(CNN)After a long and hard fought primary season, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have emerged as the Democratic Party's nominees for president and vice president. As delegates prepare for their convention, CNN Opinion asked 10 contributors from across the Democratic spectrum to weigh in on their visions for the future of the party.
It's time for Democrats to go big
At a time when Democrats plan to nominate a 77-year-old white moderate to be our party standard-bearer, the future of the party is clearly younger, more progressive and more colorful than ever before. We see this with Joe Biden's selection of Kamala Harris to be his running mate, but we also see it in congressional races all across the country.
After decades of cautious incrementalism, established incumbents in safe Democratic congressional districts who failed to keep up with the new vision of the party have begun to tumble. The two biggest examples come from my home state of New York and my native state of Missouri.
In New York, Rep. Eliot Engel, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was sent to retirement thanks to progressive challenger Jamaal Bowman. Meanwhile, in Missouri, veteran Rep. William Lacy Clay, lost his primary to progressive challenger Cori Bush.
The movement is also gaining by attrition, as the departure of senior Democrats creates new opportunities for young progressives and people of color. The retirement of 83-year-old Nita Lowey in New York's 17th congressional district created an opening for 33-year-old Mondaire Jones. And the retirement of 76-year-old José Serrano in New York's 15th opened the door for 32-year-old Ritchie Torres. Jones and Torres will be the first two out Black gay men in Congress.
In the old days, Democrats were ashamed to be called "liberal." These days, 76% of Democrats say they'd vote for a socialist for President. And even after weeks of civil unrest that would have spooked fearful Democrats in years past, 86% support the protests against police violence.
The wind is at our back. As America becomes more diverse and open-minded, Democrats have won the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections, and Republicans have had to resort to voter suppression attempts and gerrymandering to stay in power.
Once radical ideas like marriage equality, Medicare for All, legalizing marijuana, universal basic incomes, reducing police budgets and the Green New Deal have slowly become more mainstream. And for loyal Democrats like myself -- who have been patiently waiting for real change for decades -- it's finally time for the party to deliver.
Keith Boykin is a former White House aide to President Bill Clinton and a CNN political commentator.
The Democratic Party should look and govern like the majority it represents.
Conservatives have not won the popular vote in a presidential election since 1988 -- with the exception of the election that followed 9/11. So, how do they maintain power? By using a stealth combination of electoral practices, such as voter suppression and gerrymandering, a single-minded commitment to packing the courts with young ideologues to the right of the country and a willingness to mislead the public on issues as important as pandemic response.
The new Democratic Party has no greater mandate than the restoration of small 'd' democracy. We must enact structural court reform, end the filibuster and treat election access like the national crisis that it is. Every American must be able to vote easily and safely, and the government must not be rigged to allow a small group of men in danger of losing power to overturn the people's will and ignore their priorities.
The majority of Americans believe in gun control, a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and abortion access. And now, positions once considered too progressive are also becoming mainstream -- from police reform to government-run healthcare to reducing the fossil fuel economy.
In short, we should govern like we have the support and mandate of the country, because we do. But we shouldn't just govern like a majority -- we should govern like the specific majority that the Democratic Party is. According to Pew Research, only 39% of white men voted Democratic in 2018, even after two years of a chaotic Trump administration.
However, white men are not the majority of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is comprised of young people (and politically speaking "young" can apply to anyone under 40), a growing number of white women, men of color and, most reliably, the women of color who are still the least represented in government. And their voices should be centered in our governance.
As Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, a freshman member of Congress, says, "The people closest to the pain need to be the people closest to the power." The Democratic Party is increasingly made up of people who have struggled to live the American dream, only to have those dreams frustrated and stymied altogether. They are the young health care professionals who are tired of being ignored. They are the single mothers who know how far a dollar doesn't stretch. They are the generation who grew up knowing the climate crisis was coming not for some future Earth, but the one they hoped to leave their own children.
America has never had a truly representative democracy, and we're going to have to fight to have one now. But the will is there -- and most importantly, so are the numbers.
Jess McIntosh is a Democratic strategist and former communications adviser for Hillary Clinton. She is also the editor-at-large of Shareblue Media and co-host of the SiriusXM radio show Signal Boost.
When I was running for President, I campaigned in small towns around the country, where I was frequently asked, "What party?"
"Democrat," I would say.
Far too often, that person -- a waitress, a trucker or a retail clerk -- would respond in disgust. I had always believed that the Democratic Party existed to improve the lives of working-class people like them, and I was disheartened to discover they felt differently.
But their reaction reflects the sentiment of too many Americans who do not think that the Democratic Party speaks to or cares about them. They believe that we are the party of the urban enclaves and the educated elite. They think that we would rather lecture or patronize them than actually spend the time helping to solve their problems. They feel that we don't care to understand their lives and that we believe big government should tell them what to do.
Many of them have lost faith in government as a positive force in their lives. And their belief in political parties in general is low. In the latest Gallup poll, 38% of Americans self-identified as Independents, more than the 29% who identified as Democrats or the 28% as Republicans. Party identification is going down, not up.
The Democratic Party needs new solutions.
I ran for President because I believed that Donald Trump was a symptom of a disease in our country that is getting stronger. In post-industrial towns across the country, people are struggling, overdose rates are sky-high and parents despair for their children's future. Malls are being considered as future Amazon warehouses. And the prospects of a decent middle-class life are out of reach for more and more.
The future of the Democratic Party depends on making the case to these voters that we care about them, too. We will fight to give parents the ability to say to their children, "Your country loves you, your country values you, and your country will invest in you and your future."
One way to begin that fight is by giving the American people cash in hand. According to an IPSOS/Reuters poll, three quarters of Americans support stimulus checks in the wake of the pandemic. And it makes sense -- those checks would enable millions, by helping them to cover their basic living expenses. They would also begin to humanize the 21st century economy that is turning on so many of us.
So, how much should that monthly payment be? $2,000 a month for the remainder of this pandemic would be a good place to start. Universal basic income -- a guaranteed, unconditional recurring payment for every American -- is our future, and one that the Democratic Party should embrace and champion.
Andrew Yang is an entrepreneur, author, philanthropist and former 2020 presidential candidate. He recently founded Humanity Forward, an organization built to realize the vision and ideas of his presidential campaign. Yang is also a CNN political commentator.