CT Progressive Democrat

News and Views from CT State Representative David McCluskey / Democrat - West Hartford

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Need for a new Progressive Coalition

When I first became involved in progressive/Democratic politics in the 1980s, there was a vibrant coalition of progressive organizations called LEAP - Legislative Electoral Action Program.

It began, I recall, as a reaction to the election of Ronald Reagan as President and the ascendancy of the conservative movement. For a mulititude of reasons, LEAP is no longer with us. As a result, it is much more difficult to move a progressive agenda both in elections and in the General Assembly. There are very real legal and other limitations for 501Cs like the Universal Health Care Foundation or One Connecticut to build the kind of grass roots activism statewide needed to pass difficult, broadsweeping legislation like Health Care for All.

Many of the leaders of LEAP are no longer in charge of their respective organizations - we lost Gerry Springer from the AFT CT, Jerry Brown & Merilee Milstein are no longer in charge of 1199, Phil Wheeler retired from UAW and Steve Perruccio just left CEUI. We need to think of rebuilding the progressive coalition. It may not end up being a formal organization like LEAP. Our culture, workforce, politics and technology have continued to change/evolve. We need to tap into the energy of the internet/bloggers, we need to involve the Lamont campaign volunteers.