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In the current scheme of things, progressives can support the Democrats to keep Republicans, who are pretty much batshit crazy, out of office. That's a worthy goal. In fact, it's the reason I vote for Democrats. But sadly, rarely do I really think I'm voting for a Democrat who will fight for the poor and working people of this country. I'm just voting to keep out of office some sort of fascistic nutcase who lives in an alternative universe where global warming is a joke, tax cuts for the wealthy help everyone, war is peace and gays need to be prayed straight.

But it has become so evident this past year that merely voting to keep a Republican out of office does little to forward progressive policies. The Democratic party has clearly shown itself to be every bit as corporate-owned as the GOP. Yes, there are a handful of real progressives in the party. The House, especially, has a fairly good-sized progressive caucus. But it seems that the Democratic leadership favors keeping the conservadems happy. After all, the conservadems can change parties and become Republicans with few if any qualms, but the progressives have no other party to join. In Congress, progressives will accept crumbs; however, the conservadems insist on a four-course banquet and if the Dem leadership won't give it to them they can go across the aisle and get it from the GOP, who'd love to boost their numbers and get back in power. That's the political reality of today's two-party system.

Can we do something about this? Is it realistic to think that the Democratic party can be pushed into being more progressive? Or is it time for a new political party? Can that happen? Should it?

Surely there are progressives with enough money and enough passion to bankroll the founding of a new progressive party. Surely they see--as do most progressives--that there is little hope of pushing this Democratic party into passing legislation that makes corporations and conservatives too unhappy. This means no public option, no expansion of Medicare, no real green infrastructure development, no serious transformation of public education, no serious regulations to stop predatory lending, pollution, production of toxic wastes, etc. You get the picture. We get the same business-friendly policies of the last eight years, window-dressed with empty progressive buzzwords and few real results.

Now, maybe I'm being too cynical. I hope so. I hope someone convinces me that the Democrats aren't a lost cause, that they really will get around to passing policies that improve the lives of poor and working-class and middle-class people in this country. I truly want to be wrong because some party MUST represent the poor and working-class and middle-class.

(You can skip the next three paragraphs if you have no patience for soap-boxing.)

Some party HAS to do this or we drift further away from the beautiful ideals that founded this nation, ideals that we have had to work hard to realize. When progressive politics were ascendant from the 1930s to the 1960s, that's when we made the most progress toward civil and economic justice--and that's when we built a huge and prosperous middle class thanks to the New Deal, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Movement, the Labor Movement. We have never perfectly embodied the ideals of equality and freedom and bountiful opportunity, but we've been at our best when we've pushed our country to move closer to them.

We need a party to respond to that impulse in the people, the impulse to create opportunity for all, to see that the law is applied equally to all, to see that the government protects us from predators, individuals and corporations, that would deprive us of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to increase their wealth.

And I'm preaching to the choir. I know that most of you want to see progressive policies enacted in this country and most of you share my frustration. We may differ in who we most blame, but we're in agreement that something's gotta give--and soon.

CAN the Democratic party be a progressive party? Or in the constraints of a two-party system, with both parties fighting over the middle, is that pretty much impossible? Conservadems are more valuable and therefore subject to more placating by Democratic leadership because they have another party they can readily switch to. It would be nothing for Nelson or Landreiu or Lincoln to switch to the GOP. They (and the majority of their constituents) are more closely allied with Snowe and the few remaining moderate Republicans. But where would Kucinich go? Where would Franken go? Where would any progressive Senator or Representative go? Surely not the Republican party. So progressives have little leverage in the Democratic party.

It seems to me that a third party, an economically populist progressive party, would move that damned Overton window back to the left. And progressive arguments for policies that would make people's lives better wouldn't get diluted and compromised into unpalatable weak tea.

I think it would benefit us enormously as a nation to have more political parties and to break apart the GOP-Democratic either/or dialogue we've been stuck in for too long.

What do you think?

