Jonathan H. Martin is a Professor of Sociology at Framingham State University. He is the editor of and a contributor to the book Empowering Progressive Third Parties and in the United States (Routledge 2016); author of various articles on left politics, and a longtime progressive third party activist. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.
“The Progressive Party Organizing Fund offers us a unique opportunity to channel critical resources toward the building of a greatly needed, viable party for the 99%.”
Lynette McClain is a retired educator from Front Range Community College in Longmont, Colorado. She has been a long-term progressive activist for local and national political causes and issues. She co-founded the Colorado for Bernie movement in mid-2015 and served as the Northeast Colorado Field Organizer for the Bernie Sanders campaign, in 2016.
“We need a progressive party for the majority of the US citizens who want to save our world from climate change, provide basic human rights for all, and are seeking truth and justice in government.”
In recent years, American society has become ripe for the creation of a competitive Progressive Party. Generally most people have favored progressive policies for decades, but since 2013, as discontent with the two major parties has grown, a clear majority has also come to support the creation of a third major party. And since the Democratic Party’s suppression of the Sanders presidential campaign in 2016 and in 2020, many more progressive activists and voters have become primed to consider third party alternatives.
Yet efforts to build a viable progressive party nationally haven’t taken off, in large part because they’ve lacked a credible strategy for gaining power or competent organization. They’ve either focused on accumulating endorsements and avoided participating in elections; routinely promoted weak candidates in unwinnable races; or accepted working primarily within the corporate-dominated Democratic Party. Moreover, the novice leaders of some progressive party-building groups have often lacked the professional skills and style essential for creating a stable and well-functioning operation. In sum, a striking gap has developed between the growing potential for a competitive progressive party and various failed, stalled or doomed attempts to build it.
Acutely aware of the problems above, several longtime progressive and third party activists from across the country began working together in 2018 to create a more solid foundation for a new Progressive Party. To begin with, they communicated with various sympathetic state and local groups. But it soon became clear that a major obstacle to recruiting and empowering these groups was a lack of resources to help them attract and create strong Progressive leaders and candidates. Consequently in 2019 the Progressive Party Organizing Fund was established.