Does the Left Need its own Tea Party?
I ask this because it is clear that in spite of the rhetoric of the President at his inaugural and his State of the Union, we are still poised to witness a Democratic President, overwhelmingly re-elected with a sizable Senate majority make massive and unnecessary cuts to Social Security for the sake of an elusive and possibly fantastical compromise with the Republicans. Who have shown over and over again that they will not pass anything that this President supports. What is a good progressive to do? Should we continue to hold our noses and elect centrists who are to the left on social issues? Or can we start pressing hard for the key economic issues that need to be addressed? As a friend pointed out yesterday on a phone call, do we have to wait for the Republicans to stop acting like they won for the Democrats to stop acting like they lost?
This article makes it clear that unless the left starts holding the Democrats electorally accountable our voices will continue to be taken for granted.
The party’s leaders have plenty of reason to think they have the loyalty of their activist base in their pocket.
Judging by their behavior, that is exactly what they think—and it’s not irrational. If you assume their demographic advantage and that Republicans will remain deeply fractured by their lunatic fringe for some time, Democrats do not actually have to deliver on their promise to reignite middle-class living standards. They can win national elections just by being the socially liberal and economically conservative option.
As the article says, the social issues are important but they allow Democrats with right-wing economic ideas to win without having to give progressives anything on economics. People are so horrified by the GOP opponent’s latest abortion gaffe that they vote for the Democrat regardless.
The Republicans and Democrats both live in terror of the Republican base. We get the kiss-off time after time. “Where ya gonna go?” And when people have had enough, Third Way Democrats blame everything (see, e.g., 2000, 2010) on the failure of progressive Democrats to clap loudly enough for neo-liberal crap, not on their own failure to stand up for decent economic policies. That will not change until they are as scared of their left flank as they are of their right flank.
Sure, the Tea Party has cost the GOP some races with people like Angle, O’Donnell and Mourdock. But they also handed the GOP a House majority and plenty of state legislatures. You have to break some eggs…
Because the tea party patriots kinda are embarrassing.
I’d like a left flank that is highly informed, nimble and strategic.
I’d like Obama to be more afraid of me than Scott Brown voters.
The rub may be in the fact, as S’Ville Tom noted elsewhere, we aren’t willing to let the whole thing fall apart to show how bad the opposition’s policies actually are. We enable bad policy by rushing in to fix when we can. Which I don’t think is a failing; it’s the moral position. But it does weaken our bargaining position. Just thinking out loud.
I mean… the very fact that you have to frame in those terms indicates a certain inability to articulate what it is you mean, exactly. You could have asked “how can we, on the left, be as effective as this certain bloc on the right?” Or, going deeper, you could have asked “what’s so effective about this bloc on the right that is missing from the left?” Or even, “is the something about the Tea Party that makes them distinct and different from centrist and the left? And is this something worth adopting on the left?”
Or, flipping it on it’s head you might have asked, “Is there something about the left that prevents them from being a doppleganger of this specific block from the right, the Tea Party, and thus as effective?”
From where I sit the Tea Party is racist and mean-spirited, at its very core. There is very little to it besides that. Details and specifics about the Tea Party can usually be boiled down to one of two generalities: racist and mean-spirited.
By and large people on the left and to the center are neither racist nor mean-spirited… so to engage the Tea Party heat for heat would be, I contend, a futile endeavor. You might say good and virtuous passions might be engaged and thus effective, and so they may, but I further contend that such efforts would look nothing at all like the Tea Party and any attempts to bring specific Tea Party approved tactics to the arsenal of the left, or to bolt the Tea Party model onto the left in any way, would not just be unproductive but counter-productive and harmful to all.
