Sometimes people complain that the Left is a loose conglomeration of special interest groups with no discernible focus. Trying to organize us is often referred to as "herding cats," and Will Rogers famously quipped, "I don't belong to any organized party. I'm a Democrat."
The thing is, I don’t believe that’s true. There is a discernible focus—and it’s caring about the American people. Our various issues are all connected.
Labor may focus on jobs and fair wages, while feminists focus on reproductive rights, while poverty advocates focus on housing and hunger, while environmentalists focus on clean air and water, while healthcare advocates focus on affordable and accessible healthcare, while social groups focus on equal opportunity—but they all merge into the shared goal of making sure that every American, irrespective of sex, race, sexuality, or class, has a decent shot at living a healthy, productive, and fulfilling life.
It’s all related, and we should stop pretending like it’s not, stop playing into the erroneous identification of our collective as a disjointed medley of competing interests. When one sector of the Left argues that, say, the economy is more important than reproductive rights, they’re missing the line that connects those two dots. Reproductive rights affect the economy, and the economy affects how women view reproduction, and, hence, how they individually manage it.
Today’s news provides a perfect example of how our issues are totally and inextricably linked: We put an anti-choice, pro-abstinence doctor in charge of the funding meant to provide access to contraception and reproductive health information to low-income Americans, and inevitably, as has been repeatedly demonstrated by studies done on restricted access to contraception, abortion, and comprehensive sex education, this will result in more unwanted children—especially in families who can’t afford more children. Meanwhile, more than one out of every ten American households experienced very low food security last year. More mouths to feed; greater food insecurity.
There’s little point to arguing that one issue is more important than the other. They are intimately and inseparably tied to one another, and thusly must their advocates be intimate and inseparable allies.
The tie that binds us is our vision of America as a place of equal opportunity and genuine equality, our belief that a society at the mercy of ill, unemployed, destitute, disenfranchised, or otherwise struggling masses is not a strong society, and there but by the grace of the fates go any of us, so its prevention is incumbent upon us all.
Liberals argue that America’s greatest strength has always been her progressiveness, her awkward struggle for egalitarianism, her existence as a melting pot where all people are meant to be free. The liberal view is about personal freedom and finding the balance that ensures the expression of one person’s right doesn’t infringe on another’s—my rights end where yours begin. As we move forward into a new era which will, one hopes, desperately hopes, see the end of the conservative rule which has sought to replace the optimism of the American Dream with their ugly brand of social Darwinism and upward redistribution of both wealth and opportunity, I hope also that the liberal view includes finding a new appreciation for our collective vision, that we may see a spectrum of special interests creating one cohesive and beautiful rainbow under which we all march shoulder to shoulder.