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I can understand people hoping that Elizabeth Warren runs for President, and smashes Wall Street’s hold on the Democratic Party leadership. I can understand people hoping that a new Pope willing to directly attack the economic doctrine of “trickle down” will finally usher in a new era of real economic reform and prosperity.

But I’m here to tell you that no one person - no matter how passionate, no matter how sincere, no matter how incorruptible, no matter how high their position, no matter how great their power - no one person is going to save the world for you.

You have to do it yourself.

Well, to be absolutely precise: you have to join with a few hundred thousand like-minded individuals to give that one person in whom you place so much hope, the political freedom of action to do what you want done. Or, in some cases, and on some issues, you need to be so loud, so disruptive, so capable of inflicting real political pain, that the one person in whom you place your hope, feels that the only politically safe thing to do, is what you want.

More, lots more, below the Great Orange Squiggle....

I remember well after President Obama was first elected in 2008, there was a giddiness, even an arrogance, on the left. A lot of people seemed to think that by elevating this former community organizer to the White House, a lot of problems had been solved--or would be. How many of you remember those pictures of Obama, grinning widely, with arms outstretched - with the superimposed caption, “Don’t worry, I’ve got this” - posted by people airily dismissing concerns that the new President was assembling an economics team that looked suspiciously a lot like Bill Clinton’s?

The plain fact is that a small number of very wealthy elites have achieved a chokehold on economic policy making in the United States.  We can no longer delude ourselves that the United States is a government of, for, and by the people. The harsh truth is that the American polity is no longer a republic; it has degenerated into a plutocratic oligarchy, with political power based on the ability to finance political campaigns. In simpler words: political power in America is based on wealth. And this is most true at the highest levels of our political system. The institutional and cultural arrangements of political and economic power in the United States are such that it is foolish to think that the President of the United States represents all the people in any real sense other than figuratively.

And those arrangements are not going to change, even if somehow, some day, someone like Senator Warren becomes President.

But this does not mean that progressive change is impossible in the United States. It simply means that hoping to elevate one good progressive to the White House is a dangerous diversion from the job we need to do.  The federal structure of government designed by the Founders – with political power diffused at the local, state, and national levels, overlaid with an institutional superstructure of three branches of government intended to check and balance each other – offers fissures and pressure points in the political system in which dominance by the rich is not complete and total. This reality is what progressives need to understand thoroughly, and use ruthlessly, to leverage political power where it can do the most good.

This has been demonstrated repeatedly in American political history: Focusing on the White House race is a huge waste of time, money and effort for progressives. At the same time, however, we need to prevent reactionaries like Newt Gingrich, neo-confederates like Rick Perry, or corporatist banditti like Mitt Romney, from getting their hands on the penultimate levers of political power. But for progressives, the fulcrum for leveraging power to achieve real political change are down-ticket offices: local and state offices, and especially the U.S. House of Representatives, and wherever possible, the U.S. Senate.

This is what conservative extremists have done the past thirty years, and we all visit DailyKos regularly to bewail the results. Its why the United States continues to suffer under the economic and other policies that are basically conservative, despite those policies being widely unpopular. We need to copy the Tea-bagger playbook. But, realize this: we’re not really mimicking the Tea-baggers; the tea-baggers are mimicing us. That’s right: It is the progressives of the late 1800s, our side, that first seized control of the political process by focusing on state and local elections. Except they were called populists then, in the late 1800s. Then they were called progressives in the first decades of the twentieth century.

The history of third party runs for the Presidency is highly instructive in what it tells us about the structure of political power in the United States - and the ease with which our plutocratic elites have been able to monopolize the executive branch. The only successful third party attempt to win the Oval Office was Abraham Lincoln’s in 1860 – which was exceptional because one of the two major political parties, the Whigs, had ceased to exist for all practical purposes, and the Democratic Party had been split asunder along regional lines over the issue of slavery. And despite the old political order lying in ruins in 1860, Lincoln squeaked into office with only a 39.8 percent plurality.

The second most successful third party attempt for the White House was former President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1912 run as the Bull Moose candidate, garnering 28.7% of the vote. The third most successful was that of another former President, Millard Fillmore in 1856 who garnered 21.6% as the Know-Nothing candidate in an election in which the most notable feature was the political vacuum left by the imminent death of the Whig Party and the split of the Democratic Party—the exact same vacuum that allowed Lincoln to win with a feeble plurality one election cycle later.  

The other significant third party attempts were Ross Perot (1992) 18.6%; Robert LaFolette (1924) 16.6%; George Wallace (1968) 13.5%; Eugene Debs (1912) 11%; Perot, again (1996) 9%; and John Anderson (1980) 7%.

Setting aside the insurgent Republican victory of Lincoln, note that the two highest third party vote totals were tallied by candidates who had formerly been President, Fillmore and Roosevelt. (Fillmore had become President five years earlier, after the death in office of Zachary Taylor, but was not a candidate in 1852 to remain in office.)  These former Presidents had a substantial political machine behind them, a machine which they did not have to build from scratch, but which were sizable rump factions of the major political parties from which these former presidents had detached themselves.  That the other third party attempts can barely garner a fifth of the vote is, I believe, to be expected given how political power is arranged in America. The overweening power of the American political establishment, however bitter and open might be its internal rivalries and discord, simply makes it impossible for a third party to get to the White House. The American political establishment at the highest levels draws its financial support and its intellectual direction from corporate America, plain and simple. This dependence is so complete — the plutocratic control so total that it has become Orwellian, with Democrats forced to mouth liberal platitudes to attract voters while gutting social programs to attract money, while Republicans engage in the most brazen lies, such as calling anti-labor legislation “right to work." Perhaps the most telling, and scary, indication of the power of the plutocratic oligarchy, is that Franklin Roosevelt - arguably the most progressive President - did not make a single move to investigate and prosecute the Wall Street faction that attempted to organize a military coup against him.

And the important thing to remember about FDR is that almost all his most progressive, and most successful, policies had to be forced on him. Have you heard that anecdote about Roosevelt agreeing with a group of labor leaders, some of them socialists, who brought their ideas for ending the Depression to a meeting with Roosevelt in 1932, and FDR told them, “I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it”? Well, it’s true. Roosevelt had to be pressured into creating the New Deal—and not just by the exigencies of tackling the First Great Depression.

Where did this pressure come from? It oozed out of the political system's fissures which are not completely and totally dominated by the rich. It was a massive upheaval in state and local elections, spurred on by the fiery populist rhetoric of Huey Long, Father Frank Coughlin, Upton Sinclair, Dr. Francis Townsend, and others, that forced Franklin Roosevelt to cease quietly propitiating the “economic royalists” and begin to fight in earnest for the interests of working Americans. More on this later.

Many of you may have missed it, but in late October, Ian Welsh posted a very hard-hitting introspection on why the progressive blog movement failed, and a follow up, Why Obama And Democrats Don’t Do Much of What Liberals Want (Netroots Failure: Part 2). If you have not yet read these posts, and the comments, you probably should sometime soon – I suggest it would be good reading for the holidays. In his initial post, Welsh writes,

...we could not elect enough of our people. We could not instill sufficient fear.  We could not defeat incumbents.  We did not produce juice.  Clark and Dean didn’t win the 2004 Presidential nomination. Dean was taken out in a particularly nasty fashion (via the manufactured Dean Scream.)

The turning point was when Joe Lieberman, though defeated in a primary, managed to be elected anyway.  After the 2006 House capture by Democrats, Pelosi’s democrats betrayed the fundamental principles that the prog blogosphere stood for: they did nothing to stop the war, for example.  The Prog blogosphere took it, and worse, most of the blogs that did come out against House Democratic Vichy behaviour, lost audience.

....The Tea Party, say what you will about them, gets a great deal of obeisance from Republicans for one simple reason: they will primary you if they don’t like how you’ve been voting, and they’ll probably win that primary.  They are feared.

Note that while Welsh includes the Presidency in his observation, by mentioning Clark and Dean, his focus comes back to the lower levels: Lieberman and the U.S. Senate; Pelosi and the House of Representatives. Then, of course, the Tea Party, which has certainly done a number on the Republican Party by running - and never abandoning - candidates for the House and the Senate. Not to mention the state houses, the governorships, and even local offices: on December 19,thumbunny warned us that ALEC was now targeting her local school board.

One of the people who commented on Welsh's blog was Jerome Armstrong, the founder of MyDD (Kos’s blogfather) and co-author with Markos of Crashing the Gates. Ian re-posted Armstromg’s comment the next day: Jerome Armstrong on the Failure of the Netroots.
On November 4, Ian reposted another comment by Armstrong, which I believe is dreadfully wrong: A blogger is the first follower, not the leader, in which Armstrong wrote:

I want to say something about the role of a blogger, just to try and frame the expectations and limitations inherently in place. The blogger is like that first follower in the famous Derek Sivers video, that is: “the first follower is the person that transforms the lone dancing guy into someone leading a movement.” So, when I saw Howard Dean dancing solo among the Democrats, at a Democratic Party gathering up in Seattle in June 2002, I started blogging, ‘hey there’s a guy dancing here’ I’m dancing now too, and so on, and a movement started…

This is the arena of politics, the politicians are the ones that have to be the crazy lone dancer for there to be bloggers to stand up and dance along. That’s their role. So its not a correct frame to say “FDL didn’t go down with the ship against ACA” in spring ’10, when already, the only ones that came forward to dance, Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich, both stopped, and became supporters. No dance, nothing to follow; the music has stopped.

Armstrong’s comment really riled me; it’s what inspired me to begin writing this diary a month ago. I hope the passage of a few weeks time has helped take the edge off and make it more than just a spontaneous outburst of anger. If Armstrong’s view was characteristic of the nascent blogosphere in 2002, extending into the 2004 election and beyond, it’s no wonder that George Dubya Bush was re-elected despite all his evil and pettiness. And it’s no wonder that Barack Obama has been such a disappointment. Simply put, our role – our responsibility – extends far, far beyond being followers. We have not been loud enough, we have not been unruly enough, to force Obama and the Democratic leadership in Washington to do what we want. In short: do not fixate on the White House. Our path to influencing whoever is President lies through the Congress and the Senate.

In the discussion over Welsh’s and Armstrong’s posts, I did not see anybody mention the obvious example of progressive bloggers leading the way and hacking out a path that the politicians had to follow: the reformation of the filibuster in the U.S. Senate. As everyone at DailyKos should know by now, the “nuclear option” of filibuster reform in the Senate that Majority Leader Harry Reid finally exercised a few weeks ago was an idea that originated, promoted, and was given its final push by us. Chris Bowers declared it the most epic netroots victory ever.

And a consultation of the historical record makes it even more clear:  progressives have been able to achieve their agenda - but it's not been through the White House. Rather, it's been through Congress, state legislatures, and governorships. The great irony of our time is that it’s the conservative movement that has learned this lesson, and replicated it, while liberals and progressives seem to have forgotten that progressives of the late 1800s and early 1900s – the populists - achieved great success in getting many of their policies implemented:

 - direct election of U.S. Senators;

 - significant reform of House of Representative procedures to curtail the power of House Speaker Joseph Cannon (the “nuclear option” of that time);

 - crop insurance offered by state governments, and eventually price supports by the federal government;

 - federal regulation of railroad rates and labor practices;

 - federal regulation of meat packing, food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries;
 - passage of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act;

 - government programs to store and disburse grains to counteract market and crop fluctuations;

 - state government testing of farm tractors (the Nebraska Tractor Laboratory);

 - a not-for-profit state bank in North Dakota;

 - and others.

How were these things accomplished? The key was focusing electoral efforts on down ticket races, and getting progressives and populists elected to local, and state offices, and no small number to the U.S. House. There were 13 members of the Greenback Party elected to the House of the 46th United States Congress (1879 – 1881), and ten in the 47th Congress (1881 – 1883). Around 45 members of the People’s Party served in the U.S. Congress between 1891 and 1902, including six United States Senators. And, eleven governorships were held by progressives from 1887 to 1901. Socialist leader Eugene Debs was elected as a Democrat to the Indiana General Assembly in 1884.

But note that at the same time, progressives' choices for President were being embarrassingly trounced. James B. Weaver ran as head of the Greenback Party in 1880 and received only 3.3% of the vote. Weaver tried again in 1892 as the People Party candidate, and got 8.5%. When Georgia populist firebrand Tom Watson ran as head of the People’s Party in 1904, he did not even reach one percent of the vote.

Look at two of the most important progressive triumphs in American history: abolition and women’s suffrage. The first moves to eradicate American slavery originated at the state level in 1790, when Pennsylvania’s legislature adopted a policy of gradual emancipation. Over the next two decades and four years, every other state north of Maryland also wrote the elimination of slavery into law.

The problem with using abolition as an example, of course, is the long lapse of time since these northern states moved to outlaw slavery, and actual emancipation during the civil war, because that period is marked by the increasing power and militancy of the pro-slavery states. The slave oligarchy pushed through a number of laws to preserve and strengthen the institution of slavery, such as the 1836 and 1840 gag rules banning any discussion and consideration of abolition in the US House of Representatives. Another law designed to protect slavery was the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. In a perverse way, however, these examples actually strengthen the argument that the Presidency is not the place to concentrate our attention, since these pro-slavery forces worked at the state level and within Congress to bind the nation to policies deeply unpopular outside the South.

The train of events leading up to the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation also shows that the groundwork was laid at the state and Congressional levels. In January 1862, Thaddeus Stevens, the Republican leader in the House, called for total war against the rebellion to include emancipation of slaves. In March 1862, Congress passed a "Law Enacting an Additional Article of War" forbidding Union Army officers from returning fugitive slaves to bondage. In April 1862, Congress passed a law to have the federal government compensate slave owners who freed their slaves. Within a week, slaves in the District of Columbia had been freed on and their owners were compensated. In June 1862, Congress prohibited slavery in all US territories. In July 1862, Congress passed the Second Confiscation Act, establishing court proceedings to liberate not only slaves who not only had escaped to Union lines, but also slaves held by slaveholders convicted of rebellion.

All through 1862, President Lincoln continued to argue that Congress lacked Constitutional authority to free all slaves, including those in rebel held states - but Lincoln was acutely aware of the pressures building in Congress. In fact, Lincoln had already drafted plans for emancipation, and crafted a justification that emancipation would be a military measure authorized by the powers of the President as  commander in chief. And it would not be until January 1, 1863, that Lincoln would issue the Proclamation of Emancipation as an executive order.

For women’s suffrage, the first real breakthrough came in the Utah territory, which recognized women’s right to vote in 1870. Two years later, a bill giving the franchise to women lost by one vote in the Dakota Territory legislature. In 1874, a proposal to give women the vote made it onto a state referendum in Michigan, but was defeated at the polls. The next year, Michigan gave women the right to vote in school elections. Minnesota did, also. In 1878, Senator A.A. Sargeant of California introduced the first federal amendment to enshrine women’s right to vote, which never passed. In 1883, women in the Washington territory were given the vote, but this was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court four years later, while Congress took away women’s vote in Utah. Women regained the vote when Utah became a state in 1896.In 1911, California gave women full voting rights. A year later, women gained suffrage in Kansas, Oregon, the new state of Arizona, and in Alaska territory, That is the first year, 1912, that candidates for President first begin to seriously speak to women voters. Finally, in 1916, the issue breaks through to the Presidential level, when Woodrow Wilson promised that the Democratic Party Platform will include women’s right to vote. And, remember, the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York was held in 1848, nearly three quarters of a century before.

For the story of how Franklin Roosevelt was forced to create the New Deal, I urge you to get a copy of Sam Pizzigati's book published in late 2012, The Rich Don't Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class, 1900-1970, and read chapters 6 and 7.