Originally posted to cassandraX on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 03:03 PM PST.


Should there be a separate, progressive party?

50%64 votes
35%45 votes
8%11 votes
4%6 votes

| 126 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    "'Things would be a lot worse without us,' is not a winning campaign slogan." Barney Frank

    by cassandraX on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 03:03:20 PM PST

  •  The age old question.There're too many splintered (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ivan, trumpeter, TheLizardKing

    interest groups out there.

    Impeach Obama- some dkos clown (Jan 05, 2010)

    by soms on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 03:06:49 PM PST

  •  We tried that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Drowning Wave, soms

    Remember Ralph Nader?

    It didn't work.

    I voted for Nader in 2000. That's how I know progressive purity tests don't work.

    by VelvetElvis on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 03:07:31 PM PST

  •  We need election method reform first (10+ / 0-)

    As long as we have the "first past the post" voting system it only makes sense to have two parties.  If we had instant runoff voting multiple parties would make sense.

    I voted for Nader in 2000. That's how I know progressive purity tests don't work.

    by VelvetElvis on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 03:08:36 PM PST

    •  Exactly (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drewfromct, stunvegas

      Winner take all systems almost guarantee that third parties will be futile.  And it's almost impossible to see Dems and wingers voting for a reform that will reduce their power.  

    •  As I Read IRV It's Equally Suppressive. (0+ / 0-)

      The description I see is that, failing a majority win, we turn to the 2nd choice candidate of those voters whose 1st choice finished LAST.

      If that's IRV it's crazy. When the bulk of voters can't pick a winner, we turn to the looniest people in the country who voted for Michael Mouse, Kang and Aunt Sally.

      If on the other hand, we took the 2nd choice of the voters whose 1st choice finished THIRD, seems to me we'd be rewarding the minority parties who'd built up a significant presence. Even if they didn't get into power, the 2 larger parties would need to reach out to them to earn 2nd choice ballots.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 04:11:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Draw the pie chart (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The answer is manifest.

    They tortured people to get false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

    by yet another liberal on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 03:09:38 PM PST

  •  The US is not like Israel, where even minor (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Drowning Wave, soms

    fringe parties can win seats in the Knesset if they poll above a certain threshold in the single digits. And that's why third parties will not be part of the US political system for the foreseeable future.

    I could see a "progressive" third party being a minor political force in dark blue places like San Francisco, Berkeley, Boulder, parts of rural CO, parts of rural AK, parts of rural NM, maybe parts of MT, Madison, Ann Arbor, Ithaca, Cambridge, and parts of Manhattan.

    Otherwise they would be DOA everywhere else.

  •  There IS a third, progressive party here in NY (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drewfromct, soms

    It pushes Democrats to be more Progressive. It only runs its own candidates where it would not split the vote....where there is no risk of losing a seat to a Republican:

    The Working Families Party (WFP) is New York’s liveliest and most progressive political party. Formed by a grassroots coalition of community organizations, neighborhood activists, and labor unions, we came together build a society that works for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected.

    We fight to hold politicians accountable on the issues working- and middle-class families care about, like good jobs, fair taxes, good schools, reliable public transportation, affordable housing, and universal healthcare.



    Media Reform Action Link

    by LNK on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 03:13:08 PM PST

    •  NY has a unique policy to allow third parties (0+ / 0-)

      The brouhaha in NY-23 was largely caused because candidates can run for more than one party. So if the Conservative Party of NY, or the WFP, thinks it would do more good to support an existing candidate than to run their own, they do that. When it's time to run their own candidate, the state of NY has kept them alive.

    •  NYS has a different system (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      NYS allows candidates to run on multiple ballot lines.  This means that the Working Families Party can endorse the Democratic or Republican candidate for various offices.  This also allows voters to vote for the endorsed candidate on the WFP line, which shows the candidate how much of their support was due to the WFP.  

      This is a reform that activists in other states could fight for that may have a chance of passage.  

