The Washington Post Op-Ed: Time for New Leadership
November 18th, 2016
By: Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA)
The Democratic Party is in its worst governing position in a generation. Next year we will control just 31 state legislative chambers and 15 governorships. We lost the House of Representatives in 2010, the Senate in 2014, and now the presidency. Clearly the American people are not satisfied with the vision and leadership our party is offering. It’s time to make some serious changes to both.
Democrats believe America is at its best when it is an open and inclusive society where hard work pays off, we look out for one another, and equal rights are extended to all. Yet for many Americans, this simply isn’t enough. Our economic message has been one of fairness, but worrying about fairness is a luxury reserved for those who already have opportunity.
Opportunity is the animating idea of America: You can be anything if you are willing to work for it. We all yearn for the opportunity to pursue our dreams, and to succeed or fail on our own merit and hard work.
Yet we know this is not today’s reality. Economic mobility is at an all-time low, and what little exists is concentrated on the coasts. While our hottest start-ups lead the world in innovation, our small businesses get hit with higher tax rates than the world’s biggest corporations.
Many Americans in communities devastated by the recession and left out of the recovery feel so completely ignored by the party of working people that they embraced as their champion a man who rides in a golden elevator. Donald Trump’s policies are terrible for most of the people who voted for him, but his call for change, however poorly defined, was enough to get people to try something new.
Rather than following Trump backward to an old economy (think coal mines and isolationism), Democrats have the chance to show how to make the 21st-century economy available to all. That’s a vision we can all get behind.
As a platoon commander in the Marines, I was responsible for everything that my troops did or failed to do. That’s what it means to be a leader. We failed in this election, badly, and so far no one in our party is taking responsibility for it, let alone showing a new path forward.
Our leadership triumvirate in the House of Representatives has remained unchanged since 2003, when the young people who just voted in their first election were 5 years old. It is hard to imagine this group being the source of the transformational ideas that will carry our party and our country into the age of self-driving cars and artificial intelligence.
It is time for those who will live with the consequences of our policies for the next 50 years to have a hand in shaping them. It is time for the generation that fought in Iraq and Afghanistan to replace the generation that sent us there. It is time for a new generation of leadership, and for the Democratic Party, it can’t come soon enough.