What Pizzigati shows is that most of the New Deal was forced on Roosevelt by the progressives in Congress, in the labor unions, and in other places. Progressives such as Louis Brandeis, who developed a comprehensive plan for ending unemployment through a massive public works program that would be financed by placing higher excise taxes on large corporations than on small corporations, and taxing all inheritances over $1 million at a full 100 percent. Brandeis is a great figure in the progressive history of America, and we can all learn a lot by intensely studying him and his accomplishments. He was the first lawyer to use sociological studies and statistics as evidence in arguing before the Supreme Court, in the 1908 case of Muller v. Oregon.  Just before that, Brandeis personally did battle with the power of bankster J.P. Morgan to prevent a consolidation of New England's railroads under Morgan's control. And it was Brandeis who updated Madison's theory of political factions to include ways to offset the growing power of monopolies, trusts, and big corporations in the economy. Brandeis also authored some of the first considerations of the issue of mass consumption and consumerism. As  justice on the Supreme Court, Brandies wrote innovative and important decisions and dissents that laid the legal foundation of the right to privacy.

And Progressives such as Senator Hugo Black of Alabama, who introduced legislation, drafted by the American Federation of Labor (AFL), aimed at forcing companies to hire more workers by limiting the work week to 30 hours. It prohibited from interstate commerce any product manufactured in a plant or facility where employees worked more than 30 hours. According to Pizzigati,

historian Benjamin Hunnicutt argues that Senate passage of the Black bill on April 6, 1933 finally prompted “Roosevelt and his advisers, who had been engrossed in the banking crisis, to take their first legislative steps toward economic recovery.” These steps were included in legislation written by Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, and sent to the House Labor Committee, which incorporated the Black bill, and added other provisions, such as a federal minimum wage.
And Progressives such as former Republican Ernest Lundeen, just elected to Congress under the banner of the new Farmer-Labor Party of Minnesota. Lundeen had served in Congress in 1917-1918, when he was one of the 50 Congressman who voted against the April 1917 declaration of war against Germany. In February 1934, Representative Lundeen introduced legislation that would have the federal government guarantee every unemployed worker the average wage they had been earning before the Depression. And the money for the program would come from new taxes on the wealthy.

And Progressives such as the two sons of "Fighting Bob" La Follette of Wisconsin, both of whom had left the Republican Party in the spring of 1934 to form the new Wisconsin Progressive Party. Unlike their father's ill-fated 1924 run for the White House with his own hastily formed third party, also named the Progressive Party, this insurgent progressive political movement at the state level succeeded. In fact, Pizzigati notes,

The new party swept the state that November, winning seven of ten congressional seats, a Senate seat for Robert Jr., and gubernatorial victory for brother Phil. Both had originally been elected as Republicans. Both would speak out forcefully against the same plutocracy their father had so long opposed. "I am not interested in trying to maintain the status quo in our economic life," young Bob declared. "Devices which seek to preserve the unequal distribution of wealth now produced will halt the progress of mankind and, in the end, will retard or prevent recovery."

"I am a radical," Governor Phil La Follette agreed. "There is no alternative to conscious distribution of income."

Pizzigati continues:
Minnesota had a governor, Floyd Olson, who considered himself more radical than Phil La Follette. Olson had first won his state's top office in 1930, as the Farmer-Labor Party candidate in a three-way race with a Democratic and Republican challenger. His parry united rural and urban progressives of all stripes, not just farmers and workers. In the early Depression years, the parry's egalitarianism particularly appealed to clergymen like Theodore Mondale, a Republican who had cast his first vote for William McKinley in 1896. In a Depression-ravaged state, this father of the future vice president rallied behind Olsons challenge to the state's rich and powerful. Reverend Mondale would explain why in a local newspaper: "I believe the greatest danger confronting capitalism is the ever increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of a few.”

Governor Olson faced a hostile state legislature in his first term. In his second, he had more support and scored a string of legislative victories: passage of Minnesota's first income tax, a two-year moratorium on farm foreclosures, incentives to encourage the creation of business cooperatives, and a ban on injunctions in labor disputes. In the 1934 Minneapolis general strike, Olson refused to give employers the backing they demanded. Olson supported the New Deal, but not uncritically. Roosevelt might face a third-party challenge in 1936, Olson warned, if the New Deal dragged its feet.

In other states, insurgents essentially took over existing major parties from the inside. In North Dakota, candidates of a revived Nonpartisan League ran as Republicans and won every top state office -- the governorship, a US Senate seat, and both congressional seats -- up for grabs in 1932. In Washington State, activists with the Commonwealth Builders elected US senators in 1932 and 1934 and then, as the Washington Commonwealth Federation, dominated the state Democratic Party.

And in California, plutocratic rule was seriously challenged by muckraking novelist Upton Sinclair's EPIC campaign to be elected governor. EPIC was the abbreviation of End Poverty in California, and Sinclair's plan for doing so included the state taking over idled factories and farms, and raising the state income tax to a full 30 percent on incomes over $50,000. The 1934 EPIC campaign has been called "the campaign of the century." As Greg Mitchell explained in The Nation in November 2010:
Of all the left-wing mass movements that year, Upton Sinclair's End Poverty in California (EPIC) crusade proved most influential, and not just in helping to push the New Deal to the left. The Sinclair threat—after he easily won the Democratic gubernatorial primary—so profoundly alarmed conservatives that it sparked the creation of the modern political campaign, with its reliance on hired guns, advertising and media tricks, national fundraising, attack ads on the screen and more.

Profiling two of the creators of the anti-Sinclair campaign, Carey McWilliams would later call this (in The Nation) "a new era in American politics—government by public relations." It also provoked Hollywood's first all-out plunge into politics, which, in turn, inspired the leftward tilt in the movie colony that endures to this day. 

Back in the autumn of 1934, political analysts, financial columnists and White House aides for once agreed: Sinclair's victory in the primary marked the high tide of electoral radicalism in the United States. Left-wing novelist Theodore Dreiser wrote a piece for Esquire declaring EPIC "the most impressive political phenomenon that America has yet produced." The New York Times called it "the first serious movement against the profit system in the United States."

While Sinclair himself would be be electorally crushed by the flood of lies, name-calling, and red-baiting underwritten by the rich, most especially the Hearst and Chandler newspaper empires, EPIC candidates for the state house won 30 seats in the California legislature. And Roosevelt, who was terrified by Sinclair's campaign and never ventured much in the way of supporting it, was able to use it to make a secret deal with the Republican candidate for governor, Frank Merriam: Roosevelt would withhold any public support for Sinclair, in exchange for Merriam later supporting Roosevelt's economic initiatives, which became the basis of the New Deal.

To summarize: With the exception of Lincoln in 1860, no third party candidate has ever come close to winning the Presidency. But there have been dozens, even hundreds, of examples of third party candidates winning elections for U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, governorships, seats in state legislatures, and mayor of many large cities, including  Milwaukee, Wisc.; Burlington, Vt.; Reading, Penn.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Berkeley, Calif.. The presence of these progressives in these offices has often been enough to force whoever occupied the Oval Office to adopt, often reluctantly, progressive policies and programs. Conservatives in the U.S. have learned this lesson, and have assiduously cultivated the control of state and local offices as a means of insidiously promoting conservative and reactionary policies and ideas.

Now more than ever, we need to elect as many progressives to as many offices as possible, to stop and reverse the rightward march of American politics, and to free the Democratic Party from the grasp of Wall Street, as exemplified by the recent attack on Senator Elizabeth Warren by the corporatist sell-out Dems of Third Way. 2014 will be the first big test of the lessons we have learned. But 2016 will be the real test of whether we have learned the lessons of history - have the discipline to expend most of our time, energy, and money on local and state races, while ignoring as much as possible the dog and pony show of the presidential campaign.

It is a mistake for progressives to focus on the Presidency. We have much more potential leverage in down ticket races. Do you really want to completely transform the political landscape and drive conservatives and Republicans bonkers? Are you tired of having to defend a half-baked, warmed-over Heritage Foundation plan for reforming the health insurance market against the lunatic ravings of idiots and dolts who happen to have the backing of billionaires? Do you really want Meedicare for all or single-payer health care? Get a two or three dozen more people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and Alan Grayson elected to Congress, and politics in the USA will be blown wide open - irregardless of who is President.

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    Jim P, Ray Pensador, tofumagoo, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, jbsoul, Meteor Blades, fcvaguy, matching mole, mollyd, bsmechanic, serendipityisabitch, AntonBursch, schumann, skybluewater, cslewis, triv33, wader, dance you monster, oakroyd, YucatanMan, gooderservice, PsychoSavannah, anodnhajo, Geenius at Wrok, emal, chrississippi, palantir, Jim R, artr2, Thinking Fella, furi kuri, Jeremimi, pioneer111, Bob Johnson, Egalitare, Louise, socal altvibe, kck, side pocket, Choco8, Cassiodorus, humphrey, angry hopeful liberal, CoyoteMarti, DaNang65, liz, GoldnI, basquebob, Emerson, asym, TomP, maggiejean, batchick, dradams, turdraker, grollen, Bule Betawi, MKSinSA, Wolf10, oldliberal, smileycreek, RhodeIslandAspie, DeadHead, philipmerrill, doingbusinessas, Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle, Pablo Bocanegra, Dbug, vahana, mookins, pierre9045, begone, lotlizard, boofdah, Free Jazz at High Noon, left of center, davidincleveland, Chaddiwicker, Sapere aude, camlbacker, tegrat, yoduuuh do or do not, catilinus, myrmecia gulosa, ceebee7, Zack from the SFV, pdx kirk, eeff, travelerxxx, kaliope, bluedust, GayHillbilly, tgypsy, BvueDem, CJB2012, blueoasis, DRo, 3rdOption, Alfred E Newman, Skyye, susakinovember, onionjim, TealTerror, LynChi, Shelley99, Flint, rat racer, BoiseBlue, Nate Roberts, ATFILLINOIS, Al Fondy, Pakalolo, Burned, pfiore8, tomephil, dadadata, gulfgal98, techno, maryabein, rapala, LIcenter, RichterScale, caryltoo, Ezekiel in Exile, mickT, copymark, GwenM, phoebesdatter, poco, Robynhood too, LaFeminista, wishingwell, sidnora, BlueDragon, oortdust, SME in Seattle, Polly Syllabic, ratcityreprobate, stellaluna, leeleedee, blue jersey mom, Habitat Vic, p gorden lippy, citizenx, Jarrayy, on the cusp, Kristina40, Airmid, Kingsmeg, Bush Bites, Wendy Slammo, arizonablue, Front Toward Enemy, Silvia Nightshade, RandomNonviolence, marykk, Alumbrados, No Exit, gundyj, Yellow Canary, zerelda, jamess, unclejohn, puakev, Hawksana, Syoho, Bob Friend, shrike, sunny skies, claude, NonnyO, maggid, johanus, PhilJD, shaggies2009, Leftcandid, HudsonValleyMark, pat bunny, JVolvo, poliwrangler, afox, bronte17, RubDMC, whyvee, bibble, allenjo, dawgflyer13, tardis10, Kristin in WA, realalaskan, Sybil Liberty, Sylv, skod, Pescadero Bill, Gowrie Gal, global citizen, Railfan, AlexDrew, Brooke In Seattle, leftykook, erratic, Ohkwai, GreenMother, John Campanelli, LABobsterofAnaheim, ctexrep, Liberal Thinking, AoT, Nisi Prius, StrayCat, historys mysteries, unfangus, Art Tric, Mr Robert, penguins4peace, peregrine kate, lcrp, greengemini, Rogneid, MKinTN, Oaktown Girl, chilipepper, flavor411, tarheelblue, Chi, daveygodigaditch, dRefractor, barbwires, Assaf, countwebb, MRA NY, Simian, gnothis, Sucker Politics, Nattiq, prfb, Santa Susanna Kid, cpresley, wonkydonkey, wordfiddler, bkamr, orlbucfan, Deward Hastings, CA Nana, fToRrEeEsSt, jrooth, bunsk, absdoggy, pileta, normal family, badger, Arilca Mockingbird, RMForbes, akmk, mkor7, CTDemoFarmer, sydneyluv, Kentucky Kid, a2nite, Marihilda, Steveningen, EdSF, NoMoreLies, bleedingheartliberal218, Cofcos, barkingcat, jguzman17, Matt Z, LSmith, Ishmaelbychoice, slowbutsure, ItsaMathJoke, third Party please, vigilant meerkat, James Hepburn, Rhysling, NYFM, dksbook, YellerDog, Wino, histOries Marko, Loose Fur, aseth, wasatch, Oh Mary Oh, saxoman1, skepticalcitizen, goobop, mm201, sillycarrot, MickeyT, Crider, commonmass, Hillbilly Dem, theBCI, Alice Olson, Lost and Found, shaharazade, Big River Bandido, BeninSC, PrometheusUnbound, BlueMississippi, Aunt Martha, melo, Simplify, bobswern, WheninRome, Smoh, clenchner, glitterscale, sillia

    A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

    by NBBooks on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:05:45 PM PST

  •  So, what can we do? (68+ / 0-)

    What I would like to see is some group or organization begin to identify those Congressional districts in which there is a decent chance of electing a real progressive – even if that means unseating an incumbent Democratic Congressperson. Here in North Carolina, I would like to see somebody contest the primary election of Congressman David Price, who represents a solidly liberal district that includes the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Price has been a decent Representative, but he is not an Alan Grayson. He is timid when it comes to confronting Wall Street, and he is one of the Democrats who did not sign the letter to President Obama opposing the secrecy of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. I think the district is safe enough to avoid the possibility that a bruising primary fight might lead to a Republican victory, but more research needs to be done. Surely there have to be another two or three dozen Congressional districts around the US with a similar profile.

    And then there are some districts that are currently held by Republicans, but which can be counted as possible Democratic take-overs. Who is looking at these? For example, the nut-case extremist from the Twin City suburbs, Michelle Bachmann, barely eked out a victory last election, and apparently is so anxious about another near defeat, she has decided to retire from politics at the ripe old age of 57.

    Maybe this can be the focus of some DailyKos meet-ups, or even the next Netroots Nation.

    A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

    by NBBooks on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:09:11 PM PST

    •  If we can't challenge 10 Blue Dogs in Dem CD's (31+ / 0-)

      what's the point of electoral activity?  Hell, let's start w/ 5.

      I don't aspire to being able to dump existing senators and elect replacements like the teahadists.  I'm tired, however, of this impotence.  

      Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

      by RFK Lives on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 08:15:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No. They won't save us. Neither will NBBooks. (0+ / 0-)

        GOP Wars against: Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Immigrants, Mexicans, Blacks, Gays, Women, Unions, Workers, Unemployed, Voters, Elderly, Kids, Poor, Sick, Disabled, Dying, Lovers, Kindness, Rationalism, Science, Sanity, Reality.

        by SGWM on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 09:06:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  But You should! (32+ / 0-)
        I don't aspire to being able to dump existing senators and elect replacements like the teahadists.  I'm tired, however, of this impotence.  
        Democracy is not a spectator sport!

        It never has been and never will be. A look at history should tell any one that. It takes organizing, commitment, determination, and the will to act... but where does that will come from?

        NB mentioned Teddy Roosevelt and the beginning of the Progressive Era, where we saw the breaking of the trust and real labor reforms... but we forget that the spark that caused him to act was the bloody confrontations between the coal miners union and the mine owning plutocrats.

        Teddy was afraid that the country was about to plunge into civil war. Heroes and Heroines rose up from the streets, common people like Mother Jones. She was a Irish school teacher who became a union organizer... and was called by prosecutors at her trial, "The most dangerous woman in America."

        What was she like? What coursed trough her veins? In her words:

        "Some day the workers will take possession of your city hall, and when we do, no child will be sacrificed on the altar of profit!"

        "I have never had a vote, and I have raised hell all over this country. You don't need a vote to raise hell! You need convictions and a voice!"

        "Injustice boils in men's hearts as does steel in its cauldron, ready to pour forth, white hot, in the fullness of time."

        "Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living."

        In my mind, the will to act is born out of suffering and as more Americans fall into poverty and have their rights and political voice stripped from them... it is not a question of "IF", it is only a question of "when."

        Like the lady said,

        "Injustice boils in men's hearts as does steel in its cauldron, ready to pour forth, white hot, in the fullness of time."

    •  start at the statehouse level (36+ / 0-)

      don't be impatient. Get involved in your local central committee, affect the endorsement process, and take it from there.

      •  We need to have in a lot of the now RED states (10+ / 0-)

        by 2020 a majority in the state houses to redraw those district lines like the Repubs did in 2010.  We just need to draw them to be fair to all.  Republicans drew those lines (gerrymandered) to get more Republicans into Congress.

