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Will Democrats Try To Kill The Party's Progressive Wing To Regain Power?

November 5, 2014 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

The GOP went after its more principled wing. Will Democrats follow?

Here’s the question nobody on the left wants to ask: are progressive Democrats poised to go the way of Republican Tea Partiers? That is, exiled to the margins and ignored as the party's centrists seek to regain power?

The front pages of America’s most influential newspapers are touting that the Republican Party’s biggest lesson this year was they realized they had to “crush the enemy,” as The Times put it, “not Democrats but the rebels within their own party.” And so they did.

Is that what is coming in Democratic Party circles? A resurgence of the so-called Third Way and Fix The Debt types whose values are more aligned with Wall Street than Main Street? You might hope not, but with the Clintons at the helm as the party soul-searches and looks toward 2016, it’s not so far-fetched, even though Clinton-style centrists lost on Tuesday. Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor is one example.   

Though leading progressives are privately writing, “Good riddance to GOP-lite pols” on listserves, take a hard look at what progressives accomplished in 2014. If you want to be honest, when it came to candidates—not ballot initiatives—they got clobbered. There’s no reason that the corporate centrists who dream of reviving Clintonian good times will be looking left, despite the popularity of Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Almost all congressional candidates running as working-class Democrats lost this year—most not even winning their primaries. They touted economic messages that progressives know are true—that the nation has growing class divides, worsening inequality, job stagnation and increasingly inadequate safety nets—including Social Security, whose average monthly retirement benefit is akin to a minimum wage job after a lifetime of work.   

Everybody knows the political system serves the wealthy, is dominated by a flood of anonymous large donors and needs to be rebalanced. Yet on the anti-corruption front, Larry Lessig’s vaunted multi-million dollar reform effort, the MayDay super PAC, also failed to elect most of its candidates who pledged to push reforms in Congress. Just before the Election …read more


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