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Vanden Heuvel writes: "'Only in the darkness can you see the stars,' the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us. Now, even in the bleak night of Brett M. Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court, there are stars that offer hope."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (photo: AP)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (photo: AP)

A Blue Wave Next Month Could Be the Start of a Progressive Sea Change

By Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Washington Post

09 October 18


nly in the darkness can you see the stars,” the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us. Now, even in the bleak night of Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, there are stars that offer hope. If Democrats take back the House in next month’s elections, the Congressional Progressive Caucus — already one of the largest and most diverse values-based caucus in the Congress — will make certain it won’t be business as usual. The CPC will have the leaders, even greater numbers, a compelling reform agenda and increasing institutional muscle to drive the debate — while exposing the corrosive corruption that pervades every corner of the Trump administration.

The CPC has 78 members; after November, it is likely to number more than 90. The CPC PAC has endorsed 41 candidates this cycle; more than a dozen are shoo-ins, and virtually all of the remainder are running in seats that are in play. Twenty-two are on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” list of targeted races. If Democrats pick up the 23 seats they need, progressives will be leading the way. And in a Democratic-majority Congress, CPC members are in line to chair a stunning 13 committees and 30 subcommittees.

New members will bring new energy and new ideas. With her stunning primary victory over Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has already catapulted herself to national attention. She’ll likely be joined by remarkable leaders such as Jahana Hayes of Connecticut, Rashida Tlaib from Detroit and, with any luck, future stars such as Katie Porter of California and Gina Ortiz Jones of Texas.

For more than the past decade, CPC members have helped forge the progressive agenda that is winning the battle of ideas within the party. Medicare-for-all, tuition-free college, a $15 minimum wage and more have become increasingly regular fare for Democratic candidates. The CPC annual “shadow budget” has provided a coherent statement of bold progressive priorities. On trade, public infrastructure and climate change, CPC members have led the call for fundamental reform.

Now, the CPC is building the organizational muscle to help bolster this momentum. The CPC PAC has grown dramatically over the past cycle, raising $1.5 million since the middle of last year, largely in small donations while refusing to take money from corporate PACs. The CPC Center’s annual summit provides a vital meeting ground for progressive legislators, public scholars and activists, and CPC leaders hold regular consultation with outside allies. (Disclosure: I serve on the CPC Center’s board.)

This week, a transformed CPC Center is announcing a major expansion, building a clearinghouse to provide policy analysis on key issues, along with talking points and communications support, modeled on the old Democratic Study Group that Newt Gingrich defunded when Republicans took power in 1994. The new Center will also help build a diversified farm team of progressive staff, place fellows in congressional offices to spearhead specific issue areas and draw on experts in think tanks and academia, forging new inside-outside connections. Progressives will be in the position to further drive the debate in the House, while helping to mentor new legislators entering Congress.

For years, the CPC has been criticized as being less than the sum of its members, as only about 30 of CPC members have voted together consistently. That is beginning to change. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chair of the CPC with Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), notes that, as a CPC poll showed this spring, “our reform agenda has widespread popular support, even in so-called ‘swing districts.’ ”

No Democratic leader can be elected without significant support from CPC members and incoming progressives. Pocan says progressives will be looking for commitments to move bold reforms. Crowley’s defeat opens up space in the leadership. Already Reps. Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Katherine M. Clark (Mass.) are gearing up to run for Democratic Caucus chair and vice chair, respectively. Rep. David N. Cicilline (R.I.) is competing for the new elected position of assistant majority leader. Progressives will also be seeking greater representation on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which has critical responsibility for assigning members to committees. And with Grijalva stepping down, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) is in line to join Pocan as co-chair of the CPC, with young leaders such as Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) taking on more responsibility.

Progressives remain far removed from taking power in Washington, as Kavanaugh’s nomination demonstrated. The right wing’s infrastructure and big donors’ interests are powerful and entrenched. Yet, with the increasing sophistication and capacity of the CPC and its allies, a Democratic triumph in the House next month can mark not just a blue wave, but the beginning of a progressive sea change.

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+24 # librarian1984 2018-10-09 12:10
This is great news, and we could use some right now. Did anyone believe the party would, after 2016, embrace blue dogs and continue to abuse progressives?

It's important we win at least the House in order to shut down the worst abuses of this administration -- but it's not going to mean much if the same DINOs stay in charge.

An increased role of the CPC would increase enthusiasm among the young and Independents, helping us in 2020. It would signal that the party is listening to progressives, especially if Barbara Lee becomes speaker.

Right now it seems it'd be between Pelosi, Third Way's Tim Ryan and progressive Barbara Lee. There is only one outcome that would encourage millennials, Independents and minorities to support the DP in 2020.

Does the party want to win more than it wants to kowtow to its donors?
-1 # Robbee 2018-10-10 18:27
"no more mister nice guy!"

"the gloves have come off!"

the bromance flowing from dickhead to progressives is officially caput!

dickhead just renamed his campaign to save congress from dems his campaign to save congress from socialist lefties who can go to "venezuela!"

perhaps nobody here noticed, but in 2016 dickhead gave bernie a free pass!

there was a one-sided armistice such that, when bernie lost the dem primaries, naturally dickhead called on bernie supporters to become dickhead supporters!

yesterday, the gloves came off!

progressive dems are now socialists who st. dickhead will drive to venezuela!

this is how dickhead will play these mid-terms! signed in blood!

what does it mean?

it means that progressives are free to stop browbeating dems! we ARE the evil dems!

it frees us from making dems public enemy #1! - no bones about it, WE are public enemy #1!

in 2017, when bernie was the most popular politician in america, so many of us held a shiny, pollyanna notion that in 2020 bernie was a "shoe-in" for prez? no?

we are about to find out if a socialist is a shoe-in for any national office!

this is our watershed moment!

the writing is on the wall!

detente is caput!

mark my words! we are in for an ever-ascending shit-storm over running a socialist for prez!

as Kareem intones - "Don't just blame Donald Trump for the current anti-intellectu al threat to democracy" - 9 October 18

be forewarned! wake up! promote bernie!
+35 # librarian1984 2018-10-09 12:39
As we near the midterm Trump is going to hold dozens of rallies, and we all know he's going to exaggerate and make outrageous claims and outright lie, rile up the base and offend his perceived enemies.