Or, let me put it in the strongest possible terms I can think of: RFK, MLK Jr, Medgar Evers, Yitzak Rabin and Mohanda Gandhi were all stymied in their efforts to the fullest extent possible: they were assassinated. Nobody ever said that supporters of RFK, MLK Jr, Medgar Evers, Yitzak Rabin and Mohandas Gandhi should themselves stymie the opposition by getting their own assassins. Such a thing would, I daresay, be anathema to RFK, MLK Jr, Medgar Evers, Yitzak Rabin and, especially, Mohandas Gandhi.
as I thought when seeing the photo posted by harmonywho above,
is what is meant here. Nobody’s saying the left should be hateful and ignorant, let alone racist. We are saying that an effective grassroots movement that makes politicians tremble about their left flank, instead of only their right flank, would be desirable.
The Tea Party, at its origin, was pure astroturf, funded and whipped up by the Kochs and their allies. But people went for it, and real voters vote based on Tea Party positions. And we’ve not had anything close on the left. In a sane country, after George W. Bush and the 2008 crash, something like Occupy would have been potent and something like the Tea Party laughed out of town. But Occupy was muddled in its message and too wrapped up in 1960s methodology. We need to change the conversation and undo a few decades of right-wing framing.
My only point is that using the Tea Party as a frame of reference automatically moves you away from all of that. You can’t describe something beautiful by asking why isn’t it as impactful as something ugly.
Whether we like to admit it or not, the “long hot summers” of the sixties were the stick that made the carrots offered by more moderate civil rights activists politically possible. Too many progressives have forgotten or weren’t alive to learn first-hand that a successful radical change requires both.
Successfully ending the Vietnam War required some bombings, some burnings, and some martyrs along with the politics. Protest marches of that time were not generally accompanied by police escorts graciously cordoning off traffic to ease the path of the march. The labor gains that we all still benefit from today (and that too many of us discount) were won by the blood, death, and suffering of generations of hard-scrabble workers who included violence in their repertoire. The American Revolution was not won by peaceful and non-violent debate.
I suggest that the Occupy movement is a better model than the Tea Party. We also need some more rambunctious groups that aren’t afraid to break some china along the way. To quote the erstwhile Admiral Nimitz — “If you aren’t making waves, you aren’t under way”.
I suggest that a suitable question for Mr. DeLeo and Ms. Murray is something along the lines of “We can do this the hard way or the easy way. Which do you prefer?”
Taking money away from the one percent so that the ninety-nine percent have enough to survive in a consumer economy is a radical change.
… the SDS (from whom the Weatherman derived) and Black Panthers (who considered Stokely Carmichael an ‘honorary chairman”) were explicitly socialist their efforts at creating a socialist America failed. Utterly. In fact I would counter that such tactics delayed resolution of the moderate aim, rather than hastened it or helped it in any way, as you allege. I further contend that this bolsters my point: using the tactics of the enemy, especially when that enemy embraces violence, is counterproductive at best, self-destructive at worst.
I was there. It sounds like you learned about it in school.
… they say if you remember it, you weren’t there… =-)
All seriousness aside, the list of things from which both you and I were absent includes over 99.999% of recorded history… Such topics as both World Wars, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the inventions of the typewriter and chewing gum, the Qing Dynasty and the Opium Wars, the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ, the Dreyfus Affair, The death, on this day in 879 of Louis the Stammerer (eldest son of Charles the Bald) and the first time bread was sliced, the Peloponnesian war, the building of the Titannic, the sinking of same, the Reformation, the Inquisition, KristallNacht and the US Radium Corporation. Presence is neither necessary nor sufficient.
But, since you asked: No, I was not there. And no, I didn’t learn about it in school.
I agree that the list of things neither of us experienced is long.
Nevertheless, first-hand experience of those who lived through the time is more reliable than nth-hand “history”, especially history written by revisionists with an axe to grind.
