To be clear: I do not advocate that progressives should split from the Democratic party, and form their own party. I’m not even sure we should use fusion voting, if Question 2 passes.
I *do* advocate, and emphatically, that progressives should have a caucus in the Democratic party. That caucus should be a political entity in its own right, with a separate website, media presence, process for endorsing candidates for office, and possibly a fundraising arm.
The purpose of the caucus would be to coalesce progressive strength within the Democratic party, to allow progressives to act cohesively to reform the party and to hold officials accountable to progressive principles.
Another purpose of the caucus would be to shift the center of power in political media coverage. For better or worse, the media landscape of the past 16 years has portrayed political power in this state as a balance act between Republicans and Democrats. Even after Healey loses, there will be temptation in the news media to perpetuate that narrative, even though it will no longer be valid. Progressives have more power in this state than do Republicans, and they deserve more media coverage in order to promote and circulate their ideas. A progressive caucus within the Democratic party which can visibly demonstrate its electoral and legislative might will rapidly draw media attention away from the Republican party, and start to shift the narrative of political coverage.
The twinklings of such a caucus are already very much active. On the one hand you have a constellation of groups I would call collectively the “netroots”: DFA groups, PDA groups, the MA blogosphere, a group of rowdy drunkards, and of course the MA Roots Project.
On the other hand you have larger, more established, very powerful groups, like MassEquality, Neighbor to Neighbor, SEIU, and the state AFL-CIO. I would call these groups collectively the “establishment progressives.” Quite often the netroots see eye to eye with the establishment progressives, although we do have our differences. (There are, of course, some differences of opinion within the netroots, but these are comparatively rare.)
I propose that the netroots and the establishment progressives together form a progressive caucus within the Democratic party, for the purpose of highlighting and coalescing the strength of the progressive movement in Massachusetts. Each group would have some share of representation within the caucus, and the caucus would have the power to endorse candidates for office in the Democratic primary. The caucus would also make a concerted effort to publicize its candidates and its shared vision for Massachusetts; for example, it could coordinate on proposing amendments to the Democratic party platform.
The hope is that such a caucus would facilitate communication and coordination within the progressive movement, and would help to shift the statewide political debate and media coverage from a Democratic/Republican axis to a progressive/conservative Democratic axis.
I can imagine any number of problems or objections to this idea. What are yours?
(Cross posted to Blog for Cambridge)