There is a lot of great thinking about policy that is driving progressive movement organizing right now. While policy discussion in the traditional media confines of D.C. conventional wisdom is depressingly narrow, the progressive movement is bubbling with not only big and bold policy ideas but energy as to how to push them even in the face of Republican control of many of the levers of government power, including presidential executive orders, ballot initiatives, issue campaigns in big cities and states still controlled by Democrats, and in corporate campaigns that force big business to the bargaining table to make concessions on a variety of issues.
There are three big areas that progressives are coming up with ideas about, all of them related to each other:
- Creating new jobs by investing in the things our country desperately needs, like infrastructure and green energy
- Raising the wages of most American workers
- Systemic reform that focuses on the imbalances in our economy, such as concentrations of wealth and power in major business sectors and the dominance of financial services in our economic system
There have been a number of speeches and conferences in recent weeks talking about policy ideas in all three areas, and I am going to be writing a lot about all this in the weeks to come. One event I wanted to highlight today is one I was involved in helping think through and organize last week that included the Center for Community Change, the Center for Popular Democracy, Jobs With Justice, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the Working Families Organization. They focused especially on the jobs-creation question, especially in low-income communities, and connected it closely to raising wages. Senators Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren opened and closed the event, both giving terrific speeches about creating jobs and making the investments needed to rebuild the country. The panels were also phenomenal, with a mix of national progressive leaders, messaging experts, and grassroots activists from around the country. And the attendees were an impressive mix of people as well, with key progressive leadership from all over the country.
I am going to write more about this in days to come, but here is Elizabeth Warren's stirring speech to close the conference: