The US Congress has historically been defined by a seniority system that has too frequently rewarded members for the length of their tenures rather than the strength of their ideas. But that’s changing, as young progressives are getting elected to the House and demanding to be heard. The change is occurring at least in part because progressives like Mark Pocan and Pramila Jayapal have joined new members in forcing it.
They have made the Congressional Progressive Caucus a force for opening up the process and getting newly elected members on key committees and in the thick of essential debates.
Representative Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat elected to the House in 2012, co-chairs the caucus, and he is our guest this week on Next Left. A gay man who traveled to Canada to get married before the laws changed in the United States, a trade unionist with deep skills as an organizer and activist, and an ardent advocate for altering US foreign policies to place an emphasis on diplomacy rather than war making, he has with CPC co-chair Jayapal (a Washington Democrat elected in 2016), made the caucus a place where the next wave of progressives are being welcomed and given leadership roles from the start. New members such as Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Deb Haaland, and Katie Porter all hold key positions associated with the caucus.
Pocan works with them, as he does with veteran progressives such as Barbara Lee, to advance an economic and social and racial justice agenda that demands an end to needless wars and a Green New Deal to save the planet. He’s an advocate for abolishing ICE, a champion of Middle East peace—and a magician.
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