Blue America Leaving 2021 On An Up-Note, Endorsing Long Island Progressive Melanie D'Arrigo
I grew up in Nassau County and went to college in Suffolk County. The two make up the bulk of NY-03, the North Shore congressional district that's been in Democratic hands for 2 decades. It'll always be home for me and I'm excited to see a genuine progressive with a shot at representing it in Congress. Trump has made inroads on Long Island but Biden won NY-03 by over 10 points and last year the incumbent, Tom Suozzi, who is making a run for governor, was reelected 56.0% to 43.5%.
The front-runner in the primary to replace Suozzi is progressive community organizer and health care executive Melanie D'Arrigo. If she wins, she'll be the first woman to ever represent the district. Her main primary opponent is a county legislator, Josh Lafazan, a conservative-- author of a reactionary bill to allow police to sue protesters. He recently switched his party registration to run as a Democrat against D'Arrigo. I look at him and I see Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
Melanie is the last endorsement Blue America is making for 2021 and if you like her guest post below, please consider making her the final recipient of your contribution for the year as well! You can click on the Blue America 2022 congressional thermometer above or at this link for this union card-carrying, Barnard and LIU graduate and mother of three.
Progressives Are the Soul of the Democratic Party
-by Melanie d'Arrigo
“Democrats must go further right,” say the centrist think tanks who are trying to reconcile local election losses.
The thinking goes, that since Democrats who ran cautious campaigns or ran on Republican talking points still lost, then in order to win, Democrats must go even further towards the right. This dangerous thinking takes for granted the millions of voters who put their faith in the Democratic Party when they promised in 2020 to fight for human rights, civil rights and a more just world. This past election proved that we will not defeat Republicans by pandering to Republican voters.
After nearly two years of a global pandemic that has interrupted American’s lives in ways they could not have imagined, Americans are tired of struggling, tired of being afraid of catching a virus we could have eradicated and terrified of the climbing death toll. The pandemic has shone a light on the inequalities of our very broken social safety net. The lack of affordable childcare has forced women out of the workforce to care for their children, setting back gender parity and economic progress. An inadequate, for-profit healthcare system prevents the sick from seeking the services they need due to fear they may be driven into debt. Workers are taken advantage of and often put in unsafe conditions for long hours and for less than a living wage. Americans are craving action, a lifeline of hope that will guide us through this dark time. Americans are craving a government that cares more about its people than its donors.
Yet, we continue to hear that we need to “moderate” our policies and not go “too far to the left.” Let’s be very clear that progressives are fighting for universal pre-K, a $15 minimum wage, climate action and to join the rest of the industrialized world by passing universal healthcare and paid leave. Not fighting for these necessary, common sense policies leaves working families exposed and their needs unrepresented in government. If these democratic bread-and-butter issues are considered “far left,” then what does our Democratic Party actually stand for?
I live on an island with a Democratic advantage in registered voters that got swept by Republicans this past November. The island did not change political allegiance in one election cycle, but disaffected voters, tired of empty promises and electeds leaving them behind, decided to stay home-- as shown by the record low voter turnout. When electeds show up for people, people show up for them. Contrary to media reports, there was no red wave. There was a blue evaporation.
If we want to win in 2022, then we need to focus on improving material conditions in people’s lives. More attention needs to be paid to solving issues rather than reading political tea leaves. It’s time to elect candidates who aren’t afraid to stand in our values and fight relentlessly to achieve policy that will benefit working families. We need candidates who will not take our base for granted and who will work to earn each and every vote.
Too often, progressives are cast as outliers in the party, yet we are the ones fighting for the issues and values that have defined the democratic party for decades. Progressives are the soul of the Democratic Party and the only way we will save our democracy and save the Democratic Party is by electing grassroots candidates who are beholden to the idea that government works best when it centers our families.