The People’s Summit took place in Chicago last weekend. Predictably, the establishment media is trying to attack the conference, which brought together hundreds of progressive and activist organizations. On June 11, The New York Times published an article entitled, “Democrats in Split-Screen: The Base Wants it all, the Party wants to Win.” The article propagated the narrative that the base has been holding back the Democratic Party from winning but failed to acknowledge that the party’s strategy brought electoral loss for the last eight years.
In the second paragraph, the authors refer to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ progressive base as “the party’s ascendant militant wing.” Later in the article, his supporters are condescendingly referred to as a “youthful, often-raucous coalition.” Clearly, The New York Times isn’t happy about progressives challenging the status quo. They continue to portray progressive policies as unrealistic rather than viable options that would address the stark inequalities and injustices that plague the public.
The article is framed to suggest that progressives can’t compete in the conservative terrain that the Democratic Party needs to win to recoup their losses. To illustrate this, the article discusses the establishment backed candidate in Georgia’s special election, Jon Ossoff, as an example of what the Democratic leadership needs in a candidate moving forward. Ossoff has raised $23 million so far for his election—a record for a congressional campaign that is not realistic for other campaigns to replicate. The article also fails to provide context as to why Ossoff refuses to align himself with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is viewed by voters in both parties as a constant reminder that the Democratic Party is out of touch.
The article says that the Democratic establishment’s strategy is to “model the Democratic campaign of 2006, when the party won control of Congress in part by competing for conservative corners of the country and recruiting challengers who broke with liberal orthodoxy.” This strategy was first formulated by corrupt Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and less than half of the congressmen elected as a result of it remain in office. Shifting to the center reveals the Democratic leadership’s desire to resist policies that alienate them from their wealthy donors.
Rather than criticize Ossoff for running as a Republican-lite, embracing conservative values while affirming a stance against popular progressive policies like single payer health care, the article praises him. It cites that Sanders refuses to call Ossoff a progressive—a term the candidate doesn’t even apply to himself—as an example of the “uproar” Sanders is causing within the Democratic Party.
The article says Sanders’ movement has achieved “little success” so far, thereby ignoring its victories and failing to grasp an understanding of its aim. For example, due to progressives pushing for single payer health care, Medicare for all currently has 112 co-sponsors in the House. In a district that Trump won decisively, Berniecrat Christine Pellegrino recently won a special election in a landslide. Though two Berniecrats, Rob Quist and James Thompson, lost their congressional special elections in Kansas and Montana, they overperformed in traditionally Republican strongholds. Since Sanders’ founded Our Revolution, the victories of their endorsed candidates and initiatives have outnumbered their losses. Yet, according to The New York Times, progressives should fall in line behind the same leadership that backed Hillary Clinton, who lost to the most unpopular presidential candidate in recent history and allowed Republicans to take nearly 1,000 legislative seats around the country, including majorities in both houses of Congress.