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Michael Kennedy: How Class, Community, and Ideology Matter in Rhode Island’s First Congressional District 2023 Democratic Primary
"When one reads the news or listens to pundits, the story about the Democratic Party Primary to run for Rhode Island’s Congressional District 1 seat seems to revolve around endorsements and money..."
It’s not just a matter of who is winning in a primary. It’s also about the solidarity we need to realize to confront the existential challenges we face in our state, in our nation, and our world.
When one reads the news or listens to pundits, the story about the Democratic Party Primary to run for Rhode Island’s Congressional District 1 seat seems to revolve around endorsements and money for campaigns, followed by scandals of various sorts. There have been some more valiant efforts lately to figure out where candidates stand on issues in the belief that voters will cast their ballots for those who share their opinions on gun legislation, on the balance between environmental protections and investments in renewable energy, whose student debt we ought to forgive, or how we should be approaching China as a global rival or ultimate enemy. But much of the debate seems to be about communities of various sorts. Ideology tends to lead.
I was tempted to use those more detailed responses to major issues as indicators of broad political positions. In my tweets around those stories and the debates I attended and analyzed, I divided candidates into those more Republican than Democrat (Stephen Casey and Alan Waters), Moderates (Sabina Matos, Don Carlson, and Gabe Amo), Progressives (Sandra Cano, John Goncalves, Ana Quezada, and Aaron Regunberg), and those difficult to place given their particular claims to distinction (Stephanie Beauté and Walter Berbrick). In some cases, this is simple self-identification or identification with others who have clear ideological stances. But in other cases, it’s a matter of tone, or a particular statement intended to signal a political style. I begin with a rough guide of who is where and why and follow that with how race, gender, class, political action committees, scandals, and survivors matter for our political community and our common future.
Casey and Waters are depending on conservative associations to get their votes – Casey’s (former?) position on abortion is one example and Waters’ refusal to debate in a setting moderated by a trans-woman is another. Indeed, some have even suggested that there could be sufficient cross-over voting from Republicans to tip the election toward a Republican in Democrat’s clothing. That could be the biggest shocker in this election; it would upset the political system in profound ways. Most folks don’t think this is possible. I hope they are right and have good data to be so confident. If that happens, however, that winner will not win next year’s election given how blue Rhode Island is.
Progressives are the most attuned to ideological distinction. Regunberg has marked his candidacy with the label; he relies on Bernie Sanders’ endorsement especially to secure the claim. Those practices could drive several voters with that national orientation to Regunberg’s camp, but others are vying for that progressive label with their endorsements.
On that score, Sandra Cano is winning the local progressive endorsement race. Although Regunberg gained a great deal when Tiara Mack endorsed him, Cano has won over many others across the state, including Sam Bell, Rebecca Kislak, and others. Ana Quezada is also getting much progressive association with her name, in part through her rhetorical power; she is “a fighter”, a view reinforced by one of her endorsers, State Representative Enrique Sanchez. Her emphasis on those most marginalized and her biographical familiarity with those who suffer most in our system suggest a progressive community if, that is, identification with the oppressed is a sign of being on the left. Goncalves has also tried to stake out the progressive terrain concerning his campaign’s funding coming from within the district alongside his family origins.
When we think “progressive” we generally focus on those who stand with those least privileged in a system and working to change that system for the better. It gets muddier when we think about what enables that kind of positioning. Is it signaled with policies and practices? Or is it signaled with the communities to which one belongs? And does it matter which communities into which one is born, in which schools one is educated, into which families one marries? If we would create a gradient among the progressive candidates according to community identification, we would probably move from Quezada to Cano to Goncalves to Regunberg. More on that later, for it gets even more complicated when one adds race and gender to the question of just how progressive candidates are.
In the beginning of the electoral contest, there were occasional gestures to the fact that only white people had been sent to DC to represent Rhode Island. I introduced #4RIWhiteMenInDC. Now, however, it is a major emphasis. But even the whiteness of this race is complicated.
On the one hand, it’s hard to be a Democrat today and say that race does not matter. Colorblindness is itself a form of racism. But each white candidate must take a colorblind position implicitly if they are to seek the nomination in a race where there are many qualified candidates of color. They can’t say it explicitly, however, for that would lead to real scandal. It’s easier to indict rivals with questions that are not about race, even if those charges are implicated in racialized stories.
