Measuring just how hostile the Democratic Party is to Progressives

Let's compare two sets of headlines. One set from September, at the end of the 2022 primaries...



...and one set from mid-November, at the end of the 2022 general election.



How is it possible that progressives could expand their numbers in the general election, while getting smacked around in the primaries?

While liberals often felt deflated during the 2022 primary season, many are now expressing vindication, touting the results as proof that they can be a safe general election bet.

“Leading up to the midterms there was a whole conversation [about] what a liability progressives were for Democrats. The narrative was that moderates were the saviors of the party,” said Michael Starr Hopkins, a liberal Democratic strategist. “That couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

On the surface it shows that the general public is more receptive to the progressive agenda than the Democratic Party. But how can that be when the Democratic voters are more progressive than Republican voters?
If you only now realized that we don't have a functioning democracy, welcome to reality.

For starters, the Democratic Party unifies for the incumbent...unless that incumbent is a progressive. Then they are on their own.


Progressives can only win in open districts (in 2022 the progressive-backed candidate won 14 out of the 25 open-seat primaries), and even then they often have to fight an establishment candidate. The Democratic Party almost never endorses a progressive.

And among more moderate Democrats, progressive losses are seized upon to suggest that the party’s base is still pro-establishment — or at least satisfied with the status quo. For instance, Jeffries, a known critic of the progressives in his party, was asked in August if he thought the progressive movement had stopped gaining ground. He responded, “Politically, the left did have some success in primarying Democratic incumbents in 2018, and 2020 … But a lot of their electoral momentum began to dissipate shortly after Biden was elected … Perhaps the voters are sending us a message.”

This is a good point to note that Hakeem Jeffries, who never passes up on a chance to sh*t on progressives, is a long-time member of the Progressive Caucus. Which just proves that calling yourself a progressive means next to nothing.


This year the progressive primary win rate was down from 2020, but there was always an immense amount of money going against progressives from crypto-millionaires and the United Democracy Project, a pro-Israel super PAC funded by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Nevertheless, the 538 article did end with this observation.

But it’s also important to remember that progressives are playing the long game. They may not have won as often as their opponents. Still, many did win their primaries and will join a growing number already on the inside. It may not be a sudden transformation, but progressives are slowly gaining strength within the Democratic Party with every passing election cycle.

But when will they finally show the courage to flex those political muscles?

13 users have voted.


progressives are awaiting the perfect opportunity to flex their muscles!!!
but they have none, and never will at this rate
the progressive brand has been bridled, stifled and squashed by their
big donkey assed friends in congress. How many opportunities have been
squandered by 'playing the long game' or 'keeping the powder dry'. Adds up to
less than nothing. Losing is not winning or gaining. Get smashed and then say
some lame-assed excuse like "we matter!"

14 users have voted.

@QMS just like the GOP has. And how the Dixiecrats once were.
Of course there will only be a progressive faction if there are some guardrails put in place. So that people like Jeffries can't be in it.

8 users have voted.

The center of the Dem party is Liz Cheney, and left of that is authoritarianism. Imagine for just a second listening to someone who has a different view on an issue. Imagine not banning for disagreement. Progressives want to silence anyone they disagree with, that's not liberal. Speech policing is not liberal.

6 users have voted.

of words. "progressive" is misinterpreted to mean Democrat tainted by idpol (the exact opposite of the truth) while centrist effectively means corrupt or fascist. OTOH the article wins points for saying that centrist has been redefined to include Liz Cheney.

5 users have voted.

On to Biden since 1973

Cassiodorus's picture

@doh1304 The word "fascist," by the way, is now a participant in this incoherence, having devolved into a synonym for "someone I don't like." There's also that great synonym "Nazi," which used to mean something specific but, as David Rovics attested, is now a word used to label him.

I might add, here, that the people who are misinterpreting words have also become their biggest users. "Progressive," for that matter, has become a synonym for "people who vote for politicians who don't like progressives," or at least that's the takeaway I'm getting from gjohnsit's diary.

I suppose an attempt to reclaim the words themselves, something George Orwell used to try, might begin with the word "neoliberal," a word which aptly describes those in political circles who believe that "market solutions" are the only solutions to our problems. In reality, of course, "market solutions" are excuses for corporate welfare, because the big corporate players in today's invented "markets" must all have their bets covered by that august printer of money, the US government. But at least we might stand a chance of being understood if we tried to discuss neoliberalism.

6 users have voted.

""I think it's important to pay attention to the fact that prices need to come down in a number of areas, but we have been lowering the cost of living for so many people." -- Kamala Harris

From my memory progressives were people trying to distinguish themselves from neoliberals (fascists unwilling to own the pejorative) Then Hillary called herself a progressive and before we could throw up conservatives - especially right populists afraid of looking too much like left populists - pounced on Hillary's odious tactic and her big lie took off.

10 users have voted.

On to Biden since 1973

Cassiodorus's picture

@doh1304 Neoliberals are a specific school, dating back to the Mont Pelerin conference of 1947 in Switzerland. Fascism is a specific trend, as well, important to the period between the two World Wars.

Both neoliberalism and fascism are important as distinct types of authoritarianism. The neoliberals rule you by creating markets in which you are obliged to participate, you have no power, and your money is perpetually tied up. The fascists rule you through absolute dictatorship. Fascism is located historically between the two World Wars because it marked a change in the nature of dictatorship. Before the First World War, the standard dictatorship was the kingdom or empire. The First World War saw the dissolution of a number of kingdoms/ empires, notably Germany under the Kaiser, Austria-Hungary, Russia, the Ottoman Empire. Kingdoms and empires were dynastic entities, basically rule by family. After the First World War, dictatorship became a cult of the particular leader: Mussolini, Hitler, Franco. Thus fascism. (As a trivial side-note, there was no sense in which Adolf Hitler was a member of any ruling family, as his father Alois was born out of wedlock, and as Hitler tried conspicuously to hide his family origins.)

Neoliberalism is a specific doctrine which exalts "freedom" above all: thus the use of the words "freedom" or "liberty" in the titles of core neoliberal texts. The fascists made, and make, no pretense of supporting freedom. However, it must be said that the neoliberal notion of freedom is limited to investor freedom, freedom for the owners of capital, as a response to the controlled social democracies of the period after World War Two. The closest the neoliberals and the fascists have come to a unified regime was the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and his junta in Chile after 1973. It is, however, still important to distinguish between neoliberalism and fascism, as you can have either one of those without the other.

I hope that clears it up.

4 users have voted.

""I think it's important to pay attention to the fact that prices need to come down in a number of areas, but we have been lowering the cost of living for so many people." -- Kamala Harris

usefewersyllables's picture

a "Progressive", whatever that was supposed to have been. As pointed out above, the term has become utterly meaningless at best, and a pejorative at worst.

I self-identify as a "secular humanist"- that is, if I bother to self-identify at all. One thing that has become completely clear over the past few cycles is than no organized, self-labelled granfaloon offers me any value whatsoever. They should therefore expect the same from me.

6 users have voted.

Twice bitten, permanently shy.

Of course this just begs the question, "At What?"

Just about everything.

7 users have voted.

I cried when I wrote this song. Sue me if I play too long.