Sunday, December 11, 2016

Progressive Agenda Still Marches On

Don’t let anyone tell you that Trump’s win is a sign that the Republican Party’s agenda is broadly supported. Clinton had over 800,000 more votes but unfortunately they weren’t cast in the “swing states” so Trump got their electoral college votes. Trump won in those areas due to voter frustration with the status quo, especially in rural areas, that he recognized and spoke to. As Bill Clinton famously said 20 years ago “It’s the economy stupid”. Some voters were turned off by his mocking a handicapped journalist or his bragging about getting away with sexual assault but others were just so fed up with an economy that isn’t working for them they simply ignored anything but his promise to make their lives better. Unfortunately we Democrats chose a candidate who, while I believe she deeply cares about all of us, didn’t know how to articulate a message of hope and understanding.

Here are a few examples that show America is moving toward a more progressive future regardless of who just won the presidential election. Residents of California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada all passed measures legalizing recreational marijuana which will now be legal under state law in eight states with over one-fifth of the US population. Arizona voters rejected legalization in a close call of 52-48; which likely means advocates will try again soon since public opinion continues to trend against prohibition. Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota passed or expanded access to medical marijuana, making it available in three-fifths of the US.

Voters in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington elected to raise their state minimum wages to at least $12 an hour by 2020, with Washington’s going up to $13.50, and indexed to inflation thereafter. In Arizona and Washington the same measures also mandated employers offer paid medical leave which has been part of a growing progressive push in recent years.

Virginia voters rejected an effort by the Republican legislature to enshrine its anti-union “right-to-work” for less law into the state constitution so there is hope a future Democratic legislature can repeal the law.

Missouri was one of a dozen states with no limit on direct financial contributions to candidates this year voters chose to impose such limits in a landslide. Voters in South Dakota made it the first state to give voters campaign-donation vouchers to give to candidates in an effort to level the playing field and empower grassroots campaigns, and also imposed other campaign finance restrictions. Texas really needs to pass both of those measures if we really want government “of the people, by the people, for the people” instead of corporate control of our legislature and executive offices.

Maine voters chose to make theirs the first state in the nation to adopt instant-runoff voting, where voters rank their candidates in order of preference, and last-place finishers are eliminated sequentially until someone has a majority, with the goal of preventing a candidate from winning simply because multiple opponents split the vote. Had that been in place in Texas in 2006 Rick Perry might not have won the Governor’s election that year.

And voters in Florida rejected a sneaky bill that sounded like it supported home solar panel installation but in fact did just the opposite.

I’m confident that in the long run we’ll move forward on these and other important issues. 2016 is a setback but not a defeat. Be ready to counter attack.

Published in the Seguin Gazette November 18, 2016

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