With presidential elections coming up, Progressive Democrats have developed a new system to ensure their plans are pushed to the federal level.
After setbacks in 2022, such as losing to moderates in the states of Texas and Illinois and Democrats pushing against the term “progressive,” Progressive Democrats have created a new strategy to grow their party and influence across the country.
AP News followed Progressive Democrats’ victories across the U.S. and found that they are now focusing on local-level government. Minimum wage, police reform, diversity and helping the working class are the main topics progressives are targeting.
The latest victory for progressives happened earlier this month with candidates like Brandon Johnson getting elected as the new mayor of Chicago.
Brandon Johnson, a union organizer and former teacher, was backed by Bernie Sanders’s Our Revolution, an activist group that was born during Sanders’ 2016 presidential run. Our Revolution’s 90,000 members in Chicago that voted gave Brandon the edge.
The activist group was also able to get three progressive candidates seats at the St. Louis City Board of Aldermen by making over 100,000 calls.
Another candidate that the group is backing is Helen Gym, a progressive former Philadelphia City Council member, running in the Democratic mayoral primary.
“We’re building power, bottom up, city by city … in major metropolitan areas you’ve got credible progressive slates vying for power against the Democratic establishment,” said Joseph Geevarghese, the executive director of Our Revolution.
Then in Wisconsin, Judge Janet Protasiewicz took a seat from conservative contender Daniel Kelly in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. This is the first time since 2008 that liberals are the majority in its high court.
Besides taking and running for positions in local government, and this win in Wisconsin, progressives are continuing to run in congressional races.
In California, progressive Rep. Barbara Lee and Democratic Rep. Katie Porter are running to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein. In Arizona, progressive Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Iraq war veteran, is going against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who left the Democratic party last year and is now independent.
The reason for progressives’ grab for influence is because of current President Joe Biden.
Biden’s moderate stances of making small changes in police reform and encouraging public safety spending have displeased liberal Democrats. Also, failing to veto Republicans’ new crime regulations and being unable to forgive student loan debt has increased the need for this new strategy for progressives.
“I think it is extremely risky and very perilous should the Biden administration forget who it was that put him over the top,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an interview with Jacobin, a socialist political magazine.
Ocasio-Cortez’s statement carries more weight now going into Biden’s re-election campaign. Progressive Caucus currently has 102 members and added 16 more members in the last election cycle.
Despite only being 12% of the Democratic party, progressives’ new strategy has strengthened its influence among young citizens and in local government.
In a New York Times interview, Rep. Ro Khanna believes that the progressives’ slow build to power will take off in a “post-Biden world.”
“I just can’t conceive of a situation where progressives aren’t dominating presidential elections over the next 15 years after Biden,” said Khanna in the interview.
There will still be a battle over purple states like Georgia, Colorado, Michigan and Arizona. The only opposition progressives seem to face are moderates who win in those swing states and tension amongst other Democrats.
Now that this strategy has the spotlight on it, expect right and left leaning moderates along with Democrats and Republicans to develop their own systems to get more influence with the American people.