The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Mike Hersh, PDA Communications Director 

Alan Minksy, PDA Executive Director:

PDA Calls Upon Progressive Candidates to Endorse a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights

A Call for All Progressive Candidates and Officeholders to Embrace a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights


In his 1944 State of the Union Address, President Franklin Roosevelt articulated popular American aspirations by calling for an Economic Bill of Rights as a necessary addition to the original Bill of Rights.

Polls conducted by the White House in 1943 had revealed that after the war Americans wanted guaranteed healthcare, guaranteed employment, and guaranteed aid to students.

Empowered by these findings, FDR declared, "We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. 'Necessitous men are not free men.' ...[Therefore] We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed."

All of which is as true today as it was 78 years ago.

Therefore, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) proposes a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights - a Bill of Rights we call on all progressive candidates and officeholders to embrace.

A 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights will guarantee all people residing in the United States the right to the basic necessities of life regardless of their income, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or country of origin.

A 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights will establish that all Americans are entitled to:

1. The right to a job that pays a living wage
2. The right to quality health care
3. The right to a complete education
4. The right to affordable housing
5. The right to a clean environment
6. The right to a secure retirement

These essential rights are taken verbatim from Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign website. Concise and memorable, we believe they advance a fine starting point.

We do recognize the need to enhance that list. Perhaps, for instance, Right #1 should read "The right to a job that pays a living wage, guarantees sick leave and at least two weeks of paid vacation." Similarly, given the multi-decade attack on labor, something like "The right to a voice in the workplace through labor union representation and collective bargaining" could be added. Moreover, in light of the world we live in we might well add "The right to broadband internet access." And, of course, we heartily second FDR's insistence upon a "right to recreation." There are other proposals we might consider. In the 1960s, Martin Luther King, Jr. called for an Economic Bill of Rights. And more recently, in 2018, economists Mark Paul, William Darity and Derek Hamilton laid out a call for a nine item 21st Century Bill of Rights. But we can debate the nuances of those proposals later.

Embracing this new Bernie Sanders' 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights will make it all the more clear what distinguishes Progressive Democrats from both moderate Democrats and Republicans - that only Progressive Democrats truly stand for the type of economy and society that the overwhelming majority of Americans support.

Progressive Democrats support the proposition that if you do a full day's work at a full-time job that you deserve economic security and a promising life.

Progressive Democrats support policies that provide health care, housing, and retirement security as a human right.

Progressive Democrats support well-funded public education, K through college, and eliminating the student-debt trap for past, present, and future generations.

Progressive Democrats support policies that actually address the climate emergency, as we refuse to do the bidding of the Fossil Fuel industry, incentivizing investment in renewable energy, and domestic manufacturing, in the process.

In short, Progressive Democrats - not "moderate" or "corporate" Democrats or the "conservative" GOP - support a platform of policies designed to enable Americans, all Americans, to both secure the nation's promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and make America progressively better in the process. We reject the cynicism that says we can do little to remedy the endemic social ills that have caused so many to lose faith in our national project - and in contrast to those who favor retreat or the status quo, we present a vision of and a call to action for positive democratic renewal and growth.

Just as FDR's Second Bill of Rights did in 1944, our's lays out a blueprint for a more prosperous and inclusive America with expanded liberty for all in a healthy and vibrant democracy.

Thus, we call upon all progressive candidates and officeholders to embrace our proposal for a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights and promise to seek its implementation.

Indeed, we invite everyone to help us build the America it projects.

Progressive Democrats of America was founded in 2004 to transform the Democratic Party and U.S. politics by working inside and outside of the party by working to elect empowered progressives and by building the progressive movement in solidarity with with peace, justice, civil rights, environmental, and other reform efforts. For more information about PDA, please see