It’s been more than 100 days since President Biden and Vice President Harris took office, and even in the midst of a terrible and ongoing pandemic, there’s a lot for our country to celebrate.
The number of children living in poverty is on track to be cut in half this year alone.
More than half of U.S. adults have received at least one COVID vaccine dose.
A historic infusion of $1.9 trillion in COVID relief funding is on its way to individuals, families, and communities around the country.
And Congress is working on a massive Build Back Better recovery package which could deliver transformative investments in jobs, climate, and the care economy — realizing a hugely ambitious agenda to rewire the economy in ways that work for the many, not the few.
We’ve come a very long way. Think of where we were at this point four years ago. The Trump Administration had just unleashed a wave of acute attacks — the Muslim Ban, the Obamacare repeal campaign, pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, and so much more.
Around the country, millions of us were electrified to defend our democracy, communities, and planet. We joined groups, marched, wrote letters, made calls, showed up to Town Halls, and ran for office.
Our collective efforts helped to blunt many of Trump’s actions and contributed to historic election outcomes in 2018 and 2020 — and then reaffirmed Trump’s defeat when the GOP tried to overturn the election. Meanwhile, the clarity that the status quo was broken for far too many Americans helped lay the groundwork for President Biden to go big in his first 100 days.
So it’s appropriate to honor the hard work that got us to this point. None of this, truly NONE of this, was inevitable.
But it’s also vital to recognize just how perilous our position is now. Every one of us who breathed a sigh of relief at the Biden-Harris inauguration needs to redouble the work to secure our multi-racial democracy and build towards a dignified future for all.
The broad public needs to mobilize, advocate, and raise a productive ruckus calling for shoot-for-the-moon investments in jobs, bold climate action, and infrastructure; support for care workers and all workers’ rights; a pathway to citizenship for immigrants; a $15/hour minimum wage; student debt cancellation; and more.
We should shout about any big wins from the rooftops, and ensure that voters know what’s changed, and how it affects them.
Tangible policy changes like these are urgently needed to help millions of families access a more dignified and secure life. And they’re essential politically, since there’s no better way to undercut the next would-be ethno-authoritarian regime than for a representative, inclusive progressive government to deliver real change.
Another task is to make the promise of democracy real for all Americans. Over the last few decades – starting well before Trump – our political system moved further and further away from fair representation and the core principle of one person, one vote.
We’re living under a kind of structural minority rule that’s simply not sustainable. The Electoral College has repeatedly overruled the popular vote in presidential elections. The Senate gives as much power to Wyoming’s 578,000 residents as to California’s 40 million. Federal courts have been rigged and packed with Federalist Society ideologues.
Our democracy is under siege by those who would rig the rules to ensure their own permanent power.
We need a transparent process we can trust. We need to end big money’s corrupting influence and partisan gerrymandering. And we need to finally secure D.C. statehood for its 700,000 residents. An urgently needed reform effort is underway – but the clock is ticking. In Washington, D.C. and in state capitals around the country, we need to throw down now, during this narrow governing window, to pass laws that will better safeguard democracy.
Our work is now arguably even more urgent: we need to step it up to ensure the delivery of tangible economic and social change that improves the lives of millions of people, and to swiftly secure the fundamentals of our democracy.
The worst thing we could do in this moment would be to take our feet off the gas. If we allow our intensity and determination to ebb, we’ll quickly be back in an even more acute collective crisis. But if we lean in now, we might emerge from this time of loss and challenge to truly realize the dream of what author and advocate Heather McGhee calls “the world’s boldest experiment in democracy.” It’s an experiment that can only succeed if we all stay engaged.
Anna Galland is a national organizer, strategist, and nonprofit leader with two decades of experience leading progressive campaigns. She was Executive Director of the grassroots group MoveOn Civic Action from 2012 to 2019. She is Senior Democracy Fellow at Propel.
Sarah M. Williams is Co-Founder and CEO of Propel, which invests in innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs building a democracy and economy that works for the many, not the few. Propel uses blended capital (political, investment, philanthropic) and invests 100% of its assets in alignment with its mission. Portfolios include Propel Democracy to build progressive power in the US and Propel Ventures to invest in early stage social impact companies.