National: 8 Up and Coming Progressives You Should Follow by Larry Sawyer



If you’re thinking, “I could do a better job than these politicians”! You’re not alone.


One question being asked right now in the wake of Trump’s election is: “Where are the next generation of progressive politicians to counter this crazy”?


Well, there are, indeed, a few worthy of your time and attention.


First, let me say I will not be mentioning Corey Booker. It’s now been widely reported that he received piles of campaign contributions from Jared Kushner’s family,* so when asked if Jared Kushner’s security clearance should be revoked, Corey Booker says no. Even after it has come to light that Kushner requested a back-channel line to speak with Russia directly so the U.S. Congress, the American people, and the CIA couldn’t hear. It’s safe to say Corey Booker won’t have any of your interests at heart.


I will also not be mentioning Tulsi Gabbard. Her actions are mixed. Notable: She did personally protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, a progressive cause. According to Jacobin magazine, as early as 2012, Gabbard called for restoring Glass-Steagall and she opposed any cuts to Medicare or Social Security. She has an obsession with what she calls “radical Islam,” however, that has earned praise from what most thought were unlikely quarters—including White House ghoul Steve Bannon. She has also praised far-right Indian leader Narendra Modi. Her father, Mike Gabbard is a former state senator and a high-profile anti-gay activist who led an entire campaign against gay marriage. She has railed against “homosexual extremists” saying that Democrats should rather be supporting people. Her drone-heavy foreign policy stance received praise from the conservative National Review. Her visit to speak with Assad of Syria showed the kind of bad judgment that borders on ignorance.


I will mention:


  • Stacey Abrams, the Democratic minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, who received her J.D. from Yale. Abrams has filed to run for governor of Georgia in 2018. She is one of six children born to Reverend Carolyn and the Reverend Robert Abrams originally of Mississippi. All say she shows great political promise and wisdom.


  • Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, a former Rhodes Scholar who said that the Democratic Party needs to strengthen its ties with millennials. Buttigieg, who has served in the military, uses the phrase “public service” and he stated that he supports the walkout on Mike Pence by Notre Dame students. Buttigieg is articulate and principled and has shown he can certainly hold his own onstage in a debate.


  • Julián Castro, former United States secretary of housing and urban development. Castro says he won’t be running in 2018 and that he will devote his time to his memoir but he seems to like mixing it up with Trump on Twitter, routinely calling him out. From his base in San Antonio he recently lambasted state Republicans over a new law, known as SB4, that gives law enforcement new powers to question people’s presence in the United States.


  • Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles. Another Rhodes scholar, Garcetti has defended Los Angeles by saying the city will not only provide sanctuary but will defend its immigrants. He seems to realize that immigration reform has a long way to go but he seems to be more than ready for that fight. Garcetti is Eastern European Jewish on his mother’s side, Italian and Mexican on his father’s. His wife, Amy Wakeland, is also a behind-the-scenes political force. Garcetti is able to bridge divides in politics.


  • Hakeem Jeffries, United States representative for New York. From Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Jeffries has attended Binghamton University and N.Y.U., and Georgetown. He’s strong on defense, which is sometimes viewed as lacking in progressive candidates, and has professed measured criticism but also admiration of Israel’s strength. He’s publicly called on the New York City Police Department to reform its arrest policies. He led a call in the House for the prohibition of the display of the Confederate flag on U.S. Park Service lands. He was urged to run against de Blasio in the 2017 Democratic primary for Mayor, but declined saying he’d do more good in Congress for now.


  • Joseph P. Kennedy III, United States representative for Massachusetts. He sits on the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. In a 2012 campaign video he stated “I believe this country was founded on a simple idea: that every person deserves to be treated fairly, by each other and by their government”. Kennedy met his wife in a Harvard Law class taught by Elizabeth Warren. He’s fought long battles with Republicans over unfair bills and is unapologetically outspoken—hitting all the right notes in his impassioned defenses of common sense and equality. Kennedy is the grandson of former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. “Bobby” Kennedy and he’s doing much more than merely coasting on his famous surname.


  • Michelle Wu, President of the Boston City Council, whose professor at Harvard Law was Elizabeth Warren. “First elected to the Boston City Council in November 2013 at the age of 28, Wu is the first Asian-American woman to serve on the Council. In January 2016, she was elected President of the City Council by her colleagues in a unanimous vote, becoming the first woman of color to serve as Council President.”** In 2016, Councilor Wu was honored as one of Ten Outstanding Young Leaders by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in America.*** Wu graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. She is fluent in Mandarin and Spanish.


Last but not least, YOU are the future progressive America needs.

The hard-working progressives mentioned above cannot do it without you. Use social media to follow local politicians on Facebook and Twitter. Get involved in online discussions about local issues. Get in the habit of reading at least 3 or 4 political websites daily. Find out when your local alderman hosts public events. Participate and make yourself heard. The time is now!



*Ring of Fire, May 30, 2017.


***Marie Claire, October 13, 2016.




Larry Sawyer bio:   Larry Sawyer is a poet and editor living in Chicago. He is the co-director of the Chicago School of Poetics and curates the Myopic Books Poetry Series.


  1. Here is a pretty good rebuttal to the \”Tulsi is an Islamophobe\” narrative:

    Jacobin usually is right on, unfortunately they published an author\’s smear job on Tulsi that was way off.

    Visiting Syria is not \”bad judgment.\” Imagine thinking that diplomacy and acquiring first hand accounts is \”bad judgment.\” Pure propaganda. What\’s bad judgement is the unquestioned warmongering imperialist hegemony in the rest of the democratic party.

    Tulsi\’s former conservative views were a result of the values she was given as a child. It is admirable of her, then, that she came around and changed many of her views. She genuinely supports LGBTQ rights. She talks all the time about ending discrimination.

    As many know, Gabbard spoke out for Bernie Sanders in the primaries when few others would. She stepped down from the DNC vice chair position, saying that the stakes were too high not to do so. She supports the social democratic platform of Bernie Sanders, including living wage, universal healthcare, ending citizen\’s united, breaking up the big banks, and so on. That she had different views in the past is not so relevant if she has changed those views.

    Expect to see much more of Tulsi Gabbard making good decisions at the right time, in the future. She is a true progressive trying to break out the pathetic boundaries of the modern corporate democratic party. Her views will continue to evolve as well, she\’s still young, about half Bernie\’s age.

  2. Booker was off the list long before the Kushner news. He is so dependent on pharma contributions that he opposed Sanders’ bill for allowing prescription imports from Canada.

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