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[The] Working Families Party (WFP), based in New York, has become that rare thing in American politics: a progressive success story. It has built itself into a powerhouse on its home turf, and, though you’ve probably never heard of it if you live outside the state, you may be hearing more about it soon, because it’s now on the cusp of going national -- and in time may even prove to have an impact on national politics.And you can discuss the article right here by clicking on "comments" below.
The WFP’s focus on Democrats has enabled it to accumulate surprising influence over Democratic officials, yanking them left on economic issues like the minimum wage, which the party was instrumental in helping to raise in New York State, in exchange for its support. Indeed, at a time when Democrats nationally have muted their economically populist rhetoric, the WFP has unfurled a banner of unabashed economic populism. It has managed to get working people of all ideological stripes in New York to listen to its bread-and-butter platform of higher wages, expanded public investment in health care and education, and opposition to shipping jobs overseas.
Cantor insists that his party has unlocked the code that will crack what he calls the Democrats’ "What’s the Matter with Kansas" problem -- the recent failure of Democrats to get blue-collar whites to focus on economic issues rather than cultural politics. This is possible, Cantor argues, because minor parties aren’t under the same pressure as major ones are to talk about their positions on all issues including hot-button cultural ones. The WFP avoids these issues by and large, and therefore doesn’t have the cultural baggage that the Democratic Party does. The WFP’s freedom to speak single-mindedly about “kitchen table” issues, Cantor claims, allows it to make a strong case to Republican-trending voters who can vote their economic interest -- that is, for the Democrat on the WFP line -- without endorsing the Democratic positions that repel them.