The progressive movement has the data, the ideals, the morals and the accountability on its side. Yet, despite our advantages, too often progressives are uninformed on important issues. This is an oversight that needs to be addressed.

We have strong leaders who stand behind ideas that benefit the working class. We have dozens of countries that have already adopted progressive policies, such as Norway, Finland and Germany, which all have inexpensive or free college tuition. What we do not have is the appropriate image.

The image that we often represent is that of the college-age social media firebrand who takes to Twitter, spouting off about the revolution, yet has no real information other than “Bernie good, Trump bad.”

Demarest, Jonathan

Demarest is political science junior and Community Voices columnist for The Shorthorn.

These are the attitudes that I expect from the moderates. I expect this dialogue from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, not from progressives. I would rather have a conversation with an educated conservative than with a liberal who spends all their time speaking in talking points they found off Reddit.

Speak your mind and never back down, but educate that mind before you connect your thoughts to your voice.

From a first glance, a liberal-minded person may think that progressives have it all. Most prominently, we have the data to support our positions.

A study by the American Journal of Public Health estimates there are roughly 45,000 deaths a year because of inadequate health coverage. And according to the 2016 United States Census Bureau, over 27 million Americans were uninsured.

Universal healthcare is the obvious solution, and progressives are the ones who champion that policy.

Although progressives have plenty of strong leaders making their way into Congress, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, this is not always the case.

For instance, last year, during the 2018 midterms, I spoke to a Democrat running for Congress. He was dressed nicely in a suit and tie and spoke eloquently on healthcare, education and racial inequality. Afterward, I interviewed him, just to get a specific idea of his values. During that interview I asked him about net neutrality.

He had no idea what I was talking about.

A Democrat running for Congress in Texas had no idea what net neutrality was. Let that sink in.

Now, should we expect every progressive to speak like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on every issue? Of course not, we are college students. We are often too busy paying off our student debt to know everything about every topic. However, the circumstances of our society do not justify ignorance.

Put your words out in public and defend them with information. Speak to me with well-researched studies, not with “Well, AOC said…”

Progressives cannot be like Trump supporters. We cannot replace our beliefs with brand loyalty.

We are right, they are wrong; explain to them why they are wrong. The progressive movement has fire, but do not let it burn out because you decided that the path to victory was through regurgitating what everyone has already heard a million times before. If you give into the image of an uninformed liberal, then it does not matter how good the ideas behind your words are. We need candidates who will empower the marketplace of ideas, not those who speak the same words over and over until our ears give out.

The public perception of progressivism will be formed by the mature and educated — not the ignorant. Read, write, debate. Do not stay silent, but educate the voice that I know you are all dying to use.


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