Following a series of challenging, if not disheartening, elections for the Democrats, it’s clear to all except perhaps the party’s own leaders that the party needs to reassess its efforts when it comes to reaching voters, keeping voters and attracting new voters.
Democrats, much like their Republican counterparts, are far too focused on issues that benefit elite Washington circles and campaign donors rather than our hardworking, everyday American families. Those of us working to support our families are thinking about how economic decisions at the top will affect us at the street level, such as impending environmental impact concerns, how we will attain quality health care for our kids and elderly, and ensuring equitable access for our children to quality education. Meanwhile, top Democrats have instead been spending their time debating the merits of antitrust legislation for reasons that many of them associated with partisan political outcomes and not for what it may mean for the common person and their safety.
While I believe that our top multinational technology and data companies should strive to create value and ensure safety for individuals with comprehensive checks and balance systems in place, legislators are acting to the detriment of their own campaigns. Market power, data privacy, disinformation, and hate speech should absolutely be addressed, but breaking up these large technology companies at this time could serve undue harm on our economy, particularly our small businesses. After a year of adapting to a primarily online environment, businesses have never been more reliant on the tools and services provided by tech companies – including e-commerce shops, mapping services, rapid delivery services, and social media platforms.
As a knee-jerk reaction to the recent situations that came as a result of systemic problems in a polarized two-party political system, electioneering, and generational inequitable health, housing, and economic policies, Democrats and Republicans are aligning themselves to shift blame and to punish anyone but themselves for the outcomes of past, present, and possible future decisions.
While Democrats could be distancing themselves from Republicans to re-establish the party as the down-to-earth, hardworking, people-focused political party, they are instead joining ranks with Republicans whose motivations are questionable at best. If the party wants to reach voters effectively and prove that they understand the needs of the people, they need to re-assess their strategy and shift to a bottom-up, equitable approach, led by communities with lived experience. Should leadership wish to change Democrats’ trajectory – which I hope they do as I believe the party is currently headed for a string of losses in 2022 – the key to success will be identifying and sticking to the issues that truly matter to real working people in real working neighborhoods.
It’s time to refocus on the kitchen table issues – building a future economy that all communities can be a part of, building a working environment that is just and allows people to get a leg up, building an American health care system that everyone has access to while getting the pandemic fully under control, building the infrastructure that promotes a clean environment and safe educational spaces where our children can actually dream of a future that isn’t painful to live in.
Ryan Winkle is executive director of Rail, Arts, Innovation, and Livability CDC in Mesa, is a former Mesa City Council member, and can be reached at [email protected]