With the creation of what it is calling a “Progressive Caucus”, the Camden County Democratic Committee is only underlining how stagnant and out of touch it is with the concerns of everyday voters. Once again the voices of those already in power are creating a table that excludes those that have been in the trenches for years, doing the work, and pushing a real progressive agenda. This caucus is an attempt to confuse voters and undermine the influence of the South Jersey Progressive Caucus, a real group of grassroots organizations who have been doing progressive advocacy for years.
A progressive movement has been building across the country, including in South Jersey and Camden County. This movement is motivated by ideals and values rather than transactional politics, which is what makes it so resilient and so powerful. And for years the CCDC has dismissed the concerns of this grassroots progressive movement while doing everything in its power to undermine its reach. There is no clearer example of this than “the line” on the ballot, which grants the Party’s preferred candidates such preferential placement on the ballot they are almost always ensured a win.
In April 2019, nearly 100 challengers got on the Democratic primary ballot ‘off the line’ to challenge the Party’s chosen primary candidates. Rather than welcoming a diversity of perspectives and a healthy interest in democracy, the CCDC launched an aggressive smear campaign against their fellow Democrats who dared to run for office. This smear campaign was full of racist and classist language, and was an ugly attempt to stifle any voices that dared to challenge CCDC’s total hegemony over Camden County politics. Those attack ads are still running, including on people not even on the ballot, creating greater voter confusion, a regular strategy of CCDC.
It is clear that the CCDC does not actually value progressive voices. It is equally clear that it is feeling threatened. Progressives activists are attempting to make inroads into influencing the party via the ballot, and voters are more educated and savvy than ever. Surely it is no coincidence that this announcement comes after a string of extremely bad press weeks for George Norcross, who is widely acknowledged to be the most powerful man in Camden County politics.
So what are the issues that progressive activists have been advocating for in Camden County, yet have hit a brick wall when it comes to getting the party’s support?
Real progressive activists support a more fair and open primary system, including the elimination of ‘the line’. CCDC doesn’t.
Real progressive activists support a millionaire’s tax so that our wealthiest citizens pay their fair share. CCDC doesn’t.
Real progressive activists oppose Steve Sweeney’s dangerous “Path to Progress” which would decimate health benefits for teachers and other public servants. CCDC supports it.
Real progressive activists know that trickle down economics don’t work, and oppose corporate welfare. CCDC supports corporate handouts like the EDA.
Real progressive activists support quality public education for all students. CCDC supports school privatization and charter schools.
Real progressive activists are committed to expanding access to state-issued identification to undocumented communities. CCDC is not.
And the list goes on and on. We will not be fooled by an entrenched and self-interested party structure trying to appropriate the mantle of ‘progressivism’ for its own ends now that it finally feels threatened and fears being held accountable.
If CCDC is truly committed to progressive politics, it will show it in its commitment to concrete actions and policies. Stealing the language that actual activists use is not going to cut it.
South Jersey Women for Progressive Change
Collingswood Progressive Democrats
Haddon Township Progressive Democrats
Cooper River Indivisible
NJ 21 United