By Patty Friend and Jason Sibert
The results of the 2020 election will have an impact not only on our country but also on our way of life as a democratic republic.
The right-wing populism of Donald Trump has counterparts in leaders such as Recep Erdogan in Turkey, Viktor Orban in Hungry, Andrzej Duda in Poland, Narendra Modi in India, Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, and Vladimir Putin in Russia. The People’s Republic of China under Xi Jinping represents an even more strident form of authoritarianism. Authoritarian leaders don’t want democracies to succeed in other parts of the world because they don’t want a swell of opinion favorable to democracy in their own countries. Some, such as Trump, Putin and Netanyahu, take a more active role in supporting authoritarian parties and leaders around the world to prevent more positive examples of democracy elsewhere.
Social democrats believe in the validity of elections, the separation of powers, civil liberties, and anything else associated with the democratic way of life. Authoritarianism militates against all of these concepts. Social democrats also believe in expanding the democratic promise into the economic realm through the promotion of social insurance, social welfare programs, the right to form a labor union, regulation of business, and the efficient delivery of public services. This vision is also threatened if the democratic experiment goes by the wayside.
Support for the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris ticket is a necessary precondition for social democrats. Social Democrats USA has endorsed the ticket. While parts Joe Biden’s record is problematic for us, he certainly does not represent a core threat to our democratic republic like a second Trump Administration. In a democratic republic, we would have the right to push Biden to fulfill some of his progressive campaign promises like expanding Medicare coverage down to 60 years-of-age, expanding Medicaid, raising the minimum wage, and expanding collective bargaining rights. If he fails to work on those promises, then we can take action.
But in the meantime, there are actions on these related matters that can taken before Election Day:
THE CENSUS: With all of the media attention on November’s election, it’s easy to forget how important the census really is. The 2020 census will impact congressional districting. Heavily populated areas must be counted correctly if we are to be a true democratic republic. A correct count on the census will ensure that both urban and rural areas are counted. The Republican Party has been playing the gerrymandering game for some time and ensuring that those who live in urban areas are not correctly represented. The Democrats would have a larger majority in the House of Representatives if it were not for gerrymandering.
Social Democrats USA supports the census and encourages everyone to sign up and be counted. As the name suggests, social democrats believe in a social form of democracy. We believe in the right to vote, be represented, as well as a wide variety of civil liberties, but social democrats also believe the free market should be tamed by quality delivery of public services, social insurance, social welfare programs, the right to unionize, and quality regulation of business.
Social democratic ideas poll well with the public in general, but there is much support for these ideas in urban areas. Therefore, it’s important that as many people as possible register for the census as possible. We support the effort to extend the census field operation all over the country through Oct. 31 in opposition to the Donald Trump Administration’s efforts to cut it short. EVERYONE, DO YOUR DUTY TO GET COUNTED AND CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND DEMAND THE EXTENSION OF THE CENSUS FIELD OPERATION TO OCT. 31.
THE SUPREME COURT: The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has received much media attention and generated a lot of political fallout. Ginsburg was a supporter of abortion rights and gender equality. As of the writing of this story, President Donald Trump will nominate Amy Coney Barrett, an opponent of abortion rights. However, it doesn’t really matter if it’s Barrett or anyone else – Trump will appoint a reactionary judge. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is determined to put a judge on the seat, despite blocking the nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016.
Social democrats should be proactive in this fight. McConnell has the legal right to nominate a justice, and we have the right to oppose that nominee! Social democrats care about the right to choice, civil rights for people of color, the GLBTQ community, voting rights, the right to form a union, and several other issues. Barrett will be opposed on those issues we care about. Social Democrats USA urges putting off the naming of a new justice until after the election.
SDUSA members, and others who enjoy the media produced by our organization, should consider it a duty to vote for Biden/Harris in November. This is a team effort!
Patty Friend is the National Chair of Social Democrats USA.
Jason Sibert is the Executive Director of the Peace Economy Project in St Louis.