I don’t have much interest in electing Democrats as such. I’m interested in electing progressives. But in our two-party-dominated system, you do the best you can. And in that light, I found this article by Eric Laursen to be hopeful. In it he describes how the Congressional Progressive Caucus – a group of left-leaning House and Senate Democrats – is beginning to change the conversation in Washington, D.C. Now, maybe the hope in this article is false hope. The change really isn’t significant yet, and Republicans representing the plutocrats and religious right remain thoroughly in charge.
But allowing myself to believe for a moment that there’s a chance of progressives having a real influence, let me reflect on the current possibilities for federal progressive leaders.
First, the presidency. I share the skepticism of many on the left about Hillary Clinton. I believe that she is far too indebted to wealthy interests to be counted on to reliably represent the other 99%. However, I do think she is perhaps the Democrats – and progressives – best choice for president, but only because I believe that she would put up Supreme Court nominees that are friendlier to progressive viewpoints than any Republican.
But how do we keep a President Clinton the Deuce from straying too far? By having a progressive Congress. I realize that might sound ludicrous after the Republican congressional victories last year, but according to some reports, it does not seem out of reach to win back a Democratic Senate in 2016. If that were to happen, then the battle could be on to get Elizabeth Warren elected majority leader, which would be quite a coup if successful. Outgoing minority leader Harry Reid has already admitted that his heir apparent, Chuck Schumer, needs Warren and Bernie Sanders to keep him on the progressive track. Why not just eliminate the middle man? As for harassing Hillary Clinton during the presidential primary, I think Sanders is the right person for that role.
Regarding the House, well, that might take longer to turn around. As has been pointed out, the future of the House is really up to whether Democrats can win back statehouses across the country and take charge of the redistricting process. (Incidentally, that process should be in the hands of independent commissions and not any political party.)
Yes, much of this amounts to a bunch of long shots. But I think progressives would benefit from thinking more about the long game of securing progressive legislatures and a progressive Congress, rather than thinking that a single president – even ones that come to office with a lot of hope – will turn things around all on her or his own.