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If I Were A Progressive Candidate

By       Message Todd Huffman, M.D.     Permalink
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If I were a progressive candidate, I 'd speak most about what I would do, and least about what the other guy didn 't do. No quantity of speeches about how bad things are and how awful the other guy or gal is will advance a progressive agenda or grow progressive values in our society.

If I were a progressive candidate, I 'd take positions because they were right, not just because they were safe, and damn the political consequences. If because I did so I lose, well then I lose. Hell, this is no time for caution. This is no time for candidates who are technocratic and careful. This is a time for candidates who are passionate, and bold, and brave.

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If I were a progressive candidate, I 'd speak to voters ' hopes, their worries, and to what gives them despair late at night. And if I didn 't know, I 'd be damn sure to find out by asking them directly, not inferring from polls. Voters ask only that candidates know who they are, what they think, what they need, and what their rights are. They ask that candidates care more about people than about what they think. They need candidates who will say to them: "You and me both, pal."

If I were a progressive candidate, I 'd give my best answers to the real questions on voters ' minds. My God, who the hell really cares about gay marriage and flag burning? Folks across America are asking: "How will we prosper? What will make us secure? What will happen if my family loses our health care? How will we afford to send our kids to college? How will we afford to save for our retirement?"

If I were a progressive candidate, I 'd meet the American people where they are, not where I think they should be. Meeting them where they are comes before leading them where they ought to be. Belittling them for where they are only drives them further away from where they ought to be.

If I were a progressive candidate, I 'd speak not out of hopelessness, but out of hope. Hope is more sustaining than fear. I 'd present a clear vision for the future, a fresh agenda of new ideas, rather than a stale litany of old tired ones. I 'd help people to imagine more ambitiously what we can do together, and to realize what we can never do apart.

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If I were a progressive candidate, I 'd criticize without sounding as if I wanted America to fail. I 'd describe what I love about America, and then talk about what I want to do to make her better. While Americans are proud of their country, they are not blind to her shortcomings. But tell them how awful she is, or patronize their pride, and you can forget about ever being elected.

If I were a progressive candidate, I 'd present big, positive visionary solutions that solve multiple problems simultaneously while strengthening progressive and American values. The American people cannot be won over by presenting them a laundry list of complaints and giving them no end of "I have a nightmare" speeches. No more candidates who frighten people into inaction, and cause them to be pessimistic about the possibility for real change.

If I were a progressive candidate, I 'd mobilize and persuade, rather than continue only to mobilize the persuaded. Let 's face it, there is no great untapped reserve of liberals and progressives out there that well is producing as much as it ever did and ever will. It 's time to explore for new sources of political energy.

If I were a progressive candidate, I 'd run on a platform that would Make America Safe, Rebuild America First, Make Work Pay, Strengthen Health Care, Educate Children Well, Provide Tuition Relief, Protect Retirement Security. Create New Energy, and Save Our Environment. Let 's keep it simple, folks. These are the things that matter.

If I were a progressive candidate, I 'd champion a just society that doesn 't discriminate based on gender, race, orientation or creed. I 'd champion an opportunity society that makes the American dream real for every American who reaches for it. I 'd champion a secure society, but one where our security is found most in the health, education, courage, and innovation of the American people.

I 'd champion a government of the Have-Nots, not the Haves. I 'd champion an America where government doesn 't turn its back on its own people. I 'd champion an America whose great strength its people work together once again to build a stronger, smarter, healthier and safer nation.

For though America is a great nation, a nation cannot remain great unless it remains good, and prosperous. A nation cannot remain prosperous unless its people work tirelessly together to keep the scales of justice balanced for all, the halls of learning wide enough for all, the advances of science available to all, and the avenues of opportunity open to all.

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If I were a progressive candidate, this would be my vision. No more can America withstand candidates who lack this or some other positive vision of opportunity and well-being for all. For as it says in the Scriptures, "where there is no vision, the people perish."

 

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Todd Huffman is a pediatrician and writer living in Eugene, Oregon. He is a regular contributor to many newspapers and publications throughout the Pacific Northwest.

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