The Way Forward for Progressives

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Media Outlet: New Republic

K. Sabeel Rahman wrote for the New Republic about what progressivism may look like after the 2016 election:

As the 2016 election lurches to its conclusion, it is increasingly clear that the tumults of the last year will continue to shape American politics for some time to come, regardless of the final outcome on November 8. Most distressingly, the right-wing, exclusionary populism activated by Donald Trump’s appeals to economic grievance and racial animus will continue to pose a challenge for ideals of inclusion across lines of race, gender, and sexual orientation. But the clashes of the spring campaign between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton over inequality and economic policy—and the powerful impact of social movements like Black Lives Matter—have also created a major shift in the terms of debate within liberal and progressive circles.
These battles cast into relief the deeper challenges that 21st century progressive politics will have to address. First, there is the problem of structural and systematic economic inequality, and second, the related problem of concentrated private power, whether it’s the rise of new quasi-monopolies, as evidenced by the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner, or the persisting concerns about the financialization of the economy. Third, there is the need to overcome the historical and systematic exclusion of racial minorities from the mainstream of economic life and opportunity.
Addressing each of these concerns will require a government that is effective and capable, but also democratically responsive and accountable. This represents a fourth challenge: Laced throughout the anxieties of this election and the politics of the Great Recession is a fear that our most powerful tools for economic and social change—government and public politics—are utterly broken.

Author:

K. Sabeel Rahman was a Class of 2016 & 2017 New America Fellow and author of Democracy Against Domination. He is an assistant professor of law at Brooklyn Law School.