This is a pivotal moment. In recent years we’ve witnessed the awakening and uprising of creative, courageous people demanding justice and equality—from #BlackLivesMatter to #protecttranskids, #LandBack to #MeToo and disability justice to immigrant rights. Politically, these movements have spurred progressive candidates at every level of government, from new members of the “Squad” in congress to diverse and bold progressive candidates winning at every level. Our multicultural and participatory democracy is within reach.
Yet this is also a moment of great potential peril. The racist right-wing ideology of Donald Trump runs rampant through our country, anti-immigrant forces remain emboldened, and corporations continue to control the inner workings of Congress, undermining the very nature of our democracy.
Whether we win or lose hinges on one thing: inspiring and mobilizing our base.
Yet the impulse of too many leaders within the Democratic Party is to pivot to the right and center. This is a mistake. All it takes is listening to the rising American electorate, the clear future of the Democratic Party. We continuously see this strategy fail—because it is built to fail. It is not meant to succeed, but rather to satisfy wealthy and corporate donors—regardless of the long-term consequences of alienating and ignoring Black and Brown communities and economically marginalized communities.
The end result of pivoting to the ever-vanishing middle leaves the progressive base under-resourced, unmotivated, unspoken to, and unorganized—a proven recipe for defeat. We win by doing the opposite.
Black people. Brown people. Indigenous people. Asian people. Working class and poor communities. Immigrant communities. Queer people. Disabled people. These are our people, and we have been uninspired by corporate Democrats who fail to realize that the real swing voters are those who choose between voting and staying home.
As the incoming co-executive directors of the Center for Popular Democracy, the largest multiracial organizing network on the left in the United States, our mission is to center the lives and experiences of our people and build their power.
Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of activists across the country, working alongside local grassroots leaders in CPD affiliates, to build this power. Investing in and expanding our base is a strategy that will ultimately transform politics and expand what’s possible. We are not alone in this understanding. In fact, Republicans, so keenly aware of the power of Black, Brown and working-class voters, actively pursue strategies to curtail our presence at the ballot box.
If we don’t exercise our true political power, working class people and communities of color across the country will continue to be brutalized by a system that protects racial and gender hierarchies, reinforces inequality and injustice, and protects the comfort of a powerful few.
We are organizers, strategists and community leaders, but we also grew up experiencing the inequities too many people face across this country every day.
For us, everything is at stake, and this is personal. We have children who deserve to grow up in a world free from police brutality and systemic racism, where they can live full, productive lives on a healthy planet doing fulfilling work.
Everyday people can and will transform the way politics and policy happen—if we build power and force politicians to address our issues. It’s win-win for Democrats: Invest in our liberation, and we could all win together.