We are approaching a midterm election in which the real issue is not the Affordable Care Act’s Web site. The real issue is whether we continue down the road toward more radical inequality or move, instead, toward reinventing a nation whose economy is consistent with our national values of democracy and opportunity.
Historically, midterm elections are decided by base voters, more so than swing voters. Working people will turn out for candidates who support solutions that would make a difference in the real world. We are not going to be fooled by poll-tested gestures transparently designed for use as political props.
We will also turn out for candidates who tell the truth about what is happening in our country: candidates who speak clearly about falling wages and concentration of wealth and income, and about the astounding tilt in our economy and politics toward global corporations and the very rich.
Most important, we are going to turn out to support candidates who offer a better future: candidates who squarely acknowledge that our society faces a choice between plutocracy and a future of shared prosperity — and who choose shared prosperity. That means candidates who stand for investing in the United States to create jobs and make our country more competitive, not giving tax breaks to companies that send jobs overseas or signing trade agreements that benefit corporations and not people. Those who stand for raising wages for the 90 percent, not cutting taxes for the 1 percent; those who support comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship and oppose mass deportations of families from our communities; those who have the courage to say that mass incarceration is a blight on our country; and those who know that unequal pay for women is an injustice.
Now, the message of some candidates is not hope or a future of shared prosperity but fear: fear of the future and of each other. Some will seek votes by looking to divide and conquer the 90 percent for the benefit of the 10 percent. Fear can be a powerful motivator in politics — and in a time of continued mass unemployment and economic anxiety, fear cannot be defeated with platitudes. Fear cedes ground only to hope, which must be backed up with a clear agenda for action. President Obama’s proposals to raise the minimum wage and to make the 40-hour workweek real again are great first steps, and candidates in both parties are moving toward them.