First-hand experience provides texture and detail that seldom survives translation to history books. You and I both know how dishonest the 2003 invasion of Iraq was. We both know how deeply the moral corruption was that produced kidnapping, abuse, and torture. We both know that the political power structure that produced that corruption was rooted in the White House (although more likely in the office Mr. Cheney — I’m not sure Mr. Bush was capable of formulating anything so coherent). We both know how deeply offensive GITMO is, and we both know how brazenly the prior administration cultivated fear, insecurity, and doubt in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 to intentionally produce bigoted animosity towards the Muslim world across America. We both know how they used that bigotry to impose aggressively invasive intrusions on the constitutional rights of every American.
I suggest that virtually NONE of that first-hand knowledge will make it into the history books that our grandchildren or great-grandchildren will use to learn about the early 21st century. I further suggest that you will be as unhappy as me when those grandchildren or great-grandchildren opine that “opposition to the Bush administration was driven by unsubstantiated partisan fervor from a left-leaning Democratic party”.
I most politely reassert that the moderate forces that passed civil rights legislation and ended the Vietnam war were enabled and multiplied by the reality of the urban riots and violence that accompanied them.
The “Good Cop/Bad Cop” routine is used because it works.
The media today has huge scorn for 60s style protest and will not report it fairly. Occupy, in particular, had too many bandanas, etc. I recall Matt Taibbi’s work on the 2003 Iraq protests. The media in the liberal Bay Area gave more credence to 100 conservatives arguing for war in Walnut Creek than the 15,000 who came out against the war in San Francisco.
In 2000 I was in DC at the IMF-World Bank protests. A girl there was surprised by the appearance of her longtime boyfriend, who was studying abroad for the year. They had been apart for months and shared a long kiss. The Washington Post’s reporter and photog were all over it. I was there as these two students told the reporter the whole story. Next day’s paper had a front page photo of them kissing, with a caption describing them as “Michelle of Raleigh, N.C. and Peter of Rome, Italy, both 21.” No mention of the five-year relationship. Next to this was a scornful column about druggie college kids sad they missed the 60s fun and trying to recreate the Summer of Love in the streets of DC under pretext of protesting the IMF’s “structural adjustments.” I haven’t bought a Washington Post since.
It might be different if the crowds were huge and contained seniors, middle-age folk, veterans. But I kinda doubt it. For now, I’d say the better strategy is to hit them where it hurts, organizing voters and donors to the best of our ability.
I don’t think the media were any friendlier to left-wing activism in the ’60s than they are now, but the numbers of people involved made it harder to ignore. I fully agree that that media is not a reliable source of information; every time I’ve seen anything I had personal knowledge of reported in the establishment press, it’s been grossly distorted. Every time.
I think civil rights legislation came from some combination of the protests (which largely lacked the hippie character of some other protests), the disgust most northerners felt at what was going on in the South, and, to be frank, momentum from the JFK assassination.
The mainstream tide turned on Vietnam, I’d say, less because of the protesters than because the war went on so long, with so little progress, in a country most Americans didn’t care much about either way, and it was essentially the first one that was televised. My grandfather, for instance, was a union Democrat WWII vet. He was adamantly against the protesters, who included my uncle. But at some point, around ’68 or ’69 he came around to the view that the war was a mistake and was going very badly. Tet helped him along in that by removing the “victory’s just around the corner” rationale.
HR's Kevin says
You think that first-hand experience is somehow immune from bias and lack of perspective?
All history has bias and lacks perspective.
The claim was that “such tactics delayed resolution of the moderate aim, rather than hastened it or helped it in any way” (referring to the tactics of the more extremist groups). Those of us who lived through those times know better.
I most politiely reassert that you are mistaken. Examining the chronology alone ought to be adequate to assure anyone that the determinedly non-violent and steadfastly democratic civil rights movement was not, as you assert, one pincer of a strategic alliance with a violent, heavily fractured Leninist movement, as the gains from the civil rights movement occurred well prior to the bulk of the violence. Or, put another way: the Civil Rights protestors were LBJ’s problem; the violent protestors were Nixons.
The civil rights act of 1964 and the voting rights act of 1965, the legislative high water marks and the goals of many activists, passed after the death of JFK and largely in the face of violence on the other side: “Bull” Connor, lynchings, church firebombings; and in the face of largely peaceful, that is to say deliberately non-violent, protests by activists.
