Is it possible that everything we thought we knew about politics in America is wrong, that the Democratic Party should stop hiding behind the supposed need to promote a slightly left of centre agenda because that’s where, they say, the votes are? Is it possible a newly constituted understanding of the party, under the right leadership, could convince a growing majority of Americans that the best kind of populism is guided by a progressive notion, one that promotes inclusion, generosity, and mutual respect?
After the shock of November 2016 I’m willing to entertain a lot ideas I might otherwise have considered fanciful. This could be one of them.
I started thinking about this in earnest after seeing a new political ad for Democrat Randy Bryce, a Bernie Sanders supporter who has decided to do what is likely impossible, unseat Republican house speaker Paul Ryan.
Mr. Bryce has an interesting resume. He is a veteran, an ironworker, and a union organizer. He supports single-payer healthcare. He possesses a folksy charm that could work very well on the campaign trail. In other words, he comes across as what some people might call a mensch.
The district to be contested is the Wisconsin first congressional and despite being led by a high profile Republican in the House, it can be a hard district to read. George W. Bush won it in 2004, Romney in 2012, and Trump in 2016, but Obama took it in 2008.
I seriously doubt Ryan will break a sweat keeping this seat, but Randy Bryce-ness, the idea of someone like this, should be compelling for Democrats. Whatever else Trump’s victory signals, it surely suggests the usual crew is at a disadvantage. Something different is called for. This is that.
I also don’t know how someone with an organized labour background will play in American politics, but as a union organizer this guy is not new to politics, as labour politics are some of the toughest in the land, and a great school for the political big leagues.
Anyway, this is not really about whether a guy like this can beat Ryan, but more about whether a guy like this can show the Democratic Party a new way to relate to a constituency they need to woo.
Again, a veteran, an iron worker, a union organizer, progressive, and pro-single-payer. More like this please.