“A great democracy has got to be progressive or it will soon cease to be great or a democracy.”
― Theodore Roosevelt, New Nationalism Speech by Teddy Roosevelt
Commentary: As the nation tensely awaits results from key battleground states, no matter what happens, it is clear that this election was a resounding victory for progressivism.
Sarah McBride, a 30-year-old LGBTQ activist, will become the first openly trans state senator and the highest-ranking openly trans lawmaker in the country. Cori Bush will become the first Black woman to be elected to Congress from Missouri. Nikil Saval will be the first Asian-American elected into the Pennsylvania State Senate. In Fort Bend, Texas, the city elected Eric Fagan as its first Black sheriff since Reconstruction. And New Mexico made history by electing its first House delegation comprising entirely of women of color.
In California, voters passed Prop. 17, which will restore the right to vote to more than 50,000 parolees in the state. Colorado became the first state to create a paid family and medical leave program through a ballot measure. Puerto Ricans voted in favor of U.S. statehood. Florida voters approved a $15 minimum wage, and momentous gains were made for commonsense drug reform, including the decriminalization of psilocybin in Oregon and 4 new states allowing recreational cannabis.
That Wisconsin and Michigan flipped is due to the progressive platform launched by Bernie Sanders and if Biden wins he should acknowledge the senator from Vermont with a meaningful cabinet position. That Georgia and Texas were in play is a seismic shift in the political landscape-one that bodes well for progressive candidates in 2024, when Dems could be looking at a South and Southwest blue wall that includes North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, and California.
But perhaps the ultimate takeaway in 2020 is the role that African Americans played in deciding the political fate of the nation. In a year of reckoning around racial justice, if Joseph Biden becomes the next POTUS, he will have African Americans to thank. They literally saved his campaign in South Carolina. And as this is being written two days after the election, it appears that African Americans in Atlanta, Milwaukee, Detroit, Flint, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and union workers in Las Vegas will have delivered for Biden when it mattered most. No group did less to get Donald Trump placed in office than African Americans, and no group will have done more to put an end to his presidency. It was the civil rights activist and lawyer, Pauli Murray who once said, "When my brothers try to draw a circle to exclude me, I shall draw a larger circle to include them. Where they speak out for the privileges of a puny group, I shall shout for the rights of all mankind." Amen.