Q: [W]hile the Democratic Party has moved left on issues like pot and gay marriage, a lot of people are saying the neoliberals have taken over the Democratic Party.Back in the day, the founder of this site wrote about his concern regarding the "silo-ization" of progressive activism. He meant he was concerned that progressives were becoming single issue, without commitment to the entire progressive project and the coalitions necessarily required to achieve progressive objectives. (In particular, this came up with regard to NARAL endorsing pro-choice Republicans.)
Kos: I actually think some of the most excitement coming from the Democratic Party are people like Elizabeth Warren, who are actually more progressive on economic issues than any democrat I’ve seen on the scene long time. Link
Today, Dalia Lithwick and Barry Friedman ask, "Have progressives abandoned every cause save gay marriage?" (See also Scott Lemieux's excellent response.) It strikes me at first blush as a very unfair question. But these are good writers and thinkers. Let's read what they have to say:
For those of you on the progressive merry-go-round, at least one brass ring is firmly within reach. The Supreme Court’s opinions in the pair of marriage equality cases decided last week have given the gay community— and all progressives who helped and cheered—much of what reasonably could have been expected. [...] But before you go all happy-dance, though, put your Champagne down for a second, because these decisions raise a profound question: What’s left? Not only as in “what’s next?” but more importantly as in “what else should the left stand for?” While progressives were devoting deserved attention to gay rights, they simultaneously turned their backs on much of what they once believed. This raises a critical question: what does it even mean to be left anymore? [Emphasis supplied.]Okay. So far so good. But it does seem issue-oriented rather than objective-oriented. I prefer my progressivism to be about achieving goals, not about particular fights. (Yes I understand they are intertwined but I like to start with the goals before I get into the specific issue fights.) But let's continue our reading below the fold:
[D]id you notice that, on the way to this victory, the left, as a movement, seemed to abandon almost everything else for which it once stood? That while gay marriage rose like cream to the top of the liberal agenda, the rest of what the left once cherished was shoved aside, ignored, or “it’s complicated” to oblivion? Stipulate: Gay rights is an unequivocally just cause. But this win, however deserved, addresses no more than a small fraction of what the left once believed essential.Huh. I'm not sure why celebrating the win means forgetting about everything else. Indeed, at least at this website, much of Sunday was devoted to a big loss at the Supreme Court, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. I don't understand this accusation:
Progressives could have pushed marriage equality without ditching all the causes and ideas on which their movement was founded. It’s not like anyone in the gay community ever asked them to abandon the rest of their agenda. But progressives did.They did? When did that happen? At Netroots Nation, "the rest of the agenda" was front and center it seemed to me.
I think it is true that much of the progressive agenda has been muted, but not by progressives, but rather by most politicians, particularly those of the Democratic Party. The essential messages of justice, fairness and liberty have been overwhelmed by tribal politics in many instances.
And it is not a easy balance for the progressive. We understand the political alternative—tea party Republicanism—is horrible. So striking the right balance between pragmatic politics and progressivism is not always easily done.
Do we need to? Of course. But I found Lithwick and Friedman's rhetorical scapegoating of gay rights to be unseemly and rather off putting.
I agree with their message—let's continue the fight for all progressive goals, but I deplore the method—scapegoating gay rights. There should have been a better way for these able writers to make their points.