Statement by Alan Minsky, Executive Director Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), on #DontRunJoe, the midterms, and the necessity of moving the Democratic Party beyond neo-liberal politics.

At PDA, we are understandably proud that we launched and led the successful campaign to draft Bernie Sanders to run for President in 2016.

We still wholeheartedly support the policies promoted by the 2016 and 2020 Sanders campaigns and believe the nation and the world would be best served by their implementation.  As a corollary, we believe the country, and our democracy, will remain in crisis so long as neo-liberalism remains the dominant political order.  We’ve lived with forty years of neo-liberal rule and we see the catastrophic results all around us.

Given PDA’s experience with the transformational impact of the Sanders campaigns, I understand the unique power of Presidential elections to impact American politics – and hence I applaud the brave position taken by our allies at RootsAction in announcing their #DontRunJoe campaign.

In recent weeks there have been innumerable stories in the press about whether President Biden will seek re-election given his low poll numbers.  The lion’s share of these articles focused on Vice President Harris or Transportation Secretary Buttigieg as the leading alternatives with only an afterthought about progressive prospects.  This changed after RootsAction’s intervention.

Indeed, you can rest assured that if a race develops for the Democratic presidential nomination – with or without the participation of President Biden – there will be a strong progressive challenger in the field (and there are millions of us who still love the sound of President Sanders).

The #DontRunJoe campaign doesn’t officially launch until the day after the midterms and we will take the liberty of waiting until then to decide whether to sign on – even as we thank our friends at RootsAction for their initiative.

Why so?

Because for the next few months PDA will be doing everything to help the Democrats hold onto the House and gain the two seats in the US Senate necessary to pass essential legislation, regardless of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema’s obstruction.

We feel that Democrats will triumph in the midterms, if President Biden seizes the moment and promises the public that a House majority and 52 Senators will pass a whole range of progressive legislation – from codifying Roe v. Wade, to voting rights (both of which require a filibuster carve-out), to the popular proposals from the Build Back Better package that were excised from the Manchin/Schumer reconciliation bill (e.g. expanding Medicare coverage, child care, universal pre-K, et al), plus a response to inflation that helps working families, such as windfall profits tax on corporations and the development of a national industrial policy that addresses the supply chain and energy (renewables!) crises.

All of this has broad support among the majority of Democrats in Congress – but it’s incumbent upon Biden to affirm the party’s commitment to this agenda, which is popular with the public and does represent a shift away from neo-liberal orthodoxy.

In other words, we want to help President Biden and the Democratic Party over the next few months step up and do what history is asking of them – show the American people that the pathway out of the disaster of neo-liberalism is not with a reactionary right wing but with a more progressive Democratic Party.

Then, at PDA, we’ll revisit the question of the presidential election in November – and don’t be surprised when we say that we will only support primary candidates who embrace Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights.