But we cannot expect Republicans to cede the economic argument so readily, or to fall so far short on campaign mechanics, the next time around.
So, instead of resting on false assurances of underlying demographic advantages, the Democratic Party must follow through on our No. 1 priority, which the president set when he took office and reemphasized throughout this campaign: It is time to come home and rebuild America.
In Chicago, our initiative of “Building a New Chicago” adopts a similar view, with improvements to areas as varied as education and physical infrastructure.
While infrastructure improvements have been neglected on a federal level for decades, Chicago is making one of the nation’s largest coordinated investments, putting 30,000 residents to work over the next three years improving our roads, rails and runways; repairing our aged water system; and increasing access to gigabit-speed broadband. We are paying for these critical improvements through a combination of reforms, efficiencies and direct user fees, as well as creating the nation’s first city-level public-private infrastructure bank. Democrats should champion these kinds of innovative financing tools at a national level.
If we want to build a future in which the middle class can succeed, we must continue the push for reform that the president began with Race to the Top, bringing responsibility and accountability to our teachers and principals.
Chicago has adopted its own Race to the Top for early childhood education, allowing public schools, Head Start, charters and parochial schools to compete for dollars by improving the quality of their pre-kindergarten programs. In addition, this year Chicago Public Schools put into effect a 30 percent increase in class time, which means that when today’s kindergartners graduate high school, they will have benefited from 2½ more years’ worth of education.
In partnership with leading private-sector companies, we reengineered our six community colleges to focus each on skills training for jobs in one of Chicago’s six key growth fields. Democrats can be the party that closes the nation’s skills gap by making our community colleges a vital link between people looking for jobs and companies looking for skilled workers.
The strength of these investments is proven in the number of people we’re putting back to work: Chicago is first in the nation in terms of increase in employed residents, and for several months we have led the nation in year-over-year employment increases. We added 42,500 residents to the workforce in the past year alone — 8,000 more than the next highest U.S. city.