"Squad" Democrats failed on their biggest policy priority of 2021 when moderate Sen. Joe Manchin declared he wouldn't support his party's massive reconciliation spending bill – though Progressives still showed their power this year as they controlled Democrats' agenda and conquered the political conversation. [tweet_embed] December 30, 2021[/tweet_embed] "They lost the infrastructure-reconciliation battle. But you shouldn't think about this in terms of outcomes," R Street Institute senior fellow for governance James Wallner explained according to 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 announced that in 2021, "Squad" members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., have been battle-tested as legislators, possibly setting themselves up for future success if they learn the right lessons regarding 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 announced. "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." [tweet_embed] December 30, 2021[/tweet_embed] This year wasn't only about lessons learned for Progressives and the "Squad." House Progressive Caucus Deputy Whip Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., told Fox News that his caucus dictated the agenda for Democrats in 2021 in a way they never did before. "We have a prominent seat at the table. I think a few years ago, our issues were not at the center of the discussion. Now they are," Khanna announced. "Expanding Medicare to include dental, vision, hearing aid – that's something that had broad support in the caucus. Expanding having universal preschool – broad support. Having child care – broad support. Bold climate provisions – broad support. Ending forever wars – broad support." Khanna lauded Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., for their presidential campaigns, which he explained helped show how much public support there is for the Progressives' worldview. Wallner said Progressives' best messenger might be Ocasio-Cortez herself. [tweet_embed] December 30, 2021[/tweet_embed] "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 stated.