In my last diary I wrote about building the need for building a progressive primary infrastructure. It is easy to feel like this is a side issue which we will pick up come election time.. This is a huge mistake.
Today's news cycle is aswarm with commentary concerning Obama's new budget. The budget itself and the way it is covered both make clear the massive issue we are facing and that we must start dealing with it now -- not come election time.
Obama has put forward a new budget. And in an attempt to seem balanced and centrist, he has already packed it with some serious cuts. Surely much of this is because Obama is not interested in building a progressive budget for the times, but instead trying to ward off attacks from Republicans.
But they will always fight us. We know that.
We see it here...
With the release of his FY 2012 budget today, the President is attempting to brand reckless spending and higher taxes as fiscal reform. In reality, this is the same foolhardy budgeting we’ve seen over the past two years of the Obama Administration, with one difference: more spending.
It's pretty hard to stomach when President Obama even talks in terms of cutting the deficit, because his entire economic philosophy compels him to keep spending as if his goal were to impoverish our children and because he continues, in fact, to spend at such bankrupting levels.
Still, the budget comes with a combined $7.2 trillion in cumulative deficits over the next decade. Republicans say more cuts must be made to stabilize the debt.
But that does not concern me. What concerns me is that Obama is falling into the same old centrist trap that so many well-meaning Democrats fall into. And in doing so, Democrats kill the energy of life-blood of the party, the progressive base. Democrats look conflicted, contradictory, and seem to jettison the very promises and rhetoric that got them elected:
Aiming to cut the annual deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next decade, President Barack Obama chose to slash across the board. But the most glaring cuts were not to a bloated defense budget, or to entitlement programs that both parties say are in need of reform. Rather, they were to programs and policies that are at the heart of Obama's personal story.
A former community organizer in Chicago, Obama proposed a 50-percent cut to a $700-million community-service block grant program. A former lawyer who touted his work to improve living conditions for the poor, Obama proposed a sharp cut in energy assistance for low-income families. A graduate-school alumnus who only recently, and quite publicly, was able to pay off his debts, Obama proposed refiguring loan programs so that students would accrue interest even while they're enrolled.
We're left asking who is Obama? And voters are left asking what is a Democrat? What is a progressive?
The way to win is not pandering to both sides, and it is not about hobbling the best parts of yourself. Progressives need to be progressives. They need to stick to progressive values and fight for them in every policy fight they go too.
George Lakoff has written about this extensively....
There is a common belief that there is an ideological "center"--a large group of voters either with a consistent ideology of their own or lined up left to right on the issues or forming a "mainstream," all with the same positions on issues. In fact, the so-called center is actually made up of biconceptuals, people who are conservative in some aspects of life and progressive in others. Voters who self-identify as "conservative" often have significant progressive values in important areas of life. We should address these "partial progressive" biconceptuals through their progressive identities, which are often systematic and extensive.
A common mistaken ideology has convinced many progressives that they must "move to the right" to get more votes. In reality, this is counterproductive. By moving to the right, progressives actually help activate the right's values and give up on their own. In the process, they also alienate their base.
So we need to get Democrats to realize they need stand up and behave as real progressives, and do it consistently. And I think the main way to do this is to get more true progressives in office. The only way to do that is start building infrastructure now, now, now to enable more people to run competitive primaries.
See my previous diary on progressive primaries for an outline of plan I propose to build a progressive primary infrastructure . If you're with me, say in the comments, and better yet email me.