The violence of the late sixties and into the ’70s, ostensibly in opposition to the war, grew, in large part out of dissatisfaction with the gains and the lessening momentum of the civil rights movement as well as Marxist fervor. The SDS moved from protest to an actual “resistance movement’ in 1966 well after much of the gains of the civil rights movement had been made and membership peaked in 1968. The riots in Chicago occurred in 1968 and largely excacerbated by police thuggery The Weather Underground formed out of the SDS, and because the SDS wasn’t radical enough, in 1969. The shootings at Kent State occurred in 1970. The trajectory from activism to protest to resistance to violence is well documented. And while the violent resistance movements in the later half of the 60’s shared many of the same motivations, namely anti-racism and greater equity and equality, their tactics and rationales quickly diverged.
There are many reasons why the Vietnam War ended, and none of them have to do with the violence in the late sixties and early seventies… In fact, I re-iterate, the violence probably had the affect of prolonging the war by its efficacy as a wedge against moderates. Nixons’ proclamation of “Peace with Honor” was partly code for ‘suck on it, hippies.’
This assumes a deliberate collaboration. No such collaboration occurred.
More germane to my overall thesis in this thread, it occurs to me, is the curious case of the Weather Underground: a movement that tried to adopt violence and failed, mostly because they were quickly become too squeamish to actually continuing hurting anyone; that is to say they initially started out with the aim of killing and assassination and then morphed into merely wanted to blow up buildings and make loud noises and big stinks without causing any damage to humans. This may have been a political feint. I think they simply didn’t have the stomach for the fight they thought they wanted to wage: it might simply have been an example of what I have been saying; attempting to adopt the tactics of your enemy when the motivations of the enemy are anathema to you is a sure map for a will-sapping, soul-draining road to grief. That’s pretty much what I’ve been saying about wanting to replicate the Tea Party on the left.
This is my point. The Tea Party made Senators, Occupy made drum circles. I am sick and tired of protest, I want meaningful politics followed by passed policies. The spirit of OWS was great, but it was leaderless, rudderless, and directionless by design. Great some banks were yelled at, some parks got trashed, and everyone went home. I would say the Civil Rights movement and the more radical black nationalists are a better analogy, since their sacrifices led to the passage of bills. If we can revive that spirit and channel it in a single direction and rally around great leaders who can advocate outside of the system (like Dr. King on civil rights) as well as within the system (like Bobby Kennedy on civil rights and the war) than we can do well.
We actually have few of those. Markos has a bit of that now, but he’s more a pundit than say Dr King or Gloria Steinem or any of the great labor leaders.
(It’s very odd putting King and Steinem in the same sentence, admittedly.)
issues of semantics. Which is fine, because semantics are important, but it seems you’re placing too much emphasis on the use of the phrase. What we want is an organization of the “base” that’s as effective as the one representing the Republican base. It just so happens that their base is “something ugly.”
Because you automatically start out in a semantic puzzle box when you use that phrase. If you cannot describe what you want/need the left to be without reference to something that exists on the right you have begun in a maze of twisty passages. Be careful, lest you find that you either lose sight of your core values or unwittingly betray them in search of a poorly defined outcome made amongst those twisty passages.
The goal, here, ought to be to describe what you mean to be and to do without reference at all to anything whatsoever on the right.
And for years, Republicans didn’t have to actually deliver on their social promises, like reversing Roe v. Wade. That, in part (at least IMHO), helped fuel the creation of the Tea Party.
I believe there has to be a progressive movement in this country apart from any candidate that is willing to stand up for its beliefs and challenge anyone, especially Democrats, who campaign on those beliefs but fail when it comes to policy implementation.
To remove ambiguity in one of my sentences:
“I believe there has to be a progressive movement in this country, apart from any candidate, that is willing to stand up for its beliefs and challenge anyone…”
Thanks Fenway and Jasiu for agreeing and for your comments.
