Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A coalition of progressive lawmakers, union leaders, and social justice advocates on Thursday unveiled the "People's Charter," a political agenda intended to outline how working people can come together to transform the U.S. from a country that works for "the privileged and powerful few" to one that "cares for all of us." (Photo: People's Charter)

A coalition of progressive lawmakers, union leaders, and social justice advocates on Thursday unveiled the "People's Charter," a political agenda intended to outline how working people can come together to transform the U.S. from a country that works for "the privileged and powerful few" to one that "cares for all of us." (Photo: People's Charter)

Demanding a Nation That 'Cares for All' Not Just the Wealthy Few, Progressives Unveil People's Charter

"The People's Charter provides folks with something that is outside of [Biden's] politics to vote for."

Kenny Stancil

A coalition of progressive lawmakers, union leaders, and social justice advocates on Thursday unveiled the "People's Charter," a political agenda intended to outline how, in the midst of overlapping public health, economic, policing, and climate crises that have devastated low-income communities of color most of all, working people can come together to transform the United States from a country that works for "the privileged and powerful few" to one that "cares for all of us."

Politico, which first reported on the proposal, characterized the People's Charter as part of a strategy to push Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to the left if he defeats President Donald Trump, calling it "the latest move from progressives as they prepare to wrangle with moderate Democrats over the scale of new government spending and programs if the party wins control of Washington."

The Working Families Party, which convened the agenda, is hosting a live launch of the platform at 8:00 pm ET. The RSVP information can be found here.

The proposal states that this year's convergence of the coronavirus pandemic, worsening economic inequality, and systemic racism has revealed that "our government isn't caring for us."

While "Americans are coming together to care for each other like never before," the authors write, the dearth of public support for struggling households following rapid and generous corporate bailouts shows that a majority of legislators in Washington "care for billionaires more than they care for working people."

"It doesn't have to be this way," say dozens of progressive elected officials, candidates, and organizations pursuing economic, environmental, and racial justice.

Signatories of the charter include: members of the House Democratic "Squad" plus Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Chuy Garcia (D-Ill.), Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.); multiple congressional candidates such as Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush; several state and local representatives; and groups like SEIU, Movement for Black Lives, United We Dream, the Sunrise Movement, and many others. 

The vision is broken down into five pillars that seek to "heal the wounds from the pandemic, the economic depression, and a history of racism":

  • Care for the Wronged
  • Emergency Care
  • A Good Job for Everyone Who Needs One
  • Care for Each Other
  • Care for the Future

The first component revolves around repairing historic injustices and ending racial inequality. To this end, the proposal calls for: respecting tribal sovereignty; eradicating restrictive zoning policies that maintain residential and school segregation by race and class; and shifting resources away from policing, carceral, and military institutions and into "schools, housing, healthcare, and jobs" so that everyone can lead a decent life. 

The second element seeks to provide medical care and economic assistance to everyone, and especially the most vulnerable members of society, throughout the duration of the crisis, which entails: free Covid-19 testing and treatment for all; an extension of expanded unemployment insurance for all regardless of immigration status; a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs and a cancellation of rent and suspension of debt payments during the pandemic; retroactive hazard pay for essential workers; increased resources for at-home learning; and federal fiscal aid for states and cities to avoid layoffs and cuts to crucial public services. 

Biden "has talked about the crisis that Roosevelt faced," and "he has talked about wanting to have a new New Deal for the 21st century. That should be the direction he goes, instead of the incrementalism of the '90s."
—Rep. Ro Khanna

Third, the proposal advocates for raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and putting "16 million people to work immediately—upgrading our broken infrastructure, modernizing and retrofitting millions of homes and buildings, staffing schools, hospitals and health departments, protecting and restoring forest and wetlands, creating opportunities for family farmers and rural communities, and revitalizing American manufacturing."

Next, the charter calls for addressing "the deficiencies in how our government cares for us that the pandemic has revealed." To do so, signatories say, the U.S. must: ensure that every worker who wants a union can join one; eliminate for-profit health insurance and make healthcare universal and free; provide safe and affordable housing for all; guarantee universal child care as well as paid family, medical, and sick leave plus income support for parents; cancel student debt; and raise taxes on "the giant corporations who don't pay their share and the wealth of the billionaires who have gotten richer during the worst economic collapse in 90 years." 

The last piece of the vision focuses on increasing the capacity of the U.S. to face "challenges we know we have to confront." The charter seeks to "protect our democracy from takeover by billionaires, corporations, war profiteers, and bigots by getting big money out of politics and ensuring that every vote counts," including by saving the Post Office and vote-by-mail.

The proposal also pushes for a foreign policy based on "cooperation and diplomacy over competition" so that humanity can effectively respond to "challenges that transcend borders, like pandemics, armed conflicts, and climate change."

In addition, the platform calls for ensuring that "our food, water, electricity, health, financial, and other systems" can withstand climate disruptions by taking immediate steps, such as: creating "public banks to make needed investments whenever private markets fail" to do so; giving "the public ownership stakes in all corporations receiving bailouts;" buying out oil and gas companies to expedite our shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy while guaranteeing the creation of green jobs and "a just transition for workers in extractive industries;" and ensuring access to clean air and water by prioritizing investments in poor and working class communities suffering most from pollution. 

"People, in order to be enthusiastic about voting, need to vote for something," Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party, told Politico. "And the People's Charter provides folks with something that is outside of [Biden's] politics to vote for."

"It also sets up conditions post-election to articulate that this election was a referendum on this agenda," Mitchell added. 

Khanna pointed out that Biden "has talked about the crisis that Roosevelt faced," and "he has talked about wanting to have a new New Deal for the 21st century."

"That should be the direction he goes," Khanna added, "instead of the incrementalism of the '90s."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Conservative British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Agrees to Resign

"It is good news for the country that Boris Johnson has resigned as prime minister. But it should have happened long ago," said Labour Leader Keir Starmer. "He was always unfit for office."

Jake Johnson ·


Fulton County Subpoenas of Trump Allies Offer Hope 'That Justice Will Ultimately Be Served'

"The coordinated attempts by former President Donald Trump and his associates to discount and ignore the will of Georgian voters during the 2020 election cannot be swept under the rug," said one activist.

Jessica Corbett ·


Russian Official Makes Nuclear Threat Over US Support for Ukraine War Crimes Probe

Another official responded to Western sanctions by suggesting that Russia could reclaim Alaska.

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Denounced for Imposing New Sanctions as Iran Nuclear Talks Falter

One Middle East expert accused the U.S. administration of "continuing and embracing Trump's max pressure policy, while expecting a different result."

Brett Wilkins ·


Under 'Draconian Abortion Ban,' Woman in El Salvador Sentenced to 50 Years for Pregnancy Loss

Laws like El Salvador's are "now being replicated in states across the U.S.," noted one observer.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo