The ReNew Deal is What America Needs
The superpower of the Democratic Party is losing. It’s the only thing they’re really really good at. Republicans are great at simple messaging, providing bumper sticker “answers” to complex problems. Actually governing? Not their thing. Democrats, on the other hand, are good at being bad at politics.
So, let me help. I’m no political scientist/strategist/analyst, but I can’t be as bad at this as you…I mean, you’re going to nominate Joe Biden.
Democrats, you are up against one of the most historically unpopular and unintelligent presidents in history, yet you are still trying to mess this up (deep breath in, deep breath out, deep breath in, deep breath out). Right now, it seems like Biden’s whole strategy is: I’m not as bad as Trump. Okay, cool. Well, hear me out, let’s try something a little more pro-active, like say, policies. So, without further ado, here’s your 2020 platform — The ReNew Deal.
We, the Democratic Party, are going to ReNew our commitment to:
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.
We have just begun the long and hard work of defunding and reimagining the police and our prison-industrial-complex — the people in the street right now have done that for you, Democrats. So now it’s your turn — you put some policies on the table, good for you (take off the kente cloths), now make them happen. Then do more. A lot more. It doesn’t make our country stronger, or safer, or better to keep locking up young brown and black men. It’s almost like all that money we spend on police and prisons could be better spent rebuilding and strengthening communities. Money talks — take it out of private prisons and militarized police departments and put it into the communities that need it through education, job training, small business ownership grants, and homeownership programs.
But that’s just the start. We need to restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act to secure every American’s right to vote and put an end to voter suppression and gerrymandering. We need to strengthen and enforce the latest Supreme Court ruling against workplace discrimination by closing at-will employment loopholes and other practices that will still allow employers to discriminate by different means based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or identity.
The New Deal introduced the Indian Reorganization Act, which sought to restore Native American tribal land, offered government recognition of tribal constitutions, and repealed prohibitions on Native American languages and customs. We are long past due in actually addressing Native American rights.
We need to renew our country’s commitment to immigration, one of the foundations that turned America into the 20th century’s greatest superpower. This is a nation of immigrants and we can longer allow oligarchs to divide us by having working-class white people blaming immigrants for low wages instead of the billionaires running the company. To continue to be the 21st century’s greatest superpower, we need to renew our commitment to immigration by expanding the parameters of legal immigration and renewing our commitment to immigrants by creating permanent pathways to citizenship.
Washington, DC needs to be a state. Now. DC has 700,000 residents, 46% of whom are Black. That means nearly a million Americans have no votes in Congress. Wasn’t this country founded on the concept of “no taxation without representation?” If you think for one minute that if DC was predominantly white and conservative it would still be underrepresented you are insane…or Ben Shapiro. Then do Puerto Rico.
All of these Civil Rights issues are tied to money (more on money later). Wealth inequality is crushing our country, specifically minority communities, so let’s introduce and pass legislation to immediately close the pay gap. Your company doesn’t pay equal wages, then you pay a fine of 1.5x the gap. There’s no grace period. You aren’t doing it by 2035 — you’re doing it NOW. You’ve had a century to prepare. Even more important than the wage gap is the ownership gap, which has helped create the enormous wealth gap. As of 2016, the median white family has 41 times more wealth than the median Black family, and 22 times more wealth than the median Latino family.
The New Deal gave us the National Housing Act, United States Housing Authority, and the Federal Housing Administration. So let’s renew our commitment to homeownership for every American because homeownership is still vastly unequal by race (and yes, that’s by design). According to a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, the white homeownership rate in 2017 was 72.9%, the Latinx homeownership rate was 46.2%, and the Black homeownership rate fell to 43% (for context, nearly 64% of Americans owned a home in 2017). It needs to be a priority to create homeownership programs. These programs need to give money to people to buy homes. Yes, give them money — you don’t have a problem giving money to millionaires via capital gains tax cuts — with the goal of 60% homeownership rates for Black and Latinx households by 2025. There is no real equality in America without economic equality, and there cannot be economic equality without closing the ownership gap. Government programs can’t make your aunt less racist, but they can increase homeownership rates.
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.
We need to restructure our for-profit health insurance system based on reactive medicine and elective surgery into a proactive healthcare system based on providing preventative healthcare and accessible medicine. It’s better for healthcare and cheaper for Americans. Let’s talk about choice — right now you don’t have any. If you’re lucky enough to have employer based insurance, your insurance company tells you what doctor you can go to. Sure, you can go somewhere else, but it’ll cost ten-times as much. With one insurance system — every doctor takes your insurance.
While we’re debunking myths, let’s stop with the “list” crap — Americans wait forever now for procedures because either a) we can’t afford it, or b) it takes forever to schedule and get the various necessary appointments. You want/need elective surgery? Great. You can still get it. But now you can also go to the doctor when you are sick without going into debt. One of the greatest barriers to a more equitable society is healthcare. It is the leading cause of bankruptcy, it is incredibly inequitable in terms of access and cost, and it is designed to make private insurance companies money. Let that sink in: our healthcare system is currently designed to make private insurance companies money, not to provide healthcare. Let’s fix that. Plus, even the Koch Brothers know it’s cheaper than what we’re doing now.
