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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/31/15

In Search of the Democratic Soul

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Corporate trade? The president is aggressively pushing a deal which would undermine key Dodd-Frank provisions -- and is disliked by voters from left to right. The president claims it's a "progressive" measure that would improve the lives of workers worldwide. But he's relying on Rep. Paul Ryan to block an anti-slavery amendment, something which wouldn't be needed in a genuinely worker-friendly agreement. And it's another NAFTA-esque job-killer.

Thirteen Democrats voted for fast-track last week. Democrats risk being tarred with this lousy deal for a generation.

And more battles are coming. Where will these Dems stand on the investment needed to repair our crumbling infrastructure -- and the taxes on the wealthy to pay for it?

Where will they stand on the fight over climate change, which will determine the fate of the planet?

Where will they stand on adequate funding for public schools?

Where will they stand on systemic racism and the crisis of our cities?

Where will they stand on our runaway military budget and NSA spying? Remember, Barack Obama was elected as an antiwar candidate.

And where will they stand on overturning Citizens United and ending the legalized corruption which is destroying our democracy?

Voters are looking for politicians who will stand with them -- with action and commitment, not vague rhetorical nostrums. And they're angry, so Elizabeth Warren's anger resonates with them.

Progressive Democrats are often advised not to challenge their party's leaders too firmly, because the Republican alternative is so terrible. "It is vital (for) Dems to figure out how to maintain maximum unity," writes Ed Kilgore, "even as they disagree." Similarly, independent progressives are often told it would be "irresponsible" not to vote for Democrats, even those of the Wall Street variety.

Democrats should be wooing progressives, not scolding them. By appealing to left-wing voters, Democrats will also be winning over the many Republicans and independents who agree with them on a broad range of issues.

The best way to find the soul of the Democratic Party is by seeking out the small-d "democratic" soul instead -- that voice of the majority which so often goes unheard in today's money-driven politics.

It can be found by speaking, in an unwavering voice, for the millions of voters who seek concrete solutions to their problems: stagnating wages, unaffordable education, a disappearing middle-class, racism, war, and crumbling roads and bridges. It can be found by speaking to their needs, their hopes, their idealism -- and yes, their anger.

Democrats who do that will surely find the soul of their party. And they just might find their own.

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Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

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