I am a progressive and always have been. I believe that we should have a single-payer health care system. I want every child to have access to higher education and believe that we should look to other nations such as Germany and France that provide it for free as examples from which we can learn. Keeping our water safe to drink, our air safe to breathe and our land free from pipelines, fracking, deforesting and strip mining are all part of what I care about. Women must always have access to reproductive care and abortion. I had an abortion and am so grateful that I had that choice. The impact of the lack of social justice on the lives of people of color, of the LGBTQ community, of undocumented immigrants and Muslims, is part of the litany of issues that I care about and why I define myself as a progressive.

When choosing who I vote for I don’t expect that I am going to be able to check every box on my list. Given the political climate of the past 20 years, I understand how far we have come and how far we still have to go.

I am not blind to injustice and I am not blind to the corporate influence in our elections. But I also know that if you want to win and you want to make real change that you have to be able to make choices and hard decisions.

I vote for candidates who get that and it is why I voted for Hillary Clinton. I didn’t agree with everything she stood for, but I knew that I was voting for someone who was smart, experienced, thoughtful and capable of change. I had witnessed that over the years of her public life. I was also very cognizant of her care for and relationship to people of color.

Her conversations around Blacklivesmatter and her embrace of the Mothers of the Movement was pivotal in the election and has always been part of her conversation and moral stance.

After she won the primary, I appreciated that Bernie Sanders helped to move the platform to a more progressive stance. They made it work, just as I expected them to. I was and am proud to be a Democrat.

But here we are again with those that suggest that they are the “progressives” and those of us that didn’t vote for Bernie are “insiders” or as I was recently referred to a “capital apologist” (I don’t even know what that means) objecting to the election of Tom Perez, former Labor Secretary and first Latino to Chair of the DNC over Rep. Keith Ellison.

Democracy For America Chair Jim Dean made the following statement:

This incredibly disappointing result is another missed opportunity for a Democratic Party desperately trying to regain relevance and proves, once again, how out of touch party insiders are with the grassroots movement currently in the streets, on the phone, and at town halls nationwide.

On Twitter and Facebook people are bemoaning the demise of the Democratic Party and a missed opportunity for change. They see Tom Perez as a “corporate shill” a “Clintonite” and an “establishment” figure. For many that know his record that just rings false. For those of us who happily supported Hillary Clinton and are part of the uprising and part of the protests in our pussy hats and going to town halls, we wonder why our contributions and points of view aren’t accounted for. Is everyone who disagrees with Bernie Sanders and his supporters part of the establishment?

Is a group composed of mostly white males seeking to find relevance wanting to do so at the expense of women and people of color?

It is astonishing as millions of women signed up for a Facebook group called Pantsuit Nation and thousands of women have signed up for another Facebook group called Nasty Women both in response to the candidacy of Hillary Clinton who lost the election by a mere 77,000 votes that the Democratic party is “desperately trying to regain relevance and power” as Dean suggested. Maybe he should have written desperately to regain relevance and power for white men.

As a woman married to a Black man with two Black daughters I am very cognizant of being well outside of the mainstream. I am also very aware of my white privilege which I find many so-called “progressives” to be completely out of touch with. This past election proved a willingness to put aside and put at risk the needs and lives of marginalized communities by those who voted for Stein, Johnson or who sat home in protest. Many were disgruntled Sanders supporters who were mostly white and mostly male. Sanders did not appeal to minority voters.

Ignoring the people and the issues that were clear targets of Trump and the far-right is not being a progressive. Choosing ideology over lives is not being a progressive.

Hoping for a revolution in which you will have no skin in, is not being a progressive. It is being an ideologue.

Being a Democrat and being a progressive has always meant for me that my concern is not just for myself or people that look and think like me. It is a broader worldview that takes into account the needs and desires of all people. We are seeing the results of what happens when one is governed by self-interest or an ideology that leaves the consequences to humanity out of the equation.

White men had their day and it was centuries long. It is time to step aside and allow those of us who have been sidelined for too long; women of color, women, men of color, LGBTQ, the disabled, Muslims, are no longer waiting for you to declare us relevant or looking for your blessing. We are just as progressive as you are and have a far better barometer of experience with which to judge a path forward as it is our lives that are on the line.


-Jan Harrison

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