To Petr; this is exactly what I meant:
When I say left wing version of the Tea Party, I do not mean a bunch of racist thugs and hooligans. Totally agree thats what we have on the right. I do mean a force that the mainstream of the party fears, a force that can exert enormous pressure on its own party to conform to the principles it espouses. Obviously I am not asking us to borrow their principles or even their tactics, but I’d like the media to say “Senator Centrist is cowering in fear at a primary challenger from the left *insert sexy name*, a group that is doing to the Democrats what the Tea Party is doing to the Republicans”.
Currently that force doesn’t exist, currently President Centrist and Senator Centrist can decimate social security as long as they support gay marriage. Thats the paradigm we have to change. I hope you will join me.
is standing up for principle.
I just want to say that I enjoy watching the evolution of jconway over the years since I’ve been active here. I suspect that the “jconway” of those early years would not be asking the vitally important question raised in this post.
A quote of mine ended up in Keller’s book as an example of the ‘radical leftists’ on BMG since I advocated primarying DINOs back in 2006. But yeah, I’ve moved from the left to the center and back to the center-left again. But yes the important thing is recognizing that the system needs to be completely overhauled. Not just our politics but our economy. And I, like Obama, once thought you could work within the existing system and make gradual changes. But its just broken for far too many people in far too many places.
Sadly, the comments from the old site aren’t available from this site (as far as I can tell). I’m pretty sure it was prior to Deval Patrick’s first campaign, because I think I remember advocating for him here — but I’m not sure.
I’ve long held that politics is a lagging, rather than leading, indicator. Politicians generally follow, rather than lead, cultural change (with some notable exceptions). Genuine cultural change, in my view, almost always involves making waves and breaking china.
I fear that too many people forget, or never realized, that the first election of FDR happened in the context of an enormously threatening cultural environment. Profound changes were taking place worldwide, and the US electorate demanded a response well beyond what the Republican party of the day offered. Violence and chaos was simmering just under the surface, and I suggest that everybody knew it.
There is a stark difference between the truly radical changes that FDR introduced in his first 100 days and anything that Barack Obama has done to date. It’s true that the policies of President Obama largely avoided many or most of the catastrophic consequences that followed the 1929 crash.
I think the question is whether, in the long run, that will turn out to be a good or a bad thing.
Back in 1932 there was a huge backlash against Hoover’s laissez-faire. Huey Long rode it to the statehouse and the Senate. A guy like that today would see the most political advantage in being a right-wing, fake-Libertarian demagogue.
It’s hard to compare Obama to FDR. He certainly hasn’t changed much of anything for the better (though I agree the stimulus, too small though it was, kept them from getting much worse). FDR had the advantage of coming in after the Depression had been going on for 4 years on the other guy’s watch. Opinion as to who was to blame, and which policies were not working, had plenty of time to harden by then. The public and the Congress were ready to sign on to whatever he wanted to try.
Today, it seems, Americans are too isolated from each other and their politics, perhaps more easily fooled, and less willing to get involved either in protest or the political process.
Unfortunately, they were not receptive to embracing Democrats and at least some Democrats were weary of them.
I am trying not to be dour. We got the elements in place we just need to fuse them, much as Buckley pursued fusionism to unite the right in the 50s and 60s beyond a shared agenda.
We are already here, a significant number of thoughtful progressives from all walks of life and every corner of the state. WE can get together and make an impact.
Working with BMG, as it has been on this bill, to educate and inform locally what reps are doing. No reason to have wishy washy Dems in liberal bastions like Newton, time to get active and if need be, get even. They can work in tandem with BMG.