I for one would love to see the msm refuse to follow his shiny bouncing distractions. Say what you will, Trump is very talented at manipulating the media and I would love for them, for once, not to fall for it.

Why not cover the candidates and their policies, maybe even the consequences of those policies. Imagine!

People lament uninformed voters? The media actually has a mandate to do something about it!

It's an important election. Let's see more reporting than punditry.

And quit letting Trump lead you around by the nose.
+8 # economagic 2018-10-09 19:19
Amen! I like "shiny bouncing distractions" especially.
-4 # Robbee 2018-10-10 18:41
Quoting librarian1984:
quit letting Trump lead you around by the nose.

- inquiring minds want to know -

for you, when you decided to dump rump, that is, what wast your deciding moment?
+21 # Elroys 2018-10-09 18:42
Perhaps the main stream media ought to shut down trump for the next 28 days, completely ignore the criminal occupying our White House. Does the media have the cajones to silence him, for just 28 days.
+11 # tedrey 2018-10-09 18:51
What the Progressive Caucus wants to put in practice (and the Democratic leadership has stifled for years:
+3 # librarian1984 2018-10-10 00:00
Every time I watch the budget votes, hoping our representatives will see that it's a fantastic budget -- and every time it gets about 2% of the vote.

It IS a fantastic budget. Thanks for the link.
+3 # tedrey 2018-10-10 11:29
The Republican "leadership" usually makes sure the yearly Progrssive Caucus Budget never even gets to a committee, much less to the floor.
+5 # Laren 2018-10-09 21:09
I love hope as much as the next person, however all this talk about blue wave is too reminiscent of October 2016. Hillary was a shoo in and it was going to be great.

And we know how that turned out.

We should be reading about one thing for the next 3 weeks: Vote. Tell your friends to vote. Tell anyone who will listen to vote. And, oh yeah, vote.

I don't want to wake up the day after election day with the same stunned feeling as I did in November 2016.
+5 # Jim at Dr.Democracy on Facebook 2018-10-10 11:29
This is a healthy concern, #Laren. I'd just like to point out that the whole "shoe-in" meme did not reflect reality, except DNC reality and TV reality.

Trump consistently polled well versus Clinton head-to-head in the run up to the 2016 election. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders consistently defeated Trump in head-to-head polling, until after the Democratic Convention.

As far as I could tell, Secretary Clinton was mostly assumed to be the Democratic Party's best choice only because the many corporate Democrats didn't want to disappoint their sweet fat-cat donor relationships. If their fat-cats abandoned them, it would force them actually to appeal to and advance the needs and desires of the American public.
+1 # Benign Observer 2018-10-10 14:26
And this time the fat cats want Kamala Harris. Her name comes up everywhere, often with breathless enthusiasm, reverence and awe. Almost as if someone were planning to brainwash us.

Alexa probably whispers to us in our sleep .. Kamala .. Kamala will save you .. Kamala loves puppies ..
-4 # Robbee 2018-10-10 18:29
Quoting Benign Observer:
And this time the fat cats want Kamala Harris. Her name comes up everywhere, often with breathless enthusiasm, reverence and awe. Almost as if someone were planning to brainwash us.

Alexa probably whispers to us in our sleep .. Kamala .. Kamala will save you .. Kamala loves puppies ..

- from putin? with love?
+7 # natureguru 2018-10-09 22:15
Trump uses his motus operandi at his rallies. From his "art of the Deal" book “the final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion." You's think his supporters would catch on but then, they aren't thinking, are they?
+8 # Jim at Dr.Democracy on Facebook 2018-10-10 11:39
Yes, you would think they would have realized by now that they are being played by Trump. And some of his supporters have changed their minds.

But the right-wing Anti-Christ "Christians" will never leave Trump because they hope he's going to bring on the Apocalypse and the return of Christ. Christ never taught such a thing, of course. But some crazy person or persons in a drug- or starvation-indu ced hallucination wrote Revelation (or perhaps it was written by Constantine's assembly of "bishops").

These modern-day right wing Christians are all so anti-Christlike (sanctimonious, fearful of strangers, in love with money, in love with violent imagery and war) that this anti-Christ is looked forward by them as the one who brings back Christ.

They have a firey belief in an anti-Christ as the doorman for their salvation.
+2 # librarian1984 2018-10-10 21:59
You'd think the media would catch on too. They're always playing his game, except when they're his cynical codependents.

Les Moonves: Trump is bad for America but great for ratings!

Two years and they still follow his every move, report his every distraction, pundit their butts off trying to outdo each others' outrage, instead of reporting important news.

The media holds some sway over Trump but they squander it. They decide every day that money is more important than their responsibility.
+3 # MikeAF48 2018-10-10 18:29
Parkland, Flordia David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez Thinking of you and your fellow classmates the past two years must be hard to live with. We the voters all of us will be thinking of you as we vote in the midterms. Godspeed.
+1 # RLF 2018-10-11 09:00
I'll believe it when I see it!

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