I think the squabble over the word “progressive” in our party is cemented over one thing:
To some people, it’s just a word.
To other people, it’s the movement they’ve been a part of, starting in the netroots, for over a decade now.
For those who weren’t an active part of the movement, they don’t understand the big hullabaloo, and they may even get defensive over it because it’s just a nice and shiny way to describe “liberal” (however they define it) to them. To them, anyone should have that!
What they don’t understand, though, is that the new progressive/netroots movement had to wage war against the DLC/Third Way branch of the party — the branch of the party that was friendliest to Wall St., and were as likely to attack bedrock liberal principals as Republicans were.
They, like Republicans, destroyed the word liberal for a long time.
When progressives started organizing, and identifying with the progressive label, we were first ignored, then laughed at — and then we started beating the DLC/Third Way wing in the wars that were waged against us.
While their leaders largely survived, and their donors will never go away, their rank and file members were obliterated from Congress during the past couple Republican wave elections.
Progressives largely won and retained their seats — because we’ve proven that when we fight for our ideals, and fight for the middle class and vulnerable communities, we win.
Well, now that we’ve become a larger contingent and largely won the hearts and minds of the rank and file member of the Democratic Party — people who weren’t a part of the progressive movement, but like our ideas and supported our candidates — the DLC/Third Way contingent has decided they should just appropriate our word.
Steal it. Subvert it for their own purpose.
After all, it’s nice and warm and fuzzy, and has the glow of the many wonderful candidates we’ve elected using it.
And who would know any better? Very few people understand the modern (or even historical) context of the word. The progressive movement was diffuse and became less active once we started winning (with many becoming more active in the Democratic Party as a whole — having crashed the gate and been welcomed inside). And it was never all that large, compared to the full size of the Democratic Party as a whole.
I guess it was easy for the powers that be to appropriate and steal it, but I think it’s an underhanded attack, a form of newspeak that is dumbing down the differences in the party. Corporations and their allies within the party of course want a Democratic Party where both neoliberals like Hillary and proud progressives like Bernie are both “progressive,” because that makes it all the easier for them to gain back ground in the party again.
But it will tremendously damage the party, with the corporate wing’s crappy policies killing the word progressive just as they dilute what that word means.
It will leave a party without a perceptible-to-the-public wing that the people of our country can see is fighting for them. It’ll mean Chuck Schumer is just as progressive as Elizabeth Warren.
All they’ll see is a corporate Democratic Party and a corporate Republican Party as their choices…. and they’ll vote Republican or stay home.
Corporations would love for many of the Democratic Party’s members to stay home. They want a country where Republicans or corporate democrats win. They don’t want an energized, effective grassroots base. They want a cowed base, who’ll accept whoever the establishment decides is due to run.
The fight over the word progressive probably seems like a small squabble to most — and I don’t think it’s helped anyone in the context of this campaign — but it’s far, far, far from a squabble.
This is the battle that’s being waged at the very heart of the Democratic Party. Too many are wrapped up in this single election, when we need to be looking at the long game. Defending Hillary as “progressive” may help her in the election, but tremendously hurts the party going forward — whether you prefer Hillary or not.
I want Bernie to win, but I’m far more concerned about where and how the establishment is moving in this election to beat him — and how the establishment’s trying to use this debate over the word to undermine not just the Bernie campaign, but use the Bernie campaign as an opportunity to try to deliver a huge blow to the left-wing opposition within the party.
I could accept and be enthusiastic about a Hillary nomination, as an effective moderate who will give progressives a seat at the table. I can’t accept the establishment using this election to undermine the progressive wing of the party for years to come, and our capacity to win elections or push through policy for the people and not just corporate America.