What a time to be alive — and fighting for Americans’ future
From budget negotiations in Congress to raising the debt ceiling, to funding infrastructure and protecting voting rights, it’s not hard to see why so many Americans think the past few weeks have been some of the most consequential we’ve seen in a long time. And that’s not counting the ongoing investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.
What a time to be alive.
Let’s talk about voting rights and how some Republican senators are standing against ensuring that all Americans have this most fundamental right, threatening to filibuster the Freedom to Vote Act as they did the For the People Act. They oppose this new plan in favor of the decidedly un-American voting restrictions sweeping some GOP-controlled state legislatures across the nation.
Let’s talk about the debt limit, now that President Biden has signed a bill to raise the government’s borrowing cap to $28.9 trillion and temporarily avoid default. GOP leaders had railed about fiscal responsibility and bipartisanship, but displayed no such concern when they voted to raise the debt cap by trillions under the Republican administration. They’ve put aside their concerns about rebuilding an economy ravaged by the pandemic and now we still face a December deadline and a ticking shutdown clock.
Let’s talk about former President Trump’s allies trying to cloak themselves in privileges they don’t possess. These “law and order” folks are intent on defying federal subpoenas, apparently to protect those who stormed the Capitol.
Let’s talk about Biden’s budget proposal that’s set to make the largest investment in child care, nutrition and early education since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.
It’s striking to me that, after discussion of these topics and others, a recent CBS News poll found that 57 percent of Americans either have a very general understanding of Biden’s Build Back Better proposal or no idea what’s in it at all. Sure, folks may have heard about the $3.5 trillion price tag and potential tax increases for the richest Americans, but most have no idea how the plan might impact them.
The fact is, Build Back Better is a massive investment to strengthen America’s middle-class backbone so all hardworking families have a chance to build decent lives instead of merely struggling to get by. We’re talking, for example, about closing the Medicaid gap; expanding Medicare to include critical health services such as dental, vision and hearing care; and lowering prescription drug costs by allowing Medicare to directly negotiate prices with drug companies.
We’re also talking about tackling the climate crisis, capping wells, restoring abandoned mines and investing in clean technologies such as electric vehicles and battery storage — hopefully creating high-paying jobs along the way.
We’re talking about extending the Child Tax Credit to cut taxes for roughly 39 million households. We’re talking about making elder care and child care more affordable, and ensuring that every 3- and 4-year-old can attend pre-Kindergarten and more.
I’m reminded of the traditional greeting between Maasai warriors — “Kasserian ingera” — which translates to “How are the children?” These are fearsome, intelligent warriors in Africa whose priority, despite the violence and power moves they may face, remains their children.
That’s what I think about when I encounter some of the political analysis on “Democratic divisions” during the debate over a reconciliation bill for social spending. While others may see Democratic diversity as a matter of race, gender, age or geography, it goes much further than that.
Ours is a diversity of experience and opinion that informs our party, rather than divides it, because at its core we all hold the same principles and priorities. We’re fighting for working America. We’re fighting for the people who can’t fight for themselves. And yes, we’re fighting for the children. While Republicans seek the shortsighted success of obstructionism and push an agenda of division and denial, Democrats look toward the future.
It’s not easy, it’s not quick and it’s not pretty. But it matters. We must be patient because the legislative process is not simple. Like the old road to Grandma’s house (over the river and through the woods), it winds left and right, with dips and rises, but in the end it gets us there.
So, keep the faith — and we’ll keep fighting. What a wonderful time to be alive.
Antjuan Seawright is a Democratic political strategist, founder and CEO of Blueprint Strategy LLC, a CBS News political contributor, and a senior visiting fellow at Third Way. Follow him on Twitter @antjuansea.