In a year defined by media narratives portraying Democrats in disarray, it can be tempting to think that the party is defined solely by its work in Washington. And while experts are eager to focus on President Biden’s congressional setbacks, a myopic focus on the Beltway ignores the broader Democratic agenda unfolding in states and cities across the country.
Unfortunately for Biden and the Democratic Party, voters across the country are frustrated by what they see as a lack of progress by Congress on key elements of Biden’s popular Build Back Better spending plan, not to mention internal party frustrations. around the Biden team’s decision. prioritization of criminal justice reform and voting rights in early summer.
As we sit down to an increasingly politically polarized Thanksgiving with friends and family, let’s take a look at five victories Democrats can be thankful for this holiday season.
Democrats put maternal health in the spotlight
Ask the average American what’s in Build Back Better’s spending plan of $ 1.75 trillion in a decade from Democrats and they’ll be You will likely paint a picture with the broadest strokes.: Free preschool education, an expansion of the child tax credit, and tax increases for the wealthy. Lost in the details of the bill are Rep. Lauren underwoodLauren Underwood For Democrats, It Should Be About Votes, Not Megaphones Black Caucus Emerges Winner In Spending Package Congress Can Help Save Pregnant Women and Mothers of Color MORE(D-Ill.) Landmark investments for mothers, including critical funding for black maternal health in a nation where black mothers die in pregnancy in almost four times the rate of their white counterparts.
“I am grateful that the Build Back Better Act includes historic investments in equity in maternal health,” Underwood told me. “The extension of mandatory Medicaid coverage to a full year after delivery and my Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act represent the largest investment ever made to promote equity in maternal health, and I am proud that the House passed this legislation. to save mothers’ lives. ”
Criminal justice reform is winning in the states
Despite largely falling off the Democrats’ national agenda over the summer, criminal justice reform and prosecution has remained one of the most effective campaign issues for state and local Democrats. And despite some embarrassing electoral setbacks earlier this month in Virginia, progressive prosecutors have largely managed to run – and win – in tightly divided red and blue states.
In Philadelphia, District Attorney Larry Krasner sailed to a second term by a two-to-one margin, raising the score against a Republican challenger who made “tough on crime” the centerpiece of his campaign. In ruby-red Norfolk, Virginia, voters elected a progressive who described the crime as a “symptom of structural racismAnd he promised to further separate drug offenses from prison sentences. Democrats should be glad that most Americans, including some Republicans, agree: recent Gallup poll revealed that more than 60 percent of Americans were in favor of addressing “social and economic problems” to reduce crime rather than filling our overloaded jails with minor offenders.
Congress meets to approve historic spending on infrastructure
In case you haven’t heard, Democrats and Republicans briefly called for a truce in their all-out war against cooperation to pass a landmark $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. The transformation package touches nearly every piece of the aging infrastructure that holds our country together, including $ 550 billion in new funding for roads, bridges, broadband Internet, and more efficient delivery of public services.
The bill also represents public validation of Biden’s dreams of bipartisan collaboration, which many in the Democratic Party considered out of touch and delusions in an era of record political tribalism. If Democrats can find their voices and sell the expansive offerings of the bipartisan plan to voters who will be immediately helped by them, they will enter a 2022 midterm election cycle with a positive message driven by results.
Congress provided the raw material for that campaign; now Democrats will have to package Biden’s grand reforms into a more compelling narrative than dryly reciting the bill’s large spending figures.
Mass vaccination efforts for COVID-19 are succeeding
Despite politically polarized resistance to COVID-19 vaccination fueled by an unprecedented wave of irresponsible fear-mongering from top Republican Party officials, the United States has made incredible progress in deploying a safe and effective vaccine. for tens of millions of people. Almost 200 million Americans they have been fully vaccinated and nearly 70 percent of people have received at least one dose of the vaccine. With more than 452 million doses of vaccines administered, Biden and the Democrats can claim the fastest and largest vaccination launch in human history. And the effects are real.
“Imagine if this entire response was being led by the same people who did everything wrong in 2020 and are now leading anti-vax efforts that are killing thousands,” said Aaron Fritschner, deputy chief of staff and communications director for the Virginia representative. , Don Beyer. . “[At Thanksgiving] a year ago, I couldn’t see my family safely. It feels like a blessing. ”
Senate Democrats are fixing Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell Party success in the Senate indicates room for greater commitment Biden is expected to nominate Shalanda Young for head of budget Parnell’s departure threatens to damage Trump’s political influence MOREThe full judiciary of the Republican Party
Senate Republicans placed a record number of far-right conservative jurists on the federal bench under Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) As Senate Majority Leader. Left-handed expertsincluding its columnist) urged Democrats to follow McConnell’s manual by rapidly accelerating the pace of court confirmations ahead of a possible 2022 Red Wave election cycle. To the surprise of many progressives, the Biden administration agreed, putting the Democrats on the way to appoint federal judges. even faster than President Trump, or any other president.
Part of the success of filling Biden’s seats comes from continuing the Trump-era tradition of ignoring objections from senators of the states in which judges are nominated. But that’s not the only reason: Biden has also made it a priority to fill the 108 Article III vacancies currently distributed in the judiciary by nominating a record number of candidates and speeding up almost each and every one. The end result will be a judiciary still leaning to the right, but significantly removed from its extreme right-wing Trumpist extremes.
The Republican obstruction is doing an excellent job of slowing down long-overdue national change. But that doesn’t mean Democrats are empty-handed this season of giving thanks. Even if the Congressionally focused Beltway media rarely looks beyond the East Coast, Democrats can raise a flag of thanks and celebration for displaying iconic victories in Washington and across the country.
Max Burns is a Democratic strategist and founder of Third Degree Strategies, a progressive communications firm. Follow him on Twitter @themaxburns.