-Local Occupy elements
Occupy Boston has had more success than its national counterpart in raising awareness, using direct action tactics, and working with other groups to make change. Bring them on board to be the outsiders protesting as well as calling reps, maybe even running candidates, and getting going
The labor progressive alliance needs to be strengthened. I miss Striker57, lets make sure his brothers know we got his back, and make sure we can make a digestible and worker-relevant progressive message and coordinate with the other pillars I’ve mentioned on joint actions that can make change. No way the hard hats are against the jobs and investment rebuilding our infrastructure can be, a natural blue-green alliance.
Getting their members to support progressive Dems against DINOs, cross endorsing them in races where they are the general election candidates against DINOs. Stop running quixotic races, get local, and coordinate with sympathetic Dems and coordinate our action so we can play the whole field. I know for a fact they are active GR members out in Western MA, maybe we can run them in the general against DINOs out there and get ProgressiveMA to endorse and send money, and BMG too. In exchange, maybe they can campaign for Progressive Dems like Provost or Jehelen who are assume on the environment and clean government. Maybe work out a joint action plan or joint statements but bring them in (a la the libertarians and neocons Buckley got together-but for good instead of evil).
Then get these elements to agree to broad principles that flow into agenda specific and candidate specific campaigns. And BMG and other sites can be used as a launching pad. But this is how we build the movement, outside the party and work our way in.
Early in Gov. Patrick’s first term there was an attempt to mobilize the campaign machinery to sway legislators and legislators did not like that not one bit. It sort of backfired.
It seems to me that, if doing the work of swaying is kept independent, then legislators don’t get to blame the Governor and instead have to address issues on the merits. That, I think, is why Massachusetts in particular needs a well-organized progressive organization not tied to any politician.
And ProgressiveMA is off to a good start, it’d be nice as part of his legacy that Deval hand over his email lists, meetups, and some staff to that organization to ensure his brand of politics can continue.
Early in the Bush Administration, MoveOn was that lone voice in the wilderness against the Iraq War — and a useful voice because it took until 2006 to get the Democratic Party to sign up for opposing that war. Since then, MoveOn and DFA have drifted into purposelessness. That comes from the insipid practice of choosing goals by internal plebiscite. Yes, yes, it is all democratic and all, but what progressives hunger for is not voting on whether to run this or that ad or to support such-and-such candidate in the 6-th district somewhere. Progressives hunger for having an effect and an influence on national policy. The democracy part occurs when people vote with their feet by joining or not joining, contributing or not contributing, volunteering or not volunteering.
So please, national organizations, do your homework. Look carefully at polling. Figure out what works and doesn’t. Develop a strategy with real promise. Sell it to us. We agree on the principles. We need victories now.
ProgressiveMA has some solid professionals who’ve run successful campaigns before, and this Social Security screw up has really galvanized people. But yeah, we might need to build it.
David Frum’s too true comment that repub pols fear their base, while dem pols hate theirs. Obviously, actually liking and being inspired by the base would be ideal, but a little more fear on the dem side would be an improvement from the current situation.
Not entirely true but made me laugh so early in the morning
Anyway, it is true that every elected official spends a lot of time keeping the constituency that voted for them happy, while potential challengers, especially in communities where the ethnic and racial balance is rapidly changing (like Boston) are eager to do targeted voter education, registration and GOTV activities in the neighborhoods where they think they can make potential constituents happier.(like Boston).
I predict that the voter list will increase by at least 20% during the next six months in Boston maybe more. Happened during the Mel King -Ray Flynn race in the early 80’s when the Rainbow Coalition and the Flynn Campaign both got thousands of new voters to the polls. it was grand.
David Frum’s too true comment that repub pols fear their base, while dem pols hate theirs
Are you saying that the Dem electeds are catering to its activist base’s leftward ideals? Or that the base is as conservative-centrist as the policy we see in such illustrious examples of chained CPI and a 1/4 loaf of satan, excuse me, shit sandwich transpo funding?
I’m asking for clarification of your position. ?
the downgrade was for the characterization of the transportation “funding” bill.
