Why Liberal/Progressive Politicians Don’t Deliver




When St. Paul elected their first all female and nearly all women of color City Council last year, there were high hopes this would deliver progressive change at the City Council level. On Wednesday, February 21 those hopes took a heavy blow. Council President Mitra Jalali, widely known as a progressive, refused to bring forth a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying that the Council had no business passing resolutions about foreign affairs.

This echoed what conservative members of the Minneapolis City Council had raised earlier this month during a similar debate around the ceasefire issue. Ultimately, the Minneapolis City Council overrode a mayoral veto and passed a good resolution due in large part to the leadership of our TCDSA electeds.

One has to ask why Jalali who had talked about a Free Palestine during her swearing in ceremony in January would now flip and lead nearly the entire Council (including one of two TCDSA electeds) in the opposite direction. Here’s what we do know. When TCDSA issued a statement against Israeli genocide in October, Minnesota DFL State Chairperson, Ken Martin came after us with a double barreled shot gun, accusing us of supporting terrorism and murder to try to isolate progressives and socialists that operate in that ecosystem.

We also know that the DFL receives large amounts of donor money from corporations that SEIU Local 26 has deemed the Dirty Dozen: Cargill, US Bank, Target, Wells Fargo, Best Buy, as well as wealthy individuals. These people and corporations have a decidedly anti-worker, pro-imperialist outlook. And their campaign and party donations afford donors special access to DFL party officials and to politicians from liberal to conservative. In this way they protect their financial and political interests. It is this fact that makes the DFL and the Democratic Party nationally a ruling class party.

It is certainly speculation, but borne out by decades of experience, to draw a line from the Dirty Dozen to the DFL to Mitra Jalali to a decision not to take a vote on a Gaza ceasefire. It’s a transmission belt the rich have perfected.

Speaking from personal experience gained during the Fight For 15 in Minneapolis and then St. Paul, we know the Dirty Dozen (and the restaurant association, Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Council) and lobbyists from the ruling class had a huge impact on liberals like former Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, and Council Members Lisa Bender and Alondra Cano. They wavered repeatedly and held up passage of a $15/hour minimum wage for over two years.

What caused them to finally cave were repeated worker actions, a mass movement: rallies, pickets, demonstrations and disruption of politics as usual. It’s the only thing we really have – working class “people power” and the ability to threaten politicians’ reelection prospects if they don’t do what we want. Without this, politicians who say they are our friends will betray us because they will bow to the pressure of the billionaire class.

One final note: Ward 6 TCDSA-endorsed Council member Nelsie Yang stood strong during this entire process.

By Kip H.