Can Progressives Get Large Numbers in Congress?

Patrick Kissel, Reporter

Since the run of Vermont independent senator Bernie Sanders for the democratic nomination for president in 2016, many feel his progressive ideals have been becoming more mainstream in the democratic party. In these midterm elections, new political action committees, PACs, and caucuses have been formed within the party based around the progressive proposals of Sanders and other progressive democrats, including Massachusetts democratic senator Elizabeth Warren. These organizations have run numerous candidates in the most recent election.

The potential for these candidates to win is massive. The proposals of the progressives poll extremely well in the United States, and are fairly popular across party lines. According to The Hill, a Reuters poll found that 75 percent of American support medicare for all, a single payer health care proposal introduced by the progressives. According to the poll, 85 percent of democrats want medicare for all, and a smaller majority of 52 percent of republicans are in favor of the proposal.

Another reason for a potentially massive gain in seats for the progressives is their stance on political money in politics. Justice Democrats, a caucus in the democratic party formed after the 2016 election, is a group formed mainly around getting money out of politics. The first thing you see when entering their website is the bolded words “democrats representing people, not corporations.” Despite not taking what is generally the principle source of money for most candidates, these candidates, and other progressives like them, are still outraising their opponents, and other democrats.  For example, Texas senate nominee Beto O’Rourke set the national record for the amount of money raised by a candidate for a senate election, and steamrolled his opponent republican senator Ted Cruz. Also, money in politics was a major decider for people in the 2016 election. Many of those who voted for president Donald Trump simply said they could not vote for then secretary of state Hillary Clinton simply because they saw her as the “swamp,” and as a massive part of corporate corruption.

There have already been progressive victories against corporatists during the primaries. Former New York democratic representative Joe Crowley lost his primary to now democratic congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Crowley was not unseated in the primary, and ran as a third party candidate because New York allows you to put your name on the ballot multiple times, but this victory demonstrates what could be the potential for a wave. Justice Democrats are ran 26 candidates that made it through their primaries to the general election, and many of those candidates have made it through their primaries in very red states, like democratic congressional nominee Jamie Schoolcraft, who is currently running in Missouri’s seventh congressional district. Another progressive, democratic congressional nominee Richard Ojeda in West Virginia managed to bring his election into the margin of error in a district won by Trump by more than 40 points in 2016.

Considering the large support from the American people for the policy positions of progressives, including their positions on medicare for all and corporate money in politics, coupled with evidence of early victories by progressives in their primaries, it seems likely that progressive candidates will not hold multiple seats in Congress come the next few elections.