Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.
By Larry Roberts
Three weeks ago, I wrote about how Arlington progressives and 8th Congressional District (Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, and parts of Fairfax) Democrats were responding from a policy perspective to the November 2016 Presidential election outcome that few Democrats in Arlington anticipated.
Other recent elections reflect a challenge to the view that the election of Donald Trump and the earlier Brexit vote that might have anticipated a Trump election reflect a rightward turn in U.S. politics and in western democracies.
Closer to home, the 2017 statewide primaries in Virginia showed a markedly higher level of enthusiasm among Democrats than Republicans. In the Democratic gubernatorial primary, 542,615 Virginians cast votes compared to 366,244 votes in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Of the votes cast in the simultaneous primaries, 59.7 percent were Democratic and 41.3 percent were Republican.
This was a dramatic 70 percent increase in Democratic votes this year compared to the last contested Democratic gubernatorial primary in Virginia – from 319,168 in 2013 to 542,615 in 2017.
The 2017 turnout in traditionally Democratic Arlington was very high for a primary. Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 28,167 to 5,151.
Compared to the 2013 primary, Democrats saw a 42.8 percent increase – from 19,715 in 2013 to 28,167 in 2017.
Results in France and Britain have also reflected a move away from the right.
In France, Marine Le Pen’s National Front party had led opinion polls from November 2016 until mid-January 2017 but ended up losing by 66.1 percent to 33.9 percent to Emmanuel Macron of the Republic on the Move, who criticized Le Pen as too far to the right and cast himself as a radical centrist. Macron’s party has gone on to dominate subsequent parliamentary elections and is expected to win over two-thirds of the seats.
And in Britain, Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election to consolidate her party’s position strongly supporting Brexit backfired when the Conservatives lost 13 seats and Labour gained 30, a result substantially weakening Britain’s Brexit negotiation position.
Against this backdrop, below is a second piece of the progressive agenda as defined recently by a set of 32 resolutions adopted by the delegates to the 8th Congressional District Democratic Convention – again presented without editorial comment.
Death Penalty: The Convention calls upon the Virginia General Assembly to abolish the death penalty in Virginia.
Defending the ACA: The Convention opposes any efforts on the part of the Trump administration, or anyone else, to undermine the Affordable Care Act; opposes any further efforts to repeal and replace the ACA with legislation that will reduce affordability and/or provide less coverage to Americans; and affirms that healthcare is a human right to be afforded to all Americans and endorses the eventual adoption of a universal single payer healthcare system.
Economic Prosperity and Justice: The Convention urges the Virginia Congressional Delegation to: re-prioritize the spending of tax dollars to focus on universal health care, public education, environmental protection, public infrastructure, and the equitable rule of law; make room for the above spending priorities by substantially reducing wasteful military spending; ensure that America’s wealthy, and corporations, pay a progressive share of taxes as a proven method to lower inequality, stimulate economic growth, strengthen businesses, and keep the public debt from exploding further – and that deductions and overseas loopholes be eliminated before any reductions in tax rates be considered; corporate tax revenues should be restored to 20 percent of Federal current tax receipts; pass a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act; and ensure the continuation and undiminished funding of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to protect the budget and public from further Wall Street excesses.
Election Transparency: The Convention urges enactment of a Virginia General Assembly bipartisan bill requiring all candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General to submit at least five years of Federal and state tax returns to the Board of Elections in order to appear on the ballot and all Presidential candidates to submit at least the last five years of Federal tax returns to the same body before the presidential primary. These returns shall be made open and available to the public at least 45 days prior to a presidential primary or any general election.
Expansion of Medicaid in the Commonwealth of Virginia: The Convention affirms that healthcare is a human right to be afforded to all Americans; supports Governor McAuliffe’s proposed amendment to the state budget to set the expansion of Medicaid in motion; believes Virginia cannot afford to be left behind by continuing to not expand Medicaid.
Larry Roberts is an attorney in private practice, a former Chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee, and a former Counselor to the Governor. He has followed Virginia politics for more than 30 years and chaired three successful statewide political campaigns including the Lt. Governor campaign of Justin Fairfax, who won the Democratic primary on June 13.