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Remember how a the beginning of the year we were gloating about how the Republicans were ripping themselves apart in internecine ideological conflicts?  Well, we've stopped laughing about it now.

Progressives are happy to support the Administration when it comes to gun control, and climate legislation, and gay rights, and voting rights.  But as has been noted, these issues are being exploited by the Third Way establishment to keep Americans reluctantly voting, volunteering, and donating for candidates whose Rubinite economic policies and support of the unconstitutional Police State are gradually destroying this country.  The answer isn't Republicans, who are even worse, or Libertarians, who will have us all living in Thunderdome: America subsisting off the flesh of librarians and retirees.

Progressives are getting angry, and not merely because politicians in whom they put their faith and hard work turned around to support some of the very same policies as those we fought to keep out of office.  We're getting angry because it means that there are two party establishments that need to be overcome, not one.  

It's time to remake the Democratic Party and provide the United States with a REAL populist option, and not a Neoliberal imitation of one.

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To put it simply, we need to embrace the populists with proven track records of fighting for American jobs, and standing against the expansion of surveillance powers.  Sherrod Brown, Howard Dean, Elizabeth Warren, Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley, Alan Grayson, Marcy Kaptur, John Lewis, Jim McGovern, and Bernie Sanders immediately come to mind.

On the other hand, we have those Establishment Democrats who have taken an active role in the dismantling of our industries through free trade, the devastation of our small businesses by big box chains, the collapse of our banking system through Clinton-era deregulation, the corruption of our media outlets through mergers, and the frightening endangerment of our constitutionally-protected liberties through collaboration with the Neocons.

They are not populists.  Their policies are hurting America.  And though they may be liberal on social issues, so is Lloyd Blankfein, who if asked I'm sure would say that he's fine with gay marriage and gun control.  So if we wouldn't vote for Lloyd Blankfein, why would we vote for those who essentially work for him?  Cory Booker, for example, is a nice guy.  As a public figure he's almost impossible not to like.  But he's so close to Wall Street that he makes President Obama look like Robert Reich.  We need reformers who dare to dream a little bigger than working within the parameters set by Big Money.

We need populists.  And those candidates who are not populists, need to be challenged in the primaries.  

In terms of policy, the Tea Party is wrong on virtually every issue.  But in terms of strategy, they had it totally right.  Primary the Republicans who didn't stand for what Republican voters actually wanted, and bring in the REAL conservatives.  Voters will turn out in droves if somebody is actually speaking their language.  We need to do the same: bring in REAL populist Democrats.  New Dealers, hollering JOBS-JOBS-JOBS.  William Jennings Bryant types, only without the laughable disregard for science.  Then, perhaps for once, the American people will be presented with a genuine choice between two very different ideas.  That's the problem with this corporate centrism: there's virtually no difference in economic thought, people are simply voting on which party's boogeymen are going to get kicked around when it comes to the social issues.  The natural result is that there is a constant need to keep voters interested because leaders aren't actually doing anything, and so boogeyman-kicking has become the principle activity of each party, in lieu of actual policy-making.

Kamala Harris should have primaried Dianne Feinstein in 2012.  We progressives should be ashamed that we're stuck with this war profiteer and arch defender of the surveillance state for another six years.  Barbara Boxer is a far superior Senator, one of the few remaining Senators to have voted against the repeal of Glass-Steagall, and she also sponsored a bill in 2004 to fight outsourcing and offshoring.

The biggest argument that has been made by centrist Democrats against challenging establishment Dems is that primary challengers will typically be too far to the left for general-election voters.  I feel this is totally incorrect when it comes to populists, however.  We're not the Tea Party, challenging their right-wingers on social issues.  We'd be pushing Democrats to challenge Democrats, and they will both likely be on the same page when it comes to all the usual Democrat stances on social issues.  Instead, we should be pushing for Democratic primary challenges on two issues alone: jobs and civil liberties.

If Chuck Schumer gets primaried in 2016 because he's not willing to go to the mats on behalf of Main Street, that's not going to make his challenger less electable upstate, in fact it's going to make the challenger more electable!  We need a Buffalo senator, a Troy senator, not a Wall Street senator.

The question is, should red-state reps and senators be primaried?  Again, if they are not going to take on Wall Street, and if they won't fight against the free trade status quo in order to bring the jobs back, then they are doing no good to us on either front.  A Neoliberal corporatist Louisiana Senator who can't endorse gun control or gay marriage should be primaried and replaced by a populist JOBS-JOBS-JOBS Louisiana Senator who can't endorse gun control or gay marriage.

We need to stand strong against the Establishment's presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, and just as we did in 2008, fight our way through the mud until we have the progressive alternative.  But this time, instead of getting burned by a progressive alternative who actually turned out to be an Establishment figure all along, we should go with a proven populist, someone who can never be anything but a populist!  And that is Sherrod Brown.  I made the case to support him for the nomination in a diary last week.

But ultimately, it's not just about the presidency.  We need a populist wave.  We need to take the Senate and the House.  We need to take the governors' mansions and the statehouses and the city halls.  And a bunch of stuffy Wall Street-funded, K Street-vetted Neoliberals who don't know how to make a stand for anything aside from NSA wiretapping, these are not the kinds of inspirational candidates who can take the nation by storm.  Democrats are slowly taking ground, but we shouldn't be content to simply let demographics do all the work for us.  We should be running REAL leaders, who will fight for the people, and work to reverse the horrible economic damage that has been done to this country over the past thirty years.  Then we'll see a real fuckin' groundswell for a change, and not a manufactured facsimile of one built upon billions in corporate donations.

UPDATE:

Wow, I had no idea this made it into the Community Spotlight!  Thanks, everybody!

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Stormin on Wed Jul 10, 2013 at 03:53 PM PDT.

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