Opinion: Schneiderman is our "Agressive Progressive," and He's Not Alone

Politico asks "Is Eric Schneiderman America's Most Powerful Liberal?" Salon suggests "no-drama Obama could learn from no-hysterics Eric." The Huffington Post calls him "The Ultimate Game Changer in Politics."

Praise is coming from an array of admirers. The New York Times and Newsday have told him to keep up the fight and not settle for a bad bank deal. Progressive bloggers praise him, and former Senator Al D'Amato says "he deserves to be applauded."

But the most important people he has influenced have been other State Attorneys General who are, one state at a time, joining the New York, Delaware and Massachusetts AGs in demanding a real investigation of the mortgage fraud crisis. Nevada is on board. Minnesota has joined the ranks. And even from the red state of Kentucky, the effort is gaining support.

The media features show he has captured the public imagination and has a great communications team. But the alliances he's forming with principled colleagues in other states reveals his policy team is on the right track… and that in this case, good policy can also be good politics.

New York's Attorney General, who ran as a proud liberal in both the primary and the general, is taking the same "aggressive progressive" approach to his work on behalf of the people of New York. On financial fraud, the environment, equality and a host of other issues, he's been willing to lead. He is earning the attention and support he's getting; and in full disclosure, he has earned that support from me as well, as a past volunteer and donor to his campaigns.

But here's the truth: it's not really about Eric Schneiderman. We have all seen principled political voices get drowned out. What makes this different isn't that he's more passionate or more savvy -- it's that he's not alone. A network of progressive organizations have seen that he's a politician they can believe in and they have added their energy, insights and mailing lists to the cause.

MoveOn mobilized its 5 million member list on the mortgage fraud issue. CREDO Action's call named Schneiderman as the AG whose leadership the Obama Administration should follow. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is pushing AGs to stand up to the banks. Influential blogs like Naked Capitalism have joined the fight,as have newer sites including Reality Check. My own organization, Living Liberally, has heard from our Drinking Liberally happy hours around the country, that liberals all over are toasting New York's AG.

Having a principled politician is great; but success comes from a progressive infrastructure of grassroots groups, media outlets and think tanks that can join together for a fight. Those groups need to know a leader will stand strong; and that leader deserves to know he's not alone, and that other folks have his back.

As the investigations continue and the banks are forced to reveal and reckon with their actions, it will be because a progressive movement is pushing in one direction. And while AG Schneiderman might get -- and deserve -- some glowing articles, he'll be the first to admit this movement is about more than one man.

Justin Krebs is a political organizer and writer based in New York City. He is the founder of Living Liberally, a nationwide network of 250 local clubs that create social events around progressive politics, and author of "538 Ways to Live, Work and Play Like a Liberal."