Progressives spent 3 years watching the Tea Party shift the center of American political gravity to the right and wringing their hands over Democratic centrism.
But in 2013, liberals have seen major successes in reshaping the Democratic party - and by extension, reshaping America. Here are 10 ways that progressives have already shifted America's politics to the left:
1. There's Now a Serious Movement to EXPAND Social Security:
This is a big victory for progressives. Expanding social security has become a serious goal for several Democratic Senators. Just a year ago, no one thought of expanding it. Democrats merely wanted to cut less than Republicans from the program. Now Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has sponsored a bill that would increase Social Security payments by $70 a month. Elizabeth Warren backs the bill.
2. There's a Bigger Group of Very Liberal Senators:
Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey (D-MA) both joined the Senate in 2013. Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the most progressive senators, says they've helped him build a very liberal wing to pressure Obama from the left. Other names to watch include Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Chris Murphy (D-CT), all of whom joined the Senate since 2007.
3. Progressive Senators Were Behind the Recent Filibuster Reform:All of these new, liberal Senators drove Harry Reid to the nuclear option, according to the LA Times. They include Warren, Udall, Merkley, Murphy, and Sherrod Brown. "They were the ones largely responsible for pushing the veteran Nevada lawmaker to pull the trigger on ending filibusters against most presidential nominations," reports the Times.
4. Democrats Don't Want to Be Seen With Wall Street Anymore:
Centrist Democrats who liked big Wall Street donations are now more likely to conceal their big bank ties. Bank regulators who used to be very, very nice to bankers now have to do more actual regulation, or they face becoming laughing stocks in viral Elizabeth Warren videos.
5. Progressives Got the Federal Reserve Chair They Wanted:
This one is a done deal. Obama initially wanted the more centrist Larry Summers. Progressives were not into that, and pushed to discredit Summers. Here's how it played out, according to the Daily Beast's Peter Beinart:
The main reason Summers dropped out is that he became identified with deregulatory policies that were far more tolerated inside the Democratic Party in 1999 - or even 2009 - than they are today. Four of the 12 Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee and 19 Democrats (plus one independent) of the 54 in the full Senate had already expressed their public opposition, meaning that Obama would have had to rely for Summers' confirmation on Republican votes. The AFL-CIO had come out against Summers. So had MoveOn, Daily Kos, Chris Hayes, Paul Krugman, and the editorial page of The New York Times.
Summers left the field, and Yellen is now chair of the Federal Reserve, aka the Most Powerful Woman in the World.
6. Liberal Dems Will Push for More Spending in the Next Budget Battle:
"Forget the debt-ceiling business. We are going to be pushing outright for new spending to create jobs," said Jim Dean, brother of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who now directs the progressive group Democracy for America.
7. Mainstream Democrats Still Want Truly Socialized Medicine:
In August Harry Reid said, "what we've done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we're far from having something that's going to work forever." Asked if the next step was single payer - in other words, a government-run system like Canada or Britain - Reid replied "Yes, yes, absolutely yes." Nancy Pelosi said the same in October: "I myself would've preferred single payer or public option" to Obamacare.
8. In States and Cities, Liberal Democrats Are Raising Taxes:
In Maryland, Gov, Martin O'Malley raised taxes on the wealthiest 14% to spend more on education. Bill de Blasio, New York City's newly elected mayor, plans to do likewise. Progressives in California put a millionaire's tax on the ballot and won.
9. Elizabeth Warren:
As you'll note, several of these developments are tied to Elizabeth Warren, MA Senator and possible 2016 presidential candidate.
None of this happened by accident, of course. It came out of years of campaigning by progressive activists, who have been congratulating themselves for electing people like Warren, Markey, and De Blasio.