Everyone could use a bit of good news nowadays. From the new President-elect’s war on Meryl Streep to celebrity deaths, we’ve all got reasons for feeling down of late. But for all the bad, something is happening that should excite (at least) progressives: A revolution; a rebirth of Democratic politics.
This past weekend, Berniecrats took over the Democratic Party in California, winning 618 of 1120 seats in the Assembly District Election Meetings (ADEM) and 44 of 80 executive boards.
From activist Lauren Steiner:
These results reveal a profound shift in energy and excitement within the Democratic Party. The establishment, dominated by neoliberals, is fading.
The 2016 election exposed the limits of the neoliberal imagination. First there was the skewed primary, or what could more accurately be described as a flawed coronation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, given the revelations of the leaked DNC and Clinton campaign emails. And then there was Secretary Clinton herself, who spoke frankly about what was possible within the current political climate, but rejected calls for systemic overhaul.
Working class voters, feeling disconnected as they struggled to make ends meet despite economic gains at the top being touted by media and Democrats as “recovery,” made a value judgment about the party. They weighed calls for “minor tweaks” to President Barack Obama’s limited achievements against the scope of their hardship, and it contributed to the feeling that government was unresponsive to their concerns (but not to those of economic elites). These voters rejected Clintonism in favor of a man who promised the kind of change they had been waiting for for years.
Even those not necessarily in dire straits are waking up to the reality that status quo Democratic politics are untenable. There is no such thing as recovery from a loss to the least popular presidential candidate in generations—especially after purposefully stacking the deck in favor of your candidate because you “knew” she was the best option. Recognizing this, notorious Clinton attack dog David Brock penned an apology to Senator Sanders and his supporters in Medium. “Looking back, I recognize that there were a few moments when my drive to put Hillary in the White House led me to take too stiff a jab,” he wrote. “I own up to that, I regret it, and I apologize to you and your supporters for it.”
The writing is on the wall. Although the establishment has doubled down, appointing status quo Democrats to leadership positions within the party, its control will be short-lived. California represents the start of the next stage of the progressive revolution: The #DemEnter, as it has been dubbed on social media.
There have those on the left arguing that there is no hope for changing the Democratic Party. These supporters of #DemExit argue that Sanders was denied a fair primary, and thus the only solution is establishing a third party. Indeed, major party politics do inevitably involve some questionable power plays. Even in California, in Carson, establishment Democrats used the police to prevent progressive delegates from voting, and it worked—in Carson. The state as a whole, however, is evidence that with enough ground support and organization, there is nothing the old guard can do to stop the revolution. In fact, change is possible.
While California provides a roadmap for progressives in the other 49 states, Berniecrats can take the lessons and apply them federally as well. They have the momentum building for an unstoppable sweep in 2018.
If we want a new era in American politics, this is how it begins.