Democrats must start to fight back. No more ‘When they go low we go high.’ Our slogan should be ‘When they go low we kick their asses.’ To start and have any real success making needed changes we must win the White House and both Houses of Congress by big margins on Nov. 3. That means from now until Election Day every Democrat, Democratic leaning independent, and decent Republican must stop nit-picking Joe Biden and our other candidates and rather vote and get everyone you know to vote for Democrats up and down the ballot. To make real change and work on all the issues Americans care about we must get rid of as many Republicans as possible at all levels of government.
The list of issues we need to deal with is long. It includes using both legislative fixes and Executive Orders. First we need legislation ensuring affordable healthcare for every American with a guarantee of coverage for pre-existing conditions. Legislation to make community college free; raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour; and immigration reform including making permanent the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). We must pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, including automatic voter registration and making Election Day a national holiday. We need to pass the Equality Act to ensure equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community.
Then we must look at every government agency and see what needs to be changed and what can be changed by Executive Order. We know many orders Trump signed regarding the environment and education need to be changed immediately. We need to look at what can be done by EO with regard to rooting out systemic racism. The administration can immediately rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and the Iran Nuclear Agreement.
Then with the White House and Congress we can begin to tackle what may be harder issues but nonetheless important if we are to ensure fairness and equality for all Americans in the future. This includes getting rid of the Electoral College; making D.C. and Puerto Rico states; and expanding the judiciary, including the Supreme Court, to represent the growth and diversity of the country. Clearly not an easy list to accomplish even with Democrats in control. A Biden/Harris administration will not be able to just wave a magic wand and see them happen. But we need to work on them and bring the American people along with us. As Ruth Bader Ginsburg said “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
The road ahead in the next 30 to 40 days won’t be easy. While Joe Biden will likely win the popular vote by millions winning the Electoral College won’t be as easy. We saw that in 2016 when Hillary won the popular vote by three million and still lost the election. So we need to keep working hard every day with a particular focus on about eight states that will make the difference in the Electoral College vote. States like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Arizona, Florida, Iowa, and Ohio. Biden doesn’t need to win them all but needs three of them and I think we will succeed in winning them.
Then the next step is governing for success. A Joe Biden/Kamala Harris administration will look like America — diverse and smart. The fights the administration must be prepared for are the ones that will occur within the party in Congress. The focus will be on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) who will need to hold their caucuses together. To do this they will need to work with the administration to craft legislation that can actually pass. We have legislators with diverse views ranging from those of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to those of Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y). Crafting legislation that can appeal to both and getting them each to moderate their views enough to get it passed will not be an easy task. I believe it can be done.
So let us move forward with the overriding premise that ‘when they go low we will kick their asses.’ Trump and his sycophants in Congress lie, call people names, and are willing to destroy our institutions and our democracy to get what they want. We must fight back and fight to win.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.