Why PDA’s Liaison Program is so Important right now

PDA’s Congressional Liaison Program Strengthens the Progressive Movement


PDA’s Congressional Liaison Program Strengthens the Progressive Movement

Perhaps the most important question facing humanity in the early 21st century is whether social justice and an ability to combat the climate emergency can be achieved through a representative democratic political system like America’s. 

In other words, is it possible to achieve progressive change through electoral politics? 

We, at PDA, believe that transformative change is possible through the American political system, but only if we engage with the system both through elections and beyond them. 

To win progressive victories we must engage with elected officials and the Democratic party – and participate in, and support, social movements. This is the core of PDA’s Inside/Outside Strategy.  

When it comes to the “inside game,” we feel it is essential to remain active in between elections. 

We need to do what citizens are supposed to do in a representative democracy – and exactly what the American political status quo doesn’t want them to do – petition the Government through their elected officials. Almost nobody does this anymore other than paid lobbyists, to the great satisfaction of the economic and political elite. PDA intends to change this.

The PDA Congressional liaison program is designed specifically to influence Federal policy in a progressive direction – through direct constituent engagement with local congressional offices across the country. It is perhaps the most ambitious such project in the history of the American left; and we feel it suits this moment perfectly, as the grassroots progressive movement has unprecedented momentum.

Here’s how the liaison program works: every month, in every Democratically-held Congressional district in the country, a PDA liaison, who is a constituent in the district, will reach out to their elected representative and ask them to support a progressive piece of legislation being introduced in Congress. This will also happen simultaneously for every Democratic US Senator. Then, the following week, all PDA activists in the district, and the state will follow up with calls and letters in support of the same bill (or bills).

The following month, we will choose a different piece of progressive legislation and repeat the same process… and the month after that… and the month after that…  

At the end of the year, PDA will publish a scorecard to show which Congresspeople and Senators supported the bills backed by PDA. Through this program, we will know which Democrats support progressive policies (which are overwhelmingly popular with Democratic voters); and which are more loyal to the interests of their wealthy donors. We will not be shy about trumpeting these results.

Here’s why this is so important at this moment. There are three competing ideologies vying for dominance in American politics. There are the reactionary/racist Republicans; then, from the Romney-wing of the GOP through the Moderate Democrats, are the neo-liberal corporatists; and now, following two almost-victorious Sanders campaigns and the rise of the Squad, there are the progressives.  

Here is the paradox: the group with the most popular policies is the group with the fewest elected officials – that’s us, the progressives.  Why? There are many factors, but mostly it’s the influence of money in politics, which corrupts the system in three ways: it discourages people without access to money from meddling in politics; it buys the loyalty of unethical politicians; and it is used to sow confusion among the general public about who supports their interests, and who is only pretending.

Here’s why things can change now: the Sanders campaigns, the 2020 Summer uprisings, the environmental movement, and the mere fact of the Trump presidency has inspired millions of Americans to become active in support of transformative social change. However, the change they seek requires action by elected officials; and we know the current slate of elected officials are not prone to make such changes. Therefore we have to revive that most atrophied of political strategies – it almost sounds like something from a bygone era – we need to petition our elected representatives. We need to do this in person. We need to do this systematically. We need to do this on behalf of the progressive agenda. We have an unprecedented opportunity as there are legions of people, who are looking for a way to maintain the momentum for transformative change.

Most elected Democrats in congress do not expect to be bothered by their constituents in between elections. And sadly, most constituents don’t follow the votes of their elected representatives. Our goal is to change both of these things. Our goal is accountability. Our goal is to have elected officials in sync with the politics of their constituents. Seems reasonable in a representative democracy. 

Let’s ask our elected officials to support the policies supported by the majority of their constituents. Let’s ask them to support the progressive agenda. Let’s find out who is with us and who’s against us; and let’s transform the Democratic Party into a party for the people and the planet. 

Let’s get to work! Let’s change the country and the world!

A Seven-Step Summary of PDA’s Liaison Project


Step 1. Congressional Progressive Caucus member introduces legislation to the U.S. House of Representatives

Step 2. The Congressperson (or a congressional staffer) makes a presentation about the legislation to the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center’s (CPCC) Movement Table, which is attended every week by a representative from Progressives for  Democracy in America (PDA)

Step 3. PDA’s national office selects one piece of legislation to focus on for the month; and sends out information about this legislation to the PDA Congressional liaisons across the country.* The goal is to have two liaisons for every Democratically-held District in the country by early 2021. 

Step 4. The liaisons report on the legislation to PDA chapters in order to build grassroots support for the legislation (where applicable, they will also make reports to other allied groups such as Our Revolution, DSA, the more left-leaning Indivisiblechapters; and even some local Democratic Clubs).

Step 5. The liaisons visit the offices of their congressional representative, asking them to become co-sponsorsof the legislation presented at the Movement Table. Liaisons will meet monthly with a locally-based Congressional staffer; and have a quarterly meeting with the Congressperson.** At each meeting, the liaisons will introduce the new legislation from the past month’s Movement Table to the congressional office; and follow up about legislation from previous meetings

Step 6. The liaison will report back to their PDA Chapter (where they exist), and to PDA National about their meetings and how their Representative is responding to the new legislation.

Step 7. PDA National will provide a monthly summary of all of the liaison reports from across the country to the CPCC; and also post this summary on our website and social media.

*All of the other progressive legislation presented at the CPCC Movement Table during the month will be made available to the liaisons as well. Liaisons will be encouraged to consider selecting one other piece of legislation, per their discretion, to advocate for as well the piece of legislation that is the focus of that month’s national campaign.

** All PDA liaisons will operate according to a Code of Conduct, engaging Congressional staffers and the Representatives with the utmost civility, respect and professionalism. If we receive any complaints about a liaison’s conduct they will be replaced. The purpose of this project is simple: in the best civic tradition the liaison will present legislation to the local congressional staffers and the representative, make a case as to why the legislation will be good for the Representative’s constituents and for the country, and ask for co-sponsorship.

Mission Statement: Progressives for Democracy in America


Progressives for Democracy in America is a 501c4 non-profit founded as an affiliated organization with Progressive Democrats of America. 

Progressives for Democracy in America is involved in Federal, State, and Local issue advocacy, as well voter registration drives across the country.

Progressives for Democracy in America was founded to rectify the general population’s lack of engagement with politics and public policy between elections, as well as with elected representatives; and to provide a space through its local chapters where people can discuss politics, public policy, and the performance of their elected representatives. 

Progressives for Democracy in America’s signature project is its liaison program through which local members act as liaisons to elected officials at the Federal, State, and local levels of government. PDA liaisons reach out to elected officials and their staffs to advocate for progressive policies – and then report back to other PDA members in the relevant constituency – thereby sparking a greater level of public engagement with decisions affecting everyone’s lives; thereby ensuring that our representative democracy better serves the people and the planet.