Washington, D.C. — The Center for American Progress Action Fund charges all progressives to offer a full-throated reform agenda as the nation moves out of the shadow of the 2016 election. In a new memo published today (PDF), CAP Action outlines a path forward that has economic and democratic renewal as the cornerstones of both an affirmative progressive policy agenda for the country and an effective response to President-elect Donald Trump’s disastrous policies.
CAP Action’s memo acknowledges that the hallmark of progressive politics has been a commitment to civil rights for all and economic fairness for all. Trump’s presidency will threaten both of these principles, and progressives need to be ready to fight back.
“Progressivism that cedes an inch on civil rights is not worth fighting for. But progressivism that ignores the economic needs of the struggling and striving will not be successful either,” said Neera Tanden, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “By rewriting the rules of the economy to work for everyone and reforming our politics to work for everyone, progressives can revive a Bobby Kennedy-style coalition and bring together working-class voters across racial lines into a strong progressive movement.”
Last month, CAP released results from a postelection survey that found strong consensus among both Trump and Clinton voters for a policy agenda focused on improving jobs and wages; protecting Social Security and Medicare; lowering health care and prescription drug prices; fighting special interest money in politics; reducing gun crimes and violence; and protecting the nation from terrorism. This new memo incorporates those results, as well as official exit polling and voter turnout analysis, and provides a path forward to rebuilding support for progressive candidates in 2018 and 2020.
This strong crossover appeal of the progressive policy agenda threatens to put President-elect Trump and congressional Republicans on a collision course: If Trump pursues Republicans’ unpopular policy agenda, he will find himself at odds with many of his own supporters.
An agenda for economic renewal
As the memo addresses, working families have seen their wages stagnate as the costs of economic security have skyrocketed over the past four decades. Progressives should center economic policy work around fighting economic inequality, helping working families, and rebuilding hard-hit urban and rural areas.
These policies, including providing tax relief to working families, investing in infrastructure projects, strengthening labor rights, and investing in access to college, will build an economy that works for everyone, not just the very wealthy and most powerful special interests.
Despite a promise to protect working families, Trump is instead proposing tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and focusing on efforts to help big banks and the finance industry. Progressives must take on Trump and protect working families from these devastating policies, including leveling the playing field on trade and protecting American workers from the negative effects of global competition.
An agenda for democratic renewal
Voters’ distrust of government has reached alarming levels. But contrary to conservative claims, Americans do not think government is unable to solve problems. In fact, 72 percent of Americans believe that, with the right kind of leadership, the federal government can be a force for good.
Democratic reform and taking on special interests must become again a central cause of progressive politics, particularly when millions of Americans—especially in communities of color—continue to be denied their democratic rights and shut out of the political process by discriminatory voter suppression laws.
CAP Action proposes a progressive agenda that will make government more transparent, hold elected officials accountable to the interests of working-class Americans, protect the voting rights of all Americans, and ensure that a bigger bank account does not buy you a louder voice. These ideas include stopping conflicts of interests between political leaders and the very wealthy, increasing government transparency on how taxpayer money is spent and managed, and overturning the Citizens United decision.
Despite a desire to “drain the swamp” in Washington, President-elect Trump is trying to exploit the presidency for his personal financial gain and put America’s influence up for sale to the highest bidder. Progressives must demonstrate that with the right kind of leadership, our government can be a force for good that works for all rather than just one.
It is important now more than ever for progressives to unite around a strategy that will protect the progress we have made and that puts forward a positive agenda that shows working-class voters who is truly on their side, while pushing back against Trump’s harmful policies and helping ensure a strong and more successful future for this country.
Read the full memo, “The Path Forward: Economic and Democratic Renewal,” by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, online here. (PDF)
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