Reform and The Moral Center

Jesse Jackson | 11/28/2019, 8 a.m.
"Too radical, impractical, too costly, impossible, can't pass the Senate." Those are the terms centrist Democrats use to describe the ...

At a time when college education or advanced training is deemed essential not simply for the individual but for the country, why wouldn't we make that available for all who qualify? How can our society thrive if we condemn the best of the next generation to a life burdened by debt?

This is one of the richest countries in the world. We can afford these things. With inequality reaching new extremes, and corporations and the wealthy rigging the tax code to their benefit, we can pay for them without raising taxes on middle- and low-income Americans.

The argument that these necessary reforms are not "practical" makes no sense. Centrists suggest that only modest, piecemeal, admittedly inadequate reforms have a chance to gain the support needed to pass. But pre-emptive compromise doesn't inspire fear or fervor. What's needed is a clarion call that lays out what is essential -- and builds the public support necessary to tackle those standing in the way. Republicans opposed Social Security and Medicare as socialism, or communist notions. They passed because Roosevelt and Johnson built the majorities and claimed the mandate to get them passed.

The argument that these reforms are too radical, too "left" also fails on its face. These basic reforms -- the right to adequate health care, the right to an education, the addressing of the existential threat posed by the climate emergency -- are not left or right. They represent the moral center. The values they express are not un-American; they are central to the American dream. It isn't radical to suggest that all have health care, or all have access to a good education. It is just common sense. And we are badly in need of a strong dose of that.

You can write to the Rev. Jesse Jackson in care of this newspaper or by email at jjackson@rainbowpush.org. Follow him on Twitter @RevJJackson.