Take note, for example, about how hard it is to say whether the treatment of Matos and the “signature scandal” is affected by the fact that she is an Afro-Latina. Note how “controversial” it got when the first Dominican American member of the United States Congress, Adriano Espaillat, suggested just that shade and Matos struggled to talk her way out of it.
It’s also hard to be a good Democrat and not be well-versed in the articulations of oppression. During the debate hosted by the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, Regunberg had the most experience in the room talking about how anti-Semitism and other forms of hate connect. Some candidates, with less such experience, could talk about how they also know racialized oppression given their biographies or significant relationships, and/or how anti-Semitism relates to this. Perhaps it is not surprising that there was little emphasis on the fate of Palestinians in that debate, but that omission was itself noted by members of the Jewish community. Any community’s members don’t agree on everything, even if those who might belong to a community know the connotations of various terms and emphases. But some communities’ terms get more play than others. This was quite evident in the Newsmakers interview with Ana Quezada.
Ted Nesi and Tim White seem to know who the frontrunners are even though we have no public opinion data on the actual distributions of voting intentions. Perhaps they use the number of dollars designated to support particular campaigns or the status and number of endorsements. They also are inclined to see Matos, Cano, and Quezada as three women coming from a single community; at least that is how I read their question as to whether two of them might not drop out of the race and endorse the third. I suspect they did not imagine Quezada to be ready to endorse her common progressive Regunberg nor her moderate competitors Gabe Amo or Don Carlson. Her reply was sharp even if polite; the Latinx community is itself diverse with different ideologies and identities. Would they be asking Carlson or Regunberg to endorse the other just because they are both white men?
Quezada called out the whiteness of this debate magnificently at that moment. But she had to do it politely. Campaign aides and candidates themselves have told me that one must be careful around reporters and pundits given their power in shaping the perceptions, by, for instance, declaring who is a frontrunner and who is not. While some journalists have been quite deliberate about interviewing most if not all of the candidates (Steve Ahlquist and Ian Donnis lead here), others interviewed those they perceived to be leaders earlier in the season, giving them name recognition advantage. Quezada, for instance, was quite late in the Newsmakers cycle, alongside Casey and a week before Goncalves and Berbrick. Beauté has still not been invited, but she has been interviewed for five minutes on another program.
It is hard for me to understand how Beauté has not had more press time. She does not have the dollars or endorsements other candidates have enjoyed, but she has contributed more thoughtfully to debates than perhaps any other candidate. In the Projo/Publics Radio debate on 8/22, for example, I thought a question about the size of the defense budget and defending Electric Boat jobs was a throwaway, with everyone saying we need to defend Rhode Island’s economy with different justifications for why submarines are important to our defense. But Beauté replied in unconventional terms; she rearticulated the question by introducing an if/then style. If she could redirect defense department resources to climate security or cyber security, and create more jobs, then yes she would sacrifice Electric Boat jobs. And that was just one example of her intellectual agility. But it seems, alas, few in the pundit community see her as worthy of their time, or even their conversation. Perhaps it is because she does not have an obvious community behind her.
The Latinx community has realized over these last decades a far greater solidarity than it once enjoyed before this century. However, there are still meaningful divisions and contests; who, for example, would Adriano Espaillat, the first Dominican-American congressman from New York, endorse? It was between Quezada and Matos. Why he chose Matos we don’t know explicitly, except for the fact that she is the only candidate in this race with a state-wide political position. Note, that Espaillat did not consider Cano in that choice. And by the way, there are no Latinx men in this race.
How does gender figure into this contest?
One of the starkest feminist statements in this campaign came in the form of an endorsement from Gayle Goldin, the former State Senator from the east side of Providence, tweeting on behalf of Cano. She wrote, “Most of all for me, I know the political systems in this country protect the patriarchy. It is the courageous who can change that. And I have seen Sandra’s courage up front and center. I have seen her challenge the status quo.” But Cano does not seek to claim the feminist mantle in ways that, for example, Regunberg claims the progressive. Why?
There is more than one progressive in the race just as there is more than one feminist. After all, Matos won the endorsement of Her Bold Move PAC (supporting women running for office), Higher Heights for America PAC (supporting Black women running for office), and Emily’s List. When Matos’s prospects were being doubted in July’s end with her signature scandal, Suzanne Ellis Wernevi replied to Projo journalist Kathy Gregg’s question about who would benefit if Matos were to drop out of the race: “Both (Quezada and Cano) are progressive women of color with legislative track records and the respect of their colleagues and constituents. But, they are not as well funded as the male candidates, and could benefit most significantly if outside groups invested in the race.”
