We’re in a new and dangerous era now, described by Stephen Heintz, CEO of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, as one in which capitalism, the nation-state, and representative democracy have all become obsolete (www.nytimes.com/2020/05/22/opinion/coronavirus-germany-china-america.html). Whatever takes their place is going to have to confront multiple immediate crises: public health, racial justice, climate change, and employment. The progressive mission must go beyond ridding the nation of Trump and his cronies.
Our job as voters is to see that office holders at every level of government are people dedicated to protecting and promoting the human interest. In a nutshell, that means to me identifying candidates who, in values as much as in policy,
• give priority to planetary well being, the needs of the least fortunate, and respect for human diversity;
• believe in community, nonviolence, and peace—service, community, decency, openness, truthfulness—and reject discrimination, hate, and violence;
• are open to ideas from across the political and social spectrum that advance those beliefs; and
• embrace practical idealism, not false realism. Ideals are the drivers of change, especially in the face of profound pessimism about the future, but they must not be divorced from the practical problems of implementation. Realism, on the other hand, is often a trap; it becomes an argument for least-common-denominator approaches to problem solving.
I invite you to share with me and all readers the names of candidates for office in November—city, state, or federal—who you believe reflect humane values. I’ll start a list for everyone to see and consider supporting. Include their state, the office they seek, and a line or two about their strengths. I suggest focusing on candidates who are likely to be in tough races where every vote and dollar counts.