  •  interesting poll results thus far (0+ / 0-)

    How would it hurt progressives to have a progressive party?

    Do people think we'd be too granola-ish and marginalized?

    What about a party that spoke for poor and working people in this country? That really wasn't corporate-owned? That fought for universal health care, unionization, affordable and quality higher education and job training, jobs?

    A preachy, patronizing progressive party would be doomed--deservedly.

    A populist progressive party would probably fly, don't you think?

    •  Republicans would celebrate (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Drowning Wave, soms, cwsmoke

      Without our votes, Dems would lose a lot more often.  And Republicans would dominate government at all levels.  

      We have to reform election law to give third parties a fair shake before moving in this direction.

      We're much better off focusing on making the Democratic Party more progressive.

      •  how do we do that? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        How do we make the Democratic party more progressive? Aren't they as progressive as they dare be?

        If they become more progressive, won't they lose Blue Dogs and become the minority party again?

        But when the Blue Dogs have so much leverage in the Democratic party, what precisely do progressives gain when Democrats are in control?

    •  What makes you think these people can't (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      be "owned"?  If they ever achieve any power, they will be.  You will end up with members of this 3rd party you love and at least a few you loathe.

      •  Good point--unfortunately (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I guess I'm just wondering if there is ANY way for progressive policies to be anything more than fanciful thinking.

        I'm especially wondering this after the health care reform machinations this past year.

        •  Unfortunately, we have the Senate and their (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          stupid rules.  So my answer is no.  Radical progressive change won't make it through the system (3rd party or not).  I think the incremental approach is the best we have unless there are ways to change the rules w/o the MSM following FOX's lead with a complete meltdown of epic proportions.

  •  I'd like to have 5 or 6 viable parties. n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drewfromct, cassandraX

    Census workers = "enumerator's." Enumerator's? Are we taking the census or making a James Cameron movie?

    by ZenTrainer on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 03:33:39 PM PST

    •  I would, too, actually (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Paul Goodman, drewfromct, ZenTrainer

      I think it would break up the monopolies of the Democrats and Republicans, who are both essentially committed to pleasing the corporations that fund them. The big differences are in "values" presentations. When the GOP is in charge, we have George Bush pretending to push that odious "Marriage Amendment" to the Constitution. When the Democrats are in charge, we have Obama making speeches about the need for a public option to "keep the health insurers honest." Neither delivers--fortunately in Bush's case and unfortunately in Obama's. But these are poses designed to appeal to their "bases."

      It's like that scene in Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 when W. jokingly calls a group of wealthy elites his base. Of course, we saw through that joke. But the painful reality seems to be that the joke is on us if we think the Democratic party isn't playing to the same real base: the monied.

      Barring a third party--or more parties--we could at least have some real political reform if we took big money out of politics. But that surely won't happen. Neither party will go for that.

      So are we trapped in a dysfunctional political system with no real reform in sight?

  •  So you think the way to defeat corporatism (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Drowning Wave, soms, trumpeter

    is to divide the left into a gaggle of squabbling parties while the right is unified.  Brilliant.

    "What is great in Man is that he is a bridge and not an end." - Friedrich Nietzsche

    by Troubadour on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 03:36:00 PM PST

    •  Is it more brilliant to fold the left (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drewfromct, blueoasis, TheUnknown285

      into the Democratic party, which can't even pass a decent health care reform bill for fear of alienating the corporations?

      Look, I'm asking questions. I don't think the status quo of Dems vs. GOP is giving progressive policies much of a toehold.

      I'm wondering if there is another way.

      Jeez....Why do people love to throttle up to INDIGNANT on the intertubes....

      •  How do you know it "can't"? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        We have a handful of bad Democrats in the Senate, and over the next few years we'll have plenty of opportunities to primary them.  Or were you under the impression that starting a new party from scratch and taking ground from the Democrats while keeping Republicans at bay would be easier and quicker?

