The Pugnacious, Relentless Progressive Party That Wants to Remake America

Published on The Atlantic, by Molly Ball, Jan 16, 2016.

The Working Families Party has pushed the political debate to the left in the states where it’s already active. Now—in the era of Occupy and Bernie Sanders—it’s ready to take that fight nationwide.

At a recent private dinner in Manhattan, a small group of leftists plotted to take over America.  

The group, a dozen community organizers and activists from all over the country, had convened at a sushi restaurant in the Flatiron District with the leaders of the New York-based Working Families Party. They were heads of organizations from Boston to Albuquerque, with names like National People’s Action and Washington Community Action Network. And they were there to hear why their states should form their own chapters of the insurgent party, in order to capitalize on the country’s rising liberal tide and push the national conversation leftward … //

… We are at war. And when you’re at war, you don’t need statesmen—you need gladiators: … //
… Fiscally conservative but socially liberal, Andrew Cuomo epitomizes the sort of “corporate Democrat” the WFP despises: … //
… Until the party came along, Steven Fulop said, Chris Christie had largely succeeded in a strategy of “divide and conquer: … //
… Every good idea in American history started with a third party: … //
… Is all this enough to deserve the “Tea Party of the left” label: … //

… The local Democrats didn’t want someone like me. Listen to my voice—it’s very strong! You can’t push me around:

A few minutes later, a slender, elegant, dark-skinned woman in a black silk gown took the stage. She was Diana Richardson, a member of the New York State Assembly from Crown Heights, Brooklyn; in a May special election, she became the first-ever New York state legislator elected solely on the WFP ballot line. Her campaign hinged on railing against gentrification and the “greedy developers” leaving the neighborhood’s historic residents behind.

Speaking in a Brooklyn accent of Rosie-Perez-in-White-Men-Can’t-Jump proportions, Richardson proclaimed, “The local Democrats didn’t want someone like me. Listen to my voice—it’s very strong! You can’t push me around.” The audience laughed and cheered. “But another party did want me,” she added. “The Working Families Party.”

Richardson exuded a powerful charisma—it was clear why her constituents had seen her as a champion, even if it was also clear why she wouldn’t necessarily fit a major-party mold. If the Working Families Party gets its way, the future of the American left will look a lot less like Hillary Clinton—and a lot more like Diana Richardson.

… (full long text).


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