        We need to be working first at the local/state levels, national will follow shortly there after.

        "Death is the winner in any war." - Nightwish/Imaginareum/Song of myself.

        by doingbusinessas on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 10:54:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I would like to see re-districting reform (7+ / 0-)

          in every state, so that we could remove gerrymandering as a problem to be repeatedly dealt with.

          We can't trust politicians not to abuse their power when they draw districts, and we're not supposed to have to trust elected officials not to abuse us. There are supposed to be checks and balances built into the system to prevent abuse.

          We'll never get a lasting balance and a check on re-districting unless we reform the process to make it non-partisan. In every state.

          Women do 2/3 of the world's work, receive 10% of the world's income and own 1% of the means of production.

          by LibrErica on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 06:58:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Voting system reform (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            melo, doingbusinessas, PlinytheWelder

            The diarist spends a lot of time discussing how hard it is for third-party candidates to win, especially at the presidential level, without even mentioning the basic reason for that: the voting system. As long as you are limited to only one vote, most people will feel forced to use that vote for the lesser evil. It's called Duverger's law: plurality voting leads to a two party system. The ONLY way to solve that for the long term is to use a better voting system such as approval voting.

            This is a bad failure on the part of the diarist. And the comment above, while correctly pointing to gerrymandering as an important problem, recapitulates this error. The way to solve gerrymandering is through proportional representation. As long as we have single-member winner-take-all districts, the house will not be proportional; and that will probably continue to favor Republicans, because inner cities are more skewed to Democrats (and thus have more "wasted votes") than non-urban areas are skewed to Republicans.

            There's something you can do about these issues. Yes, you. Support the Center for Election Science. They're a small organization, using money efficiently to promote election system reform. In less than a year since being founded, they're already playing a key role in the ballot initiative for approval voting primaries in Oregon. That is the kind of move that would increase the power of progressive activism and decrease the power of money for the long term.

            When you're stuck rolling the same rock up the same hill, do you spend your time telling stories of the few times you came close to the top? Or do you get a bulldozer and take that hill down? If you prefer the latter, then please, don't talk about third parties or gerrymandering without mentioning voting reform.

            Senate rules which prevent any reform of the filibuster are unconstitutional. Therefore, we can rein in the filibuster tomorrow with 51 votes.

            by homunq on Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 08:01:23 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  ^^Geographical, common sense redistricting. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          This could be a national platform plank played out on the local level.  And, we'd win a lot more of the House than we have, now.

          Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

          by bkamr on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 12:46:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Alaska's ADP Central Committee has so far (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        barkingcat, Hillbilly Dem, milkbone

        denied ADP's Progressive Caucus a seat at the table.

        Hanging in there as best we can anyway.

        •  If denied a seat at the table (0+ / 0-)

          don't go to the party.  It's really that simple.  Yes, you will lose this round.  But that's already a given.  Take the party down with you, by not playing along, and they might play more nicely next time.

          Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

          by Big River Bandido on Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 09:16:44 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I've worked at the local level (4+ / 0-)

        for the past ten years.  And I've watched the "progressive" organizations, who I supported, sell out and support corporate candidates. A fine example is the Working Families Party backing Andrew Cuomo. I wish I had all the money I donated to them back.  There are plenty of other examples at the state and municipal level as well.  Try being a progressive democrat in NY.  And then try saying we should find someone other than Clinton, Cuomo and Schumer/Gillibrand to support.  Expect to be very very alone.  In my last mayoral election Gillibrand and Cuomo both made an endorsement of the favored candidate.  Why are the governor and senator endorsing in a mayoral election?  Try fund raising for any candidate running against the those endorsements.  

        It is very easy to talk about working at the local level as if that is different than the national level.  Money and power are just as prevalent at the local level as they are at the national level.  And with the ease at which your livelihood can be threatened in a local arena, it may be even more difficult.

        I'm not saying its impossible.  Just that until you do it, you may not understand how systemic this all is.  

        When Cuomo got elected there was group of latino new yorkers who came out and listed their hopes for the new administration.  At least two of the people worked for the democratic assembly and senate.  They were fired immediately upon returning from the press conference.  By the guy who was endorsed by the working families party.

        So, in NY, if you are a progressive, you are going to start from scratch at any level.  I hope you can self finance.  If not, you better be willing to sell out like someone like Cory Booker.  

    •  This surprises me to the extent (42+ / 0-)

      that it sounds like argument I and others have made before and elsewhere. This is not at all to diminish what you're saying, rather, it's nice to see common ground especially with such an intelligent commentator.

      Much of what our site does is really looking at progressivism backwards. How do liberal pols derive power? Elizabeth Warren is a fine example since she's well-liked.  Well, she gets its from the people.  Not bad.  Analogously, the Starks of Game of Thrones gained their power (foot soldiers, knights) from loyal subjects.

      Republicans and conservatives gain their power from money (Lannisters?) or fear (Boltons?) or even religious fanaticism (the High Septon/Faith of the Seven).  I think the brilliant thing Game of Thrones does that we progressives do at our best is realize that power is corrupting, and their is no good system of inequality.  

      Bear with me, because we have political institutions that date back to when women were still seen as hysterics and black people as property.  We're much more egalitarian now than we were simply 50 years ago simply because of technology.  That's why progressives love the internet. It eliminates artificial barriers of status (celebrity) or geography (Washington D.C.).

      We're not interested at our best in increasing Warren's power, or Obama's power. We're interested in increasing our power.

      Obama may have a love of finery, he may have problems with being a slow learner (who doesn't?). But personally, I truly believe he's a good person. That is, he very much wants the world to be better through his actions.  And ultimately whether I believe that or not is irrelevant, and probably even whether or not he is truly good, too. Many of our most progressive presidents (both Roosevelts, Johnson, Kennedy) were horrifying human beings--philanderers, bullies, you name it. Imagine animal slaughterer Teddy getting anywhere with today's liberal base. Having lived in four major west coast states, I don't buy it. But the question isn't whether Teddy was a good guy. Voting rights, social security, labor laws, gender equality--those aren't about Obama or Warren or Sanders or Clinton--they're about us.

      So then, what can we do to increase our power and decrease the plutocrats' power? Campaign finance, telecommunications, and a demand that the media stop granting deference to factually challenged wingnuts seems like an excellent place to start.

      Governments care only as much as their citizens force them to care. Nothing changes unless we change -- George Monbiot.

      by Nulwee on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 10:12:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  California (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell, BlueDragon, JVolvo, elwior

      especially Northern Cal.

      It's gotten ridiculous. But it's ripe.

      Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

      by mahakali overdrive on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 10:28:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  A modern day example: Independent Labor in OH (14+ / 0-)

      After years of being dissed by the Democratic Party, labor folks (including, believe it or not the local AFL-CIO) began forming coalitions and ran candidates for local elections as the Independent Labor Party.  They won two dozen local seats.  An AFT teacher beat the local head of the Chamber of Commerce, for example.

      Read more here:

      Ohioans Elect Two Dozen

    •  Keep in Mind the Role of Money (16+ / 0-)

      Thank you for writing this article.

      In thinking about how conservatives were able to gain so much political power and progressives failed to gain political power, I think it is vitally important to keep in mind the role money plays in these battles.

      Conservative political forces received (and still receive) vasts amounts of money from wealthy and corporate interests who were willing to do the bidding of these wealthy and corporate interests.

      Progressive political groups, in large part because of their progressive political ideals, are not willing to cater the political wishes of the wealthy and corporate interests.  As a consequence, progressive political groups have no money to bring to this political fight.

      And not having money when entering onto an American political battle is like bringing a ham sandwich to a proverbial gun fight.

      Those wealthy and corporate interests planned this political takeover decades ago, and targeted elections at the level of the county, the state, and nationally.  Huge amounts of money were made available, and that money won elections.  Coupled with that effort was another effort to write legislation for the winning office holders - that legislation all favorable to conservative causes.  Having bought the office holders, these wealthy and corporate interests were also able to buy the laws these office holders put into place.

      Progressive CANNOT launch a political movement like the conservatives did; a) the wealthy backers of a progressive movement simply do not exist as do the wealthy backers of the conservative movement do; b) progressive who are willing to cede their policy goals to cater to wealthy interests are not progressive.

      I think it is insulting to progressive voters to tell them that they must now do as the conservatives have done.  Conservatives got where they are today because of their use of money as a political tool.  Democrats who use the same tools to get into office (Clinton, Obama, et al) end up looking surprisingly like the conservatives, and too often ended up embracing conservative policies.

      The true secret to further a progressive agenda in America is public financing of elections.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 06:27:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. (6+ / 0-)
        The Tea Party, say what you will about them, gets a great deal of obeisance from Republicans for one simple reason: they will primary you if they don’t like how you’ve been voting, and they’ll probably win that primary.  They are feared.
        Yeah, and they aren't "grassroots." They are backed by some of the biggest money in the business.
        •  Insult to Injury (8+ / 0-)

          It is bad enough that progressive like those attracted to dkos have to live in a country governed under a corporatocracy (government of, by, and for the corporate and wealthy interests).

          But then we also get criticized (usually by dyed-in-the-wool democrats) who tell us we are lost or losing because we do not supportive enough of the democratic party.

          Democrats can use the tool of the corporatocracy (i.e. money) to win elections.  But what is won in those cases is NOT progressive policies, but more conservative policies (cf Clinton repealing Glass-Steagall; Obama extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy; etc).

          "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

          by Hugh Jim Bissell on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 08:19:21 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Hmmmm... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peregrine kate, NBBooks, mkor7

          1. If money were the only determinant... we'd have President Romney.

          Adelson and the Koch brothers dumped buckets of cash into 2012 election cycle... and very, very few of their candidates won. You'll find impassioned diatribes all over the web saying "No they didn't waste their money" but the defensive stance of the right tells the real tale.

          2. Howard Dean changed the fund raising model forever... and the DLC crowd never forgave him.

          The DLC'ers howled for him to come back to DC to deal with the big donors as he ran around the country starting grassroots fund raising. True... you do need big donors but the game isn't solely dependent on them any more.

          3. Dean also created the 50 state strategy... not the Teabaggers! The baggers borrowed Deans tactics... not the other way around.

          The current DNC leadership needs to return to that formula... it worked then and it can work again. Much of the current mode in our political machines focuses on micro-demographic analysis, it sees what is the current situation... but doesn't see how it can be changed.

          If there is no regional push back... then nothing will change. I think the situation is ripe for it after watching Wendy Davis in Texas and Elizabeth Warren's push back in the Senate.

          Democracy is not a spectator sport!

      •  Hugh. If you look around (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        you will see there are liberal/progressive 1 percenters, but they tend to focus on social issues. The money is there, but they know we have no where else to go.

        •  Should elections be decided by money? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Laconic Lib, orestes1963

          Should elections be decided by the side with the most money?

          I suggest NOT!!

          1) The old adage says "He who pays the piper gets to call the tune."  What this means for American politics is that the person who gives lots of money to candidates then get to dictate policy when that candidate gains office.

          Yes, progressives can seek out those wealthy individuals and corporations that are willing to give lots of money to "progressive" candidates - both Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama did this and won office.  But then a funny thing happens: the progressive candidate becomes "centrist" while in office, and progressive policies are pushed aside, and policies that favor the wealthy and corporations become law.

          2) When money decides elections, only rich people get to hold office.  Having only the wealthy as holders of public office is certainly not "progressive", and is not even "democratic".

          "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

          by Hugh Jim Bissell on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 10:16:22 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  your strategery has sown the seeds of failure. The (4+ / 0-)

      Movement !!!

      "I think the district is safe enough to avoid the possibility that a bruising primary fight might lead to a Republican victory, but more research needs to be done. Surely there have to be another two or three dozen Congressional districts around the US with a similar profile."

      All this I-wanna-be George Kennan / Carville / Metternich / Bismark bullshit gets in the way of

      - A Real Simple Movement -

      YOU Shit On Me & Mine, Fuck You.

      NOT a penny or a dime,
      NOT a second of time,
      NOT a vote.

      I'm 54, I've been listening to people be all strategeric for decades - what has it accomplished? Millions who won't do anything unless some packaged conventional wisdom comes along to tell them that by supporting some sell out they're thinking for themselves, and ____ "is strategic". whatever.

      help people who might help you or did help you, and, to hell with the rest.

      Archie Bunker is dead. The Clintons & Obamas & DLC sell out Corp-0-rat$ can keep their merit badges for NOT being bigots, NOT being racists and NOT being 13th century droolers on family health care - and they should NOT keep their jobs for being lying yuppie scum sell outs to hte 1%.


      Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

      by seabos84 on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 07:39:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  NNBooks (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Flint, NoMoreLies

      I have been saying for weeks that we have to primary our Dems who are in blue seats. Make the blue seats more blue. What do we have to lose at this point? I'm not saying run de Blasio in Oklahoma, but what about making Schumer or Durbin feel the heat.

      New Republic: So are the left-wing blogs as bad as the Tea Party ones in this case?

      Chuck Schumer: Left-wing blogs are the mirror image. They just have less credibility and less clout.

    •  WV's 2nd Congressional District (0+ / 0-)

      has an Independent candidate. Former CBS and NBC news correspondent, Ed Rabel is a welcome change from the usual WV politician.

      "Idiocracy. It's not a comedy, it's a prophecy."

      by wv voice of reason on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 09:52:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  history's a lousy teacher if we can't factor in (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the right's RW radio advantage the last 25 years.

      whatever we do is a is harder because we ignore RW radio.

      the history lessons don't apply post 1990, when the think tanks realized they could use a talk radio monopoly to short circuit democratic feedback mechanisms, yell over popular orgs, protests, and movements, and create their own made-to-order constituencies for any occasion on a moments notice. they control messaging and have a consistently louder bully pulpit. they do the framing and have been for 25 years.

      there will be no major reforms possible through deliberative national discussion and debate. until the radio monopoly is recognized for its dominance and challenged it will have to come down to turning points and disasters- not healthy democracy.

      it's the same reason obama is such a disappointment to many- until we challenge and monitor what ALEC and heritage foundation etc, are pumping out every day on RW radio (we don't even know what it is until it's too late because it can't be read and studied) we cannot say we are getting our reps' backs.

      with few exceptions it will be the same for warren or any other progressive choice- nationally or locally. and if that doesn't work they will be able to steal and sabotage and kill and sufficiently intimidate the MSM from reporting their crimes and until it gets really bad people will stay out of the streets where they belong.

      and it's the same on the local level. progressives and dems studiously avoid knowing what the local GOP/ALEC think tanks are laundering through the state talk radio stations to effect local elections.

      there's a reason we have had so few progressive reforms the last 25 years and it started when reagan killed the fairness doctrine. pre 1987 political history applies a lot better if the unique radio weapon they have is factored- but it's not.

      This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

      by certainot on Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 11:05:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Truly excellent read. Chock-full of history (37+ / 0-)

    about the progressive movement. Thanks for taking the time to share this with us.

    I've been thinking about these challenges you mention and I'm to certain conclusions about their nature. We are facing an unprecedented situation, and thus we will need to find new approaches.

    That's going to be the topic of my next diary. In it I will make reference to this one and add a link.

  •  No mention of Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party? (15+ / 0-)

    It was actually named The Progressive Party and garnered 2/3 as many popular votes as did Wilson.
    I think this statement is key:

    The plain fact is that a small number of very wealthy elites have achieved a chokehold on economic policy making in the United States.  We can no longer delude ourselves that the United States is a government of, for, and by the people. The harsh truth is that the American polity is no longer a republic; it has degenerated into a plutocratic oligarchy, with political power based on the ability to finance political campaigns.
    KillCitizens United and a raft of other corruption-inducing election law dead - or we'll be pissing in the wind for the foreseeable future.

    Please support The War on Christmas. Do it for the Reindeer Troops.

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:50:48 PM PST

  •  I had not seen those Jerome Armstrong links (7+ / 0-)

    thanks for sharing them.

    It seems like he's become rather cynical. And, his ideas about alliances between libertarians and progressives. One of his comments about "who cares if abortion becomes a state issue" was really disturbing. We must maintain a woman's right to choose because its a Federal Constitutional right.

  •  The Progressive Caucus we have now, it seems, (59+ / 0-)

    is always ready to speak in favor of humanly-decent measures, but when it's time to vote, they go along with whatever the Dollarcrat Leadership says must be done. I don't know if it's still the case that the Progressive Caucus is the largest block in Congress, but it is sad that they never seem to muster themselves to take a real stand.

    For example, they've offered, it must be three or four, budgets that make sense; sense astonishing in its clarity and practicality. But this gets no media coverage, no intense promotion, and no 2x4s upside the head to the Democratic Establishment.

    Which brings me back to mass-reach Media and the 'progressive' blogosphere's chief, disastrous, and on-going failure. Call it a Trust, or a Cartel, a Conspiracy, or a natural confluence of like-minded corporate figures, the fact remains that there's a de facto monopoly on narrative-formation held by the plutocrats.

    It seems the blogosphere has decided there is nothing to be done about that, so we are content to be yipping dogs snapping at the Media Establishment's toes, and nothing else. (Well, large doses of mockery and surprise/shock.)

    Hell, Media Whores Online was thirteen years ago, and there's been no advancement in either purpose or quality since then.

    Which is bizarre, given that of the items you can find unity on in the American political spectrum, contempt and distrust of mass-reach Media is exceeded only by the same for Congress at this point.

    You mentioned the Dean Scream, which is the perfect example of how the Cartel can alter our politics within two days, simply by reaching almost every American with an identical, and false, narrative. (And that includes  Mr & Ms 'I don't watch tv or read the papers; I just use the Internet')

    I don't mean to distract from the central point you make in this diary: We must organize, pressure, and win all the down-ticket offices we can; as low in the structure as school-boards and town councils.

    But, as we see in some clips put together by tv comedians, even the local news uses the major Corporation's scripts. (Recently, a series of local shows from around the nation were assembled where the news-readers say, word for word, 'it's okay if you want to buy a Christmas gift, or two, or ten, for yourself.' And ponder what agenda brings that kind of event into being!)

    We don't have the same situation socially or idea-spread-wise that existed with the progressive movements of 70 or 100 years ago. Now there's no meeting halls; the churches are relatively empty and on the left ineffectual; there's no daily gathering of neighborhood folks in front of their houses tossing about the news they picked up from 10 daily newspapers, each with a different editorial philosophy... it's mainly home entertainment and air-conditioning and your cube at work (if you have work) and your cube you call home.

    So back to the blogosphere's deadly blunder: Brainwashed by 60-70 years of marketing that 'new' equals 'better' the high-profile writers have failed to recognize that the Web is most like a beachhead on the continent of information. They're content with 'the new thing changes it all.' And we've not leveraged the Internet into a focused device to do the first thing you do in a revolution: Seize the presses. In modern terms, break into, and break up, the monopoly control of narrative-making.

    I really don't see how we make timely progress without focusing on that thing as our top effort. The other things, if they can be done at all, will be done much much later than they could be as long as we don't change the setting.

    Read a quote somewhere today, attributed to a Taoist, something like: If you keep heading in the same direction, you'll end up where you're going. Right now we're headed in a direction where weak-kneed Progressives holding office, and Media shaping narratives brings us more plutocracy and less humanity.

    Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

    by Jim P on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:59:37 PM PST

    •  That right there is key. You hit the nail on the (14+ / 0-)

      head. You pointed out the very essence of the main obstacle we face today.

    •  I agree in totality, Jim. Totally with you. (20+ / 0-)

      Something really got to me a few months ago. I realized that at this point in time you absolutely must deal with corporate. They have all the money.

      One thing that we really don't focus on is that the Right has made an industry of educating and deploying propagandists and drafting policy. They pay, probably really good money, for people to sit at their keyboards and troll, they pay for language development and deployment.

      On our side there is no money. How do you create this alternate media megaphone without money. Kos got money for the most part because he went the respectable route - keep it 'serious', no weird hippie shit, and court the acceptance of the corporate media - while leveraging standard, corporate advertising to make some dough.

      Right on, man! Good for him. Good for us we've got a nice amplifier for our words, but we spent the last 10 years feeding the corporate media instead of pushing for our own media system.  

      Where are the RSS feeds of likeminded blogs here? Where are the small and local business advertisements? Micropayments for authors? Where are the good books that are independently published? Who's got the bad assed YouTube pages? Why is there not a YT feature daily?

      The questions can go on and on, and they point to one thing, we are not creating an alternate information system despite the absolute tanking of trust from the corporate media and the Establishment.

      That should change. Great comment, Jim.

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 01:37:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Boy, you got that right! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, unfangus, cybrestrike
      we've not leveraged the Internet into a focused device to do the first thing you do in a revolution: Seize the presses. In modern terms, break into, and break up, the monopoly control of narrative-making.
      But we'll never do that, thanks to the NSA. The Internet is just as lost as the printing presses and airwaves. Seems to me, that being the case, that we simply focus on breaking into and breaking up the monopoly control of narrative-making of TV and radio--most of the monopolies control the Internet anyway.

      For the longest time, my sig line here was "Occupy Media" and it's been quite a few months since I changed it out for something else. I think it's time to change it back. We better get on the stick, because the window to change any of this shit is closing rapidly.

      This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

      by lunachickie on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 08:54:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Over 50% of the "House Progressive Caucus" (0+ / 0-)

      voted for the "shit sandwich".  

      link to House vote

      Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

      by Big River Bandido on Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 09:22:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The focus on the Presidency means a great deal (30+ / 0-)

    when you consider the utter rampant destruction a Republican Administration can wage on the country by Executive Rulemaking.   There are significant differences that come with the appointments by a Democratic President, in Environmental as well as Labor regulation. To discount those differences is short-sighted.  

    Bush and Cheney did their level best to turn this country into a polluted, deregulated cesspool, and they very nearly succeeded.  While the Obama Administration record is by now means perfect, it is a sea change from Bush/Cheney, and that difference yields a real difference in the quality of people's lives.  

  •  I completely agree. Progress is bottom up. (8+ / 0-)

    Get a moderate in the White House and them push from the bottom.  That's the way to do it!  

    EXCELlENT Diary!!!!!!!

    •  No thanks (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, cybrestrike, Nattiq, Hillbilly Dem

      But it is a clever strategy to encourage progressive Dems to focus on the local race for dogcatcher and ignore what's going on in DC.

      Wonder who came up with that one?  Not clever enough. It reeks of Third Way/DLC conservaDem triangulation.

      If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

      by Betty Pinson on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 07:26:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  hey, if you can't keep your sheep in line (0+ / 0-)

        then who's fault is that, Betty?

      •  Let me be very clear about this. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cpresley, RMForbes

        Dog catchers and school boards and city councils and county commissions are not irrelevant, but they are simply not as important as U.S. senators and representatives. Please refer back to my very last sentence:

        Get a two or three dozen more people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and Alan Grayson elected to Congress, and politics in the USA will be blown wide open - irregardless of who is President.

        A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

        by NBBooks on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 12:49:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Most Obama supporters understood that (24+ / 0-)

    electing a good President is the beginning of the work. Obama said that repeatedly and asked for help to make change from the bottom up.

    Obama has done things to disappoint me but I expected that. I'm more disappointed that so much of the blogger/pundit left decided to focus on hypercritical, hyperventilating attacks on Obama in his first two years instead of movement organizing and pressuring Congress. It was a disastrous clusterfuck and a failure to deal with the reality that we can't expect any President to hand change down on a platter.

    •  Electing a good President would have ... (17+ / 0-)

      ... some impact, but the point is that even with a neoliberal Democrat like the President we have, enough organized political leverage at the state and Congressional level we would have more progressive acts and fewer damaging acts.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 09:04:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And if we had successfully pressured Congress (7+ / 0-)

        to pass more things Obama supported like an even better health care law, a stronger financial regulation law, and the Employee Free Choice Act, no one would be calling Obama the next Bill Clinton style Democrat. Well, that's not true. People on the third party left were calling Obama the next Clinton before he was even sworn in and they were going to do that no matter what the man did. Anyway, the failure to recognize Congress as the main barrier to more progressive change during Obama's time in office is hard to understand. It's where activists should have been focusing the last 5 years.

        •  I think you ignoring the fact (4+ / 0-)

          that he allowed Congress to lead on all his major initiatives the first two years. That is when new presidents set the tone. He refused to do that.

        •  You're thinking that the President ... (8+ / 0-)

          ... got knocked down on the public option rather than taking a dive. You're thinking that the President got knocked down on the Energy Bill rather than taking a dive. I'm thinking he had the least progressive health care reform plan and the energy policy with the most concessions to the suicide pact on purpose, and as progressive as they needed to be during primary season to win election.

          Indeed, the public option went out because "we couldn't pass health care reform under reconcilation, we need 60 votes", while once the public option was out, "we can pass health care reform under reconcilation", and the noisy summer of 2009 was, indeed, in part sponsored by the Climate Suicide Club, so the decision to renege on the campaign promise to do the Energy Bill first, and instead go for a filibuster-proof majority that was never on offer for Health Care reform before tackling the Energy Bill, ensured that both would arrive at more corporate-friendly, neoliberal fantasy economic outcomes.

          You're thinking that the President picked a largely neoliberal, Hedge Fund Democrat economic team kind of by accident, or in advance capitulation because of his fear of the filibuster? Given the recency of the economic collapse and the disarray of mainstream economists, he had a unique opportunity to pick an economics team that were from the side that called things right instead of from the side that got things wrong, and instead he went with the neoliberal team that one would expect from a Hedge Fund Democrat.

          And its telling that he held his support for Corporate Insured Revenue Acts, aka "Free Trade Agreements", all through the primary season, even though opposing them would have won votes. And has not aceded to some egregiously bad surrenders of economic sovereignty in his first five years, but rather has fought for and won the surrenders, and now the TPP negotiations stalled because the US was pushing too hard to do the corporation's bidding and some other negotiating partners balked.

          He's clearly a neoliberal, corporate tool on the side of economics and institutional reform. That was clear enough during his primary and general election campaigns, was highlighted in the first few months of his Presidency, and is by this point only hard to see by those who due to emotional investment are unwilling to see, or who are on the neoliberal side themselves and imagine it to be progressive.

          That has been an available piece of data for progressives and others on the left since before he was elected, but despite the fact that this implied the urgency for progressives and others on the left to get cracking at the local, state and Congressional level, all too many preferred to indulge in fantasies of a progressive Presidential administration driving things, so they could relax after the 2008 Presidential campaign.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 10:45:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Senate (0+ / 0-)

            has a fossil fuel majority. More than 50 Senators were in the pockets of coal/oil, even when Democrats had a 59 seat majority. To blame Obama for the energy bill not passing the Senate requires ignoring what he did to get it through the house and giving a lot of fossil fuel Senators a free pass. I think that takes either ignorance about the makeup of the Senate, and/or a level of personal bias against Obama that goes way beyond policy differences.

            •  Oh please (0+ / 0-)

              Obama was in the Senate for Christ's sake.  He knew his colleagues, he knew the climate in that body.  If such a proposal couldn't pass, then why did the genius propose it in the campaign?  

              It's the most cynical political posturing there is.  A politician knows an initiative can't get anywhere, but he puts it in his platform to get votes anyway.  Then after the election he shrugs his shoulders and says "well, that was never really attainable".  This is why voters become cynical.

              And people wonder why Democrats got their asses handed to them on a plate in 2010.  

              Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

              by Big River Bandido on Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 09:28:29 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  That is a totally distorted view of the situation. (17+ / 0-)

      Using words like "hypercritical" and "hyperventilating" to describe those who have been pointing out the shortcomings of those who hold political power in this environment of influence-peddling corruption can only be seen as an attempt to protect the status quo and offer apologia for it; an attempt, I may add, that totally fails.

    •  Your support for Obama (19+ / 0-)

      contradicts any claim you might otherwise make to be a liberal or a progressive on economic issues or for that matter anyone whose ideas of economic policy are to the left of Reagan's.  And this goes not just for economics, but also for most of the rest of what counts as policy -- foreign policy, education policy, environmental policy, and so on.

      "There will be midterm elections in under a year. Do you know what might be savvy? To run on a Medicare For All platform..." -- Dan Fejes

      by Cassiodorus on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 10:38:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Really? (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        poco, shrike, cardinal, unfangus, RMForbes

        So Reagan was for making the tax code more progressive, pushed to collect more taxes from corporations by closing loopholes, and enacted the biggest regulation of the financial sector since the New Deal? No, that's what Obama did. The exact opposite of Reagan. Those things didn't stop being progressive after Obama did them. Same for the environment. Polar opposites. I live in the real world, not cherrypickingland of make believe.

        •  Here's what Reagan wasn't for -- (21+ / 0-)

          a Grand Bargain

          a sequester

          a Catfood Commission

          a Trans-Pacific Partnership

          a bailout for the banks (involving a general and indefinite credit line to the biggest ones) while turning a blind eye to organized bank fraud (and on this matter you can look up Bill Black's discussion of how there were actually prosecutions during the Reagan administration, and how none of this has transpired under Obama even though the criminality has gotten worse)

          keeping the employment-population ratio low and in all seriousness doing nothing about it

          Oh, yeah, and all your claims were about Obama's approval of allowing Bush measures to halfway expire.

          Now, let's talk about education.  In no way did Reagan attempt to forcibly privatize the public education system in the way in which Race to the Top facilitates.  Shall we continue?

          "There will be midterm elections in under a year. Do you know what might be savvy? To run on a Medicare For All platform..." -- Dan Fejes

          by Cassiodorus on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 10:52:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Of the first four things (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            poco, shrike, RMForbes, charliehall2

            you named, three of them haven't actually happened. TPP hasn't even been introduced. Obama didn't even support the minor social security cuts (and increases) recommended by the simpson-bowles committee. The Grand Bargain didn't happen. The bank bailout was done by Bush. The sequester was forced by a Republican Congress, which hardly makes it representative of Obama's agenda. The things I named are actual policies signed into law and they're the OPPOSITE of what Reagan would have done.

            So yeah, you seem either uninformed or you're overly eager to blame everything bad that happens on Obama. Where does that kind of irrational bias against him come from?

            •  Point-by-point (18+ / 0-)

              1) There IS a Catfood Commission. Obama created it and staffed it.  Why not embrace it?

              2) The TPP negotiations ARE happening and there WILL be an up-or-down vote, and meanwhile this is only the tip of the iceberg in labor-threatening trade agreements, all of which have Obama's fingerprints on them.

              3) Obama hasn't stopped believing in the Grand Bargain.  He will continue to press for it until the end of his term.  It's part of what he thinks is his legacy.

              4) The indefinite credit line to the banks was not solely a Bush product, but was continued by Obama.  As Nomi Prins said in her two-year evaluation of Obama policies:


              Obama’s economic policies have either been continuations of his predecessor’s, as in the case of taxes and bank bailouts (my emphasis), or bills so watered down to appease corporations, notably banks and insurance companies, that they are ineffective.
              5)  The sequester IS representative of Obama's agenda -- he wanted it, he signed off on it, it's his baby.  So I call bullshit again.  See the link below:


              This has nothing to do with Obama, and everything to do with you.  Obama is everything we can expect from a President in this era.  It's only this urban legend that he is somehow ideologically special, that he is "really a liberal or leftist of some sort," that so blatantly contradicts his own efforts to be a normal, average, hardworking President in an era in which all Presidents are corporate conservatives.  

              Look, if Obama is your hero, why don't you just come out as a corporate rightist like Obama?  Why all the pretense?  Obama has already admitted to a constituency of rich people that there really isn't much of a difference between the two parties -- what's your hangup?

              "There will be midterm elections in under a year. Do you know what might be savvy? To run on a Medicare For All platform..." -- Dan Fejes

              by Cassiodorus on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 11:36:02 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  A "corporate conservative" is anyone who is not (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Willinois, charliehall2

                a socialist to you.  You are the one out of step with the Democratic Party.

                I commend you for writing your anti-capitalist diaries.  All systems need continuous scrutiny.   But maybe the poster you are engaging needs to know this.  

                "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

                by shrike on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 06:29:38 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Oh I get it. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RMForbes, Matt Z, charliehall2

                You're part of the fair and balanced third party left that will paint Obama as the worst disappointment no matter what he does in order to build support for your party. Just like Fox News.
                I don't see things as black and white as you do. For all of Obama's bad policies, the reality is that he has pushed policies to the left of what Congress would pass or even vote on during his entire time in office. That makes Congress the main barrier that should be given more criticism, not the dangling, shiny object that Obama is to many. Blaming every bad policy forced by Congress on Obama is what Republicans want you to do. You're being their dupe.

                •  So I said: (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Obama is everything we can expect from a President in this era.
                  And you responded:
                  You're part of the fair and balanced third party left that will paint Obama as the worst disappointment
                  If Obama is everything we can expect, how is he also the worst disappointment?  You don't get it at all.

                  "There will be midterm elections in under a year. Do you know what might be savvy? To run on a Medicare For All platform..." -- Dan Fejes

                  by Cassiodorus on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 09:19:43 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  In order to make your argument (5+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    unfangus, RMForbes, Matt Z, sethtriggs, 6412093

                    that Obama even remotely resembles Reagan (which is so absurdly out of touch with reality I can't believe I'm responding) you have to engage in a lot of mind reading about Obama's intentions, speculate about the next disappointment that hasn't even happened, ignore what he already accomplished that specifically reversed Reagan policies, and assign blame to Obama for things he specifically opposed. You're trying to force reality to conform to what you wish were true, but reality stubbornly remains what it is.

                    •  So when Obama called for the Grand Bargain in 2011 (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      DeadHead, Laconic Lib


                      President Obama and congressional Republican leaders on Friday continued to talk past each other in seeking to solve the debt ceiling crisis, with Obama pressing again for a $4 trillion “grand bargain” of spending cuts, entitlement reforms and tax increases, while Republicans say a tax increase is out of the question.
                      one would (according to you) have to be a "mind-reader" in order to ascertain his vast budget-cutting intentions -- requested again in 2013 -- because everyone knows Obama is "really a liberal."  Don't believe what he actually asks for -- trust his image.


                      "There will be midterm elections in under a year. Do you know what might be savvy? To run on a Medicare For All platform..." -- Dan Fejes

                      by Cassiodorus on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 10:19:02 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  The grand bargain (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Matt Z, sethtriggs, Jeff Simpson

                        that still never happened. And why didn't it? Because Obama made cuts Republicans wanted dependent on them agreeing to things progressives want. Such as, more stimulus jobs spending, more spending on the social safety net, and closing corporate tax loopholes. Once again, the exact opposite of Reaganomics. Enjoy your stay in cherypickiglalaland. I'm staying on planet reality where comparing Obama to Reagan is absurd.

                        •  Which makes Obama totally kewl, right? (0+ / 0-)

                          So why the intellectual dishonesty?  If Obama is totally kewl, and Obama wants a Grand Bargain, why not defend the Grand Bargain?

                          "There will be midterm elections in under a year. Do you know what might be savvy? To run on a Medicare For All platform..." -- Dan Fejes

                          by Cassiodorus on Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 09:57:10 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Yawn. (0+ / 0-)

                            What intellectual dishonesty are you referring to? I don't view things as black/what, all/nothing as you do. I know it makes people feel smarter and superior to others to believe that Obama supporters are all mindless zombies who unconditionally support everything he does. In fact, I appreciate reasoned, fact based criticism of Obama and also have fun knocking down the kind of dishonest hyperbole you're peddling.
                            This tired tactic of cherry picking a few bad things and ignoring everything progressive Obama does is intellectual dishonesty in the extreme. There's not a politician or leader in American history who you couldn't compare to Reagan by using that sophistry.

                  •  No, I get the argument. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    No President we elect will bring real change because the system is broken so we need a socialist revolution/direct action etc. In order to build support for dramatic change you have to show how Obama is bad and will fail to deliver real change. Therefore, everything good Obama does must be minimized and every failure magnified. That's what makes the third party left just as fair and balanced about Obama as Fox News. Their reaction to Obama will be the same no matter what he does. I find the dishonesty of that tactic tiring and counterproductive.

                    I like to take the facts as they are and let them lead me to conclusions, rather than trying to make the facts conform to my pre-drawn conclusions like Fox News and many Marxists do.

      •  oh what the hell ever. (0+ / 0-)

        some people make compromises.

        ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

        by James Allen on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 10:54:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      completely missed the fucking point. Not surprising.

      •  No, I really do get it. (4+ / 0-)

        I was very frustrated that people were obsessively focusing on Obama instead of pushing Congress and organizing locally, especially during his first two years in office. I think more people are getting it now. There's a common condescending attitude expressed in this diary that Obama supporters blindly expected him to solve everything. Well, that's not really true. It's his harshest critics on the left who thought Obama would do everything for us, judging by the expectations expressed that he was supposed to somehow force Congress to bend to his will. Too many acted as though forcing Congress to do better is the job of us, the people. Before Obama I never realized how many progressives have very authoritarian expectations about Presidential power. It's important that we talk about why those expectations were counterproductive.

    •  Progressives are looking for more honesty (6+ / 0-)

      in a POTUS, less product marketing.   Obama's campaign left me feeling massively manipulated.  

      Democrats need a candidate who is honest, who can be trusted to actually believe in what they're saying.  That's a rare bird in Washington DC these days, but we can do it.

      If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

      by Betty Pinson on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 07:04:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Snowden exposed corruption & lawlessness (26+ / 0-)

    can separate progressives into those who were out in front to support Edward, and those who stayed in line

    people like Greenwald and Chris Hedges have been leading the way for a progressive agenda, but have been marginalized by far too many on the left

    and others that point out that the two parties work for the 1%

    everywhere one looks the systems are a mess: economy, education, jobs, drugs, etc. and our sleep walking culture goes shopping

    yes more than a president is needed

    and another reason why Snowden effect is so important is that it shows what real journalism is needed to speak truth to power

  •  But doesn't it still mean something (0+ / 0-)

    that my Catholic daughter wants to reconsider the church given Pope Francis's tenure?

  •  Dean got punched twice. (44+ / 0-)

    First was the "Dean scream, then came the end of his "50 State Strategy" when he was ousted from the DNC by Rahm Emanuel and Obama.

    The 50 State Strategy was Dean's action plan to make the necessary changes you cite in your post. Dean's recurring theme was -- and continues to be -- that we have to win local, county and state races with real progressives if we want to change the party at the DC level. Plus, we need to control state houses and state offices to ensure redistricting control and to prevent election law abuses designed to limit voting of strong Democratic constituencies. When we lose state-level Secretaries of State positions, we lose an important control on state voting rights laws, particularly important given the current make-up of the Supreme Court.

    Local elections are critically important. I have run numerous local campaigns for solid progressive candidates, whether for alderman, state rep or school board. Every race is important because these local races form the feeder system for higher offices.

    You're right. We have to do it ourselves. Just think how much more powerful we'd be if Daily Kos leveraged the vast political/institutional knowledge here to train people how to run local campaigns and even be local candidates.

    And that's just a starting point.

    Thanks for the insightful and thought-provoking diary.

    As for Jerome Armstrong... Well, I'll leave it alone.

    "Bob Johnson doesn't have special privileges, because really, why would I entrust that guy with ANYTHING?" - kos, November 9, 2013

    by Bob Johnson on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 09:21:20 PM PST

    •  Actually, DFA (Dean's group) (10+ / 0-)

      already does this:

      train people how to run local campaigns and even be local candidates.
      We here just need to get more of us through their training (it's excellent).

      When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.

      by CoyoteMarti on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 09:45:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hey Bob, your post brings up some thoughts of (5+ / 0-)

      mine on this particular issue.

      I don't know if we can sustain a local party without support from the top of the party at the national level. At least not under a Democratic standard.

      The reason is that we're not crabs in a bucket. We don't just want to tear the other guy down. It's a much more difficult and exhausting process to build something than it is to tear it down.

      Without the support from someone serious nationally, I don't think a Leftist movement of any kind (progressive, socialist, moderate) can be sustained. The job of building something like a future needs someone, preferably many people, at the national level to carry a standard.

      To put it into context:

      You elect a promising progressive locally and have a nice pool of supporters. She steps on the toes of national office holders by refusing to stroke a major Democratic funding source. He contacts the DNC and puts a political hit out on our progressive champion.

      Now we are at odds with the national Party, are fighting a two front political war, and we have nobody we can trust to step out onto to the mat with us.

      I know that the CW says we need to go local, but that's from a past that really doesn't exist any longer.

      Perhaps we need a location-less kind of a movement; something that radically alters the political playing field.

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 01:54:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  True, it's not an "either/or" strategy. (5+ / 0-)

        There has to be pressure applied from the top, as well. That pressure actually appears to be building in a grassroots way. When national-level pols are scared and desperate to keep their jobs, then we'll get more of what we want, as the diarist states.

        "Bob Johnson doesn't have special privileges, because really, why would I entrust that guy with ANYTHING?" - kos, November 9, 2013

        by Bob Johnson on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 07:40:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Very true. (4+ / 0-)

        Same goes for the state level.

        I don't know if we can sustain a local party without support from the top of the party at the national level. At least not under a Democratic standard.
        Perfect example is New Jersey.  A lot of top Democratic elected officials and Democratic Party executives endorsed Christie.  
    •  My view of the 50-state strategy has changed (0+ / 0-)

      At the time, I loved it.  Effective?  Definitely, if you define success as "more Democrats".  But if you define success as "better Democrats" or simply "better policy", the entire effort looks wasted, a failure — if only for the reason that those races weren't tied to specific policy goals.  

      It was too easy for Rahm Emanuel to take the victories Dean handed the party — and squander them.  Emanuel and the establishment Dems used Dean's new "Democratic" majority to further their own limited goals, not those of the people who elected them.  

      Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

      by Big River Bandido on Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 09:36:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  getting involved in your local Democratic Party (16+ / 0-)

    is also essential.

    Howard Dean said it was important, and it is. If you can sway your local Democratic Party, you can sway endorsements from dog catcher up through Congress, as well as affect the entire local Democratic culture.

    If we had 500 progressives across the country doing likewise with a netroots ethic, it would change a lot.

  •  GOP not third party in 1860, Bell was, and the (12+ / 0-)

    Dems split in half. The GOP had Fremont in 1856 and were majoritarian in the North. Lincoln reduced Douglas to inevitable later third party status after the 1858 debates. Seward, former Whig leader, almost won the nomination over Lincoln. The third parties that fed the hegemonic GOP, among others, were Free Soil, which ticket Van Buren, as former president headed in 1848, and the Liberty Party, which caused Clay to lose to Polk. The GOP in 1860 were an outlaw party because they vowed to disobey Dred Scott. This was one time it was essential to control the executive, the election of Lincoln legitimized the departmental war against Taney's judicial supremacy, why there was a civil war.

    We're not at that point. We're at a point where the republican form of government was defeated by money in politics after Buckley, which overturned the TR progressive election reforms. Third parties are what the plutocrats want, voters disenfranchising themselves. The electorate became aware it had lost the franchise after Citizens United. When the sovereign electorate sufficiently organizes as a self- interested single issue group to win back the franchise versus the plutocracy, as under TR,  there could be a single issue movement to abolish plutocrat money in politics again. The source of progress was not parties but the movements they served because sufficent numbers like 20%, as with prohibition, tip Congressional elections. Granny D taught us to focus the national conversation on the system itself, old progressive era wisdom going back to TR at Osawatomie.

    A sufficient number of MOP voters in one national election cycle could elect an accountable Congress and enough state governments to end Citizens United corruption and strip the usurping Court of appellate jurisdiction. Lincoln simply defied the Taney Court and used the war power. Today system-ending judicial supremacy is best checked by implementation of constitutional provisions like the exceptions clause and the guarantee clause  in defense of Congress's Art. 1 power to regulate elections. MOP voters would align on the necessary legislation and vote out any candidates not pledged to enact the package without compromise.

    •  Very interesting example. I hope you can expand (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Musial, JVolvo, dradams, NoMoreLies

      on this comment and post it.

      Whether the Republican Party in 1860 was a third party or an outlaw party is not really that important. The important thing to understand is that the political situation in 1860 was extremely volatile and highly unusual and unique. What is interesting is your observation of the fight against Taney's judicial supremacy. Can that be replicated to some degree today in the fight against Buckley and Citizens United? Especially since today we could not use the war power of the executive as leverage.

      There needs to be more discussion of Buckley v. Valeo, which many people may not have heard of before. I first learned of it in reading a few excellent commentaries on Citizens United, and in Justice Stevens' dissent.

      I would be cautious in making a blanket assertion that "Third parties are what the plutocrats want." I think this is only true with a third party run at the White House. But it appears to me, that in elections of US Congress, and for state houses, third parties have historically been a way a movement can overcome the obstacles (or lack of support) posed by the established national parties. I've been wondering if there is a good study of Bernie Sanders and the Socialist Party in Vermont, for example. What is the relationship between Senator Sanders and the Vermont Democratic Party? I just do not know, yet there could be important lessons to be learned here.

      Many thanks for the link to Money Outta Politics. But you - or someone - needs to write much more about "the exceptions clause and the guarantee clause  in defense of Congress's Art. 1 power to regulate elections" and post it here.

      A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

      by NBBooks on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 07:10:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The link has a long treatise, over 100 pages. (0+ / 0-)

        The guarantee clause was the basis of reconstruction, guarantee of a republican form of government, Art 4, Sec 4, can't do that without broad enfranchisement. See Charles Sumner, Works vol. 10 speeches on republican form of gvt. (South never had one until 1965.) The exceptions clause Art 3, sec 2 clause 2 is discussed in the linked MOP treatise as the Madisonian check Congress could use. Liberal judicial supremacists think it would be a slippery slope but loss of republicaan form of gvt is worse, to be used surgically to protect legislation by stripping Court of review. Court review of legislation is now routine, their lunch pail, but we fought a civil war in part against such oligarchic hijacking, Plutocrats are afraid of a Perotist third party with legs, but such a development is unlikely given major party control of elections.

  •  Bullseye. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Choco8, jan4insight, JVolvo

    My hat is off to you, friend.

  •  Obama was a pretend outsider. He turned out (6+ / 0-)

    to be very similar to Hillary Clinton.  

    Elizabeth Warren would be much different.

    Is it "we" who focus on the race for the White House at the expense of down ticket races?  No, it is the DNC. The Democratic party machine is the problem.  It needs to change.

    •  Very true - See my further comments below...... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      about 10 comments below yours. The WI Democratic Party machine has let us down so now we are looking like the South rather than the Mid-West for the junk they are passing.

      We must be the change we wish to see in the world. - Gandhi

      by left of center on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 12:04:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree with the machine, but Warren would be (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JVolvo, tardis10, Subterranean

      entirely different than Clinton.

      The difference is doing a triple lindee into the neoliberal end of the pool and being dragged there.

      Strong rhetoric from the Left is a precursor to movement Left, and people here continually dismiss it.

      Look, Obama and the Pope speak out against income inequality and we've got traction on unionizing fast food employees and WalMart's immoral pay practices. Just a few words changed the political landscape and the arc of our politics.

      Naming our enemies and accurately describing the situation is imperative for movement towards a better future. Warren brings that and Hillary doesn't.

      Policy wise, short term, you may be right on the similarity between a Clinton & Warren administration, but the historical arc and the political situation would be entirely different.

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 02:00:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  While I see huge differences in style and policy (0+ / 0-)

        between (for example) Clinton and Warren, I cannot believe that a President Warren would be any different.  She would be just as beholden to the corporate interests that put her in that position.  The system and structure are what has corrupted...and they will corrupt anyone who "wins" an election in their party's name.

        Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

        by Big River Bandido on Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 09:42:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  DNC? (0+ / 0-)

      I think you mean the Democratic Party?

      DNC = Democratic National Committee.  This is the President's fundraising arm within the party structure.  (Or when the White House is in Republican hands, this is the committee charged to help the eventual Democratic nominee.)

      DSCC = Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
      DCCC = Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

      These last two are the Senate and House parallels to the DNC.  None of these are "public" bodies, and none are truly accountable to the rank-and-file members of the party.

      Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

      by Big River Bandido on Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 09:41:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I move we change the Pledge of Allegiance to... (3+ / 0-)

    "... and to the plutocratic oligarchy, for which it stands...."

    It has a certain je ne sais quoi, accuracy.

    Thomas Jefferson, 1816: "I hope we shall...crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the Laws of our country."

    by PDX Dem on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 10:17:36 PM PST

  •  Progressives do not control anything. (23+ / 0-)

    This is because they have all signed off on whatever it is that the Democratic Party elites want to do, without really getting for themselves the least say-so in how the Party is operated.  This is why Lance Selfa refers to the Democratic Party as the graveyard of political causes.

    If the progressives were organized for themselves, here's what they'd do.

    1) They'd insist that the Democratic Party actually stood for something besides money.  I see all of this wailing and gnashing of teeth about "the Right" -- from where I stand the Democratic Party is itself a seamless part of the Right, except that the people in charge repeatedly polish their images so that they keep up the appearance of good liberalism in word while enabling corporate conservatism in deed.  John Kerry is the quintessential example of this, but it's the standard ideology of the political class at this point.

    2) They will have to opt to work for a change in American political culture, in which politicians actually stand for something, over these postures of "realism" in which positioning the consensus Dem candidate one-half-of-a-degree to the left of the Republican opponent is advertised as something to help the Dem candidate eke out a narrow victory over a Republican opponent.  In other words, they will have to work to choose and enforce a political direction regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans win individual offices as a result.  The progressives of today have no idea of the future beyond the next election, and so they are not willing to fight for anything they believe in.  This is what makes them such losers.  Doing otherwise would mean choosing candidates who adhere to the prescribed agenda, and running them until they stop losing regardless of the costs.

    3) They'd run progressive candidates in every election.

    4) They'd primary Blue Dogs in every primary.

    5) They'd insist on honesty.  I wrote a diary about this.  It's easy to reveal disingenuousness -- one-half of each sentence is bullshit, and the other half of each sentence contains your argument discrediting the half that is bullshit.

    6) They'd insist on policies that would enact what politicians claim to believe, rather than the policies we have, which enact what politicians really believe.  I illustrated this position in this diary about education -- if we really believed in "closing the achievement gap" we'd do something about the parental poverty gap.

    Now, I have no sense that progressives in this country are going to do any of those things.  Rather, our hopes are best placed in those Americans whose comfort in the general sell-out that dominates the political public sphere today has been jarred loose, and to forget about progressives insofar as they appear comfortable.

    NB: If the elites really objected to Elizabeth Warren as a potential President, how would she get past the superdelegate structure at the nominating convention?

    "There will be midterm elections in under a year. Do you know what might be savvy? To run on a Medicare For All platform..." -- Dan Fejes

    by Cassiodorus on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 10:33:15 PM PST

    •  Yep (8+ / 0-)
      This is because they have all signed off on whatever it is that the Democratic Party elites want to do, without really getting for themselves the least say-so in how the Party is operated.
      So-called "progressives" have shown time and again that they will support whatever right-wing, corporatist bullshit (such as the ACA) that the Democratic party puts forward. More than that, they'll cheer about it and call it a great progressive victory.

      Given this, no rational person would take the progressive movement seriously anymore. They sure do make a lot of noise about what they want, but when the chips are down, they always do what the Party bosses want.

    •  the measly crumbs of social liberation (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thirty three and a third

      pick off various single-issue constituencies who get their crumb and are content to let that distract them from the economic issues that could unite most of the 99%,  the issues that really scare the oligarchy, because, guess what, it's the economy, stupid.

      The underlying causes of economic inequality and their solutions remain a taboo topic, and most folks wind up grateful for their little crumb and do as they are told.

      I fully expect to be called out here for alluding to social issue victories as "little crumbs" by at least six different single issue constituencies who got one.

      Rather than name any of them,  I shall be content to watch them speak up and self identify by branding me a "xxxxxaphobe" for daring to mention these inconvenient realities.

      don't always believe what you think

      by claude on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 08:12:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wish I could still rec this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but time has expired.  

      Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

      by Big River Bandido on Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 09:44:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  the way it's going, only revolution can save us (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    left of center, k9disc

    and it will never happen, because we'll all prefer to stay at home and watch in on television

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 11:04:20 PM PST

  •  Exactly What Went Wrong in WI in 2012 (8+ / 0-)

    Our official state party officials concentrated on the re-election of President Obama in 2012 instead of trying to preserve our slender majority in our State Senate.

    The Dems in the Senate that were elected to replace Repubs that were targets of a recall at the same time that we attempted to re-call Walker, were defeated. So our tiny majority was lost meaning that Repubs now hold all 3 branches in our state government.

    We have suffered mightily with Repubs in power with regards to abortion access and changes in voting laws making it harder for folks to vote. Other bad things too have been introduced and passed.

    I personally am very disappointed with our party leadership for not putting more effort in our state elections. Ditto for lack of support for Dems running for Congress in several Congressional Districts.

    I gave money to the state and national candidates, and NOT to Obama as the consequences were too dire if our Dems lost, especially at the state level. My fears were borne out by what the Repubs have introduced in our legislature week after week. In fact, my Dem Assembly woman was told by a Repub colleague just after she took office that they had a lots of stuff planned & that she should just wait and see what they had in mind.  

    Now the party leadership has anointed one candidate to run for Governor against Walker and discouraging a primary. This person has a lot of money which she is willing to spend on this race meaning the party won't have to work so hard. I believe these leaders are just lazy, and taking the easy way out.

    I'll be very surprised if Walker isn't re-elected with the Koch money behind him along with the other murky groups that helped him win at first and in the re-call.

    We must be the change we wish to see in the world. - Gandhi

    by left of center on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 11:58:39 PM PST

  •  All politics is local (9+ / 0-)

    It's hard to come up with a Democratic candidate and platform that appeals to a majority of voters in the US, yet is also more than a pretty face mouthing empty slogans.

    On the other hand, thanks to the trend of self-segregation of political, economic, and cultural sub-groups, it's easier than ever to find candidates and platforms that will appeal to a majority of voters in a town, a county, or a state congressional district.

    I agree with the author of the diary: we will get more mileage, in the long run, out of fighting hard to mobilize people for local campaigns, in which victory is likely to win the local electorate something they're actually satisfied with, and motivate them to fight even harder next time. National-level Democratic candidates would coat-tail on these local elections, would be presented more along the lines of "and as long as you're at it, vote for this lesser of two evils too..."

    Just as Obama and the House Democrats have, these national candidates will inevitably disappoint many because they are a compromise acceptable to a whole, diverse nation. But when they are an afterthought instead of the main course, the disappointment will not lead to so much apathy, cynicism, and despair.

    In each local election, progressive Democrats would aim towards the left edge of what the Overton Window was in that local electorate, which is sometimes well to the left of what it is nationally. And, as we have seen here in Washington State, you really can get well to the left of the national consensus on things like the war on drugs, marriage equality, etc., by passing local laws. In this way progressive ideas can be proven on a local scale and gain legitimacy for a later attempt at a national level.

    It matters less how f*$%ed up national education policy is, than whether your local school board is sound and is appointing good administrators. It matters less how great national education policy is, than whether your local school board are venial monsters who are doing their best to hand over the public assets to charter schools, or fundamentalist crackpots who buy textbooks designed to keep your kids ignorant and pliable.

    And, let's face it: even if your personal goal is above all to elect a Democratic president, all politics is local. You're most likely going to achieve your goal by getting involved with your local Democratic precinct, not by preaching to the choir here or becoming one of a handful of political operatives who work on a campaign at the national level.

    •  Excellent point, but (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, elwior

      first let me say absolutely I agree politics is local. But its national, too.

      How is it that Washington can't reflect the views of the American people? We can't get the unemployment extension, even tho its what most people want. Gun control? Popularity in the 80% range I think. In every important issue facing the lawmakers, they favor the big money over we the people.

      That is not a local problem, its in DC and its called corruption.

      A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

      by onionjim on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 01:53:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's just business, Jim. Corruption puts the onus (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        onionjim, elwior

        on the person, the weak willed actor.

        What we've got going on in Washington DC is far different from corruption, it's just how business is done these days.

        This is the business of government and citizen as consumer - it's that crap that Bill Clinton & the DLC spouted all through the late 90s.

        This "corruption" as you say, is our political system.

        Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

        by k9disc on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 02:17:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, that's it. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          k9disc, elwior

          Instead of a democracy we have a representative oligarchy. Money is speech, and the politicians obey those who "speak" loudest.

          I want to make it better but something in DC needs to change.

          A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

          by onionjim on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 02:30:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  The answer is local (0+ / 0-)

        Washington can't reflect the views of the American people because the Republicans control the House. The Republicans control the House because state legislatures gerrymandered electoral districts so that a majority of Americans voting for Democratic candidates elected a large majority of Republican candidates. So a big part of the answer to our national problem is to focus on state legislative races.

        You may object that even if we fix this problem, a national Democratic party in hock to big contributors like Wall Street will continue to ignore the will of the people. I agree. But it would still be a big improvement over what we have now.

        Moreover, candidates for US Congress are chosen at a local level. Races are run at a local level. The way to get candidates who aren't in hock to Wall Street and other millionaires, is to get involved in your local Democratic party organization, prove yourself by getting really local, small race candidates elected, work your way up into a position of influence in the local party organization, and change the way candidates are chosen and elected in your state.

        Right now candidates are chosen only if they can appeal to big donors, and elections are run based on spending lots of money on advertising and paid staff. We need to chose candidates that we can trust to carry out an agreed-upon platform, and elect them using volunteer power, not dollars. When candidates are dependent on the enthusiastic, hard-working active support of thousands of their constituents, they will start voting in a way that reflects the views of the American people. As long as they are dependent instead on the dollars of rich people to get elected, they will vote in a way that reflects the views of millionaires. You can't change this ugly situation by writing an angry letter to the DNC. Maybe you can change it by getting involved with your party at a local level.

  •  T&R'd, bookmarked, and running short of time to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlueDragon, JVolvo, elwior

    make sense of this but still thinking I probably agree with you. So, saving this for future cogitation (postXmas-NYears).

  •  2006 (0+ / 0-)

    they are both important

    Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. --Edward Abbey

    by greenbastard on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 12:46:17 AM PST

  •  First Rule of Political Fight Club (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pfiore8, cybrestrike, Pablo Bocanegra

    Stay home if Democratic candidates aren't proposing a platform that is aligned with your agenda. If you don't support them, don't vote for them.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 01:14:19 AM PST

  •  glad to see this. and couldn't agree more. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maggid, JVolvo, claude, elwior, RMForbes

    i've been writing this for a number of years now... ever since 2007 and the Dems failing miserably as they continued to vote BushCo policies.

    LOCAL. actionable and measurable strategies: how to orchestrate car pooling; how to help good people already in local gov't (we can research laws and other workable plans virtually... volunteers can be anywhere w/a computer); and to seat more of them everywhere we can and in whatever capacity: school boards, zoning boards. raise money for local/state/regional candidates... help them with create websites and with writing about issues... there's so much we can do all from our computers. we need to put into action the internet.

    we need to spread the world of local gov't using eminent domain to reclaim foreclosed homes and returning those homes to homeowners... how Montana et al has nullified NDAA in its state... how citizens in North Carolina are fighting and unifying against the crazy few.

    these are the things we must do... unite local farmers with their communities and eat food in season. these are things we can do and people can see the benefits rather quickly...

    and one other thing: stop supporting our current and corrupt political system: vote out Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, John Boyner, Mitch McConnell: find citizens in these states and vote out all the Congressional leaders of either party and do it as citizens and earthlings, not members of national BRANDS that only represent the madmen and women.

    “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Buckminster Fuller

    by pfiore8 on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 03:48:29 AM PST

  •  Thanks for this well-researched and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlueDragon, JVolvo, elwior

    important diary.

  •  Nicely argued. No disagreement. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlueDragon, JVolvo, elwior

    Kudos for looking at the House in the two decades prior to 1860.

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 04:09:07 AM PST

  •  Well said! This is why I focus my diaries on (10+ / 0-)

    Senate and Governor races.  I also keep emphasizing people that if you really want Better Democrats in Congress, you need better Dems on a local level to make that happen.  See there are liberal blue states like Vermont and California and then there are moderate/swing states like Pennsylvania (my home state).  Make states like PA bluer and you'll get better Dems (however, I don't have too many complaints against Bob Casey, a few but not too many).  But the other issue is getting those Progressive Dems to run.  How many times this year did I hear people here complain about Terry McAuliffe?  A lot but at least his campaign went more to the left and he won.  But people still complained about him being the nominee but the truth of the matter is he won his party's nominee fair and square.  If you didn't want McAuliffe, don't be mad that he won because he at least stood up and took the chance to run for this job.  Be mad at guys like Tom Perrillo who yes suffered defeat in 2010 but should've tried again.  IMHO, you can't complain about Better Dems not getting elected to higher offices when they refuse to run.  I can't wait to get into the Dem Primary in the PA-Gov's race because those candidates need a closer look by the community.

    By the way, the other factor is us progressives just have to admit that the 80s were not our time.  Carter, Mondale and Dukakis all failed to beat Reagan and Bush and they did change the country into a bad direction and at the time the Dems really didn't have much of a choice but to change as well.  To quote Mat Taibbi, "Once the Democrats got their asses kicked by Reagan in 1984 they had no choice but to cave to Wall Street."  Now people are realizing those times are over and that Reagan really wasn't the American icon everyone made him out to be.

    One more note, I have never regretted voting for Obama despite my disappointments.  I have praised him when he's done good and criticized him when he's been wrong and will continue to do so but I never had any delusions that he would change everything so that's why I don't get as angry or frustrated as a lot of people here do.

    Funny Stuff at

    by poopdogcomedy on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 04:46:44 AM PST

  •  Who said they did? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    But I’m here to tell you that no one person - no matter how passionate, no matter how sincere, no matter how incorruptible, no matter how high their position, no matter how great their power - no one person is going to save the world for you.
    I was so put off by this, I'm not going to read any further.   Talk about illusions of grandeur, your opening statement would be it.  

    What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

    by dkmich on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 04:47:51 AM PST

    •  dkmich, I think the diarist was writing more (0+ / 0-)

      for the casual reader of this blog, not an established, prolific and principled voice like yours.  There are lots of people, especially newer people on here, who are very passionate about politics but don't have the feel or the patience for its seamy underside, and don't understand what happens between public promises and the selling-out stages.  Those people — or many of them — probably need some bubble-pricking.  

      Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

      by Big River Bandido on Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 09:55:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  To win state legislatures and Congressional (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlueDragon, claude, charliehall2

    districts, you need candidates. That is progressivism's greatest weakness. The moneyed interests can bankroll the political career of the wingnut school teacher or the guy who runs the swimming pool company but wants to "give back."
       Progressives tend to be working people who can't afford to take the time to run. Worse, progressives are often stopped from political participation or even speaking out for fear of losing their jobs.
       So, to break into government, progressives need to recruit candidates and raise enough money to be competitive.
        Everything follows from there.

  •  if all this is true, and i certainly believe it is (0+ / 0-)

    then bankrolling local candidate is crucial.

    as dallasdunlap says above.

    p.s. i didn't know about sinclair's run for governor.  thanks for that info.

  •  Coalition for Grassroots..Progress in Our Precinct (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Progress in Our Precincts... We organize to develop and maintain an ongoing grassroots political / electoral infrastructure to win elections at the precinct level.
    The Coalition for Grassroots Progress is an independent community-based political action committee for progressive change that has evolved out of the 2012 Solomon for Congress Campaign.
  •  More & better media platforms & election news (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The diary is a useful history lesson on past success, and reminder that future success depends on much more than electing a few individuals.

    Also useful are the comments on the intensified role of media in blocking Progressive policies and candidates.  In response to the media issue:

    1. Yes, better media platforms are important to create and to patronize.

    2. But don't ignore the ability of selected local elections to influence the national narrative through the current media, like Elizabeth Warren's has done.