        "What is great in Man is that he is a bridge and not an end." - Friedrich Nietzsche

        by Troubadour on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 04:02:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Like I said, I'm asking questions.... (0+ / 0-)

          Do you think it's possible to primary the Democratic into a more progressive party? Or is it more likely that it would be primaried into minority status again?


          And I don't mean this in an argumentative way.

          I'm truly doubtful that Democratic party is capable of being a progressive party, not if progressive means looking out for the best interests of the poor and the working class and the shrinking middle class. I worry that the system works against progressive policies--as it did this past year.

          So I'm wondering if there is a way to change the system: new parties, political reforms, etc.

          I'm not quite sure why wondering aloud about all of this has provoked such disdain.

          •  Okay... how do you think 60 progressives of any (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            party make it into the Senate?  We're getting decent stuff through the House.  It's the Senate that sucks.  How do you do it with all of the small conservative states?  I live in Oklahoma.  The progressives here simply move to more progressive states.  This makes the Republicans here even more extreme (Coburn, Inhofe).  Since the Senate gives my state equal power to California, I'm sorry to say that I think were fucked.

          •  Glenn Beck "asks questions" too. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Do you think it's possible to primary the Democratic into a more progressive party?

            Of course it is.  

            Or is it more likely that it would be primaried into minority status again?

            Not if we only go after conservadems who are more conservative than their constituents.

            I'm truly doubtful that Democratic party is capable of being a progressive party

            Then why are you here?  This is a blog for Democrats and allies of the Democratic Party.

            I worry that the system works against progressive policies--as it did this past year.

            It always has and always will, everywhere, throughout history.  And yet "still it moves."

            I'm not quite sure why wondering aloud about all of this has provoked such disdain.

            Because it isn't just a bad idea - it's one with no rational basis whatsoever.  There are always people who just can't cooperate to achieve results - we saw that in 2000 with folks who called Al Gore a corporatist puppet, and thought it would make no difference if Bush was in power.  

            The capacity of such people to delude themselves into self-gratifying irresponsibility is infinite, and I personally have no patience with anything that even resembles that kind of stupidity.

            "What is great in Man is that he is a bridge and not an end." - Friedrich Nietzsche

            by Troubadour on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 04:28:54 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  We have to do it within the party. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, Steppin Razor

    And that means destroying the conservative and corporatist wings of the Democratic Party once and for all.

    •  how do we do that and still win elections? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That's the question the Democratic leadership will ask in response.

      The Democrats began to win in 2006 and continued winning in 2008 by being more of a big tent party than the GOP. Blue Dogs were courted and cultivated by the leadership. They aren't in Congress by accident. They're there because they are the kind of conservative Democrat that will win their conservative districts. Or so the thinking goes.

      Democrats are obviously afraid that if they take firmer progressive stands that they'll alienate

      •  We're losing because of them. (0+ / 0-)

        We didn't win in 2006 or 2008 because of the Blue Dogs.  We won because the Republicans fucked up so badly that people decided to come to us.  And we're losing now because the ConDems have kept us from getting anything done and kept us from having a coherent message.  

  •  Notice the Rightwing Took Over Republicans Rather (4+ / 0-)

    than starting a 3rd party. They went to work 40 years ago or so and started joining local party organizations and filling up school board & council seats etc.

    Howard Dean and Thom Hartmann both are champions of that idea. Even in the beginning you have most of the media access and at least some funding support of the mainstream party, whereas you've got squat if you're starting a 3rd party.

    And remember, a 3rd progressive party has absolutely nothing backing it. No big church, no big business, unions at best are pretty weak these days. The Democratic Party is the best game in town but we have to get people to move into it in party positions as well as elected office.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 04:15:10 PM PST

    •  They have nothing to show for it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      except that they were robbed by the same people who robbed us.

      Unless you count some petty "social issues".

      In this age of falseness, only howls of agony ring true.

      by Paul Goodman on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 04:22:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We're not 'there' yet. (0+ / 0-)

        It took the pubbies decades, it's taking us decades.

