California Progressives Struggle for Power as a Divide is Created between Democrats

Written by Brock Johnson

With the California Democratic Party annual convention coming up this weekend, tensions are high due to progressive activists repeatedly getting handed the short end of the stick. 

Progressives have been very adamant about creating support for a single-payer health care bill and promised to block the California Democratic Party’s endorsement for any lawmaker who did not support the bill, which faced a legislative deadline at the end of January. 

The threat posed by the progressives was not enough to persuade wavering legislators and the bill went down without a vote. A couple of weeks later the chairperson of the party’s progressive caucus had announced that they had dropped their initiative to pull endorsements from not supporting lawmakers. The progressive activists blamed Democratic officials for obstructing them which has created a rift within the California Democratic Party. 

Amar Shergill, the progressive caucus chairperson, stated that “the party uses every advantage it has under the bylaws to ensure there is no democracy in the Democratic Party”. This has been seen as progressives have struggled over the last five years to achieve their goals such as elevating a member of their own to lead the California Democratic Party despite having two chances. 

Progressives fell short again in February when party officials adopted new restrictions against campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies, law enforcement unions, and health insurers. Activists wanted to entirely stop taking money from these organizations but the party officials could not waver too far from what has kept Democrats in power in California for so many years. 

A former chairperson of the party’s progressive caucus, Karen Bernal, commented on the growing divide within the party saying that “it’s always been a struggle between the grassroots and the legislative leadership”. The Democrats in power want to stay in power even if that means ignoring the progressives within the state.  

This growing schism within the California Democratic Party is not looking good for them as California is becoming increasingly progressive but the Democrats are not listening to the progressives within the party.

Photo Cred: Josh Edelson / AFP – Getty Images