During this defining decade, we must craft policies and meet every challenge mindful that Black Americans were enslaved and then systematically excluded from full citizenship through laws and policies that purposely relegated them into second-class personhood and that sanctioned racial discrimination. The effects are ongoing, and exclusionary policies linger. America must enter a new era that promotes political, economic, social, and racial equity in part by specifically reversing the harms of racist policies and practices.
Combating climate change
Climate security is a life-and-death issue for our generation. We know that it is long overdue to take bold, decisive action to eliminate greenhouse gas pollution once and for all while creating new, high-paying jobs. We will rise to the challenge and do it in the American way–by building and innovating. We must focus on Black and brown neighborhoods, that have been left out in the past, to ensure the transition to clean energy is inclusive and equitable for all parts of the country. We will fight for the right to be healthy–to have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. And we will prepare our military and disaster response agencies for the security threats of climate change.
Delivering economic justice
Decades ago, we were promised a rising tide of economic growth that would lift all boats. We got the rising tide—GDP went up, productivity went up–but our paychecks didn’t show it. Working class wages have stagnated since 1980. The need for new skills in a changing economy is one piece of the puzzle. But the hard truth is that while the economy changed, workers’ voices were systematically silenced. Our economy has been tilted toward the wealthy and away from the middle and working class because the people in power designed our laws and policies that way.
We support policies that will empower workers and raise wages to accelerate wage growth for the vast majority of Americans who are not in the richest tenth. It’s time to double unionization, restore workers’ rights that have been eroded by decades of anti-worker policies, enshrine the right to multi-employer bargaining, and expand protections for the gig economy, farm, and domestic workers.
Advancing democracy reform
The American quest to build a more perfect union starts with a democracy that includes every citizen. Voters must not be denied their rights because some people on one side think it’s better if fewer citizens are able to vote. All levels of government have a responsibility to prevent voter suppression and expand voting rights to give us all a voice in our democracy.
This includes a national popular vote to replace the Electoral College and not letting politicians draw the lines of their districts where they pick their voters instead of the other way around.
It’s also time for statehood for the District of Columbia, which would have the highest proportion of Black citizens—approximately 50%—in the union and be the only state where Black Americans were not a racial minority. And Puerto Rico should have immediate representation in choosing the president and if the people of Puerto Rico want statehood, that should be welcomed by the United States.
Legislation including HR. 1 and a new John Lewis Voting Rights Act would use every resource of the federal government to end all types of voter suppression, expand voting access, and create a democracy where the rights of each citizen no longer depend on the color of their skin, the community they live in, or for whom they want to vote. Voting must also be made accessible to all, including through accessible registration materials and other language access provisions, and greater accessibility at polling places.
Elevating the importance of mental health
Americans are in the midst of a devastating epidemic of despair. At the same time, our mental health care system is in crisis. We support a vision that embraces prevention and ensures every person in need has the support not only to begin to heal, but also to feel that they belong in their community and in our country. It’s time to empower communities to leverage their own innovation and expertise to improve mental health and prevent addiction.
Expanding national service
Service has the power to transform people and communities, so Americans can learn trust and collaborate with people from radically different backgrounds—including different races, religions, and political leanings. Right now, we turn away hundreds of thousands of young people who volunteer to serve. Military service, Peace Corps service, and domestic service-year opportunities through efforts like AmeriCorps should be expanded until service becomes a universal expectation for every American youth.
We believe Americans of every background, younger generations as well seniors, can meaningfully engage in key challenges of our time from resilience and sustainability against climate disruption to mental health, addiction, and substance use.