Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.


U.S. Reps. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Cori Bush (D-MO), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Mondaire Jones (D-NY) arrive for a rally and news conference on the eviction moratorium at the Capitol on August 03, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Our Progressive Agenda Is Popular and Our Candidates Can Win

If Democrats want to govern for a generation instead of winning one-off races by slim margins, we will need to mend the deep tears among the American electorate and reckon with the injustices that were sewn into the fabric of our flag.

Brooke Adams

 by The Hill

Progressive policies are popular. Progressive candidates are winning. But you would not know that after the establishment takeover in the op-ed pages and political pieces following former state Sen. Nina Turner's (D) loss in the Ohio special primary election. 

Turner lost her primary earlier this month to Shontel Brown, with the latter pulling a come-from-behind victory in a race where Turner once held a comfortable lead, fueled in large part by massive outside spending and a heavy dose of petty personal politics. Predictably, the status quo pundits proclaimed that progressive politics can't win, or, at the very least, progressive candidates cannot win. Articles and opinion commentary declared it a "reality check" moment for the left, and there's no need for President Biden to cave to the progressive wing of the party. 

Establishment actors are already hard at work selling their snake oil to swing-seat Democratic candidates—pushing them down a path to powerlessness.

As we approach the 2022 midterms, prepare to be served more centrist "reality checks" insisting that, to maintain their majority in 2022, Democrats must play it safe and distance themselves from bold stances on the environment, immigration and public safety. But what's the reality that's being checked here? Ohio's 11th Congressional District, covering urban turf from Cleveland to Akron, is one of the bluest seats in the country. Turner's loss was in a special election in August—by definition, an exceptional election circumstance. This district's results are by no means a good indicator of what we are up against in 2022. 

It doesn't have to be this way. Progressives are building infrastructure to win primary and general elections in places Democrats forgot about years ago. Many of these districts will be the battlegrounds for key fights of our time around immigration, public safety and the climate crisis. 

But this won't be a cakewalk. While we've built out a progressive bloc in Congress, laying the groundwork for candidacies like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Cory Bush (D-Mo.), these victories have almost always been in safe, blue seats. Only three Progressive Caucus members are running competitive general elections: Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.), Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif). This presents progressives with a problem: Politicians like Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) hold the balance of power in their respective bodies. They are viewed as "majority-makers" by caucus leadership, corporate media and Washington consultants—giving them carte blanche to sacrifice bold action in favor of weak leadership. Our communities rightly feel cheated, and their votes squandered. Something must give or else we risk being the long-term minority party in this country.

We need to run progressive champions in Republican-held swing districts.  

The progressive movement agenda knits people in America together while the right-wing and corporate elite rip us apart. If Democrats want to govern for a generation instead of winning one-off races by slim margins, we will need to mend the deep tears among the American electorate and reckon with the injustices that were sewn into the fabric of our flag.

That's why we need to run progressive champions in Republican-held swing districts. We are aggressively identifying and recruiting potential candidates for the U.S. House and Senate in competitive races. And we are engaging the entire Democratic field in districts without a clear progressive leader to better align candidates with a bold, positive vision that addresses issues our communities care about. 

People's Action, where I serve as director of movement politics, runs the largest rural organizing project in the country. We've been deep canvassing for years in many areas where establishment Democrats gave up on, so we know a thing or two about changing hearts and minds. 

The progressive agenda is popular, and our candidates can win. And when we lose one race, it's a lesson about power—about organizing money and people everywhere to fight. Turner's loss was tough for the movement, and we will respond not with mourning, but with organizing. 

© 2021 The Hill

Brooke Adams

Brooke Adams is the director of movement politics at People’s Action.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·

Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·

PG&E Charged With 11 Felony Counts—Including Manslaughter—Over 2020 Zogg Fire

"PG&E has a history with a repeated pattern of causing wildfires that is not getting better," said Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett. "It's only getting worse."

Brett Wilkins ·

'Hold My Pearls': Debbie Dingell Lets Marjorie Taylor Green Have It Over Abortion Rights

The Michigan Democrat engaged in a verbal altercation with the far-right Republican lawmaker from Georgia on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building.

Jon Queally ·

Dems Who Opposed Pentagon Cuts Received Nearly 4x More Donations From Weapons Makers

The latest passage of the NDAA "is particularly strong evidence that Pentagon contractors' interests easily take precedence over national security and the public interest for too many members of Congress," said one critic.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo