We progressives are bloodhounds when it comes to treeing DLC-style capitulation, incrementalism, "pragmatism". And that's a good thing, because Lord knows we'd be even further right if it weren't for the pushback we do provide. But, truth be told, we progressives succumb to the same weaknesses and defeatism we decry in the centrists. As distressed as we are about The Class War, for example, we place incredible constraints on what we are willing to do about it.
I've seen the following quote (paraphrased?) around DKos lately:True. Soon enough, a budget will be "done". And with that budget we can judge what its compilers and negotiators "believe". Basically, that there is nothing for it but to cave to the plutocrats, with the assistance of the tea party surrogates they've funded. Likewise, there is progressive activism being "done". And from the collective results of those efforts we can tell what progressives, as a whole, really believe. Basically, progressives demonstrate that they believe that there is nothing for it but to cave to the plutocracy, that the cost of not caving is too great for them, that others will have to pay an even higher cost later, when the obstacles will be even greater, the odds even longer.
"Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe."
Fortunately, there is at least one way to effectively deal with The Class War. (And more here.) As you can imagine, it is not easy. The opposition is both powerful and determined. What we have on our side is not only the truth and justice, which unfortunately are not enough, but large numbers. But it means we need some progressive opinion leaders to accept responsibility, not for all of us, but at least for themselves, and to lend their voices, street cred and networks to the effort. (And I just don't see that on DKos yet.) And then of course these leaders need to see a rapid groundswell of support to actually get the mountain of work involved done.
After eight years of Bush, we were able to do it to get Obama elected. Will we have to wait for another eight-year stretch of Republican extremism to mount another great offensive for progressivism, or can we act on the knowledge that, Democratic representation in D.C. or not, we can't get where we need to go from here. Not with this system. Can we do it without the centrists, who will no doubt fight us tooth and nail?
There may be other ways of achieving assured, substantive change. I can't identify them and I've tried. I don't mean more of the same tired approaches that have contributed to getting us into this mess. If we can say that supply-side economics has failed, and it we sure as hell can, then we can also say, unequivocally, that DLC political strategy has failed equally spectacularly. And "more and better Democrats" in a captive system won't work, either. In this system, the plutocrats will never need to purchase more than a small minority of votes to swing an outcome.
We need a completely new approach and one that we can envision producing assured success. No more methods for change we can't believe in. What's the point of that?
But having a solution is not the same as solving the problem, especially when so few are willing to pay the price. The failure of moral imagination on the part of progressives to undertake our responsibility to bring about the real change our representatives will not pursue is, like centrist pragmatism, just denialism, defeatism. There is an assumption that, practically speaking, nothing more can be done. Either we accept small increments of progress or, more frequently, no progress at all. Mostly, we accept failure, backsliding, as the social safety nets are unwound. And it is someone else's fault. The administration. Congress. Republicans.
Sorry, I don't believe it's anyone else's fault anymore. We always knew what we could expect from Republicans. Now that we know what we can expect from a Democratic Presidency and Congressional majority, it's our responsibility to roll with those punches and come up with a new strategy, one we believe will actually work.
Republicans pursue a "devil take the hindmost" policy on principle. We progressives accept the same policy by default, by blaming others and engaging in denialism, by not pursuing assured, substantive change.
Personally, I am beyond supporting this President, this Party to the degree I have in the past. As the old saw goes, I didn't leave the Party, the Party left me. Increment by increment. I will not be voting for this President or for any Democrats who are not fully committed to representing average people and the Democratic platform. If it is considered "purity" to demand Democrats fight against plutocrats raping and pillaging the country through the financial sector as well as government, then so be it. I am a proud purist. I will not be contributing to or participating in their campaigns. My money will go to Kucinich, Weiner, Sanders.
Centrists will please themselves with blaming me for any Republicans who win, conveniently sloughing off responsiblity for the failings of DLC politics, which is really what is representing "us" on the ballot. Since centrists are so loyal to Republican Lite, they need to take responsibility for its performance at the ballot box.If it comes to it, I'll gamble on more Republican extremism rather than DLC capitulation as a surer, faster path to progress.
What I would do is wholeheartedly support with time and money a plan for assured success. But because that plan, by definition, requires strength in numbers, I won't be marching in an army of one. One person can champion the plan. Others can encourage it. But ultimately a great many of us, including some DKos leaders, must embrace it.
In lieu of any other credible solutions, what exactly will it take for a critical mass of people to take responsibility for real change? I shudder to think. How about you?