Progressive San Diego was launched in 2003 as a political action committee with a simple goal — to elect progressive candidates by helping to unify the progressive community, engaging the progressive base, and aiding in the election process through endorsements, fundraising and volunteerism.

PSD was founded with the perception that nationally and, even in “conservative San Diego,” progressives are, in fact, the silent majority. Though issues are often framed in a way that (mis-)leads people to believe that the nation is growing increasingly conservative, the facts suggest the opposite. According to a recent article in The Nation (which relied heavily on a twenty-year roundup of public opinion from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press):

  • A majority, 54 percent, of Americans think “government should help the needy even if it means greater debt” (it was only 41 percent in 1994).
  • Two-thirds want the government to guarantee health insurance for all citizens.
  • Only 25 percent of American’s want Roe v. Wade overturned, while 58 percent want to see tougher gun control laws (as opposed to a mere 10 percent who want gun laws that are less strict).
  • Even among those who otherwise say they would prefer a smaller government, 57 percent believe “labor unions are necessary to protect the working person,” and a majority of the public says they generally side with labor in disputes and only 34 percent with companies.
  • A massive 89 percent of Americans favor rehabilitation over incarceration for youth offenders to reduce crime, while in even the most “hot button” topic, 62 percent of people believe that undocumented immigrants should be allowed to “keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status.”

These statistics are just the beginning—similar progressive positions can be found relating to environmental protection, using diplomacy (rather than military action) to combat terrorism, support for civil unions, and even in the type of sexual education that is taught (abstinence-only vs. comprehensive programs that include contraception).

We (progressives) have ourselves to blame for not having the conviction to stand by what we believe in. Too often, we fall for what the Rush Limbaughs, Bill O’Reillys and Rodger Hedgecocks would have us believe: That we are out of touch with American values. We must proudly, vocally and unapologetically take back the progressive mantle and recognize that most of the public is with us.

Luckily, even politicians (who are often the last people to spot shifting public perceptions) are starting to get this message, with an increasing number running on an openly progressive platform. Even Hillary Clinton has started to refer to herself as a “modern progressive,” which should lead progressives to the conclusion that our greatest worry might no longer be to convince the public that we must be a more vocal majority, but rather to ensure that the term is not co-opted and continues to represent our values and ethics … which are much more in line with the people of this country and city than many would have us believe.

— TOMMIE WATSON

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