OPINION: Andrew Gillum should be the Democrats’ new moderate

Noah Meyer, Opinions Editor

Graphic by Sam Chaney

Even with the rise of Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primaries and a renewed interest in social democratic policies, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s victory in the Democratic gubernatorial primaries surprised many. The young but politically experienced Gillum defeated Democratic rivals who raised astronomically more money than him to pull off an upset that pits him against Trump clone Ron DeSantis, who couldn’t give one interview without saying something racist.

Andrew Gillum’s platform has been called “socialist” by his critics, including President Trump himself, but Gillum’s platform rather should be seen as the new baseline for a Democratic candidate. Entrenched liberal elites such as Governor Andrew Cuomo and Former Congressman Joe Crowley are now facing challengers from a new Democratic left taking its energy from Sanders’ presidential run.

This new Democratic left characterizes itself as “socialist,” but its policies are more in line with what any proper opposition party should stand for. The “radicalism” of these new candidates hardly approaches a nominally socialist platform, but their policies echo the social-democratic bastions of Scandinavia. If a Democratic candidate wants the support of a vast swathe of Americans, these basic policies Gillum puts forth should be in their agenda.

Andrew Gillum answers questions from the press after a recent Town Hall Forum. Photo by Lili Weinstein.

Gillum advocates for Sanders’ Medicare for All bill, a transformation of the much-loathed American healthcare system that even the libertarian Mercatus Center admits would save Americans trillions. Medicare for All polls incredibly well with the majority of Americans; a whopping 59 percent support a policy that provides a single government plan, and 75 percent support an opt-in plan that excludes those with coverage. Any Democratic candidate that wants to win should be backingMedicare for All, as it saves Americans trillions, is well supported by voters and provides crucial care for all without the risk of bankruptcy.

Gillum’s corporate tax is another policy that should be in any democratic candidate’s platform. The plan, called “Fair Share for Florida’s Future,” raises corporate taxes from 5.5 percent to 7.5 percent. Gillum acknowledges that many corporations already dodge taxes, but even a two percent increase (an increase that still puts the tax rate below both New York and California) would create billions for Florida’s budgetbillions that Gillum hopes to put back into education.

Which leads to Gillum’s plan for education: a plan that puts a billion into Florida’s education budget. Gillum’s plan would raise teacher’s starting salaries to $50,000 and provide more vocational training to students. He also states that students pursuing college degrees shouldn’t be forced to shoulder debt.

Additional funds for Gillum’s spending increases would come from the legalization and taxation of marijuana; a policy that has been a boon for states such as Colorado and Washington, providing state governments with millions to put back into education or other programs.

Gillum’s platform isn’t “socialist” or even radical. It is common sense policy making that should be the norm for the Democratic party. Gillum’s message has already been tested, and the results were a resoundingand surprising—success. The Democratic party should take notes from Gillum’s primary success and his policy proposals. Gillum shouldn’t be viewed as a radical outsider, but as the new baseline for Democratic success.

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