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Progressives have inched towards a better future.

Record LGBTQ+ Wins, an expansion of the ‘squad’ and a mandate for change… there’s still hope in the Divide States of America

UK commentary on this election has been resoundingly negative. We have focused on the growth of Trumps base. some have said America is beyond recognition, that we should cut ties with a country where 70 million people can readily elect a man on the verge of Tyranny. But they haven’t elected him. He has lost, the flame of democracy continues to burn, and progressive coals still have a chance of catching fire. In fact, they’re beginning to take.

75 million Americans voted to oust Trump and a wave of progressive congresspeople, senators, legislators and lawmakers have been elected or re-elected. The crusade of the progressives continues and the chance for change is better than ever.

The Squad 

Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez’s ‘squad’: a quartet of progressive female politicians: Ilhan Omar in Minnesota, Ayana Pressley in Massachusetts and Rashid Tlaib in Michigan, has not only been re-elected, but expanded, with Cori Bush of Montana and Jamaal Bowman of New York making the political group a sextet. All ran campaigns championing racial-equality, high taxes for the rich, less student debt, battling climate change and universal healthcare. The Squad now has a combined total of 14.9m twitter followers. Their reach and influence are significant, and the US population has just given them a mandate to continue the crusade for a better world.

Omar’s achievement in particular highlights the genuine desire for progressive politics in the US. She withstood a barrage of abuse from the President, with accusations that she was ‘not American’ and that she hated the country. Just last month, Donald Trump fabricated a link between Omar and terrorism during a rally in Minnesota: “a 700% increase in refugees coming from the most dangerous terror hot spots in the world, including Syria, Somalia… Where Omar is from… that’s the reason I’m going to win. Ilhan Omar” Omar won Minnesota’s 5th district by 39 percentage points. The people of Minnesota’s 5th district resoundingly ignored and disbelieved the president, in favour of a progressive candidate. 

Like progressive commentators in the UK, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lay down her arms during the election, calling a truce on her quarrel with the democratic party leadership, recognising that real change was not possible under Trump. With the win confirmed, she has now broken that truce, saying democracy has won, but the left hasn’t. But AOC and her squad’s influence is far-reaching, their re-election and expansion in congress is a win for the left, and for progressives across the country.

Joe Biden recognised this truce, saying in today’s victory speech: “I am proud of the coalition we put together, the broadest and most diverse in history. Democrats, Republicans and independents, Progressives, moderates and conservatives. Young and old. Urban, suburban and rural. Gay, straight, transgender. White. Latino. Asian. Native American. And especially for those moments when this campaign was at its lowest – the African American community stood up again for me. They always have my back, and I’ll have yours.” Biden understands the influence of the squad and their agenda, and a betting man would be sure he’ll listen to them again. 

LGBTQ+ Wins

While we can also criticise an election where the two presidential candidates were old white men and get lost in thinking this is who rules America, the elections this term have done far more to represent the increasingly diverse demographics in the nation at state level.

There has been a record number of LGBTQ+ wins across the nation. Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres became the first openly gay black and black-latino men to be elected to congress. Jones won New York’s 17thdistrict by 12 percentage points. Torres won the 12th district by 70 points. Both resounding victories, both representative of a city embracing equality, and championing the virtues of character and competence over sexuality and race.

Todd Gloria became the first out-gay mayor, winning election in San Diego. 

Sarah McBride was elected to the State Senate in Delaware, making her the first trans-gender person to be elected to any senate in the US, and also, the highest ranking trans in the country. Stephanie Byres also became the first state-house transgender person, winning in Kansas. 

These are all signs, not of a fractured nation fighting to maintain the status-quo, but a country embracing the age we live in.

Progress, elsewhere. 

Oregon just legalised all drugs. That is a big move in a country who has spent 5 decades criminalising users nationwide under federal law. This is a win for medical progress and for science. The failed War on drugs has long been the route of a number of America’s ills including mass incarceration and racial inequality. A whole state has voted to try the other way, the way which has been proven to work in Europe: to treat users, not imprison them. 

