By Brian Beutler
This winter, progressives and elected Democrats in states across the country found themselves blindsided by a coordinated wave of conservative legislation. The policies themselves were tailor-made to both advance right-leaning policy objectives, and undermine the electoral hopes of the Democratic Party: union-busting, voter ID laws, tort reforms.
Despite high unemployment, and a public clamoring for jobs, these political measures popped up in just about every state where the GOP took control of part or all of government after the 2010 midterm romp — the ideas themselves were drafted and circulated by a network of conservative groups, and advanced by a crop of politicians that has been nurtured by the movement for years.
Looking forward, progressives want a piece of that action.
This week, Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) and Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) launched the NewDEAL, a “national network searching the country for pro-growth progressive state and local elected leaders in order to help them share their innovative ideas to win the future,” as they put it in a co-bylined article.
In an interview, Begich explained that the goal is to fill gaps in the progressive movement that don’t exist on the right.
“The other side has been doing stuff like this for years, and I think that has been their long-term strategy,” Begich said. “We have had a void to this area.”
It’s hard to trace the different anatomies of the Democrats and Republicans and their aligned movements on the left and the right. But it’s an unmistakable phenomenon in politics that across the country conservatives speak something close to a common political language in a way liberals do not. Operatives on the right are more often believers in conservative ideas — or at least willing to fight for them — than their counterparts on the left. NewDEAL hopes to close that gap.
An early goal for the group is to swing back against the idea that conservative ideas are the only fuel for economic growth, and take back that initiative for progressives — a tall order since elected Democrats adopted the austerity line from the GOP. As a 501(c)(4) the group can do unlimited issue-area lobbying but can not participate in political campaigns.
“It’s not just about public service–some of these folks will never run for higher office, some of them will,” Begich said. “It’s really just to create a forum to highlight some political talent.”
Source: Talking Points Memo