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It’s Time for the Congressional Progressive Caucus to Raise Its Game


It’s Time for the Congressional Progressive Caucus to Raise Its Game

Katrina vanden Heuvel

A massive people’s uprising is driving the opposition to President Trump. In Congress, the Congressional Progressive Caucus is an emerging center of that resistance.


In the long run, poor progressives can't beat rich regressives unless all the people decide, not billionaires.


If the Democratic Party's own progressive wing can't get behind the one progressive in their primary field, I think that about says it all. It appears these four are the only ones actually in the game. It is worth noting that these four CPC members are all co-sponsors of HJR 48, the We the People Amendment. Nolan is the lead sponsor.


CD needs to add Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to that list of Sanders endorsers.


True. Katrina is just sheepdogging for the Democrats because there is so much talk of starting a new progressive party. I think that it the route to take because the Democratic Party is too entrenched in serving the rich.


In advocating for a boost in the Earned Income Tax Credit, the CPC is striking at the heart of widespread poverty in this nation. It is up to progressives of all kinds to join in making this really important goal into a reality.


Right now, complaining about the Democrats feels a lot like complaining about alligators after you've fallen into the shark tank. Democrats have very little power, the weakest since the 1920s. There are a bunch of factors for this, but the biggest is that conservatives nearly always vote and vote Republican. They do so when they don't like the nominee that much, like this year. I saw it first hand. My carpool partner, a Christian fundamentalist, didn't like Trump at all, but he saw the bigger picture, the Supreme Court and knew what it meant to control it for a longtime to come. For many progressives, it was an abstraction, not worth tainting the sanctity of their vote over, nevermind the consequences. By its nature, that gives the Right an advantage.

The fact is, the progressive "coalition" is not nearly as unified, or as strong, as the coalition of the other side. Right wing radio and Fox News are pervasive in the "red" world and are constantly reinforcing preexisting beliefs and feelings. Even when members of my own family get glimpses of the light, they slip away quickly. It's a tough nut to crack.


So what exactly did Hilary Clinton stand for in this past election?

I talked with a younger person who told me there was no way that Sanders would make collage free---I explained to him that at one point in our recent past collage was very affordable-and maybe Sanders couldn't make it free but maybe affordable????

People have given up hope because we get this bland corporate media crap!!!!!Today the democrat party is filled with Clinton corporate democrats. The Senate just voted to put a racist in charge of the justice dept and listen to the outrage----there is no outrage----Trump is all but saying the police should shoot first and ask questions latter and there is no outrage. The police are there to protect the elite like Trump----look at Trumps speech to the chiefs of police today-he was all but saying the elite of this country are behind you no matter what you do---and if people don't salute and obey you they are the enemy and deal with them as you like.


I goofed. Correction: Welch is not a co-sponsor of HJR 48, but he should be.


This is quite telling: "Strikingly, only the co-chairs — Ellison and Grijalva — plus two members — Rick Nolan (Minn.) and Peter Welch (Vt.) — stepped up to endorse Sanders in the Democratic primaries."

What if they are all, like Nancy Pelosi, a pack of pretenders and fakirs, with terribly few exceptions? Maybe three or four exceptions who are actually thoughtful democrats and lots of poseurs who are there only for the photo - ops?

Maybe their proclivity for following their Wall Street leaders tells us more than does the pretense of being somehow democratic?

Seems to me they must not have more than a dozen actual democrats at the outside, given their voting records. Some 60-65 of them vote like a pack of plastic puppets.


This gets to my point: we get so into watching for sellouts on our side that we check out, divide, and complain. The Right just doesn't behave that way. They show up, knowing the bigger picture isn't just who is president, and vote every time. I honestly give them credit for recognizing governing is what it's all about, and having a governing coalition is what gets you to it.

On the Left, we look for saviors and purity constantly. It's been that way my entire life. Here's a newsflash: the old FDR coalition was hardly pure and filled with folks we'd be protesting. It's was a coalition that purposely created a weak Social Security plan, designed to leave blacks and hispanics out, and nominated Joe Kennedy to the SEC. But it was a big enough coalition to get things done too.

I will say that nothing's inevitable. The Trump coalition/conservative coalition could shatter, but that doesn't mean we come out on top. We can try primarying the Democrats standing in red areas. If they lose, then we lose the general, and leave Trump standing despite his problems, that tells us we can't afford to piss on everyone on our side that's just not as progressive.


Since the establishment of the DLC, and the election of Clinton I, the Democratic Party has not been on my side. It's been on Wall Street's side, which is why folks may have a hard time jumping on the bandwagon, especially considering the Dems long history of co-opting movements. Folks still believe the Democrats are the anti-war party, the poor people's party, the anti-gun party, and all of these conditions have grown worse over the years of both Democratic and Republican governance.

Demanding that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party actually be progressive doesn't seem too much to ask. Frankly, the CPC talks a good game, their budgets et al, but with few exceptions (noted), they do get in line behind their party leadership at almost every turn. I recognize that I'm going to have to vote for Democrats in the next election, even though I would rather muck stalls without a shovel. I think many others will come to the same conclusion, despite our bitchin'.


I hear you, absolutely, though I think your history's a bit off. I've discussed it before, but Clinton 1 was a product of 12 years out of the White House and massive losses in 1980 and 1984. You know who the Bernie Sanders of 1984 was? Gary Hart, who ran on what we'd describe today as a neoliberal platform. He gave the traditional labor-backed candidate (the type the party sold out in modern progressive lore) a real run for the money in the primary that year, capturing the youth vote. Young people were angry about Hart's loss, especially Mondale's hold on Super Delegates. The DLC was formed afterwards, partly to reflect Hart's agenda, which appeared to be the future of the party. In other words, Clinton was a product of a very different time.

That being said, I feel like the impetus of the party now is in a far more progressive direction. Clinton almost won on the party's most progressive platform in decades. She did win the popular vote. I also don't see a lot of people wanting to reverse course either. People have to vote though, just like you are planning to. Handing Republicans power is not the way to move things our direction. Like 1984, another big loss could put progressives in the dark for a longtime to come.


Thanks for your thoughtful response, but the DLC was formed in 1985, and Clinton was elected as their first project in 1992. Then, it went on to completely transform the Democratic Party until it basically worked itself out of a job and dissolved in 2011. The Party is currently captured by neoliberal/neoconservative thought, as seen by their recent selection of minority leaders in the House and Senate.

Time will tell for this Party. The Sanders campaign made it pretty clear which way the country wants to go, and it was in an entirely different direction than the Clinton Dems wanted to go. Elected Dems are neither walking in lockstep or following Sanders lead. It will take a lot more than electing Keith Ellison chair (allthough that would be a good first step), as in the scheme of things, the chair answers to the elected Dems not We the People.


Perez was a great labor secretary. Don't count him out. I think he or Ellison would be great picks.

On the DLC, it was formed after the '84 Reagan stomping. The organization incorporated elements of Gary Hart's campaign after Hart's "third way" message swung the party's youth voters during the primary. Mondale was a tired old New Deal labor type, Hart fresh and new, the Sanders of '84. He came closer to knocking off Mondale than Bernie did Clinton with his neoliberal message and that was in a three way race.

Progressives now have decided to forget this history--it's inconvenient--but real nevertheless. The party didn't "sellout," its voters changed as the New Deal coalition frayed under Reagan. That happens sometimes.