The opinions expressed in this piece are solely the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the BU College Democrats at large.
There is an old political joke that used to frequently get thrown around: “I don’t belong to an organized political party, I’m a Democratic.” For much of the last 50 years, the Democratic Party of the United States became associated with an ability to lose against all odds. Even our own Commonwealth did not escape this curse: just take a look at the Presidential elections of Teddy Kennedy and John Kerry, or the Senate campaign of Martha Coakley. Our entire nation moved farther and farther right in this period. Even the successful administration of Bill Clinton predicated itself on the concepts of “New Democrats” and “Third Way” policies, steering away from the legacies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. In fact, Clinton’s tenure partially ushered in an era of deregulation that helped lead to the 2008 Fiscal Crisis. Admittedly, the crisis is complicated and multifaceted, but I am willing to bet that President Clinton repealing Roosevelt’s Glass-Steagall Act did not help.
However, in the last few years, something seems to be changing within the Democratic party. Moxie. Chutzpah. A backbone. You can feel it in the air. Take the Government Shutdown for instance. Not only did the Democrats refuse to cave to the GOP’s threats, but they stayed united, they stayed organized, and they accomplished their goals. Surprise: it worked. The media chalked up the crisis as a complete victory for the Democrats, and the DCCC’s fundraising has skyrocketed. The buck stopped at Senator Harry Reid, and it worked. Democrats are showing some long-overdue spine.
So why aren’t they doing anything with it? Our progress has been incremental at best. The Affordable Care Act is a landmark piece of legislation, and an incredible achievement. But what about immigration? Education? Income inequality? Where are the liberals standing up to Drone strikes? Student loans, gun control, unemployment. We hear all about it during the campaigns. Say what you want about the shutdown and the Tea Party, but they sure as hell know how to keep a campaign promise.
How about just in Massachusetts: why is the campaign to raise minimum wage just happening now? The minimum wage in MA has fallen 25% since 1968. That’s with a Democratic legislature-not exactly the Bay State liberals’ finest hour.
Democrats have their backbone, now they need to use it. There’s too much at stake not to.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Governor Deval Patrick, during the 2012 Democratic National Convention:
“If we want to win elections in November and keep our country moving forward, if we want to earn the privilege to lead, it’s time for Democrats to stiffen our backbone and stand up for what we believe. Quit waiting for pundits or polls or super PACs to tell us who the next president or senator or congressman is going to be. We’re Americans.”