Meet the First 2018 Candidate to Run on a Federal Jobs Guarantee


Most Popular

1

After I Lived in Norway, America Felt Backward. Here’s Why.

2

The Death Cult of Trumpism

3

The Lefty Critique of #TimesUp Is Tired and Self-Defeating

4

The Precarious Generation

5

3 Reasons Why Republicans Will Let the Rich Abuse the Tax Code

It’s become a hot topic among those looking to solve persistent underemployment, rampant inequality, and stagnant median wages. Even the mainstream Democratic Center for American Progress proposed a small-scale version of a jobs guarantee recently. But Winfield takes this to another level, seeking a national jobs program with a $20-an-hour “fair wage” that would be indexed to the productivity workers contribute.

‘;
magazine_button_text_269344 = ‘‘;
magazine_button_url_269344 = ‘https://www.thenation.com/email-signup-module-donate/’;
magazine_button_bg_color_269344 = ‘#ffcf0d’;

}else{

magazine_text_269344 = ‘

Subscribe today and Save up to $129.

‘;
magazine_button_text_269344 = ‘‘;
magazine_button_url_269344 = ‘https://ssl.palmcoastd.com/06601/apps/NEW_US?ikey=I**GAB’;
magazine_button_bg_color_269344 = ‘#dd3333’;

}

if( magazine_text_269344 !=” ){
jQuery(“#magazine_text_269344″).html(magazine_text_269344);
}

if( magazine_button_text_269344 !=” ){
jQuery(“#magazine_button_269344″).html(magazine_button_text_269344);
}

if( magazine_button_url_269344 !=” ){
jQuery(“#magazine_button_269344 a”).attr(“href”,magazine_button_url_269344);
}

if( magazine_button_bg_color_269344 !=” ){
jQuery(“#magazine_button_269344 a input”).css(“background”,magazine_button_bg_color_269344);
}

Winfield, whose white shock of hair leaves you wondering if he’s Bernie Sanders’s long-lost cousin, believes a jobs guarantee would solve a host of the country’s problems at once. “It’s really the anchor of economic independence and security, which we all need to exercise other rights,” Winfield said. First, he explained, the program would be a lifeline to minorities and youths, who typically see far higher unemployment rates than the general population. Second, it would emphasize fulfilling community needs that the private sector has neglected. Winfield cited as examples increasing clean-energy infrastructure; bringing broadband Internet service to all (an issue in his rural region akin to electrification through the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1930s); renovating and replacing affordable housing; increasing public transportation in rural and urban areas; building and staffing public health, childcare, eldercare, and recreational facilities; and even creating public art.

The resulting economic security and the dignity that comes with being productive would revolutionize how Americans live, Winfield believes. “People suffering from intergenerational poverty will know they have a job waiting for them,” he said. “It could help end recidivism by giving ex-convicts opportunities. And it could play a tremendous role in eliminating fear of immigrants inflamed by fear of joblessness. The only way for comprehensive immigration reform is to have this.”

Workers with private-sector jobs could benefit from tight labor markets and more bargaining power. Eliminating the fear of losing a job could create more courage in the workplace, more willingness to stand against discrimination or sexual harassment, or join a union. Even businesses could prosper from a nation full of people with money in their pockets, willing to spend.

The idea grew out of Winfield’s long-standing commitment to social justice. He helped organize janitors in college at Yale, and sugar-cane plantation workers with the Southern Tenant Farmers Union in Louisiana. His philosophical work has always had a socio-political cast, seeking to model a society that offers real freedom and justice. He casts his jobs-guarantee platform as “the unfinished business of the civil-rights movement.”

‘;
inline_cta_font_color_269344 = ‘#000000’;

inline_cta_button_text_269344 = ‘‘;

inline_cta_url_269344 = ‘https://www.thenation.com/inline-module-donate/’;

inline_cta_bg_color_269344 = ‘#ffcf0d’;

}else{

inline_cta_text_269344 = ‘

Support Progressive Journalism

If you like this article, please give today to help fund The Nation’s work.

