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"A People's Wave" Rebukes Trump: Democrats Retake US House With Mandate to Chart Bold Progressive Course

"Millions of people new to social movements joined the fray, showing up at town halls, joining community organizations, and organizing their neighbors to resist the Trump agenda."

Mazeda Uddin celebrates the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at La Boom night club in Queens on November 6, 2018 in New York City. (Photo: Rick Loomis/Getty Images)

After massive energy driven by two years of tireless grassroots organizing nationwide, ambitious left-wing platforms, and sheer revulsion at President Donald Trump's plutocratic and racist agenda wrested control of the House from the GOP in Tuesday's midterms, celebration quickly transformed into pressure on the new House Democratic majority to heed the demands of the progressive forces that swept them into power and deliver on the bold policy promises that carried dozens of working class champions to victory.

"There will be a check on Trump. History will reflect that America did not idly stand for the corrupt tyrant in the White House. Now, Americans are ready for boldness from House Democrats."
—Progressive Change Campaign Committee

"This was a people's wave," George Goehl, director of People's Action, declared in a statement. "From the moment Donald Trump was elected, a people's movement took root. Millions of people new to social movements joined the fray, showing up at town halls, joining community organizations, and organizing their neighbors to resist the Trump agenda."

"All of it built to a midterm election that was a rebuke to Trump's racist and divisive ways and a yes to big ideas on healthcare, wages, racial justice, and protecting the environment," Goehl concluded.

In the face of the human-caused climate crisis, the disastrous consequences of America's for-profit healthcare system, and an economy that works only for the ultra-wealthy few, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) argued Wednesday morning that "there is no time for small-bore technocratic tweaks" that fail to challenge the corporate rot at the heart of the American political system.

"Americans are ready for boldness from House Democrats," PCCC argued in an email, highlighting the progressives who turned red districts blue with bold proposals like Medicare for All and ambitious climate action. "Americans expect House Democrats to advance big, bold ideas like challenging Big Pharma, giving every American the ability to have Medicare, and massive investment in infrastructure jobs. They must put up the North Star so that voters know what Democrats stand for going into 2020."

Bolstered by record-high turnout, Democrats won at least 26 House seats in Tuesday's elections, three more than they needed to retake control of the chamber.

But while the election was in many ways a clear rebuke of Trump—who took his disgustingly racist rhetoric and policy promises to new heights in the lead-up to the elections—it didn't "deliver a knockout blow" to the president or the GOP, as Republicans added to their Senate majority and avoided a blue tsunami in the House.

"Democrats will now have power when Congress and state legislatures convene in January. They owe that power to the diverse grassroots coalition that made tonight's victory possible."
—Leah Greenberg and Ezra Levin, Indivisible

While celebrating the wave of enthusiasm and anger that ended unified Republican control of Congress and likely foreclosed the possibility of the deep cuts to safety net programs that Republicans promised, progressives argued that a shake-up at the top of the party is desperately needed to hold the comically corrupt Trump White House to account and deliver on policies that are both popular and necessary for the survival of the planet.

"Nothing that's happened tonight has made me think that sticking with the exact same Democratic leadership that delivered us to Trump two years ago has been a prudent strategy. There are a lot of exciting new faces in the party tonight and they need to take over ASAP," freelance journalist David Klion wrote on Twitter. "We need an insurgency."

Among the exciting and unabashed progressives who emerged victorious on Tuesday after running on a bold slate of proposals like Medicare for All, free public college, and a living wage were democratic socialists Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York and Rashida Tlaib in Michigan—the youngest woman ever elected to Congress and the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, respectively.

"We elected progressive champions up and down the ballot," noted Ilya Sheyman of MoveOn Political Action. "The leaders we collectively lifted to power tonight... include a record number of women, people of color, and first-time candidates—championing an agenda more progressive than any in recent memory. Against corporate money in politics. Standing up to the gun lobby. Fighting for Medicare for All."

These working class champions who firmly support radical climate action and systemic economic change provide a striking contrast to current Democratic leaders, who used the occasion of Tuesday's victory to champion the "bipartisan marketplace of ideas" in place of the fundamental change that is necessary to tackle soaring inequality and avert planetary catastrophe.

"The incoming Democratic class of leaders is the future of the party, and the future of the country," noted Indivisible co-founders and co-executive directors Leah Greenberg and Ezra Levin. "Democrats will now have power when Congress and state legislatures convene in January. They owe that power to the diverse grassroots coalition that made tonight's victory possible."

"If Democrats hope to maintain and build on that power, they should be asking themselves one simple question: what do the wave builders want?" Greenberg and Levin concluded.

In summary, progressives argued, pay-go economics, climate "hearings," and incremental steps toward mitigating soaring inequality are simply not going to cut it.

"We need public officials who refuse to be bought and paid for by Big Oil and can stand up for groundbreaking climate policy like a Green New Deal," May Boeve, executive director of 350 Action, said in a statement on Wednesday. "When it comes to uprooting the corporate stranglehold on our political system and preventing the worst impacts of climate change, there's not a moment to lose."

With the midterms over and the focus now on the coming months and years, Goehl of People's Action concluded, "Now we must work together, to hold this administration accountable, to continue pushing an agenda that lifts up poor and working class people.

"When we do that," Goehl declared, "the people win and ultimately, that's what matters."

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