I have been thinking for some time about how progressives keep on getting short-changed with political and social advancements. I think that it is time for a change in strategy. I know that we dont want to aspire to be like the religious right, but they are actually amazingly efficient at getting what they want. I believe that the reason for this is because they ask for some of the most extreme changes possible. It is becoming increasingly evident that our current administration is going to continue its philosophy of compromising from the outset so we therefore must adapt our own strategy if we want to accomplish anything at all. Instead of asking for what we see as reasonable we should instead ask for the most extreme possible variation of what we want, then after the compromising is done we will end up with some reasonable advancements.
Today's political climate has made it almost impossible for any serious legislative changes to be enacted. We all know that instead of enacting a real stimulus package (somewhere upwards of $1.2 trillion towards infrastructure and government jobs ) or any sort of housing foreclosure safety our government has instead compromised to weak solutions (30% of $800 billion towards tax cuts) or no solutions (as is the case for the housing crisis). When sweeping changes are required we get modest advancements which usually end up being a wash or even negative as they give Republicans an example of a failed Democratic legislative example.
Make no mistake, sweeping changes are necessary. Our economy is limping on, our education system is lagging, civil liberties are constantly being eroded, the rich poor gap keeps on growing, and the environment is shuddering under the ecological disasters humans perpetuate. When we ask for these sweeping changes to be enacted we get modest incremental adjustments not real change. How is it that the religious right which is in a significant minority in our country seems to get everything they want and progressives who are on the rise (maybe even a majority) cant seem to achieve anything? The answer is that we are too reasonable. Extremists are in there very nature extreme in their demands. The problem is the debate is set by the two extremes.
If the right asks for a christian nation and the left asks for religious freedom the compromise ends up being religious persecution of not all but many religions and a steady injection of religion into our politics.
If the right asks for no government spending and no new taxes and the left asks for government spending and a progressive tax system the compromise ends up being a flat tax and government spending only on the military.
If the right says that global warming doesnt exist and the left asks for a green economy and green jobs the compromise ends up being the status quo and a handful of incentives to slightly improve the environmental situation.
If the right asks for preemptive destruction of any religion or culture which doesnt think America is the best and the left asks for respecting other cultures and religions the compromise ends up being we preemptively attack a few nations which might prove useful for the richest of the rich in America but detrimental for our world image and the average American family (soldiers families and depletion of Americas money chest to fruitless endeavors).
If the right asks for judges who think abortion is a sin, guns carried by everyone in a school make the children safer, corporations should be able to contribute unlimited amounts to our political debate, and civil liberties can be disposed of because the government thinks its more convenient and the left asks for reasonable judicial prudence and empathy the compromise ends up being activist "conservative" judges who will rewrite the constitution and move away from our true conservative philosophies written in that pesky document of the Constitution.
These are just a few examples of how the right pulls the debate and what is seen as reasonable further and further to the right. It is easy enough to blame Obama or Democrats in Congress for not enacting sufficiently progressive legislation but it doesnt actually accomplish anything. I feel that it is necessary to push and pull them by any means necessary. If we keep on only asking for what we see as a reasonable advancement instead of demanding truly sweeping and even extreme changes then we will constantly be disappointed and receive nothing of any true value.
We must therefore demanding a return to a truly progressive tax code (not just settling for a flat tax), a complete and immediate removal of American troops from any arena (not just settling for a removal of troops in 2 years), social programs which actually put our entire population to work (not just settling for 8% unemployment), complete energy independence (not a gradual reduction of oil dependency), a complete and immediate removal of the military industrial complex, healthcare for anyone who needs it, a good education for everyone (not just the rich who can afford private schools or the Northeast who doesnt believe that evolution is a "theory"), a true stimulus package of say $10 trillion. After making this list these dont even really seem extreme enough. We have to pull the debate far to the left of what we think is a reasonable compromise.