Social justice organization dedicated to training future leftist political leaders
Established in 2003, the Center for Progressive Leadership (CPL) was a self-described “nonpartisan,” nonprofit “educational organization” dedicated to creating “a long-term infrastructure for developing tomorrow’s progressive leaders”—i.e., people of “diverse” backgrounds who could “effectively advance progressive political and policy change” thatpromotes “social justice.” All told, CPL trained at least 6,000“promising political leaders from around the country,” providing them not only with instruction in the techniques of social activism, but also putting them in touch with willing donors and activist organizations in key voting areas.
(1) Investment in the Future: To ensure that “all Americans ... have access to high-quality education and health care,” and to promote “innovative ways to conserve our natural environment,” CPL called for increased government spending on public education, socialized medicine, and the enactment of policies supported radical environmental goals. (2) A Moral Economy: CPL advocated income redistribution and the introduction of “living-wage” requirements.
(3) Freedom: CPL claimed that many Americans were being denied “economic, social, and political” opportunities because of their “gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or economic status.” Among the most highly prized freedoms that “our government must uphold,” said the Center, was “a woman's right to choose”—i.e., taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand.
(4) Security: Viewing the United States as a disruptive and destructive force in world affairs, CPL advised the U.S. to finally “join with other nations and international organizations to fight terrorism and promote peace.”
(5) Global Cooperation: “Internationally,” said CPL, “the United States must support security, peace, and development through trade, aid, negotiation, and political engagement.”
With these values in mind, CPL administered a number of training and outreach initiatives:
The “State Political Leaders Fellowship” was a nine-month program that annually recruited 40 to 60 aspiring political candidates in target states like Pennsylvania, Colorado, Ohio, Arizona, and Michigan. The Center trained these individuals in skills such as public speaking, fundraising, and balancing personal affairs with the demands of a political career.
The“Springboard Training Program” taught “first-time and up-and-coming community activists and political organizers” how to “solidif[y] their progressive values” and “communicate those values effectively to various audiences in various situations or through various media.”
The“Action Network Program” aimed to connect “emerging and established leaders to create a community of progressive political leaders,” and to mobilize volunteers who could direct voter-outreach programs. In September 2006, the Action Network Program collaborated with a number of leftist groups to organize house-party training sessions in CPL members' homes across the United States, in an effort to “buil[d] an infrastructure for long-term success.” Trainees watched instructional videos and then took part in interactive role-play activities where they practiced how to recruit new volunteers and communicate with potential voters. Organizations involved in this initiative included America Votes, Campus Progress, Code Pink for Peace, MoveOn.org, Progressive Democrats of America, the Sierra Club, and TrueMajority Action.