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.
That’s step one. Step two: build the economy from the ground up — that was Lincoln’s strategy anyway, and Theodore Roosevelt’s, and Franklin Roosevelt’s, and Dwight Eisenhower’s. Let’s take some of the money we’re just giving away to a) the ultra-wealthy, b) to corporations for corporate stock buybacks and executive bonuses, and c) reallocate some of the money we’re spending on the military and police, and invest it in economic development grants for BIPOC small business owners to help close the ownership and wealth gaps, for creating an actual social safety net, for rebuilding and expanding our infrastructure, and for making this a more just society.
If we’ve learned anything about our essential workers over the last three months, it’s that we need to raise the minimum wage. Americans can’t live on $7.25/hr. That’s ridiculous. In the words of FDR, a minimum wage:
“Without question it starts us toward a better standard of living and increases purchasing power… Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, who has been turning his employees over to the Government relief rolls in order to preserve his company’s undistributed reserves, tell you, using his stockholders’ money to pay the postage for his personal opinions, that a wage of $11 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry.”
In other words, start fighting for workers. The Wagner Act and Fair Labor Standards Act helped Americans during the 1930s by establishing labor protections, strengthening unions, and establishing a minimum wage. And unlike in the New Deal, which excluded agricultural and domestic workers (who were predominantly minorities) from the Wagner Act, we need to guarantee protections for all workers, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or identity. It’s about time we renewed our commitment to workers instead of CEOs.
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.
Equity goes beyond the walls of the school — we need to create a nationwide broadband internet program, just like the Tennessee Valley Authority Act and Rural Electrification Act brought electricity to the poorest parts of 1930s America. Hopefully, we’re good on electricity, but the quarantine exposed our lack of internet equity — we need strong, reliable, and consistent internet access everywhere. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, who passed the Homestead Act in 1862 that gave up to 160 acres of land to Americans for a small filing fee and promise to work the land (see above about giving money for homeownership), the purpose of our government is “to elevate the condition of men, to lift artificial burdens from all shoulders and to give everyone an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life.” That starts with equitable access to education.
To help with economic equity, we need free pre-K and childcare options — raising a kid is too expensive in America, mainly because of childcare costs. And once those kids are grown, we need to make higher education free to break down the final barrier to educational equity (and increase economic equity) — it will eliminate student loan debt and help jumpstart the economy. Remember the GI Bill after World War II? Yeah, that worked out pretty well for everyone.
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!
You’re afraid. I get it, you’re a Democrat. The ReNew Deal seems like a pretty bold and progressive platform. But it’s not. What’s “bad” in there? Are you anti-Civil Rights? Anti-Education? Pro-tax-cuts-for-billionaires? Nearly all of these initiatives have been enacted before and were highly succesful. Stop letting Republicans frame the narrative.
I get it. You’re afraid of Republicans. They are going to say The ReNew Deal will raise taxes. And they’re right, it will raise taxes. Evil socialism! Oh no! STOP RUNNING AWAY FROM THE POINT. Stop playing the Republican game. The New Deal was unbelievably popular. It was so popular that the only way to combat it was to make up fallacies about how taxes steal your liberty. I don’t want to blow your mind, but most people like having a good job, sending their kids to a good school, and living in thriving communities. Most people don’t care about the capital gains tax rate — especially if they and their neighbors are economically secure. So stop running away from popularity.
Yes, The ReNew Deal will raise taxes, but here’s the dirty little secret — THE MONEY IS ALREADY THERE! We already pay for all of these things— WE’RE JUST NOT GETTING ANY OF THE BENEFITS!!! We’re subsidizing Jeff Bezos, Amazon, and Apple instead of rebuilding our infrastructure. We’re subsidizing corporate stock buybacks rather than investing in community development grants. We’re paying for Don Jr. to go shoot wild animals instead of providing health insurance (I know, those two don’t equal out, but I couldn’t write all of this and not mention that Don Jr. is the worst).
Not to mention that all of this will be cheaper than what we are already spending on healthcare and education. Have you been to the doctor lately and gotten a bill (on top of your insurance premiums and copays)? Seen the going tuition rate? For goodness sake, you have all of American history to point to as your example. We know that when we make the bottom of our economy and society stronger the entire country benefits — it’s what Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, FDR, and Eisenhower did. I know it is hard for you Democrats, but be bold and confident. Own the plan and sell it to Americans.
Are people who cry about their individual liberty being stolen going to vote for you? No. But guess what? They weren’t going to vote for you anyway. Stop playing their game. Let them cry “LIBERTY” all they want. I can guarantee you they won’t be turning down their new health insurance, the rebuilt infrastructure in their neighborhoods, or the better schools their kids are now attending. If they don’t want their liberty stolen give them the option to send back their Social Security checks. Stop trying to placate the far-right and start enacting policies that help your base and the vast majority of Americans.
It’s time for The ReNew Deal.