A YDN September poll found that 33 percent of Yalies support Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy, and nearly 13 percent support Bernie Sanders’. Such results would make you think that the Yale community is a bastion of progressivism — a veritable “leftist echo chamber.” Beneath that mask, however, lies a different Yale — a Yale committed to incrementalist reform and maintaining the status quo.

I often hear my peers emphasize a need to gravitate towards the political center. This language is everywhere — one student airs their support for the Green New Deal, and another immediately criticizes its cost and political feasibility. One student questions why the university offers a platform to a misogynist while countless self-identified “liberals” immediately defend the right for everybody to voice their beliefs, even those who deny historically oppressed groups’ right to exist.

The left must regain its courage and wholeheartedly champion its values, disavowing any attempts to compromise those values in the name of bipartisanship or electability.

Moderation is not the answer in a world where belief systems are not created equal. The left and the right don’t deserve equal respect: one ideology aspires to equality, while the other vigorously disavows it in favor of hierarchy and exclusion. Even if conservative (and some “liberal”) politicians mask those beliefs behind tough-on-crime language like “securing our border” and “keeping our streets safe,” their policies nonetheless reveal a robust commitment to maintaining oppressive systems of power.

In our current political climate, compromise is never reciprocal. The Republican Party rarely yields unless there’s some perceived strategic benefit. Just look to Obama’s presidency. From judicial nominees to the Affordable Care Act, the second Republicans caught a whiff of progressivism, they refused to budge. Republicans would only come to the table once Democrats first shifted towards the center. Now, as a result, the Democratic establishment gladly silences progressive voices.

The solution is not to begin the conversation from the middle. We must stop pursuing bipartisanship for its own sake and instead pursue policy and activism from the progressive left, making concessions only when absolutely necessary.

Now, governance obviously requires compromise. I acknowledge that compromise is often the only way to achieve legislative change and has done so over the generations. And yet, most of the change we have achieved in the last century is attributable to bold and sweeping policies. Our present moment calls for the return of political guts, for extensive political and social transformation.

Serious issues require serious solutions, and incrementalist reform frankly isn’t sufficient. As the Great Depression required the bravery of the New Deal, so too the economic and environmental crisis of our time requires the bravery of the Green New Deal. Rather than focusing on the costs of such a plan, we should already be well on our way to implementing it. Climate change is an existential threat — don’t let anybody tell you moderation is the answer.

Centrists frequently object that unadulterated progressivism alienates a so-called “silent majority” that merely desires a return to “normal” and “civil” political life in Washington. This normal, however, often functions as a euphemism for the exclusion of those considered “not normal” by the dominant social order of the past and the present.

This attitude appeals to respectability politics — the idea that conforming to what is deemed socially acceptable is necessary to gain political legitimacy. It requires the erasure of alternative modes of political participation rooted in identity and emotion, thus revealing its insidious nature as a tactic of targeted gatekeeping. At the end of the day, respectability politics prevent historically excluded groups from engaging in the political process.

The other primary line of attack against truly progressive policy boils down to a supposed lack of electoral viability. Surprisingly, perhaps, it’s quite the opposite. Voters value authenticity and big ideas. Don’t believe me? Believe the numbers. A July poll conducted by the Marist Institute of Public Opinion and PBS NewsHour found broad support for a litany of progressive policies, including 63 percent of adults supporting the Green New Deal, 62 percent supporting a wealth tax and 56 percent favoring a $15 minimum wage. Among Democrats, both those who self-identify as moderate or progressive, all those numbers skyrocket to upwards of 80 percent.

Clearly, the Democratic Party is moving in the right direction. However, we cannot afford to lose the momentum made visible by the wide popular support for “The Squad” and Bernie’s and Warren’s campaigns.

The Democratic Party fails us and the country when it capitulates to Republican demands, when it sacrifices its values for the sake of bipartisanship. The Democratic Party wins — not merely in an electoral sense, but also in a moral sense — when it embraces what it means to be progressive, to unflinchingly fight for equality, justice and peace, for an expansion of government to serve the collective public good.

The political and social conditions of our time demand substantial change. The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. People can’t afford health care. We’ve been at war longer than I’ve been alive. Corporations control our government. Our planet is dying. We don’t need incremental reform. We don’t need compromise. We need transformation.

AKO NDEFO-HAVEN is a first year in Davenport College. Contact him at ako.ndef0-haven@yale.edu .

  • doc2513

    If Democrats take your advice Trump will win in a landslide.

    On the big picture: You are so convinced that you are right, that progressives are 100% right about the issues, that you are probably immune to counter-argument, hence your dismissal of what half the population believes and desires. You are certain that “equality, justice and peace” are the only goods to pursue, that you fail to include in your calculus freedom and prosperity, which most Americans value at least as much as equality and peace.

    You argue for more government, which by definition means less individual freedom. You proclaim that the planet is dying but you imply that the approach of the Green New Deal is the only way to attack the problem, even though imposition of that program will beggar the country (if not the world) and have virtually no effect on what happens to the climate. Consider the possibility of adapting to change instead of a quixotic attempt to stop it.

    You engage in the hyperbole of accusing conservatives of being “those who deny historically oppressed groups’ right to exist.” That is a claim that demands evidence. I have never heard anyone (except for literal Nazis) deny any group’s right to exist.

    If you don’t want Trump for four more years you really should urging Democrats to further moderate their positions. We can’t be spending $52 trillion for health care and $32 trillion for the Green New Deal and taking away law-abiding citizens’ guns and insisting on abortion on demand up to 9 months and open borders and welfare and free health care for illegal immigrants and males competing in women’s sports and invading women’s private spaces and denying conscience rights of religious people.

    There is a fairly large majority of Americans who oppose this platform, and who would vote for Trump no matter how awful he may be, to avoid seeing this platform imposed on our society.

  • 100wattlightbulb

    Hmm. Who has the freedom to speak as they think and feel on campus? Those on the left or those on the right? The answer to THAT question tells you everything you need to know about the left: Agree with us or shut the hell up. That is NOT freedom (of speech or anything else). There are countries around the globe with that sort of oppression, I suggest that is the sort of place that suits Socialists far better. PS This post was REMOVED but I am posting again. Talk about living up to the accusation.