Toward the Development of a Shared Strategic Framework on the U.S. Left


Project2050 was launched in the fall of 2020 with the goal of stimulating strategic thinking and, hopefully, greater alignment on the US left. This report presents frameworks for discussion and debate about the strengths and weaknesses of the left and the identification of political goals that might be achievable over the next 25-30 years. The report is offered in the hopes that it will contribute to opening up the kinds of conversations that lead to greater political clarity and unity among diverse left forces.

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The premise of Project2050 is that the left can do much, much better. The findings presented here do not answer the question “What is the left’s long-term strategy?” We hope, however, that by synthesizing the thinking of 81 organizers, leaders, and intellectuals we have provided productive lines of inquiry and a framework sufficient to initiate and advance critical conversations.

2050 Scenarios

Interviewees advanced a very wide range of thinking about what the left could achieve by 2050. This is not surprising given that the premise of the project is the absence of, and need for, a more unified strategic perspective on the left.

"My best-case scenario would be that we get our shit together and we have multiple dimensions on which we’re building a kind of rigorous disciplined infrastructure—organizational, institutional, movement, and training infrastructures with lots of dimensions, including electoral expression. There are strategic centers and decentralized hubs where people can enter into the movement, get formed, and find a
pathway... So the questions I’ve been asking myself are: How do we build the democratic potential, the resilience to respond to this incredible crisis that we’re in? What do you build that can be adaptive, nimble, strategic in that context, and try to hold while we go through what we’re going to go through?"
            —Doran Schrantz

“We have to build from the bottom up — local, regional, statewide. A lot of the actual battles around education, health care, and the things that animate people happen at the state level and then bubble up in terms of national policy. I would love to see in 20, 30 years a serious left effort to build state-based political power, some independent political organizations that are based on a radical agenda for both public policies and transforming government on behalf of the people. That then has a national expression. I don’t know that we can skip steps and try to create a national formation that doesn’t have that as a foundation underneath it.”

      — Anthony Thigpenn

“A number of crises will come to a head over the next 30 years, and sooner rather than later. What can we get out of these crises so that we’re moving in a productive direction, instead of getting smashed? How we respond to these crises, and having a left strategy—which is different from a left perspective—
will determine where we are in 2050.”

     — Karen Nussbaum

David Duhalde

Democratic Socialists of America

“People don’t think about how important and how influential local politics is, and how much easier it is to intervene in local government, especially for small grassroots organizations. I think that for the next 10 to 12 years the vast majority of electoral effort should be: How do we build local ‘squads’? How do we get people elected? How do we get majorities on city councils? How do we build blocs in state legislatures to deliver public policy outcomes? That’s definitely where I would be putting our money and people power.”

Tarso Ramos

Political Research Associates

“The US left lacks a widely shared assessment of conditions and priorities. What’s our North Star, or constellation of stars? Our strategies for reaching them? Where’s our shared approach to blocking the advance of white nationalist authoritarianism and for building a governing majority for transformational, multiracial democracy? — assuming we even share goals along those lines. Given what seems to be broad agreement that the stakes are astronomically high and the forces of domination are consolidating their hold on the state, how might left and progressive movements level-up our strategic sophistication and alignment?”

Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson

Highlander Research & Education Center, M4BL

“I get why we moved to this leader-full movement thing, but I think it’s an overcorrection and I think it’s dangerous. We set people up to be leaders in name who have no skill to lead, no base to lead, no flank to be supported as they go through the challenges of leadership. They have no accountability. People’s Twitter followers got them leadership positions, people who couldn’t organize themselves out of a paper bag.”

Christine Ahn

Women Cross DMZ

“We need some strategists to look at the end game and bookmark: What are some achievable wins that we can get in the next decade? What are the bases that we need to be building? Where are the people that need to be in the positions of political power to make these things happen? What kinds of mobilization needs to be happening through direct action? How do we engage with the electoral process? Everybody’s going to bring their limits, their worldview, and their strengths. So how do we bring together the meeting of the minds to actually think through and strategize? We need investment in this kind of cross-movement pollination and strategizing.”

Cindy Wiesner

Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, It Takes Roots, Rising Majority

“We need to adapt our current organizations or create formations for all these newly radicalized people and re-engaged people. We have a problem with our current organizations because the criteria for membership is so high. We need much more porous forms of organization in which people get attracted and solidified in very different ways.”

Clare Bayard

Catalyst Project

“We’ve got to deal with the way that misogyny is getting used as a really effective gateway into white nationalism. It feels pretty vital that we handle that.”

Maurice Mitchell

Working Families Party, M4BL

“I think we need to consolidate around a political party that is outside the Democratic Party. That competition may make the Democratic Party stronger and that independence will make the left stronger. We need to have our own independent political power, our own tent. I don’t think it’s crazy for progressives to be able to choose who the Democratic nominee is in 8 to 12 years, if we take seriously building our own political party that allows us to aggregate our political power.” 


Linda Burnham


Pierce Dignam

Data Analyst

Denise Korn


Rachel Herzing


Gillian Mason

Data Analyst

Alyssa Mazer


Denise Perry


Margo Okazawa Rey

Data Analyst

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