Issue #218

Challenging Democrats from the left

Olivia Mata, left, with the Working Families Party gets a petition signed by Josephine Ferreiro in New York’s Astoria neighborhood before the 2008 elections.

Olivia Mata, left, with the Working Families Party gets a petition signed by Josephine Ferreiro in New York’s Astoria neighborhood before the 2008 elections.

Since 2010 the tea party has made considerable strides in completing an ideological purification of the Republican Party. By running challengers in party primaries against candidates they perceive as too moderate, far-right activists have helped shape the Republicans into a relatively coherent force. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is full of underrepresented constituencies who can’t agree on key progressive causes, including workers’ rights, campaign finance reform, environmental protection, and the regulation of Wall Street. If anything, the party’s tendency over the past two decades has been to drift rightward. After years of soul searching, several dissatisfied progressive groups are coming up with more creative approaches that allow them to avoid getting caught up in perpetual debates of “let’s vote for a third party” vs. “we must choose the lesser of two evils.” And they’re taking cues not from third parties, which end up being ineffective, but the tea party, which has managed to engage Republicans and disrupt the way they do business by functioning as a party within the party. Al Jazeera, 3-3-14.