Ady Barkan on Progressives’ Future Under Biden

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Do you have confidence that the Democratic Party under Joe Biden is movable on Medicare for all? Do you worry that the party leadership will embrace you, but reject the policies you advocate?

I definitely don’t want to be co-opted! Obviously, we can’t accomplish anything good with Republicans in control. So I see my role, and the role of the progressive movement, as trying to get more and better Democrats elected to office, and then pushing hard to get them to promote justice and equity when they get there.

I think we have seen the Democratic Party become much more progressive over the past decade, and we can keep building on that success. I am hopeful that we can leverage our power in the House to pass strong legislation, pressure the Senate to act, including by getting rid of the filibuster, and put transformative bills on President Biden’s desk.

One thing I know some progressive groups worry about is that people will go “back to normal” if President Trump is removed from office, and that the energy and money that have fueled some progressive victories in the last four years will dry up. Does that worry you?

I think that is a critical concern. But I am hopeful that the progressive movement is much more powerful and sophisticated than we were in 2009, when [former President Barack] Obama took office. We saw that without movement energy then, not nearly enough was accomplished.

Climate change, immigration reform, workers rights, gun control, even a public option health insurance. None of this happened, because of the filibuster and because the progressive movement didn’t pressure Obama to act quickly.

I don’t think that we will make the same mistake. The movement for Black lives, for example, understands very clearly that it is Democratic mayors and city councils that are funding and protecting the police state. And, everyone understands that President Biden will need to be pushed to be the transformative president America needs.

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