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Introduced last week, the THRIVE agenda proposes a set of economic policy prescriptions that shift the American imagination of what is possible in legislation. Demanding a bold economic agenda, members of Congress joined a grassroots coalition and labor unions in setting forth the THRIVE agenda in response to the current economic crisis.

“The THRIVE agenda is a complex, beautiful, and emergent document that reflects communities from across the country and occupied territories of the U.S.,” said Ruth Miller, the climate justice organizer for Native Movement.  

Titled “Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to implement an agenda to Transform, Heal, and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy (THRIVE),” the THRIVE agenda contains eight pillars aimed at addressing the ongoing economic and climate crisis impacting communities across the country. The pillars include providing safe jobs and access to unions, giving workers resources to fight inequality, investing in Black, brown, and Indigenous communities to build power and counteract racial and gender injustice, strengthening the nation-to-nation relationship with sovereign Native nations, and combating environmental injustice and ensuring healthy lives for all.  

Miller said the THRIVE agenda challenges people to reconsider what they consider realistic and actionable. “I’ve been working for the past few months with Indigenous Environmental Network and a few of our other partners to help inform the policy writing of the THRIVE agenda to make sure that it is thoughtful and it’s careful about the specific language that advocates for Indigenous and environmental protections,” Miller said.

A member of the Curyung Tribe, Miller was born and raised in Dgheyay Kaq’ (Anchorage, Alaska). “Often Alaska and the Arctic are left on the sidelines or purposely excluded from legislation, so that they can be exploited, even in some of the most progressive policies,” Miller said.

Speaking about the importance of the THRIVE agenda, national field director for the Movement for Black Lives Karissa Lewis called for a transformative system and challenged those looking to meet the current moment to move beyond short-term solutions.

“We can’t address a pandemic that is ravaging Black and brown people without ensuring access to quality healthcare and the basic right of not living with or drinking toxic pollutants,” said Lewis. “Everything is connected, and we do ourselves a grave disservice by maintaining normality when momentum is on our side and the people are demanding more.”

National director of the Working Families Party Maurice Mitchell touted the agenda’s plan to put millions back to work and promote a clean, renewable energy economy. “In the midst of mass unemployment and the pandemic, we need to pass the THRIVE agenda,” said Mitchell in a statement to Prism. “We need to fight climate change while addressing racial injustice and strengthening workers’ right to organize.”

The THRIVE agenda arrived last week as Senate Republicans failed to pass a slimmed down version of pandemic relief. At launch, 85 members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors of the THRIVE agenda, including Reps. Deb Haaland, Ro Khanna, Raul Grijalva, Sheila Jackson Lee, Ilhan Omar, and Barbara Lee. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer joins several Senate colleagues in co-sponsoring, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey.

Polling from Data for Progress found that a majority of voters supported the pillars of the THRIVE agenda in 40 battleground house districts and the swing states of Georgia, Ohio, Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, and Minnesota. The poll also shows strong support from independent identifying voters.

In an emailed press release, Rep. Deb Haaland and Sen. Ed Markey shared their support for building an economy that works for everyone beyond the current crisis.

“We have an opportunity to not just recover from these interlocking crises, but to thrive by creating millions of good paying, union, clean, green jobs while building a more just, healthy, and stable economy that leaves no one behind,” said Haaland.

“The THRIVE agenda is the kind of economy-wide job and justice creation mobilization we will need,” Markey said. “We can and must do more than simply rebuild our economy, we must transform it—into an economy and a democracy that works for all Americans and saves the planet.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color, various groups have released similar agendas and relief priorities for workers and communities. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies published an article entitled Pandemic Relief Priorities for Black Communities, recognizing the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Black communities and workers. The article also outlined several policies that would benefit Black communities and workers to be included in any additional stimulus plan passed by Congress.

Author, activist, and scholar Barbara Smith recently called for a Hamer-Baker Plan, an economic plan with an express commitment to anti-racism and dismantling white supremacy. A co-author of the queer Black feminist Combahee River Collective Statement, Smith named her plan after civil rights movement leaders Fannie Lou Hamer and Ella Baker. In an op-ed for The Nation, Smith laid out the vision for the Hamer-Baker Plan, describing the plan as similar to the Marshall Plan but with an ideological goal of consolidating justice.

Collectively, these efforts push decision-makers to shift what they consider possible and necessary when crafting legislation.

“The THRIVE agenda doesn’t just reflect policy recommendations, but it reflects an inevitable state of our country,” said Miller. “The problems that we’re facing are not partisan. The problems that we’re facing are not political. They are affecting everyone in some way … The problems that we have to face are not going to go away, or need any less urgency, regardless of who is elected into office.” 

Anoa Changa

Anoa Changa is a journalist and organizer focused on innovating electoral justice coverage. Follow her on Twitter at @thewaywithanoa.