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House Progressives and #Forcethevote: A New Way in American Politics, Part One

Recently, comedian Jimmy Dore, formerly of The Young Turks, has generated waves in Progressive politics. Many Progressives have much to say on the problems in America (diagnosis) but are light on solutions (cure). On the contrary, Jimmy actually has a solution to the healthcare crisis. His approach is well thought out and works on both the strategic and tactical planes. In the first part of this piece, I want to discuss what Jimmy has in mind. Then, in another piece, I want to follow up with what I consider useful historical precedent and context for such an approach to politics

The Approach, Part One: A Vote for a Vote, Madame Speaker

Jimmy’s approach focuses on the fact that the Democrats, through their unique brand of corrupt corporate crapness, actually lost seats in the recent congressional elections. They still hold the majority (just), but the margin is slim. The Progressives, which include AOC, Ro Khanna, Rashida Talib, Cori Bush among others, obviously form part of that majority. In Jimmy’s formulation, the slimness of the Democrats’ majority combined with the number of true Progressives in the House gives the Progressives leverage.

He would have them withhold their vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker until she agrees in some tangible way to bring Medicare4All to a vote in the House. Their numbers are sufficient to deny Mrs Pelosi the Speakership. This is the power that the Progressives have. They have sufficient numbers to cause serious problems for leadership. In addition, it need not stop with a vote on Medicare4All: legislation also requires a majority. Something to contemplate.

This is brilliant, but it will require political courage, something the aforementioned Progressives have not been willing to show. The choice is yours, Mrs. Pelosi. 90% of Democratic voters want Medicare4All as policy. You claim to represent the people, so represent them.

The Approach, Part Two: It Works on So Many Levels!

If Mrs. Pelosi brings the issue up for a vote and it passes, fantastic. This represents a tactical victory. I say this will full knowledge that it will die in the Senate. Why pass something if you know it will die in the Senate, you may ask. 69% of Americans want this as policy. If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell kills this bill, fine. This provides campaign fodder for the next election. Something along the lines of ‘Mitch McConnell went against something nearly 7 out of 10 Americans want. Vote him out’. As an aside, any corporatist who opposes this based on its death in the Senate but voted for articles of impeachment is free to leave the room and not return.

If the bill actually comes up for a vote in the Senate and it dies, this campaign ad naturally extends to all Senators who vote against it. In other words, and I use this formulation often, but in reference to the popularity of Medicare4All, you take that fact and you break them with it! America is supposed to be a representative democracy: in this formulation lies great power if you are willing to use it. Jimmy has tapped into this.

But what happens if it dies in the House? So much the better there, too. The exact same data that I just placed in a campaign ad against Senate Republicans is transplanted into ads against every single House incumbent who voted against Medicare4All.

Conclusion: Gotcha Comin’ and Goin’

So, if the bill dies in the House or in the Senate, the Progressives have a considerably large stick with which to beat the corporatists of both parties at the next election. Strategically, this is brilliant. If Progressives actually have the courage to take their activism into the real world, there is a golden opportunity here.

To recap: Pelosi blocks the bill and the Progressives stick to their guns, she loses her Speakership. She lets it come to a vote and it dies, this exposes the corporatist wing of the party. It comes to a vote, it passes but dies in the Senate, the corporatists there are exposed. It passes both Houses of Congress, Joe Biden has already said he will veto it. Biden and the entire political establishment of both parties would thereby be exposed as the corrupt tools of oligarchy we have long suspected they were.

This is a fantastic plan and all it takes is the political courage to carry it out. In the next post I will delve into the so-called Freedom Caucus, a hyper-conservative subgroup within the Republican majority in the House during the Speakerships of John Boehner and Paul Ryan. This group, for all their political flaws, establish useful precedent for what the Progressives can do if they use their political leverage.

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  1. Andrew J. Smith

    Interesting, I converse often with an American friend who is both politically and internationally aware, he is of the centre left, but quite critical and does not vote :(.

    Issue he has with the (ideological) left in the US is that first they turn on their own very quickly (while ignoring the radical right machinations), no understanding of real politik, IMO too many do not vote (why some in Oz want to make voting voluntary) and do not realise the real and upcoming battles will be intergenerational, not left vs. right (especially when corporate entities are showered with state subsidies, benefit from Keynesian policies due to Covid etc.).

    Many of the left and progressives are younger, urban and now outnumbered by e.g. above media age voter and/or regional; many of these older voters used to be of the left or at least Democrat….. (similar in Oz and UK, plus ideological left joining the circle with the radical right on socio cutlural issues e.g. Brexit).

    Solution, who knows? However, I suspect the Freedom Caucus would be more than happy with any disruption in the Democratic Party?

  2. wam

    Assuming your figures are correct this presents a great image? Americans experiencing a third ‘party’ with a type of balance?
    Biden is a supporter of clayton’s medicare for those who want it ie no change
    “In the Marist poll, 90 percent of Democrats thought a plan that provided for a public option was a good idea, as compared to 64 percent who supported a Sanders-style Medicare for All plan that would replace private health insurance”(nate siver)
    Rather than M4ALL the republicans will vote for pelosi.

  3. darrel nay


  4. Harry Lime

    If anyone didn’t already know, America,the latter day Roman Empire is fucked,rotting from within,who would have guessed?
    And we ain’t far behind.

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