George Goehl, The American Prospect
In many ways, the Sanders campaign signals the end of an era—the crumbling of the neoliberal consensus in electoral politics. He raised expectations by putting forward an agenda that’s based on what we need, not simply what we can win within the current political moment. It’s precisely that move that enabled Sanders to attract millions of followers and begin to reshape what’s politically possible.
Undoubtedly, the call for progressives to “be realistic” in their demands will remain for some time to come, especially as Secretary Clinton faces off against Donald Trump. Yet the failure of neoliberal policies to serve ordinary Americans and ignite imaginations shows why a bold progressive agenda isn’t just a moral imperative, but a political necessity.
The role of progressive individuals and organizations now is to outline the big campaigns we want to drive through cities and states and up into the national discourse. The issues include tuition-free college, a massive green infrastructure program, health care for all, ending mass incarceration and criminalization, and progressive taxation. Sanders supporters attended rallies, signed petitions, made phone calls, and donated money. It’s time for this movement to organize their neighborhoods around the issues that matter most to their community.
If progressives are going to go big on campaigns, we should take a page from the Tea Party’s playbook and invest down ballot. We need allies on the inside who can help us advance our agenda. Even better yet, we can work to elect members of our own movement to office—people who are deeply committed to our agenda and our values. Then we can truly play an inside-outside game—working during election cycles to put our members in office and then using these partnerships, along with direct action and community organizing, to win big at the local level. Those wins, especially when they lead us to take over a city council or state legislature, can not only add up and make millions of families’ lives tangibly better; they can change the political weather and provide models for the national level. Progressive organizations must recruit, develop, support, and elect thousands of truly progressive candidates at every level of government....