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Face the Facts - Progressives are Losers

A commentary that summarizes a few problems we are all facing with the democratic leadership.
With the Republicans in control of the executive, legislative and, increasingly, judicial branches of our federal government, it is time for progressives to face up the sad truth that they are losers.

Only when we know where we stand can we begin to make wise choices about where we should be going. In this issue we provide two perspectives on directions progressives should consider taking.

Chalmers Johnson, the author of Blowback and, most recently, The Sorrows of Empire, lays out what a progressive foreign policy might look like. He writes, ?First and foremost, we should get out of Iraq and demand that Congress never again fail to honor article 1, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution giving it the exclusive power to go to war.?

Christopher Hayes challenges the time-honored assumption that a majority of Americans are in their hearts progressive?a political force ready to be activated by the right message. Instead, Hayes asks us to consider how we can win progressive converts. He suggests that creating a national, grassroots debtors movement ?should be a top progressive priority.? Such a movement, he writes, might have been able to stop ?the criminally venal bankruptcy bill just passed by the Senate? by a vote of 74 to 25.

What Johnson?s and Hayes? proposals have in common is that their ultimate success requires that the number of progressives grow to the point that we can influence the votes and behavior of members of Congress.

Were those Democrats who supported the bankruptcy bill, which exempts credit card debt from bankruptcy laws, voting on principle? According to the Center for Responsive Politics, since 1999 the Democrats who voted against the bill each have received an average of $20,200 from the credit card industry, as compared to the $51,200, on average, collected by the 18 Democrats who voted to pass it.

Similarly, Senate Democrats had an opportunity to weigh in on the Iraq war when they voted on whether to confirm Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state. They might have been expected to hold Rice accountable for her repeated lies about the dangers posed by Iraq. But only 13 Senate Democrats opposed her nomination.

Confirmation votes on two more Bush nominees, John Negroponte and John Bolton, provide Senate Democrats another opportunity to take a principled stand. Don?t hold your breath.

Being political animals, Democrats too often take the most politically expedient path. Barack Obama, for example, in his Senate debut voted to confirm Rice and help Bush pass the pro-corporate "tort reform" bill. That the darling of progressives can vote this way without fear of repercussion says something about progressives? lack of clout and political immaturity. Didn't we learn anything during the Clinton administration, when progressives muted their criticism of bad policies out of deference to their "friends" in power?

It is not enough to fight one judicial appointment or another legislative travesty. We need to confront Democratic legislators? tendency to take progressive support for granted, at the same time that we challenge the legitimacy of the conservative worldview that sets the national agenda.

Progressives must be proud of their ideals and not shirk the responsibility to defend them. As Garret Keizer writes in the current issue of Mother Jones, "Had Howard Dean been an evangelical Christian with an evangelical Christian base, would his followers have deserted him because his Iowa holler made him 'unelectable'? Or would they have closed ranks behind him because his stand on the Iraq war made him right?"

We are right, and though we may not be in the majority, we should be motivated by the conviction that the ideal of "liberty and justice for all" is a basic principle not to be compromised. Relentlessly defending that principle may seem hopeless, but we are not required to win now, only to persevere until winning becomes possible.

Crimes and Corruptions of the New World Order News:
 http://mparent7777.blog-city.com/read/1147942.htm
Progressives are Winners! 22.Mar.2005 10:51

Nutmeg Alfredo

Heard an interesting interview yesterday on NPR or Air America with the head of the Rainforest Action Network talking about how they're changing their tactics to go directly after businesses to drive change. Where they are having success - Home Depot, etc. I don't think calling Progressives losers helps at all. There are many victories and there are definitely failures - but these are failures in political battle, not our own personal failures - ie, we are not personally failures. We are fighting the good fight and it is important. Blaming ourselves and putting ourselves and our movement down does nothing useful IMHO.

Clarification Please 22.Mar.2005 11:05

Roland

What's the difference between a "progressive" and a plain vanilla democrat? And, should progressives belong to or support the Democratic Party?

