The ReNew Deal is What America Needs

If Only The Democrats Were Bold Enough To Give it to Us

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Democrats, for once let’s be bold. Illustration: The Street

Civil Rights

If 2020 has made anything clear it’s that we are a country built on systemic racism. This was crystal clear to a lot of people for 400 years, but many people are just now realizing how this country is structured (Ben Shapiro, not so much). The original New Deal significantly helped African Americans, but it only did so tangentially, often shying away from taking firm and aggressive stands on matters of civil rights for fear of alienating Southern whites. Here’s an idea Democrats, let’s stop being afraid of alienating white people and seize the moment and renew our country’s commitment to civil rights.

Healthcare

The plan’s already out there, Mr. Biden — establish Medicare-for-All. It’s long overdue and the coronavirus pandemic has made its necessity glaringly obvious. Every person living in America should have health insurance. Period. Democrats, play a little offense for a change. Make Republicans defend why they believe people shouldn’t be covered.

Economic Opportunity

We need to rebuild our economy from the ground up. We know that tax cuts for the wealthy and rolling back corporate regulations don’t help anyone but rich people and inevitably cause an economic crash…because that’s what’s happened every time they’ve been enacted over the last 150 years. How many more times are we going to try it before it sinks in that money doesn’t trickle down? One of the most important parts of the New Deal was the series of economic regulations put in place to protect Americans, from the Securities Act, the Banking Act, The Home Owners’ Loan Act, and the Glass-Steagall Act. Republicans have sought to gut these protections for decades. We need to renew that commitment and secure our economic future from corporate greed.

Educational Equity

We need to stop paying lip-service to education and start more equitably funding our schools. The current system was built to exacerbate inequality. We need to reform public school funding from the current property-tax system that creates wealthy and poor districts. A child born in one neighborhood should not get a better education than a child born in another. To do that, we need more equitable funding across school districts that’s not based on the property value of its residents. We need free school meals for all students. Period. Get rid of income requirements and shame. We are the wealthiest country in the history of the world — kids can eat for free at school.

Environmental Protection

The progressive wing of the party has already put a Green New Deal on the table, so a lot of the policy ideas are sitting there waiting for you to act. The New Deal likewise took on climate change, passing the Soil Conservation Act to help protect against erosion to avoid another Dust Bowl, so it’s not like there isn’t precedent for progressive action to address environmental needs amidst a crisis. The planet is almost literally on fire right now — in some places, it is literally on fire. We need to address climate change now before it’s too late (well, more too late). The good news is most initiatives that address climate change also address income inequality, will help rebuild our infrastructure, address civil rights issues, and more. Let’s reinstitute the Civilian Conservation Corps, one of the New Deal’s most successful and impactful programs.

American Infrastructure & Manufacturing

In case you haven’t left the house in two months, you might have missed the fact that our infrastructure is falling apart. Do you know what one of the biggest components of New Deal programs was? Building stuff (see CCC and Works Progress Administration). So let’s do it again. Our stuff is broken. We have people who need jobs (or better jobs). Why is it so hard for Democrats to put 2-and-2 together here? Let’s put people to work rebuilding and reimagining our infrastructure rather than building bombs. For goodness sake, Flint still doesn’t have clean water. Why don’t we go ahead and rebuild their water infrastructure? It would create a whole bunch of jobs (especially if we do the manufacturing of materials here in America), not to mention FLINT WOULD HAVE CLEAN WATER! And spoiler, Flint is not the only city in the country with lead in their water. Our infrastructure problems go beyond water — and they go beyond what already exists. Yes, let’s rebuild our aging systems, but we also need to build new environmentally friendly options like high-speed rail, solar, and wind energy. Take all the money we’ve been doling out as corporate tax cuts and literally invest it back into the country.

Our Commitment to Seniors

Let’s strengthen Social Security, one of the New Deal’s most important and long-lasting programs. Too many seniors cannot live on the benefits they currently receive. We are the richest country in the world and we have hungry children and seniors in poverty. What the fuck is wrong with us? Democrats, your platform is right there in front of you — it’s your history and it’s your future!

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Embrace your progressive roots, Democrats! Illustration: History

Theatre professor, author, playwright, dad, husband, and other stuff. Comedy, parenthood, and politics. www.mattfotis.com @mattfotis

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