I do not mean this in a bad way, but Judy spends a lot of time in the building. That leads to relationships and to constraints that I, as a humble citizen and blog commenter, do not share. Which is, at this point, how I like it. I can speak my mind and fight to shift the debate in the direction I think it should go. In this case I don’t think our elected Democratic legislators who are hemming and hawing are evil, but I do think this would be a major missed opportunity with long term ramifications. So I am not in the mood to pull punches.
I took Judy’s comment to mean simply that people in office, who’ve already won, work hard not to lose the voters they’ve already gotten. If they hold their coalition they win again. Challengers can win only by peeling some of those voters off or by expanding the voter pool. With a seriously contested mayoral race (like 1983’s) for the first time in decades, a lot of effort will go into expanding the voter pool. Which is only a good thing. I don’t see it corresponding exactly to any policy choices.
…I have pretty tough skin and have experienced far worse than being called an idiot or getting “-1” on my statements. For the record.
Thanks for the analysis of Judy’s intent in the original comment. I still have a question, though… If the radical teaparty-left (for shorthand’s sake) like “us” (ugh, teaparty!!) find ourselves being disappointed again and again and again… Are we NOT part of the coalition of voters that gets Democrats elected? (ie, history/trends suggest that “catering to The Left” is not a concern at the national or state level.)
And of course, expanding the voter pool is extraordinarily good. I’m embarrassed and sad every year by low turnouts. And I don’t blame just voters for that, or just the politicians, in case anyone thinks I am.
And on this stuff?:
We are, in theory, a major part of the Democratic base. But a while back a lot of Democrats figured out that they could get our votes just because we think the Republicans are so much worse on social policy, and worse on economic policy. We can’t vote Republican. We could stay home, but if that helped the GOP where would that get us?
The Tea Party doesn’t get all of their way, but they get more than we do for two main reasons, as I see it. First, they are willing to blow things up and elected pols in both parties fear their wrath. Second, huge money interests are pressuring both parties to move in their direction, not ours.
I feel no constraints to working in the building and building positive productive relationships with anyone in the Administration or the Legislature Even around the most controversial, complex issues like revenue reform.
Often elected officials are helpful to advancing a policy solution, Often I am been unable to muster enough constituent support for a particular policy issue and elected officials actually find ways to stall, stop, frustrate our attempts to correct a given policy solution — like revenue reform.
When a policy solution gets stalled, stopped or frustrated I just keeping on organizing constituents to keep working to build a positive productive relationship around other issues till they find one that their Legislator can champion.
And I always advise advocates to never ever ever accuse a Legislator, especially their own, of not being adults, or lacking courage or being bullied by leadership or supporting a shit sandwich.
Especially our small group of progressive legislators who succeed in winning positive policy changes around lots and lots of other issues that advance social, economic and racial justice.
I very rarely downgrade anybody, but I think some of the comments here from self described progressives have hurt our efforts to advance revenue reform. They do read BMG you know.
Now excuse me, enough preaching (sorry), I”m going to a training to teach constituents how to build positive and productive relationships with their own Legislators.
your perspective and your position. I still believe it is informed (if not constrained) by your personal working relationships with the legislators.
You have more patience than I do. Next month I’ll be 38. I first became interested in public issues as a high school student more than 20 years ago, as a high school student. Since then my hairline’s receded a bit, my waistline’s expanded a bit, and grey hairs have popped up. And, on the issue closest to my heart — a more equitable economy and a promise of a good life for more of our citizens — the movement in my entire lifetime has been uniformly backward. I’d almost say that, except for gay rights and to some extent racial inclusion, the movement on every issue has been backward for my entire life.
I once thought events like the 2008 crash, and the election of people like Deval Patrick and Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren, meant the tide was turning. Now it seems like business as usual and I’d like to punch a wall. There have been disappointments in the past, but this vote is different. I truly believe we’re at a tipping point, and if we don’t change soon there will be little left to save in a few years.
