Just before February’s Nevada caucuses, Bernie Sanders and his backers felt unbeatable.
“I’ve got news for the Democratic establishment,” Sanders tweeted on Feb. 21, just in advance of going on a major win in the Nevada caucuses. “They can’t stop us.”
However, the “establishment” beat Sanders — and, it also ended the candidacies of many progressive candidates, putting the progressive movement in a terrible position and in sorrow, according to POLITICO.
Three highly-praised progressive House candidates — Illinois’ Robert Emmons, Texas’ Jessica Cisneros and Ohio’s Morgan Harper — were defeated in their primary campaigns opposite more moderate elected officials. Today, they’re on defense as Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who is part of the four-member “squad,” is dealing with a challenging contender in Michigan. And Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who has turned late in his career into a progressive sweetheart with endorsements from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and other left-wing organizations, is routinely outpaced in polls by primary challenger Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.).
Additionally, the progressive movement has had little leverage on the bills House Democrats have introduced to deal with COVID-19, with leadership spurning its most earnest policies.
The sudden change of fortune has brought about soul-searching among many progressive advocates, who were certain just three months ago that the Democratic Party’s future was theirs.
Interviews by POLITICO with 15-plus progressive leaders — including grassroots activists, candidates down the ballot and ex-staff members for Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren — exposed a struggle regarding what went amiss and what to do in the future.
A few insisted that Sanders’ and other candidates’ losses were simply the consequence of campaign mistakes and that their policies are still well-liked. They said that left-wing folks will still overtake the party in the near future and are expecting other races down the ballot this election cycle to have significance.
However, others were less enthusiastic about the left’s years to come following their defeats this year and last federal election cycle. Many looked at left-wing candidates’ lack of success in making major forays with older black voters, the most committed demographic in the Democratic party to it. And a few stated they are worried the Democratic Party is wandering from the more class-based politics they are pushing, as national Democrats more and more go after more-affluent, more-schooled, suburban voters to compensate for defeats in rural areas.
These disagreements and internal arguments are starting to establish the development of the left after Sanders’ defeat and could be vital to determining if the dispirited, youthful left-wing folks stay committed or retreat.