As 2020 mercifully draws to a close, there is reason to be optimistic that 2021 will present opportunities for progressive change, to the betterment of all. As part of making that happen, the majority of Americans who support progressive ideals should make specific demands of President-elect Joe Biden.
Here are a few:
Restore balance: Republicans have used redistricting and voter suppression to create an unlevel playing field; the Democrats should tilt it back. Yes, do away with the filibuster, especially in such a closely divided Senate. Yes, let Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have voting representation in Congress. Yes, add seats to the Supreme Court. And let’s be fair about it: put these ideas to voters as referendums, debate the merits and abide by the results.
No pardons for Trump: The most corrupt president in U.S. history faces a slew of potential criminal charges for everything from tax fraud to obstruction of justice to the same campaign finance violations that sent his personal lawyer to prison. Trump, the divider-in-chief, should not be able to escape justice on the grounds that this would be “divisive.” Charge him, try him and, if warranted, lock him up.
Eliminate the Electoral College: This accommodation to slavery has diminished our system of governance long enough. It’s time to pass a Constitutional Amendment to establish the principle of one person, one vote, like everywhere else. Let’s start with advancing the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which aims to get a sufficient number of states to agree to cast their Electoral College votes for whichever presidential candidate wins the popular vote.
Ensure the right to vote: Both houses of Congress must pass a new national Voting Rights Act, named after the late Rep. John Lewis, to protect the ability of every citizen to vote and to have that vote count. No party or state should be able to make voting harder for political gain.
Address climate change: We have dawdled long enough, putting the planet in peril. Now we must work at breakneck speed to contain the damage. The impacts from our heedlessness will still be severe, but they can be survivable. This is an all-hands-on-deck situation that requires strong leadership and a spirit of global cooperation. And yes, that will be as hard as it sounds.
End endless wars: The U.S. war in Afghanistan needs to come to an end, along with U.S. involvement in Syria, Libya and Yemen, as well as our government’s determination to stoke conflict with Iran. We can redirect defense spending to domestic needs, and end up enhancing our national security.
Reform the criminal justice system: The United States has the world’s highest rate of incarceration, for which it pays enormous financial and human costs. During the campaign, both Trump and Biden broke from the once-bipartisan consensus that the more Americans we lock up, the better. Biden rued his support of a 1994 crime bill that spiked incarceration, and Trump boasted about the baby steps he’s taken toward reform. Now it’s time for some big steps.
These are all worthy and attainable goals. But they will not come without pressure. A loud, proud, sustained, united front of progressive advocacy is needed to help bend the arc of the nation’s moral trajectory toward justice.