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The Progressive Moment

Updated: Aug 28, 2018

I am in Detroit at Netroots Nation with 3,000 pugnacious activists who are fighting the good fight to turn this country around. I am proud to be a part of this movement — people who are diverse, innovative, gutsy, resourceful.

Okay, metaphor time: The progressive family tree is an big old tree with many branches. It is rooted deeply in the activism and courage of hundreds of years of American history. The branches include immigrants’ rights and civil rights activists, community organizations, the labor movement, the feminist movement, low-wage workers, the Netroots, environmental groups, LGBT activists, money in politics reformers, Wall Street reformers, and so many more. And the trunk of tree is the core values we all share: that we believe in community over cruelty, in an America where we all work together to help everyone do better, and where we give a helping hand to lift up those who need it; we believe that prosperity is generated from the bottom up and the middle out, that if the middle class is prosperous and adding new people that it will produce a stronger economy for everyone; we believe in genuine equality of opportunity, where every child and every family has a real shot at the American dream; we believe in a true democracy — of, by, and for the people — where we are not ruled by the wealthy and powerful; and we believe that government should be on the side of everyday folks, that big business and billionaires already have plenty of advantages and that the rest of us need a government that fights for us.

My organization, American Family Voices, created a video that we believe captures the vitality and excitement of this progressive moment. In the video, Keith Ellison uses the tree metaphor too (you didn’t think I came up with that myself, did you?): that we are in a moment where Americans are ready for a progressive populist message, that the fruit is ripe and ready to pick, but that if we don’t go ahead and pick it, the fruit will rot and drop to the ground. “Pick that fruit,” Keith advises us, and that is what our video hopes to inspire people to do. The video includes famous leaders like Elizabeth Warren and Bill de Blasio, but it also includes fast food workers organizing for a better life and Netroots activists talking about how to create and seize the moment. It includes labor leader Eliseo Medina, who risked his life in a 22 day fast for immigrants’ rights, and Heather Booth, who risked her life 50 years ago in Freedom Summer and is still organizing, advising us that we need to “live for freedom.” It has North Carolina Moral Mondays Movement leader Rev. William Barber reminding us in stirring fashion of the power progressives have if only we seize it.

The video premiered last night at Netroots Nation, and we share it with you now to remind you of the potential power of this progressive movement, in this moment in history:

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