There are certainly several candidates who could claim the feminist community as their base, with particular commitments as evidence. All the Democratic candidates support reproductive rights, and some have particular claims to distinction in articulating women’s rights. Quezada, for example, will mention her sponsorship in the Senate (alongside Marcia Ranglin-Vassell in the House) of the bill assuring doula services coverage in private insurance.
If we were to look at the distribution of Rhode Island endorsers, however, it appears that Cano carries the greatest feminist support beyond Goldin, with Meghan Kallman, Edith Ajello, Karen Alzate, Rebecca Kislak, and Melissa Murray among other feminists. She also enjoys support from many in the northern parts of Rhode Island, most notably from the mayors of Pawtucket and North Providence as well as Rhode Island Senate President Dominick Ruggerio. But it was that last endorsement that led Quezada to elaborate her distinction from Cano. In the debate sponsored by the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, Quezada declared herself a fighter who does not compromise her principles in search of endorsements, here referencing Ruggerio’s support for Cano.
There are many kinds of feminism of course, some more progressive than others. When we think of progressives in the United States context we typically think of, beyond Bernie Sanders, those associated with the “Squad” in Congress – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, Greg Casar, and Summer Lee – where feminism, identification with racialized communities and clear association with working-class struggles easily go together. The terms of Rhode Island feminist identifications don’t appear to discriminate between progressive and moderate associations, especially with Matos’s lead in the feminist PAC world and her association with PACs defined with euphemistic moderate labels like New Democrats. But that invites another question: How does class figure in this moderate vs. progressive distinction?
At the start of the contest, only one person was readily identified with a lifestyle well above the middle class. Not only did Carlson live in one of the richest communities of Rhode Island – Jamestown – but he also contributed $600K of his own money to his campaign. As wealthy people can say, this can be an advantage; in the Projo/Publics Radio debate, Carlson declared in the end that he was not beholden to any interest groups. More than that, he has his real Rhode Island roots.
Rhode Island has a certain pride rooted in its distinction. Old Rhode Island also has a discourse about who is “really” a Rhode Islander – how many generations do you need to be from a place to be counted as a local? I was on Block Island this summer speaking with an elder who told me that, beyond being born on the island, ancestral ties to the original 16 settler families (who of course were part of the broader dispossession of the island from the Manissean Tribe) were something of a prerequisite to being really local.
There’s also a certain ambiguity when one speaks of being “from the community.” In the BLM RI PAC & RIBBA debate, Carlson took some umbrage at the implication that his wealth, Jamestown residence, and Yale University affiliation set him apart from Rhode Island. He has identified with this political unit his whole life, he declared, even when he was living in DC working for congressmen from neighboring Connecticut.
When Quezada says “the community,” however, she is not referencing the whole of Rhode Island; at least she is defining Rhode Island with the Latinx community at its heart. Carlson of course could never mean the white community when he thinks of Rhode Island’s ethnic or racialized heart. And when he speaks of his humble origins on Providence’s Seventh Street, he is certainly, with that reminder, suggesting that he is after all a real Rhode Islander and once not so wealthy. He knows what it is like to work his way up. So does Quezada.
Quezada’s website puts her class trajectory front and center, identifying clearly with America’s idealized self-understanding of “the American dream” while at the same time declaring that she knows the struggles of “generations of immigrants.” Here’s her most powerful tagline: “She went from the factory floor to the Senate floor because of her determination, values, and her community.”
Quezada can signal her class identifications powerfully: in her concluding remarks in the debate sponsored by the Black Lives Matter Rhode Island PAC and the Rhode Island Black Business Association, she engaged the community with questions rather than talking to the audience with bullet points. She said,
I'm going to ask a couple of questions and please, if you feel comfortable raising your hands, do it. How many in this room lost a loved one to gun violence? How many in this room have been on welfare? How many in this room lose their home because of non-payment? How many in this room have gone hungry because sometimes they didn't have enough to give food to their children? Then I'm going to say one thing to you: You need to send somebody to Congress who understands the issue that we are talking about today. I'm running for Congress because we need to send somebody who is going to represent you, who knows what it is to be in your shoes, who is a working family, who went from the welfare office to state office, and who knows what we go through every single day. It is time for Rhode Island to send a woman of color to Congress, and that person is me. I will fight for you. I will do everything, when I get to Congress, to represent you. I'm tired of people coming to our community when they need our vote, but then you don't see them again. I'm tired of people coming to use us when they need us, but then, when they have to respond to our needs, they're not there and nowhere to be found. How many of you have a family member who can give you $125,000 to send you to Congress? How many of you can take $400,000 from your account to run for office? That's why, on September 6th, you have to vote for Senator Quesada for Congress.
