That debate was, as CNN’s Jake Tapper put it, a “hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck.” But there’s hope for a progressive Election Day.

A number of state and local ballot referendums aim to raise taxes on the wealthy few to pay teachers, build affordable housing, and more. Others would raise money for new schools, libraries, and other public infrastructure.

It’s so easy to forget that people have needs requiring public solutions, after decades of attacks on government by corporate leaders and right-wing politicians. This lines up with recent polling showing that the vast majority of Americans believe that the government is responsible for making life better for everyone.

It also lines up with a number of referendums on the ballot this year.

In California, Prop 15—the Schools and Communities First Funding Act—would close property tax loopholes benefiting large corporations. Billions of dollars would be raised for public schools and community colleges.

Alaska will vote whether to increase oil production taxes on fields in the state’s North Slope.

In Arizona, voters will decide whether to increase the income tax on residents with incomes exceeding $250,000 to pay for teacher salaries and schools.

New Mexico voters will decide on three bond issues, one for public colleges, one for public libraries, and the other for senior citizen facility improvements.

Voters in California’s Sausalito Marin City School District will vote whether to finance repairs and upgrades to two school campuses.

Philadelphia voters will decide whether to borrow $134 million for transit, street, parks, and other infrastructure projects.

Virginia’s Fairfax County will decide to borrow $112 million to build new public parks and expand public space.


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There are too many to count nationwide.

Earlier this year, voters in two traditionally red states—Missouri and Oklahoma—expanded Medicaid. Maine voters authorized $15 million for high-speed internet infrastructure in the underserved and unserved areas of the state.

The point is we need things that the private market simply can’t provide. Things like water, schools, and mass transit that we have to do together. Things that are public.

Most people agree with that—which gives me hope in otherwise seemingly apocalyptic times.

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