From Fox News:

“They lost on the infrastructure-reconciliation battle. But you shouldn’t think about this in terms of outcomes,” R Street Institute senior fellow for governance James Wallner told Fox News. “They were able to basically take a bad situation for them… and they were able to forestall defeat for months simply by objecting… and recognizing their leverage.”

Wallner said that in 2021, “Squad” members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., became more battle-tested as legislators, potentially setting themselves up for future success if they learn the right lessons about how “to play the game well.”

“I think they wielded a lot of influence at various points in the year. Now, they just have to use it in the right way and create a new environment in the future so that it can be more effective,” Wallner said. “If they think, ‘Oh, well, we didn’t win because we didn’t have enough votes and we just need to defeat people like Joe Manchin…’ That may be sufficient to kind of get them a little bit of what they want. But the most far-reaching stuff … that’s still going to be beyond their reach because politics requires more than just winning elections.”

Wallner, meanwhile, said progressives’ best messenger might be Ocasio-Cortez herself.

“The best example of this is AOC who has an incredible amount of raw, natural political skill. And if you think back to when she first won… What does she do before she comes in? She’s protesting outside Pelosi’s office,” Wallner said.

“She says to herself, ‘Who’s going to be responsible for pushing the Green New Deal?’ And it’s like, ‘Pelosi’s got a lot of influence, so I’m going to use my leverage,’ which at that point was her ability to attract attention,” Wallner said. “She’s a freshman back-bencher, no prior political experience, it’s not like she’s a former governor or something, and within a couple of months she forces the House Democrats to take up her Green New Deal and pass it.”

The Green New Deal never passed the Senate and was never signed into law. But if Ocasio-Cortez continues to exert influence the way she does, Wallner said, “then she can get like 10% of what she wants in 30 years. I mean, that’s essentially worse than baseball, politics. But that’s a good thing.”

But Wallner said some of those goals may be achievable in the future – perhaps as early as 2022 – if progressives take away the right lessons from their successes and failures in 202

“Are they going to be in the right frame of mind to kind of say, ‘OK, what did we do right?’” Wallner said.

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