Around the turn of the new year, I wrote an article called The Great Progressive Clown Show. In it, I argued that House Progressives were facing a crisis of legitimacy and that they could only improve it by refusing to vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of The House until they received concessions.
Rereading the article, I am stunned to believe that I wrote such a piece. While my broader points relating to the Democratic Party were correct, my criticisms of the House Progressive Caucus were wrong, and done in bad faith. I had been listening to a certain type of progressive media at the time, and had fallen for the arguments that they made. I am here to officially renounce my former views.
A year ago, there was an insular, completely-online movement called the “#ForceTheVote Movement” that advocated for the House Progressive Caucus to withhold their vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of The House until Pelosi agreed to hold a vote for Medicare-For-All. When House Progressives ended up voting for Pelosi, these same “advocates” then slandered the House Progressive Caucus, accusing them of being sell-outs to the cause.
The truth is that every argument they have makes no sense. First of all, it theoretically opened the door for a Republican to become Speaker of The House; secondly, a prolonged hold-up by progressives would likely turn the media against them, and hurt their cause; and perhaps most importantly, the demand was silly. A Medicare-For-All vote would have been shot down by over two-thirds of the House, providing valuable ammo to critics of Medicare-For-All. There were far better demands that could have been made, none of which the Movement talked about.
Actually, the Progressives did make demands and gained concessions. The Green New Deal and Medicare-For-All legislation are now exempt for what’s called paygo, meaning that these laws can increase the deficit and still be passed. This has removed a critical roadblock to the passage of these necessary laws.
The Movement kept claiming we would finally be able to see who truly supports Medicare-For-All, and who doesn’t, and that Americans would witness Congress denying healthcare to them during a pandemic, and as a result Americans would mobilize en masse.
The problem is that we already know who supports Medicare-For-All: it’s called the cosponsor list, and it’s easily available for anyone to see. Are some of those Congressmen lying? Of course. But we already know there are lots of corporate Democrats who need to be replaced with progressives.
And the idea that Americans would “rise up” at Congress voting down Medicare-For-All is a fantasy. Most Americans are not so passionate about Medicare-For-All, and most Americans aren’t paying such close attention; and without the infrastructure to mobilize such large groups of people, it is laughable to suggest that millions of people would suddenly rise up in favor of this issue, a la the George Floyd Protests.
Finally, for me to suggest, as I did, that House Progressives, many of whom are Black, Brown, or Muslim, are akin to the “White Moderates” that Martin Luther King Jr. warned us about is a horrible perversion of his words and insulting to House Progressives. I regret writing that, and I’m sorry.
Long story short, here’s the deal: Progressives in the House and Bernie Sanders in the Senate are the only people in Congress looking out for us. They are the ones who shamed Biden into extending the eviction moratorium, they are the only Congressmen supporting paid family leave, lower drug costs, and universal childcare by voting against the sham “Bipartisan” Infrastructure Bill in lieu of Build Back Better, and they are the only ones bringing new ideas to the table.
Do House Progressives make mistakes? Do they do things that merit criticism? Absolutely. But they are invaluable allies to the American Progressive Movement, without which we cannot achieve anything. Rather than tearing them down with baseless, bad-faith attacks, we need to guide them and elect more of them to office so we can finally achieve equality and opportunity for all Americans.
Image Courtesy of Cori Bush.