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California Democrats

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti to progressives: Don't make winning the argument more important than progress

 (Rich Polk / Getty Images)
(Rich Polk / Getty Images)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned a ballroom full of progressive leaders Tuesday not to get bogged down in “making sure that you win the argument instead of moving progress forward.”

Garcetti told his listeners he knew they were upset by "the political moment that we are in. But every day we spend playing defense is a day we’re not making progress. If we define ourselves solely by our opposition to this administration, we will sell ourselves short and more important, we will sell the American people short."

Garcetti spoke Tuesday at the Center for American Progress' Ideas Conference in Washington at a time when many Democrats are trying to determine what's next for their party after unexpected electoral losses in November. The conference is seen by many as an early cattle call of potential 2020 presidential candidates. Garcetti, who was just reelected to a second term, and others who've been floated as possible candidates are participating in the daylong event — including Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Several other Californians are speaking at the conference, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco); Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), who is the ranking Democrat on the House Select Intelligence Committee; and climate change activist and billionaire Tom Steyer.

Los Angeles has pushed back against multiple Trump administration policies — in part by setting aside funding for legal services for immigrants in the country illegally and pledging to adopt the Paris climate accord if the administration decides to pull the United States out of the agreement, both of which could help Garcetti gain statewide or national attention. Throughout his speech, Garcetti, the only mayor invited to speak at the conference, argued that cities will continue to move forward on ideas such as free community college and expanding infrastructure even if Washington remains stuck.

“The future is here, and the American people are waiting for somebody to step up, to lead us with the confidence and courage we need. So don’t cede the power you have before you exercise it. Don’t ... fall into the trap of being paralyzed with fear and with anger. Don’t fight pessimism with more pessimism,” Garcetti said.

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