In this declaration of identification, she was also prompting a debate around class. Quezada had previously shared her tax returns with the public, and she challenged those running against her to do the same. She was not challenging Carlson here; folks may not know his real wealth but folks know he’s not posing as a man of the people. More generally, “moderates” or those who rely on their expertise more than their daily lived experience to promote their campaign, like Carlson, don’t have to worry so much about how their class looks. Her jab was directed at Regunberg.
My last article on this race came out on the day before Regunberg’s scandal surfaced. Contrary to his initial intentions, a SuperPAC appeared to support his campaign. His mother gave $5,000 to the campaign, which isn’t nothing. But his father-in-law gave $125K to that group. Some of Regunberg’s supporters – our common friends – challenged me for my last article by saying that I misled readers into thinking Regunberg was wealthy. The release of his tax returns showed us that he was not, they declared. But then his father-in-law’s wealth appeared in the press the next day.
Family ties and family PACS appear to put Regunberg in a class more similar to Carlson than to Quezada. But in the discourse of this race, that common privilege seems to disappear as the ideological contest between progressives and moderates ascends. Money from “outside” the district seems to be the common denominator telling us who is a serious candidate and who is privileged with the label “frontrunner.”
Political Action Committees Matter
Campaigns are not transparent of course. They are constantly strategizing to figure out their strengths and their opponents’ weak links. With 20/20 hindsight, I can see how in the spring most pundits were expecting this race to go.
It would have been a progressive vs. moderate matchup but with communities of identification shaking up conventional correlations. In contrast to the Squad (but more like Bernie Sanders) we would have the progressive, but white male, Aaron Regunberg going up against the moderate, but Afro-Latina, Sabrina Matos. That expectation set up national political action committee agendas and assignments.
Each candidate was well known, and while they did not run against one another directly, they were state-wide personalities. Moderate, white, rurally based Governor Dan McKee appointed Woman of Color Matos from the Providence City Council to be his Lieutenant Governor, after he moved into the Governorship from his Lieutenant’s role following Gina Raimondo’s ascension to become Commerce Secretary. McKee and Matos won their positions outright in a subsequent election. Regunberg barely lost to McKee when the latter won his Lieutenant Governor election.
Not only did Matos and Regunberg each have a strong claim to be a leading candidate and get that PAC money, but they represented different ideological communities with complicated class, racial, and gender identifications.
Regunberg represents something more familiar, as Bernie Sanders himself: the strong tradition of white men identified with the left, but as well, now, with distinguished environmental policy and practice credentials. Matos represented an opportunity for moderates in both Rhode Island and in DC: a woman of color who is not going to be embraced by the Squad any time soon, who might even suggest an alternative Democratic Party politics. But all these other moderate and progressive candidates jumping into the race messed up DC’s imagined contest. And DC messed it up a bit too.
Gabe Amo’s return to Rhode Island to run for this nomination appears to be something of a gambit by DC to take back the moderate person of color claim from Matos. Amo has great policy chops for DC, especially in contrast to those candidates who are mostly local in their politics. In my last article, I didn’t treat his local political experience as extensively as I might have; he did work for Sheldon Whitehouse within Rhode Island and he of course worked for Gina Raimondo when she was governor. But in his contributions to the debate, his familiarity with DC politics and policy shines brightly, just like Carlson’s; it’s just that Amo’s is more recent and he won’t contribute to the #4RIWhiteMenInDC problem.
Amo does have out-of-state endorsements, including those from the PACs associated with the Black Caucus, Ghana Diaspora, and those who have served in government. That last PAC, Democrats Serve, has spent more than $40K supporting his candidacy, making him the third candidate in this race getting outside money. Maybe that is why he has enjoyed a substantial amount of airtime, appearing earlier in the Newsmakers cycle, for example, and being identified as a frontrunner by outsider journalists based on insider interviews.
This election feels far more local than DC-based, however. And that may be because of the #MADSpiral between Regunberg and Matos, and the surging endorsements from across ideological and geographic communities for Cano.
