Hey, Progressives: now what?

The Democrats are like the dog who chases cars, and then one day he catches one. Holy crap – now what?

For the longest time progressives were the opposition, the outsiders, and were in a sort of no-lose position. It’s easy to bitch (especially when you’ve got an administration like Bush’s providing more targets than you have ammo to shoot at), but being in charge of the agenda and having the power to actually do things, well, that’s another situation entirely.

Sara Robinson, who’s quite simply one of the brightest minds in the whole darned blogosphere, has some extremely useful thoughts on the subject of what comes next. In a nutshell, she says we need a community, not a movement. A snippet:

It’s not uncommon for movements to fall prey to the old Zen principle, “What you resist, persists.” We’re all familiar with lefties whose battles against The Man eventually left them every bit as authoritarian and paranoid as the power structures they worked to overthrow. The eternal tendency to become that which we most despise makes permanent opposition an inherently unsound way to organize a group for the long haul.

Communities have a different purpose, and different internal dynamics—and this model may be better suited to the new environment we find ourselves in now. Like organizations, they’re built to last. But where organizations are founded to achieve goals that they too often outlive, communities are living, renewable, organic entities that are held together by a workable social contract, a common cultural identity, complex social and family structures, dependable bonds of trust, and a strong set of shared values. They’re about inclusion, not exclusion; and exist for mutual support and survival, not status. They are an end unto themselves, not in opposition to anyone. And they can endure for centuries, if not millennia.

Sara’s reasoning is impeccable. Give it a read.


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  • Great post and great link.
    This country has an opportunity to come together and it is refreshing to see those in power recognize that come together means more than just expecting the other side to “shut up and take it”.

  • I did give it a read, and thank you for bringing it to my attention. I agree that community should be the principle, but i wonder if we’re capable of/ready for it. I’ve been flamed (not here) for suggesting that who you put on your school board, city council, etc. is as – if not more – important as who you put in the White House. There are plenty of reasons why i feel this way, but it boils down to the community model discussed by Sara Robinson. When they are strong and healthy, national politics will be strong and healthy.

    It will be interesting to see what becomes of the mass movement that coalesced behind Obama. Will it disperse? Will it splinter? Will it be used to promote “change” from the bottom up now that the top has been addressed?

    And will i have to wait an hour to vote in the 2010 mid-term elections? I hope so…

  • At the end of the day, it’s about bringing education and tolerance to all people in America (even the world, eventually). As long as you have greed and bigotry and ignorance running rampant, nothing can get done.

    The best way to quash the trumpeting of hatred is to block that speech, and that’s not an option. Hence, those that seek to disrupt and incite chaos will continue to do so, and continue to prosper from that.

    We need real.. deep.. education in this country. And you can’t force that any more than you can quash speech. The willfully ignorant will remain that way, and those profiting from that will continue to foster such behaviors in our society. And those of that disposition will also continue to have children, and pass on their closed minded bigotry and greed and selfishness and entitlement.

    In fact, one of the only solutions I can see is to strip the top 1% of most of their wealth, and use that money to drive a massive educational system. And the only “fair” way I can think of to do that is death/inheritance taxes. 75% of everything over, say, $10 mil? Maybe $20 mil? Providing for your children’s future is fine, but setting up multi-generational dynasties seems a bit beyond the pail, to me.

    Change costs money.

  • I do remember, back in 2000, when George W won, he also presided over a unified Republic Senate and House. Back then it was Karl Rove’s intention to hold power indefinitely. And they acted as if they could do what they liked, ignoring the Democrats, failing to acknowledge that they actually represented a fairly diverse population. The response from voters was, “No, not really.” Not much has changed since, and the Democrats need to keep that in mind.

  • Definitely, Whythawk. Anyone who believes that there will never be another power shift in the U.S., or who believed that in the past, was high on something. And everyone who thought that deserves what they got, or will get in the future.

