fresh voices from the front lines of change









This week, I was proud to stand with our allies in the Congressional Progressive Caucus to introduce their Progressive Proposition Agenda, a roadmap to expand and defend rights and freedoms for all, especially poor and working people.

The CPC’s plan addresses the concrete steps we must take together to rein in corporate greed, which drives the costs of housing, utilities, and health care increasingly out of the reach of working people. This is critical right now as we face a momentous choice.

Will we willingly enter a future of fear, with a repressive and vindictive dictator in the White House? Or will we come together to build a future in which each of us will be allowed to  reach our full potential, with space to make our voices heard, and a government that works with us and not against us?

In November, when we cast our votes, our choices for president and who leads Congress are not just about leaders; they are about who we want to be as a nation and in our own lives.

Are we a nation where a child can be shot for ringing the wrong doorbell, where neighbors fear each other for the color of our skin? Or will we come together across differences to share hope and shape our future together? 

We cannot go backwards. In 2024, the choice has never been clearer. Trump has put his cards on the table: he will be a dictator on “day one,” and says he will jail and deport millions of immigrants and political opponents. He will roll back environmental protections for polluters–if they pay him $1 billion to cover his legal fees and keep him out of jail through November.

Trump has promised to come in hard and fast to eliminate anyone he sees an enemy. Like the Nazis, he says he will “root out” all those who are “poisoning the blood of our country” and “vermin” who don’t share his nativist ideas. And this includes not only political opponents: it is everyone who fails to fully pledge loyalty to him and his Big Lie.

It’s not just Trump who wants to lead us into this abyss of authoritarianism. His hardcore allies go even further. They will use a second Trump term to consolidate power and control over our lives. They will work to undo democracy permanently, so we can never come back.

Among the policies they want to enact are to:

Trump’s cronies are already criminalizing women to take away reproductive freedoms in state after state. They are taking over school boards to ban books and hatching plans to intimidate voters. And these are just what they are doing and talking about openly; who knows how far they will go.

We know from our experience that ordinary people, organized effectively, have the power to drive social change upwards to create the conditions for justice, equity, and freedom. This has been the power behind every great expansion of our democracy, from Abolition and Women’s Suffrage to Civil Rights and Marriage Equality, and it is true today. 

We know powerful things happen when we come together, because we’ve been doing it for decades - in places like Arkansas, where a diverse group of mothers came together in 1963 to support school integration. And in Chicago, where Gale Cincotta and Shel Trapp rallied communities in 1972 to end housing discrimination with landmark legislation, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). And at Love Canal, where a young mother, Lois Gibbs, led her neighbors in the fight against toxic chemicals which led the EPA to create Superfund in 1978, to force polluters to pay for cleanup.

We are strong, we are united and we have a roadmap towards lasting change. Together as a movement, we defeated authoritarianism at the polls in 2020, when millions of people united to push Trump into retreat. As People’s Action, we invited hundreds of thousands of people to refuse divisions and talk with their neighbors, through the largest and most effective deep canvass program in history. And we will do it again. For everyone who wants a better future for our families, our communities, and our nation, we invite you to join us.

To truly win, we need every one of us, and all the organizations that make up our movement for social justice to come together in new and more powerful ways. That’s why we’re proud to support the CPC’s Progressive Proposition Agenda. The CPC was co-founded by Sen. Bernie Sanders, and is now led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who founded and led a People’s Action member group - OneAmerica - in Washington State before she was elected to represent her home state in Congress.

Jayapal, together with Representatives Ilhan Omar from Minnesota, Greg Casar from Texas, Mark Pocan from Wisconsin, Raúl Grijalva from Arizona and Barbara Lee from California and all their courageous members, has made the CPC the largest caucus in Congress and now the leading voice on federal policies that support and defend everyday people. Our people. You and me. We are proud to stand with the CPC and support these shared priorities.

This is the choice we make at People’s Action every day. We stand up, reach out to our neighbors and work together. We refuse a future that takes us backwards into darkness and fear. We believe that together, with all of our allies, we can win and move towards a better future for all.

Which future will you choose?

Sulma Arias is executive director of People's Action and the People's Action Institute.

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