  •  Nicely argued, however... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It is too easy to dismiss the focus on the White House as a problem.   But I want you to imagine a (R) in Obama's chair, for the last few years.. and evaluate who we'd have instead of the supreme court justice picks we've received.

    Imagine, if you will, who a Rand Paul will pick when his turn comes up to bat.

    I have campaigned vehemently we need to do more at the state level, especially state house/senate races, where those bodies are wrecking havoc.. that said, I would want nothing to do with the kind of justices we'd face if we didn't put a lot of effort and resources into the presidency.

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 06:16:51 AM PST

    •  People talk about the Supreme Court (0+ / 0-)

      as if it can be "saved", and they talk about a Democratic President or Democratic Senate as though they would "save us" from such a fate.  All three institutions have already been co-opted.  The final stroke in that was Scalito's nomination — which was ratified by Democratic Senators.  

      As for Rand Paul or Ted Cruz...I'm unconvinced that policy would be substantially different were one of them in charge.  We've already got mean-spirited austerity, Citizens' United, and the obliteration of the Voting Rights Act.  What, exactly, remains?  The only three major progressive pillars left to topple are the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Social Security Act, and the Wagner Act.  Republicans are gunning strongly for all three, and Democrats are giving them every possible assist — even though Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have a snowball's chance in hell of getting anywhere near the White House.  

      Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

      by Big River Bandido on Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 10:01:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Here's what remains... (0+ / 0-)

        No chance to overturn any of those.
        Roe V Wade in an overturn or difference.
        A court that gets to decide the next generation privacy rights, like the internet, search and survellience issues that have no standing in the court yet.

        And numerous decisions we haven't faced at this point, but could easy.   Imagine a Supreme Court that comes out and denies the right to Gay Marriage, citing grounds that FF&C cannot apply to a state level legal procedure.

        If you are willing to write the whole thing off, there is little point in making any effort.

        Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

        by Chris Reeves on Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 07:17:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can't follow your comment (0+ / 0-)

          The three key pieces of legislation I mentioned already have several challenges facing them, and at least 5 judges willing to strike down.  

          As for Roe v Wade, that decision is, for all intents and purposes, practically eviscerated, and more importantly, the left is completely clueless about how to engage politically on reproductive rights — falling over themselves to maintain a united front on abortion, while leaving access to contraception completely undefended.  

          With "friends" like these, the left doesn't need Republicans.

          Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

          by Big River Bandido on Thu Dec 26, 2013 at 10:20:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Seems like the Green Party kind of collapsed. (0+ / 0-)

    That used to be the home for those left of the Dem Party.

    •  No third party has a chance in the current system (0+ / 0-)

      On the other hand, if we changed to a ranked instant runoff voting system like Australia's then the landscape for third parties changes dramatically.

      Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

      by RMForbes on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 02:40:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Vote for the Democrats (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Big River Bandido

        because you wouldn't want to see the Whigs in office.

        Oh, right...

        "There will be midterm elections in under a year. Do you know what might be savvy? To run on a Medicare For All platform..." -- Dan Fejes

        by Cassiodorus on Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 09:52:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Personally I have been forced to vote Democratic (0+ / 0-)

          when I would prefer to elect far more progressive candidates.  If we had ranked voting I could have selected the more progressive third party as my first choice and the Democrat as my second choice. That way I would have my vote counted and wouldn't have to worry about my vote for the progressive candidate ending up electing a corporatist tool like Romney.

          Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

          by RMForbes on Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 02:31:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  steady stream of right wingers (4+ / 0-)

    is still coming in though my local school board and city council - that's happening in a relatively progressive school district. The republicans, libertarians and nutballs campaigning with semi-automatic weapons slung over their shoulders have got this thing down and have for decades.
    Great diary and you are right on the money.

  •  Elizabeth Warren and the Pope (6+ / 0-)

    aren't trying to do it themselves. They actually agree with you, and are trying to do it via a movement.

    Rick Perry - the greatest scientist since Galileo!

    by Bobs Telecaster on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 06:19:14 AM PST

  •  The presidency and Congress and local elections (0+ / 0-)

    are not mutually exclusive. I don't get it.

    The real recent heat by Republicans on school boards and small local politics was a top down strategy of mailers and propaganda extending from " The Moral Majority" and Newt's speakership. It was a frightening prospect when I heard him lay it out, that proved frightful consequences.

    FDR was forced into his progressive achievements, because of an anecdote?  4 elections. The guy must have been some pushover!

  •  six months into President Warren's first term... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shrike, sviscusi, charliehall2, sethtriggs

    ... half this site will already be calling for a primary challenger when she comes up for re-election.

    A lot of people here don't want to be in power, because with power comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes imperfection.  And every human is imperfect.

    Honestly, even the reality-based aren't all that reality based.  Some want magic, and will always be disappointed.

    "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

    by Front Toward Enemy on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 06:20:05 AM PST

    •  Yes. I like to point out this site thought she (3+ / 0-)

      would have the "banksters" hanging by their thumbs after her first year on the Senate Banking Committee.

      Instead - bupkis.  


      "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

      by shrike on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 06:37:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "this site thought"? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tardis10, cybrestrike

        I suspect that most people here thought she would make one heck of a senator, and that we haven't been disappointed.

        One or two senators can't change the direction of the country all by themselves, but they can help change the debate. More senators, and representatives, and people at all levels of elected office, can do more. There's no great mystery or controversy to it.

        "I am not sure how we got here, but then, I am not really sure where we are." -Susan from 29

        by HudsonValleyMark on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 07:29:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, the bank griefers here. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          charliehall2, sethtriggs

          The people who crowd into bobswern diaries and complain about how the banks "stole" homes from people by lending them money they defaulted on later.

          They were certain Senator Warren was going to haul the banksters into DC for testimony that would incriminate them.

          "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

          by shrike on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 03:23:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Baloney (5+ / 0-)

      There are still a few politicians left in DC and elsewhere who can't be bought with corporate money.  My own senator, Sherrod Brown, has been pretty consistent in sticking to core Democratic values and I'm sure Warren will be the same.

      The biggest battles will come from within our own party, from DC Dem leaders who talk a good game, but work to undermine good politicians. No doubt there will be a lot of people on places like DKos trying to stir up trouble and dissent, but we can handle that pretty well.

      If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

      by Betty Pinson on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 07:22:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  hope you're right... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shrike, sethtriggs

        ...but if Warren ever gets the presidency, I hope you'll remember this, start a clock, and watch and wait.  I've watched the people on this site turn on everyone from our party that's ever actually gotten elected, no matter what they did.   The only way to remain a popular Democrat on Daily Kos is to stay out of office.  

        "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

        by Front Toward Enemy on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 07:28:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're right, I've never worked on a campaign (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JVolvo, cybrestrike, orlbucfan

          so have never had any experience in dealing with an elected official after sending them to DC.

          Do I need a snark tag?

          The thing that separates the experienced from the inexperienced is the knowledge that the job isn't finished once you get someone elected.  

          It's also your obligation to pay attention to what elected officials actually do once they're elected.

          If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

          by Betty Pinson on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 07:59:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  and it also helps... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            It's also your obligation to pay attention to what elected officials actually do once they're elected.
            ...if you have realistic expectations of what elected officials will be able to do within the confines of America's incredibly-contentious political system once they're elected, too.

            A lot of people here have no fucking clue about that one.

            "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

            by Front Toward Enemy on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 01:53:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's also their obligation to not lie to me (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              all through their campaign, misrepresenting their priorities and using deceptive language.

              When that happens, they lose my support and rightly so.  When they go to DC they work for us, not the rich corporate honchos.

              If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

              by Betty Pinson on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 02:52:24 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  If she appoints Goldman Sachs to guard the $$ hen- (3+ / 0-)

      house while Main St slowly dies you fucking betcha.

      If she puts together a Clinton III lineup of Cabinet appointments/Admin staff you fucking betcha.

      If she was all about "look forward" on Bankster crimes and US torture while guaranteeing the next round of America-hating militants via drone strikes you fucking betcha.

      I doubt she will even run in 2016, so the chances she would follow current POTUS' Corporatist path are infinitesimal.  

      Yet I would be banging the same drum if she also used populism as a marketing ploy then ditched it upon swearing in by mid-November.

      Retired Pie Warrior. Substance over Sh*t Flinging (as best as I am able). Sarcasm for - and derision of - True Believers / Entitlement "Reformers" / NSA cheerleaders (yes, significant overlap) still available 24/7, you betcha!

      by JVolvo on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 08:03:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  prepare to be disappointed, then... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shrike, sethtriggs
        Yet I would be banging the same drum if she also used populism as a marketing ploy then ditched it upon swearing in by mid-November.
        ... because I guaran-fucking-tee you that she -- or anybody else who actually has to do the job of president in the real world -- is going to be viewed as a sell-out for not living up to the dreams of idealists.

        It's not something anybody here likes to accept, but I don't give a shit about anybody's dreams -- it's a fact about a large chunk of this site's clientele.  They'll never be satisfied with anything that has to move beyond the ideal-dream stage.   And, frankly, they're getting really, really tiresome.    

        But, I like Elizabeth Warren, I'd be happy to vote for her, so, I look forward to giving the rest of you a chance to be disappointed in her if she gets the Presidency.   Doesn't matter a damn to me how the idealists will feel about it, because they never do anything anyway.  But, I'm still happy I voted for Obama.

        "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

        by Front Toward Enemy on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 01:51:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  if (0+ / 0-)

      she turns out to be a corporate stooge like Obama then sure there will be those type of posts.

      •  she will... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shrike, sethtriggs

        ... because anybody who actually does business in the real-world version of this country -- or any other -- will be viewed as a "corporate stooge" by people on this site.

        "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

        by Front Toward Enemy on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 01:44:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  All of the above with opportunistic prioritization (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maggid, JVolvo, tardis10

    In General, Progressives need all of the above, including:

    •    Organizations with wider roles than electoral campaigns: ALWAYS.

    •    Progressive candidates for local office: ALWAYS.

    •    Progressive primary challengers to Democratic Congressional incumbents: MORE. (At least FIVE per cycle should receive high priority).

    •    Progressive challengers to Republican Congressional incumbents: MORE. (At least TEN per cycle should receive high priority, including some where the apparent strength of the incumbent deters challenges from establishment Democrats.

    •    Progressive challengers in Senate Democratic primaries: MORE. (At least TWO per cycle should receive high priority).

    •    Progressive challengers to Senate Republican incumbents: MORE. (At least TWO per cycle should receive high priority).

    •    A Presidential candidate to publicize Progressive policies and demonstrate their appeal to Democratic primary voters (whom that candidate should focus on registering and turning out).

    Opportunistic priorities in 2014, I presently recommend prioritizing:
    Ms. (former head of Maine ACLU) Shenna Bellows’ high-energy grassroots-focused run against Senate Republican incumbent Susan Collins, whose money and strong polling has deterred better-known candidates, but who is increasingly out of step with Maine, especially on the surveillance abuse that appears likely to be further highlighted throughout this cycle.

    Various Kossacks' perspectives on Bellows' & her campaign can be found here:

    The huge amount of resources that would be needed to come anywhere close to preventing Hillary from obtaining the Presidential nomination would, if devoted to other elections and activities, have much greater impact on US policies and politics.
  •  Have to have a solution first. (0+ / 0-)

    I totally agree it has to come from the ground up.

    However I think while we know the slide of the working class and the rise of Wall St is happening that in order to get anywhere you have to have a list of solutions.

    What sort of legislation to push a living wage?  Unions? Increasing Min Wage? More gov't subsidizing companies low wages??

    What sort of laws to promote full employment??  Make overtime more expensive for companies so they have to hire more workers?  Increase gov't spending and create some jobs so some of the work force that has stopped even looking will get back in. Infrastructure jobs?

    Do we deal with the debt the biggest part of the increase in it due to the financial crisis by cutting benefits to people and therefore slowing the economy??
    Since Wall Street is responsible why not the much touted stock transaction sales tax. I mean the banks bleed the middle class with fees lets hit them with one.

    I think there needs to be a clearly defined progressive agenda for us to really get going at the grassroots.

  •  One nit pick, in an otherwise excellent diary, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It would be your reference to the Tea Party's power. The only reason they have any power is they are bank rolled by billionaire right wingers who push their message in the media. They aren't anywhere near being a grass roots organization. Having said that, you are completely right that, regardless, we have to challenge on the local level, as well as the national level (IMHO). But we also have to remember, that as progressives, and as demonstrated by the occupy movement, most of the government itself is working against us.

    Thanks for posting this excellent diary.

    Regulated capital serves the people, unregulated capital serves itself.

    by Alumbrados on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 06:29:54 AM PST

  •  I've never understood the appeal the "Great Man" (5+ / 0-)

    theory of history seems to have for the left. We all seem to expect that some knight in shining armor will ride in on his/her white horse and win all our battles for us.

    It won't happen.

    There is no "Great Man".

    That is why all the "rox/sux" debates that waste so much time and energy here (whether about Hillary or about Obama or about Snowden or about Warren or anyone else) are so pointless.

    The progressive movement's problem, simply stated, is that NEITHER political party is behind us.  Neither will give us the time of day; neither gives a rat's ass what we think about ANYTHING. The only one who pretends that it does, really just wants our money and votes at election time--then wants us to sit down and STFU.

    That will not change by electing a new Prez.  We can dig up the zombie corpse of FDR himself and elect him, and it won't change a damn thing. The real problem is that the Dem Party itself is not progressive, and has zero interest in passing a progressive agenda.  Period. It hasn't been since the 1970's. Heck, even some of us HERE have argued that the Dem party should NOT fight for a progressive agenda because it "loses elections for us".

    There is no Great Man who will save us.  There is no Hero who will fight and win our battles for us.  The entire Dem Party must be rebuilt, from the bottom up---and only WE can do that.

    It will be long and hard and it will take years.  But it must be done.

    And the real key to doing that is to eliminate  money from the electoral process.  If we had a real democratically-elected government, we could solve all our social problems democratically. But we DON'T have a democratically-elected government--we have a government where money decides who wins, and where both parties get their money from the same people (literally) and both parties are beholden to the same interests. Until THAT changes, nothing else will change either.  Ever.

    Of course, both parties know who butters their bread (and it ain't us)--so neither party has the slightest interest in changing the electoral-money system.

    Which means we will have to organize and force them, whether they like it or not. That will take the equivalent of the civil rights movement or the labor union movement or the gay rights movement. And that will take years or maybe decades of long hard boring unglamorous drudgery grunt work--the kind of stuff that too many of us don't like getting our hands dirty with.  For too many of us, our idea of "progressive activism" consists solely of voting for our hero of the day, asking other people to vote for our hero of the day, and maybe writing some checks.  

    That will no longer cut the mustard.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 07:11:12 AM PST

    •  100% agree... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dradams, orlbucfan, NoMoreLies

      I think what gets lost in the conversation is, this is going to take time, it isn't some quick, easy fix that will occur in the next few election cycles.

      In this world of instant gratification, most people tend to get bored with "the long term", they want it now and if they can't have it now they get bored and move on (pun intended?).

      What progressives are fighting for isn't the next 5 or 10 years, we are fighting for the next century and beyond.  I am fighting for my 12 year old not to have to fight and scrape like his mom and I did to get where we are. I want him to have a job, any job, and make a decent wage that allows him to have a decent life. He doesn't have to be a rocket scientist, or a tech guru- he could be a janitor and I would be fine, as long as he is happy and not struggling. I want his kids (if he decides to have any) to grow up in a world that isn't fighting over energy resources (or fighting over resources in any form), we aren't bickering among ourselves over the scraps the 1% have decided to toss our way ("Please, sir, can I have some more?"), human dignity comes first and the military budget comes DEAD LAST (this from a USAF vet).  We don't sacrifice our nation's young on the alter of oil, natural resources, and the religion of the 2nd Amendment.

      We all have to be in it for the long haul.

      The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy. -Charles de Montesquieu

      by dawgflyer13 on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 09:41:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A quibble on label "progressive". After the sell (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dawgflyer13, orlbucfan

    outs of 2008-2010+, and the silence and the we-need-our-seat-at-the-table from all kinds of "progressive" politicians and organizations -

    all while right wing bullshit after bullshit came from Geithner & Bernake & Rahm & Arne & Summers & ... the rest of the Obama-Clinton gang of deliberate sell outs,  

    there are shitloads of current elected "progressives" who I will NEVER piss on if they're on fire, much less give a penny to, a second to, or a vote to.

