By Contributor on February 05, 2014

By Ed Morales

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 DeBlasio 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 contributor to The New York Times and Newsday and is the author of "Living in Spanglish." He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

Copyright Ed Morales.

Photo: "Businesswoman opening shirt like a superhero," via Shutterstock.

Section: 

Topics: 

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

More

Subscribe to The Progressive and Get A Free 2015 Calendar

President Obama's executive order protects people like my grandmother.

How do progressives regroup after the Republican victories of 2014? It starts at the very local level, says Scott...

Dubbed “Ferguson to Madison,” the rally drew striking social parallels between the two cities.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project

Newsletter