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(34,147 posts)
Thu Jan 8, 2015, 02:07 PM Jan 2015

Has anyone heard of the "21st Century Dems"?

I got a call from them the other night. They claim to be a progressive movement:

About Us
Our Mission

Since 1985, the mission of 21st Century Democrats has revolved around training progressives and building a network of populist Democrats who stand up for America’s working families.

We focus particular attention on Democratic leaders who can move up to higher office at every level and who represent the tradition of Democrats like Jim Hightower, Tom Harkin, Barbara Boxer, Raul Grijalva, John Lewis, Al Gore and Paul Wellstone. We support progressive Democratic leaders who will shape the direction of the Democratic Party and enact public policy that transforms this country to a just, fair and equal society for all.

Our Vision and Values

We are committed to leading the way toward a bold and progressive agenda that will improve the quality of life for all Americans. Our goal is to elect genuinely progressive Democrats who believe government has a positive role to play in our country and will fight to enact public policy that reflects the core values of equality, opportunity, compassion, justice and fairness that 21st Century Democrats believes in, stands up for, and works toward on a daily basis.

Our Strategies
Cultivating Leadership at Every Level

We educate young people who have shown a strong interest in politics and idealism about the future in grassroots organizing and field work. We have trained thousands of high school and college students, college graduates, and party activists, placing hundreds of them in their first political jobs in support of the progressive leaders we endorse. These results speak for themselves as many alumni have gone on to manage higher profile campaigns, become leaders in the progressive community, or even get elected as officials themselves.

Their front page features Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Bill de Blasio, Al Franken, Jeff Markey, and more people I read favorable things about here.

According to Wikipedia, they were started by "Senator Tom Harkin, commentator Jim Hightower and Congressman Lane Evans to help elect "progressive" or "populist" candidates." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/21st_Century_Democrats

21st Century Democrats started out relatively small but has quietly grown in size and significance in the last few election cycles."[2] In 2004 election cycle, according to the Political Money Line, it was the 13th largest Political Action Committee (PAC) in the United States raising nearly $7 Million. Among progressive ideological PACs, it ranked fourth behind America Coming Together, EMILY's List, and MoveOn.org.

Unlike traditional PACs, 21st Century Democrats focuses on recruiting, training, and hiring field organizers to organize grassroots campaigns on behalf of candidates for local offices, statewide office, and even targeted presidential swing states.[3] The group has ties to Democracy for America, which grew out of Howard Dean's presidential campaign.

I'm curious because I like the sound of the organization but I had not heard of it until they called me asking for donations. I'd love to know more about them, especially first person experiences!
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(34,147 posts)
2. Me either - I got the web site from the caller and nicely told him I would check them out
Thu Jan 8, 2015, 02:15 PM
Jan 2015

But I am curious - I would love to think there is a strong organization that will push for more liberal/progressive Democrats. DCCC and DSCC invariably support candidates that are far more centrist than I am interested in so I will not support them.

DFA is a possibility but I haven't stayed in touch with them.


(45,251 posts)
3. A few caveats. 1985 was the year that the DLC got underway and
Thu Jan 8, 2015, 02:17 PM
Jan 2015

the DLC was primarily responsibly for bringing the word "progressive" back into common parlance. The word "progressive: means different things to different people. Liberals tend to think of it as a synonym for liberal; in the 2008 primary, Hillary, the poster child for the center right, described her policies as "progressive."

In 1985, the party had not yet formally split into New Democrats vs traditional Democrats. It was the election and re-election of Clinton that did that. In 1985, those organizing to take over the Dem Party were NOT traditional Democrats, but centrists.

Harkin, who supposedly was a founding member of this PAC, today thinks the Clintons could and should go further left, but Harkin is not on the Advisory Board at this point. One of the Clinton's biggest and most devoted fans, however, is on the advisory board now. (Carville).

In all, I would not leap to the conclusion that this group is the "left of the left." It may be; it may not be. I don't know either way. All I am saying is, squint a little before you make up your mind.

ETA: Just finished reading the wiki of Fowler, another member of the Advisory Board. He helped "reform" the process of nominating Democratic Presidential candidates, meaning allowing super delegates, not voters, to have the final say about who gets nominated. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Fowler This movement was designed to ensure that nominees were not "too liberal." Sounds like another centrist to me.

I reiterate: No matter how they describe themselves, squint before making up your mind.


(34,147 posts)
4. Thank you - some worrisome details there!
Thu Jan 8, 2015, 03:38 PM
Jan 2015

I'm not jumping on anyone's bandwagon. I'd just like to support more liberal candidates. "Progressive" seems a weasel word that pretends to be liberal without using that dreaded word.

I think I will just continue with what I have done in the past - support liberal individuals and not donate to large organizations.



(43,875 posts)
5. what are 'traditional Democrats?'
Thu Jan 8, 2015, 03:53 PM
Jan 2015

Would that be the party circa 1828-1860 that favored republicanism, slavery, a weak federal government, states' rights, agrarian interests (especially Southern planters) and strict adherence to the Constitution?

Or the Democratic party of the late 1800s like the pro-business Bourbon Democrats or the 'solid south' racist Democrats?

The Agrarian Democrats of the early 1900s that put Woodrow Wilson in power?

The FDR coalition of 1932 - 1968?

The 'New Left' influenced Democrats of the late 60s and 70s?

The 'New' Democrats of the 1980s - present?

The 'progressive' movement?

All these groups were/are distinct. Which are 'traditional?'

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