And lastly, we should take a moment to appreciate how momentous Kamala Harris’ achievement is. To regurgitate what we already know is fruitless. She is a sign of opportunity and progress and will surely help lead the new era. 

There is in no illusion that the Republican Party was on board with Trump, and it will never be easy to transition this bureaucracy from criminal sympathiser to effective government, but in the same way one man could coup d’état a whole political party, a team of legitimately elected, law-abiding progressives, with monumental followings can gently lead another parties discourse into a new era. The squad and newly elected progressives across the country can continue, with even greater effect, lobbying the Democratic party into further change. 

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Opinions Politics

Hancock’s ‘Young People are causing problems’ is just another way to divide us.

The Health Secretary’s finger pointing at young people does not comprise of smart, stable and confident leadership; it reeks of desperation and campaign-like attempts to retain some form of dignity and once more, shift the blame from the ever-growing, all-encompassing abominable mess this government has created.

“Don’t kill your gran by getting Covid” said the Health Secretary last week. Not exactly the confident statement you’d like to hear amidst the most uncertain times in living memory. 

Perhaps one could calmy nod along with Hanock at this statement with a tranquil acceptance and feel assured by his blunt honesty and stark warning of the danger of this disease. Perhaps it could have been the abrupt wakeup call needed to stun young people into following the covid guidelines more rigidly. Perhaps it could have just stopped us all going out altogether, again.

But no, this statement and babbling tirade of finger wagging came just a week after an audacious attempt to get everyone out and about again. It is verging on offensive that this government can one week run a campaign calling on people to fulfil some sort of moral duty to reignite the economy amidst an unparalleled pandemic, then the next, blame them for a rise in infections. 

For our elected ministers to haphazardly blame and pinpoint a certain group of people for their own failings has been a consistent theme during this era. It highlights an inexperienced, ill-equipped and insecure cabinet completely and totally out of their depth. 

For example, the more experienced and more statesman-like governments across Europe have not turned on themselves, their respective cabinet members in charge of health have not sighed, eye-rolled, laughed and stumbled through interviews with obvious disdain for normal, working class people. In France, Macron has not attacked ‘young people’ in fact, he has once more called for unity;  “The only way we will succeed in stopping this epidemic is if all of us are vigilant and stick together.”

In Germany, Angela Merkel has not played on everyone’s moral duty to spend in pubs and bars then chastised them for doing so, the very well qualified chancellor said in April: “caution is the order of the day, not overconfidence” and has believed this ever since by remaining transparent, restrained and accepting of the virus; all while not pointing the finger at certain groups. 

Merkal’s caution statement is the complete polar opposite of Johnson, too. Our zany Prime Minister visited a school earlier this month to highlight it was safe to reopen. He stood, mask-less, Infront of clearly unconvinced students packed side by side and said: “Quite frankly after all that time -159 days – the risk to your health is not from Covid, because statistically speaking your chances of suffering from that disease are very very low, the greatest risk you face now is continuing to be out of school.” What has come of this school? It has now closed, less than two weeks after reopening, because of? You guessed it… Covid-19. 

A division tactic? 

To be young is to vote left. That’s the new order of the day. Gone are typical class divisions, gone is the power of unions and gone is the pull of the left for working men and women. Now, the biggest indicator of voting intention is age – to be young, is to be labour. So, is this government pin-pointing the young as a dangerous force? 

As mentioned above, this government is insecure, they’re vastly out of their depth. As characterised by the entirety of this Brexit fiasco, they would jump at any chance to further their cause… is this another example of that? 

It certainly seems to have begun something. Two pubs in Yorkshire have banned under 25s amidst fears they will spread the disease. This to me, feels like the start of ageism.

Although I recognise that the figures of late have indicated a greater infection rate for 17-24-year olds – I firmly believe this isn’t their fault. The Governement called on us to eat out, to help out. It encouraged us to drink, to eat, to restart our lives, to socialise. It has then turned on us when the obvious effects of this has come to fruition. The government refuse all accountability, it absolves itself from blame and points the finger at groups which may challenge them.