U.S. is on a progressive course


The nation may be turning leftward.

The election of Bill de Blasio, an openly progressive politician, as mayor of New York has been the clearest signal of this much-needed shift in direction.

Leading a coalition of upscale liberals, working families and disenfranchised poor minorities, de Blasio won a mandate of progressive taxation, labor union advocacy, and scaling back the excesses of outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Wall Street-friendly neoliberalism.

De Blasio’s message of hope to the majority that has suffered under the 30-year rightward shift of American politics is reminiscent of the dawn of Barack Obama’s presidency. But while Obama was laid low by the opposition party, de Blasio does not have to contend with a hostile legislative body intent on slowing the process of government to a crawl.

The new mayor will be working with a city council that has very few Republicans and is largely controlled by members of its Progressive Caucus. The council speaker position is held by de Blasio ally Melissa Mark-Viverito, one of that caucus’s founders. Members of the council have already appeared at demonstrations to increase wages for workers, and de Blasio has plans to increase taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers to pay for universal pre-kindergarten education for the city’s children.

Another example of the left turn in American politics is Kshama Sawant, an open socialist who won a seat on Seattle’s city council in November. In her response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address, Sawant blamed the failure of Democrats to aggressively confront wealth inequality and for increasing poverty.

A central tenet of Sawant’s platform is a demand for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. The movement for such an increase has had success in several cities across the country, with workers for corporate giants like McDonald’s and Walmart leading the way.

What we are witnessing in the victories of de Blasio and Sawant and in the push for a living wage is an increasingly self-aware bloc of American voters who want to move the nation’s agenda further to the left.

The tea party had its time. Now the left is on the march.

Ed Morales is a writer for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine.

© 2014, Ed Morales

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Read more From Our Inbox stories from the Miami Herald

  • Don’t let Jeb Bush’s moderation confuse you

    Jeb Bush’s recent compassionate comments on immigration show how far apart he is from the far right of the Republican Party.

  • The vibrancy of today’s American literature

    Sales at American book stores rose a measly 1 percent in 2013, according to trade accounts. It remains unclear whether that sluggishness — sales of ebooks have also tapered off — truly represents a further chipping away of the importance of books in our culture.

  • Kansas, the KKK and hate without end

    The news that a former grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan is suspected of shooting and killing three people near Jewish community centers in Kansas seems at first glance like a disparaged past flaring briefly into the present. Americans like to imagine that the KKK belongs to a long-gone South and anti-Semitism to a distant 20th century. Sadly, this better reflects a naive faith in the nation’s history of religious tolerance than the realities experienced by many religious minorities. Although the KKK has evolved and its membership has dwindled, it remains part of an American legacy of religious intolerance.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category