Our Big, Bold Plan — and Why Opportunity Can Win

September 19, 2018 by Lanae Erickson Hatalsky
Syrina Franklin, an order fulfillment associate at the company ShipBob, picks products for an order at the company's new fulfillment center in Cicero, Ill., on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. ShipBob is a growing tech company that does fulfillment for e-commerce businesses (including Amazon). (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

“How do we beat Donald Trump?”

That’s the question on the mind of every Democrat going into 2020. The scale of the threat posed by a Trump second term is unfathomable — from the Supreme Court and women’s rights to the economy, the environment, and our country’s national security. And Democrats need a bold, future-oriented narrative and agenda to meet that challenge. Recycled ideas from the past, either from the left or the center, just aren’t going to cut it.

In July, Third Way met with Democrats from 32 states in Columbus, OH, to offer a bold new alternative to Trumpism: providing every American everywhere the opportunity to earn a good life. And we released an agenda of big ideas to scale with the severity of the opportunity crisis too many Americans currently face because of who they are or where they live. One reporter in attendance described the event this way, “Leading moderate Democrats forcefully argued this week that the party can embrace a robust agenda of change … in what was an opening salvo of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.”

Now, some on the far left are arguing that our agenda is “small-bore.” You can disagree with the path that we’ve laid out or debate our policy solutions, but it’s disingenuous to call these ideas small:

And it turns out that voters agree these ideas and others in the opportunity agenda are both new and responsive to the real economic challenges they face. Across the board, between 6 in 10 and 8 in 10 voters said each of the ideas we put on the table would improve their own communities — and that they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports them. Those numbers were consistent across every major demographic group in the Democratic coalition. And when you test this kind of opportunity agenda against what Trump and Sanders are offering, opportunity trounces both by more than 20 points.

It’s clear to us that a bold, modern opportunity narrative and policies to match can unite Democratic voters left and center. We’d love to debate the details, and we look forward to a robust conversation about where the Democratic Party should go in 2020 and beyond. But let’s have that discussion with the seriousness it deserves — not rely on old tropes or 1990s-era stereotypes. Because there’s at least one thing on which we can all agree — we must beat Trump in 2020.

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