However, I would like to make some predictions about trends for the upcoming year regardless. The following listicle (oh, weren’t we supposed to bury that word in 2013? Sorry!) is the five trends I see progressivism moving in the next year.
1 – Broadening of LGBT Issues
For about a decade, we have focused laser-like on the right of same-sex couples to partake in one of the most basic civil functions in society – the right to be married to the person they love. Now through court and some legislative actions, this is finally coming to fruition throughout most of the United States. Even the Christian Right is finding that they can’t stop this marriage train as it’s bound for glory. While this helps heterosexual couples to see lesbian/gay/bisexual people as, y’know, people, there is much more to do here. Non-straight people can still be harassed and discriminated against in employment, housing, and even health care. This is not to say anything for the exported homophobic violence our own churches are sending to Africa. So I predict a move to larger basic protections for LGBT people.
2- Supporting Transgender People
Trans people have been fighting for their rights to exist for a long time, dating back to the Stonewall Riots. While making up a small percentage of the population relative to gay and lesbian people, trans people are killed, bullied, arrested, and commit suicide at severely disproportionate rates. While 4.6% of the general population have attempted suicide at some point in their lives and 10-20% of gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults have, a whopping 41% of trans people have . This number increases due to factors such as poverty, education level, and race/culture to over fifty percent in some cases. During the first four months of 2014, nine trans youth (one of them an eight year old) were killed and 102 trans people in total were subjected to beatings, shootings, mob violence, stabbings, mutilations and dismemberment. Leelah Alcorn’s death really struck a chord; may her memory be honored by our actions.
3- Reducing Police Harassment of Black People (and other marginalized groups):
With the marches, the die-ins, the #BlackLivesMatter hashtags, the general Progressive movement (along with many moderates) is making an important declaration and standing in solidarity with the general population of black people in America. This could be as big as any such coalition movement since the mid-60’s, even as the marches will be on hibernation for the winter. In the meantime, I can see progressives lobbying for support of less draconian laws and policies and even getting police departments to enforce fewer unnecessary arrests as they’re doing in New York City now. In fact, think about that for a second: The New York police officers are saying now that they will not commit arrests if “they don’t have to” – and overall arrests have dropped by over 60%. The majority of arrests that cops make are not ones they even feel are necessary. It’s largely policy that is causing this rift. I see progressives holding police accountable for shooting unarmed people of color as well as holding municipal governments responsible for sending the police out in such a fashion in the first place.
4- Higher Wages and Lower Disparity
Progressives have been supporting any number of measures for increasing the minimum wage – mostly those tied in with Democratic suggestions. While fast food unions have been pushing to increase wages across the board to $15 an hour, the Democratic Party is largely settling for $11. Nevertheless, it is an improvement but it cannot be the end goal. I am predicting that progressives will branch out from a wage increase to other important issues of economic inequity including housing, cost-of-living, and wealth inequity. What would it take to balance out the wealth stream so that poor people can afford to live in this country?
5- Getting More Leftist and Progressive Voices in the Mainstream
Let’s face it: H. Clinton and Obama are pragmatic centrists. Obama has modeled much of his style on Reagan and the central, defining piece of his legacy will be a health care mandate put in place by Republicans in the 90’s. Bill Clinton gets a lot of praise, but his welfare reform was bad for the very poor – and his escalation of the war on drugs possibly even worse. Despite what some claim, however, it is the radicals who pushed them to their finest actions (minimum wage increase debate, for instance) and who push the direction of the national discourse. Because the majority of political extremist voices have been coming from the racist-energized Tea Party, the last seven years we have seen more and more protections of the poor stripped away. We need more and louder radicals on the left getting the microphone and we need Sanders and Warren on the national stage to enter discussions we otherwise would not have in the main field. And I see that happening to our benefit. Remember, it’s their job to get elected. It’s our job to push them to do what we need them to do.
What policies and actions do you predict will be focused on this year?
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