The House Democrats gathered here for their annual policy retreat are scheduled to attend a session Wednesday on “Rumors, Truths and Reality.” Later, they’ll discuss “Fighting for Our Principles” with leaders of major activist groups. And then they’ll hear “Perspectives” from the vice president of Third Way, a prominent centrist think tank.
That last session, showcasing a wing of the party that dominated Democratic politics for much of the past two decades, would not typically gain much notice. But those days are over: Progressive groups are incensed that lawmakers will be hearing “perspectives” that they argue have been thoroughly discredited in the wake of last year’s election.
“For House Democrats to seek advice from a Wall Street-funded think tank that preaches timidity, that shows them learning the exactly wrong lesson in the Trump era,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “I think Democrats need to fight more strongly, with backbone, and not let Trump steal the mantle of economic populism.”
Jim Kessler, Third Way’s senior vice president for policy, is set to address the retreat Wednesday evening during a half-hour session where, according a senior Democrat familiar with his planned remarks, he will make the case that the Democratic Party needs to grow geographically, demographically and ideologically — not move decisively to the left — to regain power. That is a strain of thought that represented Democratic orthodoxy in the 1990s, when the business-friendly Democratic Leadership Council held sway.
But it has since fallen out of favor, especially among progressives who believe Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would have better captured voter anger toward the political establishment as the 2016 Democratic president nominee. And now, they say, Third Way’s politics are not what Democrats need to hear.
As noted in the article, other Democrats who spoke at the retreat include think tank scholars from the Center for American Progress (CAP) and Demos.
Here is more about Third Way's presentation at the retreat from CNN. Here is what Politico had to say about Third Way's presence at the retreat.
Politico recently wrote a piece about Third Way's launch of a campaign to reconnect Democrats with voters who abandoned them.