Good article about bad influence of Democrats 22.Mar.2005 11:12

David

March 22, 2005
Aiding and Abetting
How the Democratic Party Fosters Conservatism

By M. JUNAID ALAM

The blurring of political distinctions between America's two major political parties, achieved through Democratic acquiescence to Republican ideas on every major national question, has prompted some progressives to conclude that Democrats and Republicans are now essentially identical. This conflation is a dangerous error: it is too kind an evaluation of the Democratic Party. For to view Democrats as mere Republican clones is to discount the far more pernicious role they play in encouraging a politically conservative framework that traps and demoralizes many Americans into adopting right-wing positions in the first place.

More at:

 http://www.counterpunch.org/alam03222005.html

What is a Progressive? 22.Mar.2005 13:59

Dexter Rexter

What the heck is a progressive. The Bush administration is incredibly progressive in the movement to eliminate government FOR the people. The Neo-Christians in the Republican party are certainly progressive in their movement to turn religion into a political platform.

I think we are doomed to the little boxes their spin machine puts us in if we continue to play along with these ridiculous labels like progressive, liberal, conservative etc. Even Republican and Democrat have come to mean completely different things to different people.

I consider myself a fiscal conservative (against running up national debt for business lobbyist payouts), a conservative when it comes to applying war as a political tool (I oppose having a standing military as did our founding fathers & mothers) and environmentally I am certainly a hardcore conservative in that it shares it's linguistic roots with conservation. When it comes to social policies and constitutional rights, I consider myself very liberal.

I think we have to speak about issues not labels. I am amazed how many people I talk to who claim to be conservative republicans yet when talking to them about issues, we seem a lot more similar than those who live and die by politically charged labels and oversimplifications would want us to believe.

Nix the labels and actually say what you mean. Only then can we have the real dialogue that will bring this nation back to it's senses.

As for the premise of the original post, I respectfully disagree. Losing battles does not make those fighting the fight losers. If none of the political parties speak for you then speak for yourself (as you have done by posting) and don't get marginalized with the rest of them. Support the party that leans your way on a particular issue in a particular moment. There is no party that you are going to agree with all the time. All our political parties (Green included) have gotten comfortable in assuming that their base will follow wherever they lead. We can disagree with them without having to destroy them and ourselves.

Here's a quote from the new Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza in Eugene. Wayne Morse was certainly a politician that had absolute disregard for petty labels and would never consider those with less popular ideals losers.

"I believe a great good can be accomplished by entering fights and espousing principles even though they will at the moment be unsuccessful."

Dexter Rexter

EXCELLENT ARTICLE 22.Mar.2005 15:44

Progressive Democrat

"We are right, and though we may not be in the majority, we should be motivated by the conviction that the ideal of "liberty and justice for all" is a basic principle not to be compromised. Relentlessly defending that principle may seem hopeless, but we are not required to win now, only to persevere until winning becomes possible."

I remain within the Democratic Party for the sole purpose of attempting to convince more Democrats of exactly what Joel Bleifuss has said, and said so simply yet eloquently!

Christopher Hayes is SPOT ON to suggest that we need to combine the progressive message with a populist approach to the American people! That program (for example, the national debtors movement) just might work to change the Democratic Party, and, if the Democratic Party won't change, the program just might work to move many Democrats into some other party, when and if that other POPULIST party becomes a substantial reality. A brilliant idea about a national, grassroots debtors movement!

Now, for the questions or views presented by Joel Bleifuss and the comments --

FIRST -- JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS CONNECT WITH THE CRUCIAL VOTE FRAUD TAMPERING ISSUES

Joel Bleifuss' idea that "it is not enough to fight one judicial appointment," might be true if we were not at a crucial constitutional crisis point concerning vote tampering problems (Diebold, etc.). If we are to be able to save democracy in this country, we MUST CONFRONT the 5-4 majority on the U.S. Supreme Court that ushered in this period of a fascist or corporatist take-over with its notorious decision in Bush v. Gore (the FloridaY2K decision). It's generally not known here in Oregon that the confrontation has already been engaged in a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals case brought by the ACLU and others in the context of the California recall election of September 2003.

