Even if Bernie, Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris wins next year, without a strong and more progressive Congress, the issues they’re campaigning on won’t go anywhere. It appears likely that the Democrats will retain their big majority in the House. The Senate– and obstructionist Mitch McConnell– remains a real impediment to progress.
Blue America will be rolling out Senate endorsements over the next few months. The first is for an old and proven friend, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, who we supported when he first ran and have never felt let down since. One of the few senators with deep working class roots, he has been a stalwart fighter for the progressive agenda day in and day out.
He worries that “the privileged and powerful have rigged our political system and our economy. He worries that a new generation of robber barons is looting the nation and mortgaging our collective future.”
And what Jeff talks most about with his constituents in Oregon are the three crises that have to be dealt with even before the specific bills Jeff and allies like Bernie, Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown and Mazie Hirono, Ed Markey, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Tammy Baldwin want to pass:
The climate crisis: “From longer wildfire seasons in the West to extreme flooding in the heartland, to killer hurricanes in the east, climate chaos threatens our very way of life. We must take bold action that matches the threat we face. I’m 100 percent dedicated to this fight. I was the first Senator to introduce a plan to end all burning of fossil fuels and have led the movement to Keep it in the Ground. We need a Green New Deal to rise to this challenge and save our planet and our way of life.”
The opportunity crisis: “I bet you’ve noticed how the costs of the most expensive and important things to any family– housing, education, and health care– keep spiraling up. But wages don’t. The fact is, our economy has been designed by the wealthy and powerful to make them wealthier and more powerful. But those foundations for working families to thrive– affordable health care and housing, a good education, and a living wage job– slide a little further out of reach for most people. Instead of giving giant tax breaks to the corporations and wealthy, we need a major reinvestment in the things that matter and make a positive difference in most people’s lives.”
The democracy crisis: “There has been a systematic attack on democracy in America, not just by Russia, but by the super-wealthy and special interests, who have systematically undermined the ‘We the People’ vision of our Constitution with gerrymandering, huge infusions of dark money, and rampant voter suppression. We need to pass the For the People Act that has passed the House and that Senator Tom Udall and I introduced in the Senate, a comprehensive campaign finance and ethics reform package that would help end the stranglehold special interests have on our government. But we should go further and do away with the electoral college and give full voting rights to DC, Puerto Rico and the territories.”
Last week, Jeff told us that “If we’re going to rise to the occasion and meet the crises at our doorstep, we need to be ready to govern in 2021. That means winning the Senate, and fixing the Senate so Mitch McConnell can’t do to the next president what he did to Barack Obama.” ?
Jeff is well aware that we have big battles ahead and that the Republicans have rigged the rules and are swimming in plutocratic sewer money. But he says if there’s one thing he’s “learned from a lifetime of improbable victories, it’s that you can’t win if you don’t get on the battlefield. Our strength is in our numbers, our passion, and those first three words of the Constitution, so important that they were written in oversize print:
We the People.”
“I know that, to paraphrase Bobby Kennedy, our movement can create a blue wave so mighty that it will sweep away the walls of oppression and exploitation. But only if we join together to make it happen. So thank you to Blue America, not just for the endorsement, which I’m honored to receive, but for making your voices heard about the critical issues facing us. Together, we have the power and we have the votes. Let’s take back the Senate. Let’s take back the White House. Let’s restore our ‘We the People’ democracy and bring back basic human decency to the Oval Office.”