Election Fallout: What’s Next For Progressives?
Election Fallout is a series which will look at what’s next for the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party, and Republicans following the 2018 general elections.
The Democratic Party as a whole is set to pick up between 31-40 seats in the United States House of Representatives. The two most prominent progressive organizations, Justice Democrats and Our Revolution have a combined seven newly elected representatives heading to Washington D.C. to serve their districts.
Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Illhan Omar (MN-05), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) join fellow Justice Democrat backed incumbents Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Ro Khanna (CA-17), and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07). Chuy Garcia (IL-4th), Deb Haaland (NM-1), and Veronica Escobar (TX-16) join fellow Our Revolution incumbents Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2) and Jamie Raskin (MD-8). Talib, Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, and Jayapal shared dual endorsing from the two groups among the newly elected congressional representatives.
While several outlets have published pieces minimizing the progressive gains in the Democratic Party, Our Revolution Gubernatorial candidates Andrew Gillum (FL) and Stacey Abrams (GA) have the opportunity to win their races pending the result of ongoing recounts.
Kara Eastman (NE-2), Ammar Campa-Najjar (CA-50), Robert Davidson (MI-2), and many other progressives (including Abrams and Gillum) performed far better in their races than Third Way Democrats prior to them. Especially considering Joe Donnelly (IN), Claire McCaskill (MO), and Heidi Heitkamp (ND) lost their Senate races while attacking issues progressive voters care about, underperforming in relation to their polling.
Brand New Congress, Justice Democrats, Our Revolution, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee will play pivotal roles in helping recruit, fund, and spread the progressive between now and the next primary cycle.
Going forward progressives will need to immediately make their presence known in the House, especially after Nancy Pelosi (CA-5) announced her hopes to work with President Donald Trump after the midterm elections. Progressives will have the opportunity to increase their gains within the House in 2020, especially if the current group shows they will fight for middle and working-class Americans, despite the rhetoric from the Pelosi wing of the party and the Republicans.
It is unlikely progressives will be able to push forward any legislation through Congress, but they can help set the stage for an eventual Universal Healthcare, tuition-free public college education, and an immediate raise to a $15 minimum wage for the upcoming 2020 Presidential campaign and election, which could bring about critique from within their party and across the aisle. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ocasio-Cortez have already endured political attacks since the November 6th election.
Bernie Sanders was quoted in a Rolling Stones article in response to a Washington Post op-ed claiming there shouldn’t be any “fire-breathing” progressives going forward:
“Matt, I am really shocked by this! I cannot believe that that is their conclusion, given that they have been spouting that absurd line forever, and that was the line that they had which enabled Republicans to gain control of the Senate and the House and the White House and for Democrats to lose almost 1,000 seats in the previous nine years. Of course, that’s what the establishment will say, and that’s what the establishment Democrats will say. But the truth is that what has happened in this election is a significant step forward in terms of the revitalization of American democracy. It wasn’t moderate democrats or conservative Democrats who got young people into the political process. It wasn’t moderate Democrats who increased voter turnout in this election compared to four years ago, I think by almost 50 percent.
“It wasn’t just moderate Democrats who won incredibly great victories for the House. There were some moderates, to be sure. But I think the Washington Post is going to be very surprised at who shows up on the first day of Congress and gets sworn in, because that is going to be the most progressive freshman class in the modern history of the United States. Many of these folks are not just women, not just people of color, who campaigned on Medicare-for-all, raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks, campaigned on making public colleges and universities tuition-free, of undoing Trump’s tax breaks for billionaires. The political establishment notwithstanding, the future belongs to progressives.”