Editorial: The progressive era begins in the East Bay

Posted 3/7/19

The sweep is complete, and give the progressive Democrats credit — they own the East Bay.

The old guard that once controlled politics in this region saw this coming two years ago but could …

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Editorial: The progressive era begins in the East Bay

Posted

The sweep is complete, and give the progressive Democrats credit — they own the East Bay.

The old guard that once controlled politics in this region saw this coming two years ago but could do nothing to stop it. Outraged by the election and presidency of Donald Trump, and tired of sitting on the sidelines and complaining, a new wave of people suddenly and passionately stepped into politics in 2016 and 2017.

Finding that they fit perfectly under the umbrella of a new “progressive” Democratic movement, they got active and organized quickly. They joined the local town committees in waves, got themselves into leadership positions and marginalized the old guard.

Today they dominate the political landscape in the East Bay. From Katherine Kazarian in East Providence, to Liana Cassar in Barrington and East Providence, Jason Knight in Barrington and Warren, Susan Donovan in Bristol and Portsmouth, and now June Speakman in Bristol and Warren, the progressive Democrats control all five House seats in this region.

How’d they do it?

They out-maneuvered, out-fund-raised, out-thought and out-worked everyone else. They also tapped into an electorate frustrated with what they see, or what they fear, happening in America. Their core issues are easy to embrace, and people of all ages embraced them in droves.

Is the progressive movement good or bad for this region? It remains to be seen.

One great thing is that they energized and elected a new wave of women — a welcomed change in a state government dominated by men.

They are also highly organized and networked throughout the region, so town boundaries matter less than issues and platforms. This could be seen throughout the crowd at June Speakman’s victory gathering Tuesday night, where a large number of the revelers were her old friends from Barrington, the town where she lived for many years and first entered politics.

Bristol-only issues are critical, but so too are the regional or social issues that affect all of us. Perhaps this new group can work together in ways that provincial, locally-focused representatives never could.

Friend and foe will be watching what they do very closely for the next two years. They got what they wanted — they’re now in charge — and what they do matters more than what they say.

For now, though, give them credit. They played the game better than anyone else.

2020 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.