‘;
inline_cta_font_color_269344 = ‘#000000’;

inline_cta_button_text_269344 = ‘‘;

inline_cta_url_269344 = ‘https://www.thenation.com/inline-module-donate/’;

inline_cta_bg_color_269344 = ‘#ffcf0d’;
}

if( inline_cta_text_269344 !=” ){
jQuery(“#inline_cta_269344″).html(inline_cta_text_269344);
cta_1_check_269344 = true;
}

if( inline_cta_button_text_269344 !=” ){
jQuery(“#inline_cta_btn_269344″).html(inline_cta_button_text_269344);
cta_1_check_269344 = true;
}

if( inline_cta_url_269344 !=” ){
jQuery(“#inline_cta_btn_269344 a”).attr(“href”,inline_cta_url_269344);
cta_1_check_269344 = true;
}

if( inline_cta_bg_color_269344 !=” ){
jQuery(“#inline_cta_btn_269344 a input”).css(“background”,inline_cta_bg_color_269344);
cta_1_check_269344 = true;
}

if( inline_cta_font_color_269344 !=” ){
jQuery(“#inline_cta_btn_269344 a input”).css(“color”,inline_cta_font_color_269344);
cta_1_check_269344 = true;
}

if( cta_1_check_269344 ){
jQuery(“#inline_cta_1_module_269344”).addClass(“inline-cta-module”);
}

“I am thrilled to see someone like Richard Winfield run on a bold progressive platform in this county,” said Mehrsa Baradaran, an associate professor at the University of Georgia and author of The Color of Money, a history of black banking. Baradaran, who has consulted with Winfield on drafting his agenda, noted that Clarke County, Georgia, where Athens sits, has one of the nation’s highest wealth disparities. “These are serious issues that need to be addressed.”

Others in the job-guarantee movement have taken note. “A true jobs-guarantee bill hasn’t been introduced in Congress yet,” said Mark Paul. “Winfield is offering a positive alternative, embracing an economic populist vision which would ensure everybody in the US a decent standard of living.”

Whenever you call for a large-scale government program in a district fed a steady diet of Fox News demonization about how the government can’t do anything right, it’s an challenge. “My main strategy is really to push the idea of jobs, and how the solution requires government intervention,” Winfield said. He believes that conservatives’ strategy of segmenting society to pit lower-class whites against minorities allegedly getting “free” handouts goes away when everyone can access a job. “I’m not talking about putting people on welfare, I want people to realize the American dream of supporting themselves through their own hard work,” he explained.

The question becomes how you convince those skeptical of government before seeing the tangible results. But Winfield thinks rural communities, where capital flight has led to lack of business formation and job growth, could brighten to his message. “There’s an advancing situation of growing economic insecurity,” said Winfield. “People want some kind of relief, even by turning to scapegoats. If a candidate puts out a real alternative, I think it can have an impact.”

That alternative, some hope, could prove a spark to other candidates to be unafraid of transformational change. “We should put our best foot forward by running authentic candidates who run on truly big ideas that would be game changers in people’s daily lives,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, whose training for new candidates Winfield attended last July along with 300 other hopefuls.

Reality does need to intrude here. Trump beat Clinton in this district 61-36. It would be a stunning upset for Winfield to win, should he get through the Democratic primary. But 2018 is shaping up as a wave election. And last November, Democrats Deborah Gonzales and Jonathan Wallace picked up two legislative seats in the district where Republicans were heavily favored.

As important as it is to run candidates everywhere, what they actually propose matters. The Winfield campaign is a kind of experiment in whether offering a way out of the constraints of modern capitalism can lead to electoral success. “The Constitution has civil and political rights, but doesn’t have social and economic rights,” Winfield said. “No Democratic pres since the 1960s has done much of anything to pursue that struggle. We will be the future of the party.”

Source