Why the progressive insurgency mattered

Those of you who are skeptical, well, you were right to be.
Not all members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are equal.

In April, the Congressional Progressive Caucus announced that it was going to be drawing a line: Its political action committee would no longer accept corporate campaign donations.
...
Wait, the Congressional Progressive Caucus was taking corporate money?

Yes, it was. And not only did the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC accept corporate contributions until recently, but also, almost all of its 78 members — including Pocan — still take corporate money individually, even as their caucus shuns it. Just four caucus members who will be returning to the House next session have pledged to decline corporate funds: Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.; Ro Khanna, D-Calif.; Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii; and David Cicilline, D-R.I.

So, yeh, I get it.
Even those who are so-called progressives are in the pockets of corporations. So I understand why some here thought that I was wasting my time by focusing on this grassroots effort, and that this time wasn't any different.

Well, it was different this time, and there is a powerful number that sums this up.

That number, however, is about to balloon to as many as 40 or more, as a wave of successful progressive insurgents — including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jahana Hayes, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar — are poised to join the House of Representatives.

Forty honest politicians is a whole different story than just four.
And that's just a single election cycle. Imagine two or three more election cycles.

The movement to get money out of politics has fueled a massive, rapid, and poorly understood sea change — one that’s come to a head in the 2018 cycle. According to End Citizens United, a campaign finance reform political action committee, 208 candidates took the “no corporate PACs” pledge this cycle. Of those candidates, 124 won their primaries, including big names like Beto O’Rourke, the Texas Democrat challenging Ted Cruz’s Senate seat, and Ocasio-Cortez, the insurgent candidate from New York City who ousted Joe Crowley, one of the top Democrats in Congress.

That's actually a pretty good record.

The new push to go cold turkey on corporate cash is creating tension within the caucus, as progressive members take offense at the implication that their votes might be influenced by big money. “People feel like you’re saying that they are bought and sold — and some are, but many aren’t,” Jayapal told The Intercept. “It’s not like everybody who takes corporate PAC money is bad or only does what the corporations want. … But that’s not what this is about. It’s about re-establishing trust with voters, changing the system, working from multiple angles.”

But while the voting records of Congressional Progressive Caucus members are better on democracy reform issues compared with those outside the caucus, that might be setting the bar too low. Aaron Scherb, the legislative affairs director for the watchdog group Common Cause, told The Intercept that 17 of the 28 members of Congress who earned perfect scores on his organization’s “Democracy Scorecard“ are in the Congressional Progressive Caucus. But there are 78 representatives in the caucus, meaning that nearly 4 in 5 caucus members actually failed to earn a perfect score.

The most hardened skeptic will point to the money, and that's why this is a good thing.

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but even apart from taking it or not, the very fact that there's a counterweight to business as usual opens the discussion wider, and encourages more people to participate in politics with vigor.

New options get considered -- importantly -- even if the system at large remains mostly corrupt. For example we've had wars stopped from more hope and wider involvement brought about by (somewhat) decent politicians breaking out, somewhat, from what's established.

I mean, realistically, it ain't just money that decides what politicians do (hi State Security, got those records safe we trust) but in the real world you have to grab every chance to open up governance you can get.

There's not a lick of sense in rejecting any useful turn whether it be inside or outside party structures. Press everywhere, always. That works.That's exactly how John Birtchers moved the nation from liberal action to where we find ourselves now.

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divineorder's picture

They need? Hope so.

But clearly some of us felt 'berned' after 2016 and are not contibuting our small money as before. Maybe enough people from the vast number of independents who don't feel 'berned' are stepping up to take our place in the ranks of small contributors?

These potential Prog Caucus members are of course right not to take corporate cash. This is a step toward getting big money out of politics.

Even when a candidate gets enough to compete they face another big problem that must be handled:

Apparently this is a huge problem in several states. Again.

Damn smartphone typing. Edited.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

divineorder's picture

@divineorder

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

Wink's picture

I gave Zero chance against
@divineorder
the Repub incumbent just 3, 4 weeks ago), played it smart, saved most of her nickels and dimes from small contributors, and has $500K to spend these last 3 weeks against the Repub's $1.2 Million. Our Establishment Dim finds herself down "just 7 points" with 3 weeks to go. Yes, that's a yuuuge gap to close, but it's about 18 points fewer to close than the last two Establishment Dims. Close enough for the Repub incumbent, "Beltway Elise" Stefanik (so named becuz she couldn't find her congressional district with Google Maps and a gps device) to ask Paul Ryan to bail her out! And Ryan's in town tonight (actually just outside the district, lmao) to do just that. So.... I can virtually guarantee this... if our Establishment Dim somehow pulls the miracle and topples Beltway Elise... there WILL be a blue wave in 3 weeks!

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the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

dkmich's picture

I so happened to hear about this last night while fiddling through podcasts. IF they form their own caucus and remain true to what they ran on, they can do a lot of pushing and embarrassing from the inside. After Obama, it may take them 8 years to prove they aren't liars.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

*donate to c99 *like us on Facebook *follow us on Twitter

dkmich's picture

@dkmich

Sorry gjohnsit.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

*donate to c99 *like us on Facebook *follow us on Twitter

to corporate cash. But the Democrats want to screw this up. The DSCC is trying it's damnedest to get some of that Beto money back to "more competitive" races. If I contribute money to progressives like Beto, and they decide it's better spent redistributing to say, Mccaskill, that will prevent me from donating to any Democrat.

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@Blueslide Beto has enough money? Redistribute to other races with your next donation. Mike Espy in Mississippi for instance. For that matter, toss some love to David Baria in the other MS race. A longer shot, but if we can bring people to the polls for one, we can do it for the other.

I might even send a donation to Heidi Keitkamp, because she did vote against accused rapist Brett Kananaugh, unlike say, Joe Manchin. (I'll let DailyKos rationalize that waste of space.)

Don't like the idea of donating to Heidi directly? Then donate to CrowdPac, working to restore voting rights to Native voters.

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Wink's picture

the progressive caravan is moving on.
And fancy Nancy and Chucky Schumer know it.
I don't know about a Blue Wave this year (Nate Silver gives the odds of Dims flipping the House at about 3:1), but there will be blue gains this year, and more in 2020 - flipping the House along with a flipped Senate. So, it is happening. Now, maybe all this ruckus amounts to squat when push comes to shove, but there's no question progressive candidates have stopped the move ever rightward. In its tracks. Whether it starts moving Left or not depends on what happens after this new bunch is reelected in 2020, joined by newly elected progressives. But our long nightmare of neolib rule is soon over.

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the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.