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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/23/20

Biden's Victory Does Not Guarantee a Progressive Agenda. We Must Fight for It.

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From Truthout

Joe Biden
Joe Biden
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Joe Biden's victory over Donald Trump is monumental. After four years of nonstop cruelty against workers, the poor, people of color, women, LBGTQ folks, immigrants, Muslims, the environment, the climate, and the foreign victims of Trump's bombs, we can breathe a sigh of relief.

But no sooner did Biden win the election, then centrists in the Democratic Party began blaming the left for the loss of seats in the House of Representatives and the failure to decisively regain control of the Senate.

In fact, progressives played a pivotal role in delivering the presidency to Biden and several congressional races to Democrats as well as turning Georgia and Arizona blue. Now progressives must hold Biden's feet to the fire and demand that he govern for the 99 percent and not the 1 percent.

Biden's cabinet selections so far are a mixed bag. His choice for United Nations ambassador has been praised by progressives. But Biden chose a secretary of state who is a strong supporter of U.S. militarism.

Progressives Were Key to Biden's Victory

In a three-hour conference call among House Democrats on November 5, centrists lambasted their progressive colleagues for embracing socialism, Medicare for All, and supporting calls to defund the police. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia), a former CIA officer , reportedly declared, "We have to commit to not saying the words 'defund the police' ever again. We need to not ever use the words 'socialist' or 'socialism' ever again. It does matter, and we have lost good members because of that."

Likewise, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, who has taken more money from the pharmaceutical industry in the past decade than any other member of Congress, reportedly said if "we are going to run on Medicare for All, defund the police, socialized medicine, we're not going to win."

The protests against white supremacy led by Black Lives Matter activists and demands to defund the police, however, brought Black Americans to the polls in cities that were critical to Biden's victory.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) told CNN's Jake Tapper she wasn't aware of any candidate who campaigned on socialism or defunding the police, but "these were largely slogans or demands from activist groups that we saw in the largest uprising in American history around police brutality."

Ocasio-Cortez said she offered her help to "every single swing state Democrat" and all but five refused her assistance. The five who accepted her offer were victorious or are on a path to victory. And every one who rejected her help is losing.

Moreover, every single Democrat who supported Medicare for All won reelection, Ocasio-Cortez noted. Progressive Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) were instrumental in delivering Minnesota and Michigan, respectively, for Biden. Candidates endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America won 26 out of the 30 races they entered.

"It turns out that supporting universal health care during a pandemic and enacting major investments in renewable energy as we face the existential threat to our planet from climate change is not just good public policy. It also is good politics," Bernie Sanders wrote on November 11.

When he addressed the country as president-elect, Biden attributed his victory to "the broadest and most diverse coalition in history." Indeed, "youth turnout was through the roof, and we're probably looking at, when all the ballots are tallied, the highest youth vote turnout ever," said NextGen America's executive director, Ben Wessel. Young people of color supported Biden overwhelmingly and their votes were decisive in many races, according to an analysis by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.

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Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and a member of the National Advisory Board of Veterans for Peace. Her most recent book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. See  (more...)

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