Ben Boyce


Political resolutions for 2023

Posted on January 17, 2023 by Ben Boyce

The primary challenge of progressive politics is to demonstrate to a deeply alienated and often chronically traumatized working class that government can change their lives for the better. That was the theory of change that motivated Bernie Sanders’ epic campaigns in 2016 and 2020. The fundamental contradiction in that ‘Hail Mary’ strategy was that the 40% of the politically disengaged quadrant of the potential electorate (poor non-voters) would come out for a progressive candidate who will forthrightly deliver substantive material and financial benefits do not vote in primary elections. 

We had not really done our homework as a progressive movement, the years of patient organizing around community issues and in defense of labor rights in the workplace. 

We gave it our best shot, and we were defeated by a more powerful faction in the party. We don’t need to conjure byzantine conspiracies to at least respect the level of party discipline that Obama exerted, through proxies, in the 2020 primary. It was a spectacular display of political power. Overnight, after a Biden win in South Carolina, all the major players dropped out except Biden, the MSM got a whole new menu of talking points, and then the world ended in March of 2020, and the long Covid quarantine ended the campaign. Game Over.    

When this column launched six years ago, I was a member of Progressive Democrats for America. Its core proposition was that an insurgent progressive wing of the Democratic Party could, by sheer force of electoral success, be ceded a chair at the adult table in the party leadership. What those two heartbreaking, failed Sanders presidential campaign told the us that we, in fact, do not have a seat at the table and never will. 

That is not merely the capricious personal political reflexes of the current crop of Democratic Party leaders but is a structural feature of an avowedly capitalist political party. No kids, you can’t build your tree fort on our property. But we welcome your robust volunteer efforts and donations.

  I finally finished molting an ideological skin of visceral tribal internal identification with the Democratic Party as an institution by the end of 2022, after assimilating the hard truth that building our progressive vision would require a lot more sweat equity in terms of building healthy community-based organizations, creating a vibrant alternative media network to amplify our message, and defending the labor movement on every front. We can’t have an American Progressive Party until we have a powerful labor movement. That’s where my heart is in 2023.

The two main themes for the 2023 season of Progressive Majority Coalition came to me around the Feast of the Epiphany in the first week of January. What are the actionable political issues that would most reward collective action in this year of our Lord?

#1 Democracy defense on a national level.

One concern that unites the entire spectrum of centrists, liberals, and progressives is fear of the violent reactionary armed brownshirt element of the Republican base, as witnessed in the tragic farce of the January 6th insurrection. The MAGA Q faction has pretty openly declared that if democracy does not put them in power, then it’s not legitimate. This cannot stand.  

#2 The Newsom Care Courts initiative to end public homelessness.

My colleagues at Citizens for a Better Sonoma County are planning a public event this spring to kick off the public discussion on how the new Newsom Care Court Initiative can be implemented in Sonoma County. This is the legal tool we need. I believe that the first bold progressive politician who steps up and demonstrates how we can end chronic public homelessness in Sonoma County will be playing a winning hand.

Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA