State Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George’s), a progressive leader in Maryland and incoming chairman of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, has penned a primer for newly-elected progressive lawmakers at the federal, state and local levels.
Writing last week in The Nation magazine, Pinsky proclaims that in the wake of Election Day, the U.S. is set to enter a golden era for progressive lawmaking.
“Has America’s left ever witnessed a more promising moment for electoral politics?” he writes. “Certainly not in my lifetime—and I’ve been around quite a while.”
Given his long experience as an activist dating back to his college days, along with his years as president of the teachers’ union in Prince George’s County plus his 32 years in the General Assembly, Pinsky, 68, says he understands the frustrations left-thinking lawmakers face on a daily basis.
“I’ve struggled with the tensions that inevitably confront every left lawmaker,” he writes. “How can you challenge the policy choices your own party’s legislative leaders make and then expect those leaders to support you on the local issues that deeply matter to your constituents? How do you call out your legislative colleagues who may be selling out to corporate power without getting yourself marginalized and ignored legislatively? How do you know when your compromises are helping build effective social movements and when they’re only saving face?
“I started dealing with questions like these when Ronald Reagan was still sitting in the White House. I’ve made plenty of mistakes. But I’ve learned from those mistakes, and I do believe that what I’ve learned can help ease the way to legislative—and movement-building—success for the invigorating new cohort of left lawmakers who’ll be taking office in 2019 and the years ahead.”
With that, Pinsky offers the following advice to recently-elected progressives:
- Place one foot in the legislative arena—and always keep one foot out.
- Commit to building a mass movement and link this movement to electoral efforts.
- Remain impatient, but never ignore the long game.
- Challenge racism and promote intersectionality.
- Confront corporate power.