Interference by the U.S. Supreme Court was avoided in that case by way of a mediated resolution between the plaintiffs and the state. Former California Secretary of State Shelley -- since forced out by the Republican/corporate powers, after Shelley's direct confrontation of the Diebold outfit -- is generally credited with the progress made through the mediation agreement toward putting adequate voting machines in place throughout California.

The $64 trillion question is how utterly political the 5-4 majority on the United State Supreme Court really is. Will the Court quickly move to reverse any lower court rulings that might benefit the Democrats and democracy?

When the 9th Circuit decision was first announced, there was a great brou-ha-ha stirred up by the Republicans about the least controversial aspect of the 9th Circuit decision -- the decision to postpone the special recall election long enough to implement corrections in voting machines. The 9th Circuit had taken the Bush v. Gore order, halting the Florida recount, to its logical conclusion -- that the federal courts have authority to order a state to postpone an election where voting methods are clearly compromised and need a reasonable time to be repaired. This led to a thinly veiled threat by a leading California Republican to bring in the U.S. Supreme Court, blatantly presuming that the Court (through the notorious 5-4 Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, et al. majority) could be presumed to function as a branch of the Republican Party.

A California state legislator, Sen. Tom McClintock -- who is supposed to have a reputation as an old-style honorable (??) Republican -- was the spokesperson for a threat based upon a presumption that the U.S.S.C. can be relied upon to move quickly to reverse the 9th Circuit when the electoral fortune of Republicans is at stake. See,

McClintock said the 9th Circuit "has become a national laughing stock" for previous rulings, such as one that found the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance amounted to an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

"I have every confidence that, in a short time, the U.S. Supreme Court will allow this election to go forward," he said. ----------- (CNN report, September 15, 2003)

 http://www.onlisareinsradar.com/archives/001740.php

I have to say that I just do not know. Has the U.S.S.C. been utterly corrupted by politics? Some will say that the fact has already been established by FloridaY2K.

 http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2005/3/18/165717/319/8#8

But we really do not know yet for sure, e.g., about Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. However, if it's true that the 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court is no more than a bunch of overblown political flunkies, then the sooner that fact is clearly established in every American's mind the better! So I am hoping that the issue will be forced in the lower courts, in California or elsewhere, ASAP. Especially since it appears that there will be vacancies on the Court within the next two years!

That's where the Democratic Party just may play a crucial role in saving democracy in America. There do appear to be enough hard-core old-style seriously-pissed leading Democratic senators to mount the necessary filibuster to stop any appointment to the Supreme Court. It will entail stopping the entire federal legislative process. What would be EXCELLENT would be if the fililbuster were to be connected to a mass movement -- ideally a general strike -- NOT IN SUPPORT OF THE DEMOCRATS but in support of DEMOCRACY ITSELF.

That's why progressives, and even radicals, must refrain from any broad-brush attack on the Democratic Party as such -- because any such attack will be playing into the hands of the corporate/fascist powers that love to play us in that way. Such attacks are, in any case, ridiculous considering that the Democratic Party is hardly the behemoth that is supposed to be! It is a very loose association of opponents to the fascist take-over. Have they worked within the duopoly in the past? Yes, of course. But the better question is: Does the old duopoly work for them anymore? I submit that it does not! Some Democrats are in denial of the manifest realities. My mission in the Democratic Party is to try to wake them up. Fuck political parties! Up yours, with your nihilist cynicism! We NEED the Democrats, if they will fight for their own survival, just as we need the Libertarians and the Independents and even the dissident or renegade Republicans. This is survival time for all of us, the time to choose between liberty and death!

PLEASE SEE MY COMMENTS (and others) at

 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/03/313834.shtml

about how so-called "progressives" like Alexander Cockburn work as shills for the fascists in a propaganda war to render the Senate Democrats absolutely powerless to stop the take-over. (Cockburn has been a "leftist" (??) leader in tagging the Diebold scandal as nothing but "conspiracy theory"!)

