democracy (must) resist with all their might the encroachments of its enemies,” and insist on policies that will provide the foundation for a better world.
In that spirit, here are six things we think are worth working toward in 2020:
Bring down President Donald Trump. While the impeachment proceedings are unlikely to result in the president’s removal from office, they have already provided ample evidence of his venality and contempt for the rule of law. We must continue to oppose his efforts to subvert the institutions of democracy and democracy itself. Trump’s abuse of his power and violation of his oath of office are unforgivable offenses — and those eager to make excuses for him are tragically misguided.
Pick a progressive for president. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts may have had the best line of 2019 when she wondered during a debate why anyone would run for president just to “talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for.” Republicans are backing one of the most unfit and least-popular incumbents in U.S. history. Democrats, rather than reflexively rushing to anoint a mushy moderate, should take this opportunity to select a true-blue proponent of the fundamental change that most Americans want.
Declare war on climate change. Republicans, including Trump, seem intent on making this problem worse, while scientists say the most ambitious measures embraced even by those who are concerned will not be enough to prevent climate catastrophe. What’s needed is a commitment to a green economy as sweeping as anything this nation has ever seen. Done right, it could create millions of new jobs and restore the United States’ status as the world’s leading technological innovator.
Banish the bomb. While public concern about nuclear weapons has fallen from its high point in the early 1980s, the danger itself has never been greater, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which has tracked this for decades. Trump’s reckless decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal, withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and pursue an insane new commitment to nuclear “modernization,” have pointlessly heightened the risk, which will remain as long as any of these weapons are allowed to exist.
Ensure access to health care for all. There is no good reason that the United States should continue to be the only industrialized nation on earth that does not ensure that its people, all of them, have access to health care. It’s time to break through the logjam and deliver.
Pass meaningful gun control: Huge majorities of the American public support commonsense measures such as universal background checks, bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and red-flag laws to keep guns out of the hands of evidently dangerous people. To hell with the NRA, let’s git ’er done.
If we work hard and stay focused, 2020 can be the year we make huge gains on these and other issues.
— Bill Lueders is editor of The Progressive. This column was produced for the Progressive Media Project and distributed by Tribune News Service.