    Setting political precedents assuming that your opponents will never be in a position to use them against you is stupid. Similarly, any organization (business, NGO, non-profit, state or local government, etc.) that doesn’t plan at least 4 years ahead and assume that the tables will turn every election also deserves some risk of hard times when the tables finally do turn.

  • So Obama is “progressive” now? When did that happen? I guess empty labels can mean whatever you want them to mean.

    My Letter to Obama

    by John Doraemi

    (New Book to publish hundreds of letters to “president” Obama)

    Mr. Obama,

    I did not vote for you, or for McCain. I do not trust you, the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party. These institutions have long records of immoral behavior, war crimes and corruption that could shame the Caesars.

    That said, you now have the chance to “change” things, as your hollow slogan did imply during the election fanfare.

    So change this:

    1) A global network of military bases in other people’s countries must be closed down (more than 760 bases). No American would tolerate foreign troops running bases here in the USA. Why is this double standard acceptable to Washington DC?

    2) Illegal wars of aggression must cease immediately. Failure to do so means that you, President Obama, become a war criminal too, the same as Bush, the same as Saddam, the same as many a despot who came before.

    3) Restore the rule of law, and prosecute all government misconduct — including that of the Central Intelligence Agency and any other “black” agency operating outside of the law. Massive narco-trafficking is ongoing and rampant, and no one is even attempting to stop it.

    4) Fully disclose the facts of the 9/11 attacks, including the role of the “foreign governments” which provided assistance and financing to alleged hijackers. Prosecute the former administration for the cover up of this reality and for “treason” in giving “aid and comfort” to the facilitators of the 9/11 attacks on America.

    5) Fully disclose other treasonous US govermnent activity, including: Oklahoma City bombing, 1993 World Trade Center attacks, Iran/Contra, BCCI, the global illicit drug trade, covert support for terrorist networks, the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, among others.

    6) Purge the government of lunatics, foreign assets, spies, and anyone who places the interests of a foreign power above the interests of the People of the United States.

    7) Reform the election system completely, guaranteeing every American the right and opportunity to vote, and securing the counting of votes in a transparent, open-sourced publicly controlled system of the highest integrity.

    8) Reform the campaign finance system so that the biggest money-raiser does not buy the election. Use public funds to finance third parties and mandate substantial free prime time public airwaves to political candidates and parties during the election periods.

    9) Create a permanent independent prosecutor to monitor executive branch felonies and violations of the Constitution with subpoena power, and the mission to enforce the laws of the land without regard to the individuals occupying the offices.

    10) Create a public health system that operates more efficiently and effectively than the current dismal failure. If a tiny island nation like Cuba can educate enough doctors to export them to numerous other nations, then certainly the United States can do similarly. The problem is there is no priority to do so. Health care should be a right, not a privilege, as should some minimal access to food, clothing and shelter. A basic minimum floor for our citizens should be acknowledged as a hallmark of a civilization that is worthy of the name.

    Mr. Obama, much has been made about the label of “Muslim” or “Christian,” even when describing you as a candidate. As a self-identified “Christian” you should be well acquainted with the following passage:

    (Matthew 5:43) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ (44) But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (45) that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. ”

    And similarly, this passage:

    (Luke 6:27) “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, (28) bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (29) “Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. (30) “Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. (31) “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.”

    America has never behaved this way, despite the empty rhetoric from the right wing about a “Christian nation.” Our nation’s blood stained history is one of an aggressor, involved in numerous conflicts in all corners of the world. Our taxes have gone to illegal wars of aggression (Crimes Against the Peace), to the undermining and overthrowing of legitimate, duly elected leaders of other lands (violations of the UN Charter), to outright terrorism and the sponsoring of “death squads,” giving arms and money to “dictators” and numerous other shameful practices, which they call “statecraft.”

    Will America ever behave in a moral fashion in the future?

    Are the “Christians” of America capable of understanding the words of Jesus?

    Let’s start with the office of the President, Mr. Obama, and clarify matters of morality and the rule of law, matters of right and wrong.


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