“The Democratic Party’s message is not being heard from us. It’s being heard from others,” Kamala Harris, the attorney general of California who’s widely viewed as a rising star in the party, told me. She and many other Democrats point to the success of minimum-wage ballot initiatives in several states as proof that the same voters who chose Republican representatives actually wanted Democratic policies.
This is a selective reading of the midterm results, to say the least. But to Harris, there was no question of changing the party’s positions. “We need to stick to our values,” she said. “Some would argue that when we don’t do that, we lose.”
This refrain could be heard over and over from the progressives who spoke at the summit—from Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to climate-focused billionaire Tom Steyer. “Our agenda is America’s agenda,” Warren told the crowd. De Blasio said the Democrats who lost had failed to acknowledge and address “the inequality crisis.” The Democratic brand, he said, had lost all meaning: “We’re literally unidentifiable to the public.” he said.
Though these figures are usually characterized as the party’s leftist wing, CAP is squarely in the Democratic Party’s mainstream, with deep ties to the Obama administration and the prospective Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.