We Democrats need to stop the finger-pointing and talking about defeat in 2022. It’s time for honesty and hope

·4-min read
Biden speaks about the infrastructure bill  (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Biden speaks about the infrastructure bill (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Get up. Dust yourself off. Get back to work.

Let’s show no patience for this naysaying gloom that Democratic electoral losses in 2022 and 2024 are a fait accompli. This intramural finger-pointing is a circular firing squad that benefits only our opponents. It’s self-defeating. It’s lazy. It’s BS.

Instead, let’s acknowledge that President Biden has turned the tide of the Covid-19 pandemic, reinvigorated the economy, ended America’s longest war, and is looking to a clean-energy future never contemplated by any past American president. Our country is safer and stronger than it was a year ago, plain and simple.

Let’s call the white right-wing hysteria over critical race theory what it is: a white right-wing denial of the irrefutable fact that America’s racist past still taints our societal power structures today, from economic opportunity to criminal justice to health and much more. It’s dog-whistling for those who want to maintain an unacceptable racial status quo.

Let’s recognize that violently attacking the Capitol on January 6 – maiming police officers with the aim of halting our peaceful transfer of power, undoing our Constitution, and ending our democracy – was an act of domestic terrorism. And let’s make sure that every individual who participated in or incited that insurrection is held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

Yes, we lost a close gubernatorial election in Virginia by about two percentage points – hardly a rout, though it’s a race we should’ve won. C’est la guerre. Now that commonwealth faces rollbacks of abortion rights, voting rights, racial equity and equality, clean energy progress, and Covid-19 protections. We Democrats have an opportunity to contrast these losses with our gains, as we enact and then reap the benefits of the most forward-looking legislation in generations.

We’ll show how the child tax credit – a tax cut for working families with kids, with a tangible benefit every single month – already has changed American families’ lives for the better and lifted millions of American kids out of poverty.

We’ll show we’re putting union workers into good-paying jobs that improve our roads and bridges and make key connections between our transit systems – hopefully including the Valley Link project connecting BART to the Altamont Community Express – so that we all can spend less time in our cars and more time with family.

We’ll show we’re making high-speed broadband internet available and affordable for every American household, opening up new frontiers of educational and economic opportunity from coast to coast.

We’ll show how we’re investing more than ever before in developing a clean-energy economy that both mitigates the chaos of climate change – building resilience to superstorms, droughts, wildfires and hurricanes – and creates millions of good-paying jobs for American workers in manufacturing solar panels, wind farms, batteries, and electric vehicles to grow clean energy supply chains we can export to the world.

We’ll show how the biggest expansion of affordable health care in a decade will leave even fewer Americans uncovered, ending the dark days when a health emergency often meant a desperate GoFundMe or bankruptcy.

And we’ll finally make big corporations and the very wealthiest pay their fair share, actually reducing the deficit while no one making under $400,000 pays a penny more in taxes.

Are we getting every policy we wished for in this package? No; that basically never happens. But we still have something that could be more transformational than the New Deal, and we should shout that from the rooftops.

At the same time, we should re-dedicate ourselves to winning more seats in 2022 so that we can finally end the filibuster and follow this package with the rest of what America needs. Poll after poll shows us that the policies we pursue – paid leave, Medicare coverage for vision and dental care, lower prescription drug prices, making the rich and corporations pay their fair share of taxes – are wildly popular. Let’s act that way.

And we’ll keep fighting for voting rights, and abortion rights, and criminal justice reform. Because what else can we do?Dale Carnegie said, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” But we have the advantage of having hope.

So we’ll organize, mobilize, and fundraise like all our tomorrows depend on it – because they do.

This is no time for pessimists and quitters. We can’t just take our toys, leave the sandbox, and go home. It’s time to take a close look at our mistakes, correct them, and get back to the business of making sure every American has the freedom and wherewithal to thrive.

Are you in?

Eric Swalwell is serving his fifth term representing California’s 15th Congressional District, in the East Bay near San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter at @EricSwalwell.

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