There Is a Progressive Alternative for NY Voters

The Working Families Party – How you can get involved in New York State’s liveliest progressive political force.

Linked with Working Families WF / Working Families Party WFP (see on Nov. 4, 2010). – Published on AlterNet, by Katrina vanden Heuvel, November 1, 2010.

Since its founding in 1998, the Working Families Party WFP has emerged as New York State’s liveliest progressive political force. It has helped Democrats take back both the US Congress and the State Senate by bringing disaffected Democrats, union members and independents into a coalition with insurgent Democratic candidates.

In 2009, a WFP-backed slate of unusually good progressive candidates for New York City Council, Comptroller and Public Advocate (Nation contributor Bill De Blasio) all won in a landslide. And this September, the party helped defeat notorious state senator Pedro Espada, who had held Albany hostage by threatening to become a Republican and almost single-handedly blocked tenants’ rights legislation from coming to the floor.

Most importantly, the WFP has maintained a laser-like focus on advancing a policy agenda informed by a commitment to fairness, democracy and equality. Victories at the ballot box have translated into victories in the legislature. The WFP has been instrumental in raising New York’s minimum wage, reforming the draconian Rockefeller drug laws, passing one of the most ambitious state-wide Green Jobs programs in the nation, raising taxes on the wealthy instead of cutting schools and healthcare for the poor and holding moderate Democrats’ feet to the fire to make sure health care reform did not fall apart this past spring … //

… As WFP executive director Dan Cantor told New York Magazine, “We’re looking to get a good vote on the Working Families line and use the power that accrues to that vote to influence outcomes.”

The party’s continued success is a marker for facets of progressive politics that I care deeply about: the importance of being principled and pragmatic—striking a balance between a transformative politics aimed at a fundamentally different, humane and sustainable society, and the compromises often necessary to address people’s immediate needs and begin moving towards bolder reforms.

But there’s also a potent sense that through the WFP working people can indeed stand together against corporate and big-monied forces in order to claim some justice and security. A very savvy, spunky organizing and electoral strategy has paid off in building power for people who are neither well-heeled nor well-connected. (full text).

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