    I voted FOR a freaking socialist in Seattle's city council race cuz she ran on a $15/ hour minimum wage.

    I am DONE voting for Jim McDermot (D-WA.) - great guy, honest, completely useless when it comes to fucking over the toadies of the 1% who are fucking over the bottom 90++% of us.

    I will ONLY put my time, money and votes into NEW people.

    Oh yeah - sell me and the bottom 90% out, and, I'm doing what the Tea Party does - fuck you, next.


    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 07:14:56 AM PST

  •  Thanks for your concern, but (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cybrestrike, orlbucfan

    yeah, we've got this.  I'm not being sarcastic here, but there's a lot of public pressure to restore actual democracy to our political system and government.  As Bob Dylan said, it doesn't take a weatherman to see which way the wind is blowing. USians are fed up.

    The biggest trick will be to educate voters and call out candidates to ensure we're not duped into supporting Dem politicians who talk a lot of populist jibber jabber.  It will be a massive undertaking with billions of corporate dollars still polluting DC, the public airwaves and clever think tanks.

    But, yeah, I think we're up to the task.

    If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

    by Betty Pinson on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 07:17:52 AM PST

  •  disagree - we can NEVER not focus on the Presidenc (0+ / 0-)

    Perhaps I misunderstand your point - but I think we can NEVER not focus on the Presidency.

    We can ALSO focus on down-ticket and local races, but the Presidency must be won.

    We need a string of Democratic Presidential administrations to populate the Supreme Court - turn it from the Republican $upreme Court to the people's Supreme Court.

    Having more progressive Democrats in the Congress is useless if a succession of Republican Presidents name more Sup Court justices like Thomas, Scalia, Roberts and Alito to "interpret" laws for the next 40 years.

    We need another 4 or 8 years of Democratic President(s) after Obama to gain clear majorities on the U.S. Supreme Court, US Courts of Appeals and federal District Courts.

    We need Democratic Presidents to nominate justices who are in their 40s or 50s, not in their 60s - in order to retain those court majorities for decades to come.

    Republican Presidents understand this and nominate younger justices.  

    Clarence Thomas was 43 when he joined the Supreme Court.

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg was 60 years old when she joined the Supreme Court

    Right wing Justice Clarence Thomas will be on the Court for a generation longer than Ginsburg.

    Hillary Clinton is already 66 years old - too old for a nomination to the Supreme Court.

    If we want to gain and keep POWER on the Supreme Court, we need to elect Democratic Presidents and nominate younger Justices.  

  •  Blogs like this are not primarily about activism (4+ / 0-)

    Rather, they're about giving a very broad range of progressives (and fellow travelers who are not always progressive), some of whom are actual activists, some not so much, a place to vent over, expose, discuss, hash out and debate the great policy issues of our time. The actual activism takes place elsewhere, in terms of strategizing and organizing. Blogs are the 21st century equivalent of the pubs, taverns and coffee houses of the 18th-20th centuries.

    Also, I think that many folks here are hardly naive about the limitations of putting all of one's hopes and efforts into electing a progressive president, in terms of the immense difficult of doing that to begin with, and then the limited power that such a progressive president would have in fixing the country's many problems. Most people here realize how important it is to also focus on local, state and congressional elections, on what happens between elections, and on non-legislative activism, e.g. boycotts, strikes, protests, etc.

    That said, excellent and thorough diary, taking a detailed, systematic and historical approach to analyzing the modern progressive movement in terms of what has worked and what hasn't, and what it needs to do, and not do, to succeed. Power doesn't have to be concentrated only at the top. The success or failure of a republic such as ours is directly related to the distribution of power (and money), in terms of how fairly it's distributed. Progressivism is in many ways about redistributing power more fairly.

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 07:53:52 AM PST

  •  nevertheless...(& not to be over-simplistic) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    we needed Dean's & Clark's voices in that primary election, just as we now sorely need Warren's and Brown's.

    Yes, we need to focus on down-ballot races + state and local, with, imho, a criteria for promoting strong union-supporting candidates (a must).

    "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

    by Sybil Liberty on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 08:22:20 AM PST

  •  Thank you for getting it (0+ / 0-)

    The RWNJs have been organizing and taking over at a local level since the stealth campaigns in the 80s. People don't understand what that means.

    It has to be from the ground up.

    Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

    by GreenMother on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 08:49:27 AM PST

  •  Great post! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NBBooks, orlbucfan, charliehall2

    I used to tell the people who were most disappointed in Obama that it was mostly their own fault for deluding themselves into thinking he was some kind of progressive savior, when all of the evidence pointed to the idea thast he was just another DLC approved, "centrist", supply side believer. I had to avoid this very website for weeks because I was stirring up a lot of anger by saying so. I voted for Obama...twice but I'm not horribly disappointed with him because what he's done is pretty much what I expected he would do. Much more damage has been done by the irrational hatred coming from the right and the absurd decision made by SCOTUS. Obama is just another tool of that plutocracy. Better by far that McCain or Willard but still just a tool that keeps the big donors donating. I know it's not popular to say around here but popularity doesn't equate with veracity.

    "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

    by MargaretPOA on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 08:58:04 AM PST

    •  The same is going to happen to Bill De Blasio (0+ / 0-)

      another centrist corporate Dem who convinced people that he is a progressive. He will be an improvement over Bloomberg in the way he manages the city, but not in most policies.

      •  First Appointment Guliani Police Commissioner, now (0+ / 0-)

        a Goldman Sachs flack??

        Does it can any more surreal? Or is this the trajectory (like Obama): loads of populist rhetoric to win the election, then break every promise, declaration.

        I'm so fed up and angry at this bs.

        Out to the streets again, like the true populists of other eras. We have to begin forming alternative alliances and systems. Occupy was 1000% correct and showed by example.

        People are tired of talk, while most aspects of their daily lives are afire. The rage is about to boil over...

  •  This is what I'm talking about! (0+ / 0-)

    I don't have time to read all the comments downthread, but apart from whatever anybody may be saying this is one of the best and most important diaries I've read maybe ever.

    Most importantly of all my point of view is the historical perspective. People here often act as if the past were some sort of magical time when FDR strode the earth and, with the stroke of a pen, instituted the New Deal until the monsters of present day Washington destroyed all their good work. Well, as this diary makes clear, it never was and never will be that simple.

    The tragedy of the roxer/suxer controversy is that it makes it all about personalities. I did get to read Nulwee's post above, and I mostly completely agree with it as well as this diary. So much energy is imposed on reading the intentions of the great and powerful when anyone who spends any time reading about history knows it's hugely more complex than that.

    I have a couple of quibbles here and there (mainly from one of the quotations about the Dean scream being manufactured. I watched it live on CSpan and, while I agree it was spun against Dean unfairly and magnified through reptition, it was a legitimately weird moment) but thank you NB Brooks for taking us back to what we're supposed to be about in the first place. Well done!

    Now residing in Van Nuys, but "LaBobsterofVanNuys" isn't funny and besides, Van Nuys is really part of Los Angeles

    by LABobsterofAnaheim on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 09:21:28 AM PST

    •  We still needed FDR (0+ / 0-)

      Yes, he was buttressed by a strong progressive movement.  But if Hoover had won a second term, the progressive movement wouldn't have done jack squat.

      This diary is good but is seems to be saying the obvious.  Of course local races matter.  But all else being equal, progressives would be better off with president Warren than President HRC, or Christie.

      "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

      by Subterranean on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 10:48:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  True, of course. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Subterranean, NBBooks

        I don't think the diarist is saying the President isn't tremendously important, but for real progressive change, you need movements.

        Thing of all the relatively progressive things that have happened under Republican presidents like Eisenhower and Nixon and all the fairly regressive things that have, alas happened under Clinton and Obama (less so under Obama and trending a bit better, IMHO, but, as we say YMMV). To me, it's as much or more about taking control of the overall tenor of the time than about who happens to be at the top of the ticket.

        Now residing in Van Nuys, but "LaBobsterofVanNuys" isn't funny and besides, Van Nuys is really part of Los Angeles

        by LABobsterofAnaheim on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 03:32:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Jump on the Animal Rights bandwagon (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Laugh if you will. But these people are passionate and literally got Bill DeBlasio elected NYC mayor. NYCLASS (anti-carriage horse group) framed the election early and poured on the pressure with an amazing campaign.  

    Animal Rights groups are everywhere. State, local and federal and they mostly support progressive policies.

    EVERYTHING is connected.

  •  Save Yourselves!!! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Subterranean, orlbucfan

    In any disaster, there's always someone who calls out:

    Save yourselves!!!
    Has it really come to that in our society?

    Point 1: What additional parties do at the presidential level is completely secondary to their real power. Whether they take the White House or not is immaterial. Their power comes from getting a message out to the voters and giving it juice. Then, the two big parties either co-opt them or suffer defeat. The Republican Party is suffering from defeat by the Tea Party right now. It has nothing to do (yet) with taking the White House. Mitt Romney is just collateral damage, as far as the Tea Party is concerned. The Libertarian Party has moved the entire discussion toward eliminating government despite never getting their candidate elected President. We should not dump on our additional parties. They help us win the argument.

    Point 2: Bloggers may be great followers, but great ideas come from the bloggers, not from the "leaders". The party leadership produced NAFTA and deregulation. The leadership signed on to cutting benefits for children living in poverty and sold out the unemployed to make their jobs a little easier. The leadership came up with ACA. The real leaders are bloggers. They just don't get paid for their ideas.

    Point 3: Winning office is the result of political consciousness. If we want progressives to win office we need to make liberalism the dominant ideology of our culture. Politicians are just one means to that end. The Tea Party gets their ideas in the media by making them outrageous. Progressives need to get outrageous (but sensible) ideas out, too. That's why increasing benefits for Social Security works. This is why, frankly, I have my 5X proposal on the table, as just one example.

    Point 4: The elite will always be gunning for us. We need to entrench liberal ideas in the population so that we inoculate them against the inevitable lies. Blogging helps. Bringing people into the progressive community broadly is even more important. Sinclair lost because he didn't have an Internet community behind him. We should not let that happen to progressives in this century.

    Point 5: You're right on about focusing too much on the presidential race. We need to understand that the best way to elect a progressive President is to support the right candidates at the state and local levels. Everything we do for them works twice: it works for them and it works for the presidential race.

    But, by the same token, running a liberal candidate in the primaries has a huge benefit for our side. It is the best way to get the message out to the voters.

    And the Democratic Party needs a progressive at the head of its presidential ticket. This provides cover for the thousands of Democrats running at lower levels to be as liberal as possible. If you want progressives elected at the state and local levels, the best way to get them there is to run a progressive at the presidential level. We should find the best candidate we can for that job now and support them all the way to the White House, if possible, or as far as possible if not.

  •  Being an atheist I am very wary of (0+ / 0-)

    setting anyone up as some sort of god, political, cultural or religious. But I have to say, at least people like Elizabeth Warren operate on the basis of facts and evidence and not, like the Pope, on superstition and claims of magical abilities and divine approval.

  •  I do think that putting some effort (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    into the White House is important -- take a look at the current Supreme Court. What would have happened with Windsor if it had been John McCain (or God/dess forbid, Sarah Palin) picking the justices?

    You're right when it comes to economics though -- the purse strings are ultimately held by Congress.

    There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

    by Cali Scribe on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 10:19:56 AM PST

  •  Third parties and the president (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NBBooks, orlbucfan

    I do agree that focusing exclusively on the president is a serious mistake and the party that proves that again and again is the Greens.
    They've been active in this country for a number of decades now and have exactly zero affect on policy.
    If they had spent their time, money, and effort on building a bench of state and local legislators, then moving on to elect a member of congress or two, they might actually be in position to run a candidate for president who would get more than the single token interview on PBS a few months before the election. Instead, despite being around for longer than many of the voters they most appeal to have been alive, they are little more than a joke.
    Teddy R., Perot and other third party candidates were essentially running alone, with parties that existed essentially for their benefit. The Greens on the other hand have existed as a party for a comparatively long time, yet allowed Nader, who didn't even join the party, to run under their banner.
    Although they have elected folks to a few lower tier offices, mostly town councils and a couple of mayors, if they had used the limited resources they waste on quixotic presidential runs to really build a party, they should at least have a couple people in congress by now and could act as an effective voice for progressive policies.
    Having said all that, I think you also dismiss the importance of the president too quickly. The truth is we need to elect good presidents AND good legislators at all levels.

  •  Holy shit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You probably won't see this far down in the comments, and I don't have the time or energy today to offer anything in the way of substance, but this is the best diary I've seen in the months I've been here.

    Tip'd and rec'd.

  •  Almost a tautology. (0+ / 0-)

    Agreed that focusing on the President or hoping for a third party will not help us.

    I'm starting from the township and state level.  And, thank goodness we have a Democratic challenger of an incumbent tea party crank in our Mich. legislature who knows what ALEC is about and detests everything about them and the Mackinac center.

    But, in other races we can exert influence by making it known that we are populists/liberals first and Democrats second.  I will not vote for any DLC candidate, period.  We are in the mess of an economically conservative/neoliberal Democratic party because for too many years people held their noses and voted for candidates that in fact did not represent their interests.

  •  Grammer (0+ / 0-)

    I'd take these long articles more seriously if non-words such as irregardless did not appear.

  •  points well taken (0+ / 0-)

    However, irrespective of successes at the local/state level, or even congressional seats, the fact remains that the Federal executive branch is immensely (and disproportionately) powerful and beyond the reach of the other branches.  The military industrial complex - including defense and intelligence agencies -  need actual legislative oversight, but that cannot scratch the scope of administrative directives.  Not to mention all other agencies, where rules and policies are set by the President.
    Impacting those levers of power require a great deal of political engagement, including (non-violent) direct action that is not necessarily focused on the electoral process.

    "No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it."- Franz Kafka, "Before the Law"

    by normal family on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 01:37:04 PM PST

  •  I for one welcome our Pope Francis and Liz Warren (0+ / 0-)


    I don't expect them to "SAVE" me. However, I'm encouraged that both of them are voicing progressive ideas and reaching people in a way that I as an individual with seeming little influence could never do.

    It's nice to have hundreds of thousands (millions of people even) that form a voice for change, but they need these things called leaders to accually move the ball cown to the goal post.

    When I cannot sing my heart. I can only speak my mind.

    by Unbozo on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 03:20:36 PM PST

  •  When the pope speak, 1.2 billion people listen. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hillbilly Dem
  •  Lincoln and Fillmore can't both be 3rd party (0+ / 0-)

    If Fillmore was a 3rd party candidate as of 1856, that means that the  Republicans were the 2nd party already!

  •  A quibble (0+ / 0-)

    Not everyone thought as highly about FDL Minn. Governor Olsen as does the diarist, as an example of  how winning at the state level, meant you also won at the street level.

    The Teamster leaders in the 1934 Minn-St Paul general strike say that when Olsen called in the National Guard, that didn't help the unions. The Guard arrested strike leaders and escorted strikebreakers and tried to break the strike.

    Some say it was national pressure from FDR's administration that helped the unions win a stalemate/victory, rather than Olsen's strike "support."

    This is an important issue because it demonstrated how it took pressure from both the State and Federal government, in support of the local unions' unprecedented community organizing, to advance working peoples' causes.

    For this and other reasons, I'm not prepared to write off the Presidential elections.

    “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

    by 6412093 on Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 11:05:02 AM PST

  •  Presidential campaigns are tentpoles (0+ / 0-)

    Even with all the flaws you mention, Presidential campaigns can do things that a singular focus on local campaigns cannot. Many progressives were elected on Obama's coattails, and many of them will lose without a stronger, national base of energized progressives Democrats.

    And nothing delivers that like a Presidential candidate we can feel enthusiastic about.

    Conversely, ceding any ground to Clinton will provide an assist to centrist, corporate Dems across the country.

    I'm going to be doing what I can to support an Elizabeth Warren candidacy, and I hope folks will join this open source movement.

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