Progressives are well-represented in Joe Biden's team. Bernie Sanders sycophants aren't.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris made history today by naming the first openly LGBTQ nominee to the cabinet.

If confirmed by the Senate, Pete Buttigieg, a veteran and former mayor of South Bend, Indiana and the first openly LGBTQ candidate to have won a statewide contest in a major party presidential primary when he defeated Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses this year, will also be one of the youngest individuals ever to serve in a presidential cabinet.

But Pete Buttigieg is not just a patriot who served our country on the battlefield or a trailblazer who was the first openly gay man to be elected mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He ran an unapologetically progressive campaign for president, advocating for big issues such as reparations for descendants of slaves and for fast-tracking American citizenship for immigrant families separated by Trump's no-tolerance family-separation policy.

I attended a Buttigieg rally in San Jose, California early this year, and was thoroughly impressed with his core convictions and his ability to explain simply why he believes what he believes. He spoke without hesitation about the concept of generational wealth theft from Black Americans. Just like a dollar saved and invested grows over years, decades, and generations, so does a dollar stolen, he explained, but the dollar stolen grows and benefits someone else. That, he said, is why reparations was not a controversial issue for him. At the same time, gatekeeper leftist champion Bernie Sanders ran a campaign expressly opposed to reparations for slavery.

As mayor, Buttigieg focused on the close-to-home issues that affect people's daily lives. He brought major investments into the community, reviving a city that was on a Newsweek list of dying cities at the start of his term to one that was named 39th on the list of America's best small cities in 2020. During his term, Mayor Pete signed a commitment for South Bend to fulfill benchmarks under the Paris Climate Agreement when Donald Trump pulled the US out of it in 2017. Indiana is not the most friendly state to women's reproductive rights, but Buttigieg stood up when it counted and vetoed a rezoning proposal approved by the city council that would allow a crisis pregnancy center (a right-wing "alternative" to family planning clinics with the purpose of keeping women from obtaining an abortion) next to a planned building for Planned Parenthood, the city's only abortion provider.

Mayor Pete - or as he has come to be known for his legendary beatdowns on Fox News in defense of candidate Biden, Slayer Pete - is a historic and progressive choice. But he is far from the only one.

Biden's nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra - a former member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who succeeded now Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to the job of California state Attorney General - is a legendary fighter for health care and staunch and a successful defender of the Affordable Care Act in court. Time and again, General Becerra has fought back against the Trump administration's attempts to weaken protections in Obamacare and racked up wins despite the unforgivingly conservative makeup of the federal judiciary. When in a case now pending before the Supreme Court a coalition of 20 states, led by Texas, sued to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act after Congress zeroed out the penalty for not having health insurance and the Trump administration refused to defend federal law, General Becerra led a coalition 17 states to intervene and defend it instead.

Becerra also supported Medicare for All when he was in Congress, but will be focused on making the ACA work for all Americans under President Biden.

Another major fight Becerra fought against the Trump administration concerns California's right to set its own tailpipe emission standards. California had used the unique right - as well as California's market power as the world's fifth-largest economy - to force auto manufacturers to adopt emission standards more stringent than under federal regulations, until the Obama administration brokered a deal in which President Obama essentially made the California standards national.

Donald Trump rescinded not only those standards but also sought to strip California of its ability to set its own standards. Becerra fought back, suing for California and several other states' right to follow California's standards. Some vehicle manufacturers came down on the side of the Trump administration, but California's relentless legal pursuit spearheaded by Becerra had largely deflated Trump's efforts when in August, several auto manufacturers signed a legally binding agreement to follow its tailpipe emission standards. And in the wake of Biden and Harris's election, this month the big daddy of carmakers, GM, withdrew its support of Trump's efforts.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Becerra's predecessor as California's Attorney General, is perhaps the most pre-eminent progressive force in the incoming Biden administration. Harris was rated the most progressive senator in 2019 and is a steadfast steward of health care, racial justice, criminal justice, a progressive foreign policy, and more. As a senator, Harris has pioneered legislation focused on Black maternal mortality, federal decriminalization of marijuana and expunging records of marijuana-related non-violent offenses (which the House recently passed), and real justice in policing.

As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, she has become a legend for making Trump appointees and judges nervous with her sharp, fearless, and prosecutorial questioning.

Before she became a senator, as Attorney General of California Kamala Harris held out against large banks and ultimately, forced the banks into a $25 billion settlement for California homeowners. She went after for-profit education companies that scammed students and made them pay over $1 billion. Harris was the first Attorney General in the country to require all agents under department control to wear body cameras and to keep them on.

And demonstrating that character mattered before politics, as a young District Attorney of San Francisco, Harris refused to seek the death penalty against a man who shot and killed a police officer.

The list of Biden nominees and their real-world progressive bona fides and accomplishments are too copious to fit into one essay. Biden's climate envoy, John Kerry is the architect of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Iran Nuclear Agreement under President Obama. Alejandro Mayorkas, who will be the first Latino to take the helm at Homeland Security, received awards from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. for his work in the Obama administration as the director of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Karine Jean-Pierre, the Principal Deputy Press Secretary, comes directly from the progressive organization

As I have explained before, Neera Tanden, Biden's nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, comes with impeccable progressive policy credentials, including advocacy for expanding Social Security, a $15 minimum wage, and a federal jobs guarantee for economically depressed regions. Biden's head of the Domestic Policy Council, Ambassador Susan Rice, has amassed an international record of championing human rights, LGBTQ rights, and an anti-poverty agenda, as well as the reopening of diplomatic relations with Cuba, the Paris Accord, and more. Jared Bernstein, a member of the incoming Council of Economic Advisors, spent much of his professional life at the left-wing Economic Policy Institute, and his one stint in government before the Obama-Biden administration was serving as the Deputy Chief Economist in the Department of Labor under the Clinton administration. At the time, the Labor Department was headed by Robert Reich, a present-day progressive hero. Paul Krugman recommended Barnstein to Obama's economic council as a way to make it more progressive.

In this light, it would be perturbing indeed that Bernie Sanders, still attempting to gatekeep and pretending to be the highest authority issuer of the Progressive Card, is expressing concerns that progressives are not being given representation. There is no reasonable analysis of the Biden team that can reach the conclusion Sanders has without following a false and inherently-egotistical narrative that only supporters of Bernie Sanders's failed campaign for president qualify as 'progressive'.

There is no shortage of progressive credentials in the Biden-Harris team. What it lacks are Bernie Sanders sycophants.


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