Many Republicans and conservatives, dismayed at the Democratic party landslide in the mid term elections are looking for some small consolation.
There has been much talk of the “Blue Dog” Democrats, conservative Southern Democrats, who are Republicans in all but name.
Unfortunately, such talk is self delusional.
I quote from an excellent article on US website “In These Times“
Don’t buy all the crap coming from GOP talking-point memos or the blather from mainstream pundits. The midterm elections do not signal a move to the center. Yes, a few conservative Democrats were elected, but the big gainers were progressives. In particular, the Congressional Progressive Caucus is on the rise.
Who is this Congressional Progressive Caucus? What is their significance?
Democrats as a whole will benefit from controlling the House of Representatives, but yesterday’s victory bodes especially well for members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), a coalition of 63 left-leaning Democrats that includes Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Indeed the CPC is poised to increase its ranks. In an unprecedented move this fall, CPC members—coming together under the newly formed Progressive Majority Project—pooled their money, time and staff to lend support to progressives running in 12 House races. Eight of those CPC-backed candidates won, which makes all this talk about conservative Democrats in the ascendancy a bunch of bunk. (In addition, two CPC members, Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), have moved on to the Senate.)
So what? How can a few dozen pinko Democrats have any serious influence on the government of the world’s most powerful nation?
Though the CPC represents about a third of House Democrats, the caucus members hold ranking minority positions on half of the House’s 20 standing committees, including Conyers on the Judiciary Committee, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) on the Education and the Workforce Committee, and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) on the Government Reform Committee.
As chairmen of those committees, CPC members will now be in a position to both promote progressive legislation and investigate administration wrongdoing. The assumption of committee chairmanships is one way the CPC is working to transform the group from the House’s largest caucus into its most powerful.
Democratic Congresswoman, Barbara Lee, from California, co-Chairs the Progressive Caucus. She has made it very clear that she and her colleagues intend to move quickly on their agenda.
“It is important to recognize that this was not just a vote against George Bush and the Republican Congress, it was a vote for a Democratic agenda that is rooted in progressive values…. In just the first 100 hours, we will be uniting behind Leader Pelosi to move a legislative agenda designed to address real issues that impact Americans.”
That agenda is already in place. These people know exactly what they want.
To build unity among the growing caucus, the CPC in May of last year hired former AFL-CIO official Bill Goold, its first full-time employee, as a policy coordinator. Five months later, the caucus drafted a new four-point “Progressive Promise,” a kind of Ten Commandments for progressives; the points centered around economic justice, civil rights, global peace and energy independence. A framework of general policy initiatives, such as raising the minimum wage and opposing media consolidation, is included.
And HR 676, introduced by Conyers and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), has become a rallying point for the CPC, labor unions, nurses and other activists. The proposal, which would establish universal health care, drew co-sponsorship from more than 70 representatives, was endorsed by as many labor unions and was the subject of rallies in dozens of U.S. cities this year.
The Progressive Caucus essentially functions as a socialist party inside the Democratic machine. It has direct links with some very radical organisations. Many of it’s leading members would not get a security clearance to clean toilets at a military base, yet they hold some of the most important positions in the US government.
Over the next few days I will look at the CPC’s origins and loyalties and profile some of its leading members.