Beyond the Symbolism of Change
The machine’s go-to argument whenever true progressives seek to establish a fair democracy in the state of New Jersey is, “Oh, they’re just bitter because they were not given a position.” Ironically, the very assumption that any elected official should be “given” anything by anyone other than the people, in and of itself demonstrates the absurdity in which the current political sphere in this state operates.
As we approach our inaugural state convention, let me take this opportunity to inform the establishment that when progressives enter the fight to publicly serve in this state, we do so because we crave the formation of a true democracy in New Jersey for reasons that extend far beyond a mere yearning to have the unearned, party-boss-blessed privilege to hold elected office.
When progressives courageously call for a true democracy, we do so with the hopes that when the hard-working people of this state ache for economic justice, they are met with elected officials who will not use the seat of government to craft legislation for the sole purpose of enriching themselves and their insider loyalists.
It is the progressive’s hope that our elected officials will use the honor to serve as a moral catalyst to create laws that induce equitable outcomes for our most vulnerable populations and secure the kind of justice that rights the wrong of a staggering wealth gap, so stark that white families literally have hundreds of thousands more to spare than the average Black or Brown family.
Fair democracy for genuine progressives is not code language for a secret desire to be deemed as “loyal” by the very powers that have allowed county after county, year after year, to receive “F” grades for the deadly bad air quality infesting this great state. Instead, authentic progressives see a fair democracy as a path towards being able to enact Green New Deal style policies so that our Black and Brown children no longer have to suffer asthma attacks at some of the highest rates in the nation and environmental justice can fully be served through the strength of our environmental policy.
Real democracy – for the sincere progressive – goes far beyond the mere symbolism of change. It goes way beyond streets with painted slogans that establishment politicians were afraid to even utter back when these slogans served as non-co-opted declarations of humanity for the oppressed rather than simply a tool of clever political posturing. Real democracy for those who dare call themselves progressives does not wrestle in a state of confusion over whether kneeling is an appropriate form of protest or whether we need to defund the police or whether Black lives matter because we know that accountability is the cornerstone of social justice and we progressives will not stop until that justice has been adequately achieved.
If you made it this far in this post without phoning your local party-boss to tell on me, then good. You’re on your way to joining the fight to create a real democracy in New Jersey. After all, every form of justice written above cannot be attained without electoral justice. Will you join us?