Scandals and Controversies Matter
Matos suffered the first major scandal around collecting the signatures required to get on the ballot. The matter was quite intense in July’s end; it appeared to have quieted until recently when the Rhode Island Board of Elections moved to reconsider. They appear to have resolved the issue, yet again, declaring that there is “no obvious pattern of fraud.” And while every candidate has had signatures rejected (ranging, among Democrats, from Cano’s low of 15% to Matos’s highest - 43%), the scandal has fueled the fire around her electability. In particular, Amo, Regunberg, and Carlson seem to have been the most aggressive in highlighting the problem. Carlson claims it is a matter of competence; Amo is something of the same. Regunberg, however, is the most challenging. In the last weeks, however, Matos has been fighting back hard.
In the August 17 debate at Roger Williams University, Matos came prepared. She charged Regunberg with coordinating, illegally, with super PACs; his campaign, in turn, replied that she was also committing some of the same transgressions. But these charges and counter-charges only extend the sense among those undecided that politics is dirty. It may just be a matter of which stains disrupt public sensibilities most. Questions of competence? Maybe. But Matos is digging deeper in her campaign against Regunberg, the “rival frontrunner,” and against Amo, her rival moderate of color. Her campaign issued a statement charging both of them with being self-centered and putting their careers ahead of political principles.
While each of these campaigns may be pursuing more aggressive negative press against whom they perceive to be their principal rivals, it may dirty the waters for all the principal combatants. They may be in a “Mutually Assured Destruction Spiral” or #MADSpiral. But in this case, some candidates seem well-positioned to emerge from these candidates’ crashes.
Three candidates have developed a state-wide reputation in this race while enhancing their political capital even as they seem unlikely to win this race.
Stephanie Beauté has, on the one hand, earned a great deal of applause for her insightful commentary - notably around artificial intelligence and security - even while, on the other, she alienates most politicians with her claim that they, as a class, are not doing their jobs well. She has few endorsements of note, but if I were elected to Congress, I’d want her on my list of advisors.
Carlson also has few endorsements of note from within Rhode Island, but he too has won applause, if with less evident enthusiasm, for the thoughtfulness of his policy-related commentary. It’s difficult, however, to see where his base might come from unless moderates for Matos are peeled away. Still, more than a few people have told me that they hope he runs for governor in the next election.
Walter Berbrick has reminded Rhode Islanders that the state’s association with the military-industrial complex matters, and with a volatile war ongoing – I work extensively in solidarity with Ukraine – this is important. But it is not a winning theme for a congressional election. It is important, however, for our elected congressional representative to know foreign affairs better. They already heed on stage Berbrick’s advice about whether F-14s should be sent to Ukraine, for example. I agree with him too.
All three of these candidates bring specific expertise that could be useful for the person Rhode Island elects. They might serve in a congressperson’s kitchen cabinet. There is one more candidate, however, that deserves mention for something other than distinctive expertise.
Goncalves has a terrific base in that part of Rhode Island especially engaged in politics. He and Regunberg are splitting up the posters on Providence’s East Side. Goncalves knows he is going up against Regunberg for those votes, and has on occasion, pointed out the difference between them. In one debate, he declared that
we want real representation. Remember, I grew up in Providence. Providence, born and bred. I've been here my entire life giving back to my community. If we want people who are representative of real people, we have to send real people. We don't need any more saviors. We need people who are from the community, real people from the community.”
His base is not so widely distributed as he would no doubt like, but it is broader than one would expect. He not only went to Brown University but also Wheeler in high school. He has been teaching children at Wheeler, many of whom are not only from Providence but also from Barrington. Their families, and their neighbors, no doubt appreciate his teaching and the civic commitment he exemplifies. He crosses class boundaries in his life and differences in particular places too. Goncalves has built a broader profile in this contest and has no doubt learned some lessons about how politics is played when lots of money and power are flying about. If he does not win in this election, I expect to see him winning beyond his Providence ward in the future.
The most obvious contender beyond the familiar “frontrunners” right now is Cano. Cano has developed an appeal that crosses both aisles and miles. Her endorsements from across the state have signaled that. Her endorsements from progressives and moderates have also marked the ideological breadth of her appeal. Her immigrant roots, her legislative experience, and her identification with racialized minorities and feminists have led her to the center of this race. Even her disposition has drawn applause.
