Over the years we have all witnessed brands that we grew up with either disappear or reinvent and rebrand themselves. Sometimes the reinvention occurs because the original mission of the institution or company is no longer relevant. The organization that best illustrates this situation is the March of Dimes. You might remember that they were first organized to raise funds in the fight to eradicate polio. When they succeeded they had a choice, either claim victory and go out of business or refocus their efforts. They chose the latter and refocused and rebranded themselves to lead the fight against birth defects. Today, in America, there are many who feel that our nation has lost its way and requires a refocus or rebranding. The 2014 and 2016 elections are the battle fields on which the nature and direction of the rebranding will be determined.
The battlefield is composed of many strategically critical issues. What makes them so critical are not only the issues themselves, but the attitudes and values reflected by those who take positions and arm themselves with the resources to fight these battles. We are all familiar with the issues at hand. They have been a part of the political landscape for the past several years. The list, in part consists of The Affordable Care Act, immigration reform, abortion, gun control, voting rights, the role of America in the world, marriage equality, equal pay for equal work, increase in the minimum wage, and an extension on unemployment insurance to name a few.
What is important to note here is that the position taken on any of these issues is reflective of a particular view of the role of government and the future of America. On the one hand it is an America that accepts the obligation to provide opportunities to enable its citizens to grow and succeed economically and educationally while providing healthcare and a secure and a healthy environment. On the other hand, it is an American that rewards those who have achieved wealth and success with protections that perpetuate their position, while limiting opportunities to those who are striving for that same success. It is an America that protects corporate interests and perceived religious values at the cost of available healthcare and other vital services and environmental protections. It is an America that cites the sanctity of the Constitution when discussing gun laws and ignores that same sanctity when discussing voting rights.
Over the past several years we have seen individual state initiatives attempting to limit voting rights, access to womens’ health services including abortion, immigration, marriage equality, gun rights, healthcare, religiously-based school curricula and drug policy. The point here is that the battle to rebrand America is not exclusive to Washington, but is taking place at the local and state levels as well. This makes school board elections, county commissioner elections, state legislative and gubernatorial elections an important front in the battles ahead. As we have seen, many of the cases that find themselves on the docket of the US Supreme Court begin as laws on the state level.
It is not surprising that an ever-increasing number of voters define themselves as independents. There is a general discontent with both parties and their inability to work constructively. It doesn’t make a difference to most people that the GOP has maintained a policy of obstructionism for five years with a desire to force Washington to appear impotent and unable to deal with the many critical issues confronting us. They just see two parties that aren’t getting the job done. However, there is too much at stake in the elections confronting us. We must reach out to those disgruntled independents and re-engage them. We need them to join with progressives throughout our nation to impact on the kind of America we will leave to our children and grandchildren.