My critics continue to misrepresent my stand: I am not interested in the Democratic Party winning! My interest is in using every possible weapon, including the Democratic Party, to defeat fascism!

The vote tampering and fraud issues -- that have put Bush into office TWICE and that put the super-monkey into the governor's office in California and the monkey's brother into the same office in Florida -- MUST be confronted and, those issues are THE EXACT SAME issue as blocking, through filibuster, appointments to the federal judiciary.

SECOND "Nutmeg Alfredo" has it right. Progressives (whether Democrats or Greens or whatever) are not the losers, as such. The losers are the Earth, the American people, the people of Iraq, and so on. Are progressives to be termed "losers" because they are the only ones TRYING?

THIRD To clarify for "Roland" the difference between "progressive" and "plain vanilla" go to the Kucinich web site or to the web site for Jesse Jackson, Jr. If you think that Kucinich or Jackson should not belong to the Democratic Party, why don't you write to them and make that suggestion. (They may just reply that it is by way of being Democrats that they managed to get into the Congress -- and they just may ask YOU about what alternative party you would, as a practical matter, suggest to them?)

FINALLY As for the analysis of the American duopoly by M. Junaid Alam (posted by David) -- the progressives within the Democratic Party are also critical of how the Democratic Party has functioned, particularly under DLC leadership during the 90's, to "encourage a politically conservative framework that traps and demoralizes many Americans into adopting right-wing positions". I agree with that evaluation, but I still believe in supporting PROGRESSIVE Democrats and in the effort to USE the Democratic Party whenever possible to move the people out of the "conventional wisdom" box -- for example, as when the Democrats manage to wake the sleeping sheeple up to remember what Social Security is all about.

Captain 22.Mar.2005 18:18

Titanic

Let 'em sink with the ship......the ones in the boats with sails will catch the next trade wind to paradise.

and goodness and kindness 23.Mar.2005 01:19

and fluffy bunnies

Oh, Jesus. EVERYBODY is for "liberty and justice for all," you fuckin' idiot. The questions are about what kind of liberty and "justice" according to what rules. "Progressives" can't hold anybody's attention because they can't even bring themselves to get off the fuckin' fence and ADVOCATE anything. Voters suspect "progressives" don't stand for anything except reelecting themselves. We hope they're wrong, but it's not like the Proggies give us any evidence to present. "We're for liberty and justice, and they're not!" Lots of opportunity for meaningful debate there, oh yeah. Shit.

All your progressives 23.Mar.2005 02:50

.

Are belong to us

ack 23.Mar.2005 06:44

i offended myself

sorry about the "fuckin' idiot" bit

that wasn't called for

:-(

"Progressive Democrat"? 23.Mar.2005 14:20

Roland

As your democratic party sinks further and further into political bankruptcy, showing itself to be nothing more than the "left wing" of the capitalist party, and, as your continued embarrassment and perplexity grows in watching how it consistently betrays the working class, will you, then, transform yourself, once again - as you already have from "democrat" to "progressive democrat" - into "social democrat." I hope so, because once you've arrived at this plateau of political enlightenment, you will then be poised to morph even further still into perhaps "socialist." The Portland Indy public humbly awaits your next political incarnation with rapt anticipation.

Enuf talk, people, check it out ! 23.Mar.2005 23:53

PD

All well and good, people, even if it's mostly just ego coming out to beat some point of view down that is different from yours ---

BUT, when "and fluffy bunnies" says --

<<"Progressives" can't hold anybody's attention because they can't even bring themselves to get off the fuckin' fence and ADVOCATE anything.>>

I really have to refer you to the Kucinich website advocating POSITIVE AND EXPLICIT on every progressive program from WTO withdrawal to immediate withdrawal from Iraq ! !

Check it out --

 http://www.kucinich.us/issues/index.php