        We've got to keep building the progressive caucuses and primarying the blue dogs.  As I note below, if we can simply keep their seats turning over, we can shift the leadership positions over to progressives by starving the conservatives of seniority.

        I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken. - Oliver Cromwell

        by Ezekial 23 20 on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 05:37:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  excellent points.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The only way a third progressive party could fly would be if it had a clearly defined platform that united the working class, poor, and middle class.

  •  Exactly what the baggers want....a split! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    soms, teahead
  •  This third party idea is incredibly stupid. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    soms, trumpeter

    This isn't Europe. Ours is not a parliamentary democracy. The Constitution sets up a byzantine system of government that does not favor coalitions. We have a two-party system in no small part because

    If you want to replace the Democrats with a more progressive party, it has to replace the Democrats as the second party, intended to compete against the Republicans. And quite frankly, such a movement has to wait for the Democrats to disintegrate.

    Such disintegration could happen soon if the Democrats fold on progressive issues, demonstrate continued lack of party discipline, and alienate the base. The same thing happened to the Whigs, which is how the Republicans got their start.

  •  I think commentators are confusing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the idea of a third party for local and state elections, with the idea of a third party as it would likely effect a national, presidential election.

    A local, state, and perhaps even a regional third party would be worthwhile. A national third party involved in a presidential election would certainly be more chancy.

    •  Not necessarily. (0+ / 0-)

      The problem being that if you get really good candidates elected locally as third party candidates, they'll have a tougher time moving up the food chain to state or national positions.

      Get the good candidates with the Dem brand name, and they can stay good candidates as they move up, and have an easier time doing so.  Simply having a (D) won't automatically corrupt them in most cases.

      (Now there may be an argument for running 'independent' candidates in deep red areas that would never vote dem now...)

      I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken. - Oliver Cromwell

      by Ezekial 23 20 on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 05:32:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You don't need one. (0+ / 0-)

    The 'Democratic Party' is not a monolith.  It is composed of many different players, with a variety of stances.  We need to promote those members within it who have the more progressive stances, but are struggling to either get elected or stay elected, eventually building a solid coalition of those who are progressive on most, if not all issues.

    Find and promote primary challengers, when a democrat egregiously flouts the party platform.  You may not be able to replace a conservative democrat with anything but another conservative democrat, but the act alone of replacing them helps the party become more progressive by making it so that conservatives don't build up the seniority to take over important committees.  

    Ideally, we will wind up with long term progressive congresscritters and short term conservative ones, moving the window ever so slightly left with each primary replacement.

    Do not promote incumbency simply because the person has a (D), but because they have achieved a syncopation with the party platform.

    I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken. - Oliver Cromwell

    by Ezekial 23 20 on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 05:28:22 PM PST

  •  In Canada we have three parties (0+ / 0-)

    and the Green Party which takes 10% of the vote but has no seats.

    I think a tea party party would be good for the US. It would use Colin Powell's words, the "Crazies", and leave the rest of you to find a new middle away from the ultra right..

    Two parties or three,or four the problem still remains the ideological right and their large donors.

    If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. Dalai Lama

    by ohcanada on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 05:34:56 PM PST

    •  My friends in the UK and Australia think we're (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      nuts to have only two parties, and with all the corporate politicians I'm beginning to think they're correct...

      Time is the best teacher. Unfortunately it kills all its students. - Berlioz

      by cwsmoke on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 07:45:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  NO! Use PRIMARIES to elect progressives (0+ / 0-)


    NADER did a wonderful job in FL.  75,000+ voted for Nader in 2000 in Fl.

    And that resulted in carnage.

    Shore up the base in blue states; then start grass roots movements in red states.

  •  Good diary. Rec'd. (0+ / 0-)

    Good god the hate for exploring the obvious.
    We will see more and more of these as the weeks pass.  Third Party will be the new progressive wave.

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