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For one thing, being represented by a White man in a district that’s predominately Black and Brown and female—no matter how progressive the person—is actually not representative in the way a representative democracy is supposed to be. It’s a matter of perspective.
Think about this: In a survey conducted last year analyzing the 2016 presidential election, almost 70 percent of the so-called “white working class” Americans (as opposed to the Black working class?) say that things (including American culture) have “gotten worse since the 1950s.” You would be hard pressed to find one Black or Brown person who would agree with that!
It's a Matter of Perspective
At the same time, there is a growing fear among that same portion of the electorate about losing the White majority in this country. According to the same survey, 62 percent of those Americans point to immigrants as the threat to American culture, 68 percent say that we are losing our identity overall, and over 50 percent say that Whites suffer more discrimination these days than people of color or gays.
It is in this climate that this year we are seeing a record number of Black and Brown people as well as women running on progressive issues and challenging 20 and 30 year seat holders who almost all happen to be White men. You have to wonder, if you are part of the unrepresented, why, if they’ve been fighting so hard for their Black and Brown constituents, have been going in reverse for decades for those citizens for decades?
Capuano, representing Boston’s 7th district, is one of those Democrats trying to fight back against his Black progressive challenger, Ayanna Pressley. This seat, once held by Democratic icons JFK and Tip O’Neill, has been held by Michael Capuano for 20 years. If Ms. Pressley, a 44-year-old native of Massachusetts, wins her race, she will be the first “woman of color to serve on that body in its 108-year history.”
The Old Order and the Changing of the Guard
On the other side, Capuano is 22 years older than Pressley, and is backed by Democratic Party bosses and retired long term Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank. Capuano argues that he has seniority after 20 years in congress, which will put him in a good position to fight Trump when democrats take back the majority in the House of Representatives.
Well, for one thing, no sense in counting chickens yet. And two, he’s represented the district for 20 years, but according to a federal study, Whites in the most populous part of the district, Boston, have a net wealth that is hundreds of thousands of times greater than Black people in his district—how about $250,000 for Whites versus $8—you saw that right, $8 in net worth for Black households in the district.
In defending himself, Capuano says he’s been outspoken on progressive issues from marriage equality to gun regulations. He adds that he’s in complete opposition to the “new normal of hatred” being promoted by Trump and says that it is “one of the many reasons I want to go back to Washington. I actually like a good fight, and right now we need good fighters, and I think I’m pretty good at it.”
Saying something and doing something are two different things. And when it is your neck on the chopping block, the urgency to do something is much greater.
Change We Can See!
Now take a look at this picture. This looks more like America, right? These are the progressive candidates looking to upset the gentleman’s agreement, the stale order that Democratic bosses have been safely lulling in for the last 20 or 30 years—and they are winning.
What candidates like Capuano and others do not understand is that this fight is bigger than this election. It’s bigger even than putting a check on the criminal Trump administration. It’s about taking the wheel and the keys from the party elders whose grip on power has left them inept and ill-equipped for the battle at hand.
This new group of representatives are younger, more diverse, and from every region of this country. It is change that we should have seen decades ago. It’s change that is definitely needed now on both sides of the aisle. Old stale Democrats have been exposed just like the traitorous, sycophantic GOP. Party loyalty is a luxury we cannot afford in this climate. We need fighters—real ones—and change that we can see!
As a one pastor and activist from Pressley’s district put it, “…this is absolutely about the soul of the Democratic Party.” We think these candidates are forming the basis for a new party—The New Progressives Party!