Like much of this year, this launch of 10 Ideas feels unlike any other. Even before the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis, we’ve been living in a moment eerily parallel to the time of FDR and Eleanor. Right-wing populism and oligarchy are on the rise around the globe, and vast inequality is entrenched in our economy. Racial injustice and human rights violations are top of mind as the world mourns George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the many Black lives stolen by police brutality. And on top of all that, the climate crisis intensifies.
As we launch the 2020 journal, many of you are in the streets demanding racial justice. Many are part of mutual aid efforts and new models of community organizing, reshaping both the progressive movement and the country it seeks to improve. This work, and this moment, are driving home what many of us have long understood: Around the world, governments are falling woefully short of their duty to build economies that work for all and failing to deploy their power to ensure that the public goods and services everyone needs to thrive are accessible to all. In the midst of the pandemic in the United States, people are losing their jobs and employer-provided health care, while essential workers—grocery store clerks, janitors, delivery people, medical workers—aren’t being adequately compensated as they put their lives on the line. In this white supremacist system, the police and pandemic have killed Black people at disproportionate rates.
The policies in this journal were written during the fall of 2019—before the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic—but reflect an urgency that has only heightened in the time since their writing. As the authors demonstrate, and as the protesters chant, inaction carries profound consequences for people’s lives, as we’ve seen so clearly in recent months.
Roosevelters think globally and act locally, and we often push for long-term structural change by way of mitigating immediate threats to our communities. The policies in this journal explore increasing legal representation for people facing eviction in South Bend, Indiana; expanding access to HIV testing for secondary school students in Georgia; and fighting for more legal representation for asylum seekers in Texas. They uphold the legacy of Eleanor and FDR at a moment when learning from and building on that legacy is more important than ever. The times ahead of us are uncertain, but we know from the past that government can work well for its people, and that expanding public power—government of, by, and for all of us—is the only way we can confront this global moment.
I’m honored to be in this movement and in this fight with every one of you.