Thursday, April 20, 2006

Prospect for the WFP

There's a great story about the WFP by Greg Sargent in the new issue of The American Prospect.

If you have a subscription to the Prospect, you can read it at home or here.

If you don't have subscription to the Prospect, you should, and can get one here. While that's beng processed, you can read a .PDF version of the article here.

A few highlights:
[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.


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.
And you can discuss the article right here by clicking on "comments" below.

1 comment:

irv feiner said...

the article is correct in writing that the success (such that it is) is due to the strategy that concentrates on bread and butter issues and avoids the social issues ---thus not allowing the right to dictate the term of the debate. It points to the success of the Conservative Party in becoming an important factor in Republican Party program.
What is left out of this analysis is that the Conservative Party in its begining (1954) developed its greatest influence in the metropoilitan suburbs and upstate. Its greatest influence was in Nassau County. It was able to do this because on the very l;ocal level it had articulate leaders who spoke up at local government hearing an established themselves as the champions of ordinary folks pocketbooks, low taxes. In response the liberals allowed them to win that argument because they argued the Conservatives were against education and governmental services. The liberals goofed big time. The liberal argument should have been the problem is not the amount of money we are spending on educatiopn but how we collect the money. Property taxes are not based on the ability to pay and the less money people earn the greater their percentage of income goes to paying local taxes.
Just as that should have been the argument it should be today and until the very local WFPs have a face and presence at the very local level and give answers to pocket book issues our influence will be limited. Until we are recognized as the champions of working families economic interest our influence will remain marginal.