Are “Lost” Democrats Finding Their Way In North Texas?
“Lost in the wilderness,” is how some described the Democratic Party after the 2016 election. We may be in the wilderness, but we aren’t lost. To see a forest for its trees, many will recommend you step back to take in a wider view. My approach has been the opposite: go deep into the forest to where all one can hear is the swaying of the trees, put my ear to the ground, and listen. As a Democratic candidate for Congress here at the base of the cross timbers, I’ve tried my best to hear from everyone, and along the way I’ve found a path out of the wild, not just for my campaign, but for Democrats nationwide.
Don’t be misled by leafy branches — the roots are crumbling
Although North Texas has recently seen unprecedented economic growth, the American family is in the most precarious position it’s been in generations: cost of living is skyrocketing, while wages have stagnated; healthcare costs are the number one cause of bankruptcy; and student loan interest rates are stifling. While the decision to start or grow a family is often based on a multitude of personal factors, I’m hearing a common complaint:
“We’re not having children. It’s too expensive.”
Hard-working people hesitant to start a family because they feel they can’t afford one should be a clear sign something’s gone wrong.
America has long promised success to those who work hard. But fewer families are finding this to be true. While the suburban middle class may still feel that the American Dream is within reach, there is another America for whom it has become (or always was) a fairytale. Working 50 hours a week, along with their partners, these Americans struggle to afford the basics taken for granted by their parents’ generation: a starter home, car, and savings account. It’s hard to imagine raising a family with these challenges. Many young people can’t, so they don’t. The sunlight of economic prosperity isn’t trickling down to the roots, leaving the American family missing out on opportunities available only to those at the top.
Over the course of a generation, families went from sending children to work to sending them to school, from struggling with the poverty of living on a dirt floor to walking the hallways of America’s universities.
We fought to save Americans from the dangers of the Industrial Revolution, while maximizing its economic opportunities for the American family. However, in today’s Information Revolution, we’ve become complacent, as jobs are replaced by automation and e-commerce, and we must return to the fight for economic opportunity. Policies that help the American worker, whose productivity has doubled over the past 30 years, to benefit from that growth are simply modern, fair and common sense.
This isn’t to say that we should cease in our efforts to ensure justice for American minorities, women, immigrants, the disabled, and our LGBTQ friends and family members. But Democrats can walk and chew gum at the same time. In fact, renewing our fight for economic opportunity and removing barriers to the American Dream necessarily means opposing injustice in all its forms.
Democrats will deserve to lead again when we instill in America a hope and reliance on the promises of this cultural ethos: from hard work comes success. Such ethos becomes a myth, however, without a stable structure on which the American family can thrive. To earn America’s trust then, Democrats must build this structure by tackling those seemingly insurmountable, modern ideas like progressive tax codes, single-payer healthcare, ending employment and wage discrimination, and a college education that opens more doors than it closes. This fight for the American family will instill again within our country the most important emotion of all: hope.
Will Fisher is a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Texas’ 26th Congressional District. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, or his website. An interview with Will from earlier this year was previously posted on Rantt.