Progressives Seek Control of Democrat Party

AP Photo / Evan Vucc
AP Photo / Evan Vucc
Washington, DC

While one often sees major media stories of a so-called conservative fringe looking to take control of the Republican Party, progressive leftists looking to establish control of the Democrat Party tend to be either completely ignored or characterized far more favorably than their ideological counterpart on the right.

The liberal leaning Talking Points Memo (TPM) casts it as a full-blown battle for control within the party:

As Republicans take control of Congress for the first time since 2006, the Democrats’ crushing midterm defeat and the rise of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have empowered the progressive wing to step up their fight for the soul of the party ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

The most significant impact of all this may manifest itself through the Democrats’ 2016 presidential politics:

Their message: Stop catering to big business. Listen to populists like Warren on how to rebuild the tarnished brand. Champion transformative ideas that will improve the lives of middle class Americans. If not, Democrats are toast in 2016.

“I can tell you, if Democrats try to adopt a Third Way, Democratic Leadership Council-type philosophy where we abandon average working Americans, we’re not going to be successful [in 2016] or in general,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told TPM. “This is a time where people talking about raising wages, fair trade bills that do not offshore our jobs, strengthening the right to organized labor unions. This is that moment to grab those issues in order to be successful. And if we abandon those issues and we sort of become Republican-lite, we’re not going to be successful.”

TPM reports that, according to Jim Dean, chairman of Democracy for America, plans also include taking on the Obama White House as not quite progressive enough, if one can believe that. “Dean said Democrats should go against President Barack Obama on ideas like a free-trade agreement, which Republicans also support.”

TPM also reports:

“I think there will be divisions,” Dean said. “We’re at our best when we’re competing for the best ideas, even though a lot of folks on the inside don’t particularly like that.”

Progressive advocates see the next two years through the prism of the coming 2016 race. They want Democrats to use their minority to lay down a sweeping populist agenda for the country ahead of the election, which could include breaking up the big banks, a major clean energy jobs bill or investments in education to let college students graduate debt free.