During the debate hosted by Bill Bartholomew, she was invited to comment on the scandals associated with Regunberg and Matos. While both have committed mistakes, Cano said, Matos took responsibility, while Regunberg has not said he has done anything wrong. A subtle critique, but one that was designed to extend, as Matos’s critique, perceptions of duplicity. In an earlier Quezada charge Regunberg was identified as a “privileged rich kid… cosplaying a man of the people.” Harsh, but it hurt. And it continues to resonate if the barbs thrown by Matos and Quezada at the 8/22/23 Projo/Publics Radio debate are any indication.
Political Communities Matter
We are all part of multiple political communities that are ideological and geographical, that are racialized, gendered, and laced with class privilege and oppression. We are variously tied together too, and we occupy differently enabled positions.
I only wish Republicans had a stronger party so that those more at home with GOP positions could run for their party’s nomination. Democrats should not control the outcome of this election through this primary. And while we’re thinking about electoral systems, all of the candidates in that 8/22 debate, except for Casey, were in favor of moving towards a Ranked Choice Voting system following a story earlier in the day about the Ocean State RCV press conference celebrating the virtues of that system.
In the end, however, I am struck by the strength of the Democrats running for election in this race. The candidates represent the breadth of the Democratic Party and offer meaningfully different competencies. I would be delighted to see any of them represent Rhode Island in Washington. But there are real choices there not only for the public but for the candidates themselves.
Beauté, Berbrick, and Carlson have earned a new status in Rhode Island’s public sphere. Given their distinctive competencies, I hope we continue to hear more from them regardless of whether they win this election.
I appreciate how moderates no longer exclusively reference privileged white folks with generations of Rhode Island roots. Matos and Amo show that we have a much more diverse class of politicians who believe in leading with policy expertise and class compromise.
We also have a new generation and complexion of progressives coming forward. While Goncalves graduated from Brown University only one year after Regunberg, he may represent a new kind of progressive in Rhode Island that is rooted in various communities of birth and ancestry, of chosen families, and of different classes given his life trajectory and choices.
We also have a new composition of progressives running for Congress. Some can speak directly, and in that sense, more radically, from their own experience and not only on behalf of others. Quezada’s frankness and willingness to fight for justice certainly stir a meaningful progressive sentiment. Given the growing injustices in this world, we may just need that kind of forthright and frank challenge to privileges of all sorts. She has exemplified that struggle in this campaign. Given the “first past the post” system we have in this election, this vote may just be the best chance such a progressive would have to represent Rhode Island. We shall see.
Cano, however, has been doing the bridge-building across miles and aisles that we normally associate with a successful campaign. If that #MADSpiral does take out both Matos and Regunberg, Cano seems ready to move ahead with the multi-racial, moderate/progressive, gender-conscious alliance that represents a new Rhode Island, moving past #4RIWhiteMenInDC.
Everyone representing Rhode Island must also be more than environmentally aware; they must have the expertise or knowledge networks that center, properly, on the climate crisis we face. As my Brown University environmental sociology colleague, Scott Frickel, told me the other day, we face an existential crisis moved by climate change: “It’s not just another issue among others; it will change everything, and sooner and more extensively than most of us are prepared to admit”.
Aaron Regunberg, of these candidates, is most adept and engaged in environmental affairs (even if Carlson would like to debate him on particular issues). He also has been as devoted to building his political career, controlling for years in Rhode Island, as anyone in this race. He has been devoted to progressive politics, which, in Rhode Island, also means fighting battles with those with whom one should be allied on ideological grounds. But being progressive means more than policies and careers and these internecine conflicts.
In this essay’s start, I noted that we might introduce a gradient of progressiveness among the candidates so identified. If privilege – class, race, or gender - takes away from progressiveness, then Regunberg is not at the top of the list. If educational advantage matters on that scale, then Goncalves moves toward his position. If compromise, rather than fighting, is a sign of a more moderate disposition, then Cano moves toward the two men on the list, leaving Quezada as the most progressive. But if we are using this kind of grading to figure out our futures, we are truly doomed. The answer is not about who is best, but what assembly contributes most to moving Rhode Island, the USA, and the world, ahead toward justice and sustainability.
I would like to see those candidates who can see the enormity of the challenges facing us, and the solidarities necessary in their address, to model in these last weeks of the primary how they can put seeking justice and survival ahead of their ambitions. And maybe if they do that, they will earn for themselves an even more important place in the struggles and the campaigns still to come.
I think you know what I mean.
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