California has become the epicenter of the newly energized progressive movement. The strong union movement in California, the activist liberal base of a revived Democratic Party with legislative supermajorities, and a vigorous and growing progressive movement are contributing to this resurgence in the state.
I attended the recent California Progressive Alliance (CPA) convention in San Luis Obispo. It was packed, with an interesting mix of old school DSA socialists and MoveOn progressives, young Green New Deal economy entrepreneurs, and a contingent of feisty third party veterans.
It was a volatile mix that was managed skillfully by the co-founder and interim chair, former Richmond Mayor and progressive icon Gayle McLaughlin. I refer to her as “the progressive whisperer,” based on her uncanny ability to get all the cats to walk in one line.
One of the few uncontested items on the conference agenda, the nomination of Gayle from interim to full chair of CPA, was uncontested and done by acclamation! Her gentle charisma infuses the organization’s attitude. If anyone could unite a group this fractious, it is she. So far, so good.
The mainstream media chose to pretty much ignore the event, of course. The truth is, we have created a robust webcast media environment that displaces the need to get our news unfiltered from the MSM.
‘The average voter may not understand how to sort out the goats from the sheep.’
The CPA conference has created a nascent big-tent umbrella for a whole array of progressive advocacy groups and a venue for political entrepreneurs who operate outside conventional politics. It is an ideologically diverse coalition, primarily issues-focused rather than electorally centered. That focus may shift, as we get closer to 2020.
I do hope that we have a CPA 2020 convocation to line up our forces to assist more good progressives to get into power roles in that election cycle. The 2020 convention, still under discussion, will see me submitting a proposal to do ballot guides and endorsements, in order to enhance our power as an organization and make a CPA endorsement a valued get for a candidate who identifies as a progressive.
The biggest unexpressed question of the event was what is the unique role of CPA that is not being filled by the many progressive groups out there. What is the CPA’s value-added proposition?
In my view, one of the most useful roles for the CPA is to vet candidates and prepare voters guides to help solve one of the most vexing political issues for voters in deep-blue coastal districts: help voters distinguish between liberals and progressives. The average voter, who is not obsessing about politics 24/7/365, is often confused by the similarity in rhetoric and may not understand how to sort out the goats from the sheep.
CPA could help by using a metric based in part on agreement with the core planks adopted by the convention in a paper ballot election, such as CA Medicare for All; CA public banking, Universal Social Housing; and criminal justice reform. I will argue for a three-part metric based on ideology, public track record, and competence/electability. Look for a Wine Country CPA ballot guide in 2020, if my plan is adopted.
The second most popular person at the CPA convention was Bernie Sanders, the frontrunner for the Democratic Party nomination. Due to us, he doesn’t have to worry about running out of money! Bernie will be in the Final Four, for sure. I’m here for the ride and loving every minute of it.
Our collective visualization is to create a historical moment. Bernie Sanders as U.S. President and Jeremy Corbin as UK PM would be a seismic shock to the global capitalist hegemony. The oligarchs in both countries want no part of that. They will pour ungodly sums of money into the political process to prevent that scenario from ever occurring. Bring it on!
Having the two major global financial centers of the English speaking world under socialist governance would grant those new governments the capacity to crush an attempted capital strike by invoking capital controls across international boundaries. Then we can begin to begin implementing the global cleanup of all the hidden stashes of trillions of dollars in untaxed revenue for the rich and for rogue global corporations.
This is money that has been stolen from the mouths of children on food stamps, school funding for millions of children, EPA Superfund toxic site cleanup, and direly needed public infrastructure projects that will create full employment. The rich will pay their fair share in a Sanders Administration.
On the local front, I helped co-organize a rally on the Plaza that was called as part of a National Day of Action by MoveOn and Progressive Democrats of America.
With no regional press and two days to organize the event on social media, Sonoma Valley residents delivered again and drew out about 100 activists. I love this town.
The main point of the demonstration was to assert that the American public has a right to see the Mueller report, which had already prepared vetted executive summaries designed for public release which Trump’s sketchy Attorney General, William Barr, has refused to release. Electoral legitimacy and the role of Congressional oversight of the executive are at stake.