There seems to be a steady drumbeat of headlines warning democrats not to drift too far to the left. Fears of isolating moderates is cited as the primary reason for holding the center. This debate reminds me of a conversation I had with my dad a couple years ago.
I was dating someone (the person before I met my delightful husband lol) and we had just decided to become exclusive. Now, this person had an ex that was still in love with him. He made time for her and insisted that I couldn’t be part of it because it would hurt her feelings. For me, this felt like we were not exclusive. I was complaining to my dad about the the situation and I was coming up with solutions we could all live with. “ Maybe he could see her once a week,” I would say. “Maybe he can only hang out with her in group settings.”
My dad was listening to me negotiate with myself without much to add. Finally, I asked him what he thought about it. He told me if you come to the table with the solution that you’ve negotiated with yourself then, for sure, you won’t get what you want and you will likely agree to something you think is completely unacceptable. It stopped me in my tracks. He asked me what do you really want? Do you really want the person you’re dating to see another woman once a week? Do you really want another person to have the power to put boundaries around your relationship?
Clearly the answer was no to both these questions. What I wanted was for him to tell her that he’s dating someone else now and that their relationship was over. Sure that sounded bold and he might reject it, but that’s exactly what I wanted. If I was going to compromise, I should enter the negotiation with exactly what I want even though I truly believed I wouldn’t get it. If I started the negotiation with a position that was already watered down then I was bound to be pushed further than I would like to go. There’s also the off chance that by starting with what I wanted, I might just get it.
This conversation with my dad is so similar to the debate that is going on the in the democratic party right now. While I understand the fear of moving to the left, I think it’s time for democrats to be bold, to say what they we think, even if the chances of that happening once in office is low. We must come to the table with uncompromised positions. The compromising happens after you take office.
A campaign needs to be easy to understand. Trump proved to us that quick, digestible positions make a big impact. Build a Wall! Repeal and Replace! Of course these positions would have to be watered down in office, but the bones of what was constantly chanted run through the administration to this day. Why can’t dems do the same? Healthcare for All!, which can mean repairing the ACA, moving to a Medicare for all system or anything in between. Education For All!, which can mean more funding for public schools, free college tuition or anything in between. Justice For All!, can mean comprehensive criminal justice reform, protecting illegal immigrants rights or anything in between.
Sure, each of these things are complicated and will take multiple steps to achieve, but the bones are there. The country is so diverse. Every candidate should feel free to say exactly what they believe will help the constituents they are trying to represent. 2016 turned us on our heads and it’s time to try something new. The risk/reward is in democrats favor. We should run like we have nothing to lose. It’s gonna range from screaming Abolish Ice in California to pro-gun liberals in Pennsylvania and we have to be ok with that. I love that people are deciding to run on strong progressive positions. Fear of being ‘too left’ has lead us to this point and it’s time to think outside the box. We need to move forward unafraid of what the other side will say because the other side is ever ready to twist anything democrats say no matter how moderate the position. We should just go for it!
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