Whatever we are doing is not working, and I find it unacceptable that such a large Democratic majority can’t rise to the challenge of meeting such an obvious need. I’ll take my camera to the district of any wavering legislator and take enough pictures of crumbing bridges, roads, schools and parks to fill a dozen campaign brochures explaining why he/she took the principled vote to get our Commonwealth back on the right track.
As I said, it doesn’t hurt my feelings or my pride to be called an idiot or to be downgraded. I will respectfully listen to non ad-hominem critique, then assess and change or sustain my position according to MY best judgement. So, when I read this,
…I am a little alarmed. I would like to think that legislators are at least as tough as I am. If legislators are unable to act according to their conscience because of frank discussion on a political blog, then we’re in far worse trouble than I thought.
But I appreciate your now speaking your position plainly, versus the silent downgrade. (I still don’t think my question about your original point has been answered, though.)
My position is that we lefties, writ large, must engage in multiple strategies and on multiple fronts.
I value those advocates working their relationships on the inside, and in general, I’m a fan of positive reinforcement.
I also value the voices that can speak truth to power, and sometimes that is easier to do when you’re not on the inside. Or sometimes, your voice is all the stronger because you ARE on the inside.
I’m also a fan of experiencing consequences for one’s choices, which sometimes are positive and sometimes are negative. That’s life. And, I imagine, politics.
To me it’s all good and all necessary, and I don’t want to expend too much energy scolding people on the internet; there are better things to get upset about.
Now let’s go get substantial, new revenue, let’s get it PROGRESSIVELY, let’s invest in our many needs: Education AND Human services AND transportation AND building for our future economy.
If not now…
…when we have a popular Governor willing to make the case,
…advocates organizing in the communities,
…lefties fired up to get it done,
…and we’re in a non-election year,
…after voting down Romney and Brown’s Austerity/1%-er politics,
…after voting in Obama and Warren’s vigorous support of strong public investment and community responsibility…
I’m heartened by the hard work I’m seeing from the progressive Senators, committed to truly reaching these goals. I thank them and support them for fighting hard for our shared values! Yoo-hoo, Senators reading this, THANK YOU. Keep at it. Your hard work and courage are important, meaningful and appreciated. Let’s get it done!!
In my mind, I’ve been comparing this week on Beacon Hill to the last big Massachusetts legislative battle on the Equal Marriage front. In the latter case, all of the legislators who should have been on the side of marriage were there and enough strides were made to create unlikely allies who joined the fold. And now we see something similar on the national stage.
This didn’t happen because the legislators all had epiphanies. There was a lot of hard work done at the grassroots level – many people here were a part of that – and it still continues.
What can we learn from that movement to apply to a progressive economic movement and overcome the predominate conservative fiscal frame? I don’t know the answer, but I see it happening in two pieces: getting the public there, and then getting the politicians to actually believe the public is there (the latter part being much harder).
Is that the public is not all the way there, but they’re a lot closer than they were even in 2007. The underlying economic problems have been with us for decades, but the crash and anemic “recovery” have left people struggling much more. The fact that Wall Street, with our bailout, bounced back so quickly and it’s business as usual has resonated. I do think, though, there are many places where this awareness is, um, lagging, and in some places it’s translated (counter-productively) into Tea Party votes.
However, it’s a lot harder to translate that into political change. For now most Dems can win on voters’ aversion to the GOP on social issues. Even if they take a populist tone during the campaign, they can do the opposite (either outright or by “reluctantly” voting for crap deals) with impunity. Progressives will be pissed, but where ya gonna go? You can’t vote GOP or stay home.
I would say we can get around this by supporting local candidates that agree with our positions, and if need be using the G-R Party and its supporters to push out DINOs and coordinate on spreading the field and on issues where we have aligned agreement. If Progressive MA can function the way Club for Growth has on the right, with scorecards and influence than that will do a lot of good for getting people informed about their local representatives.
Even friends my age who were highly aware during the last two presidential campaigns know a lot less about Ed Markey and Lynch, my facebook posts about Lynch’s record have already got a lot of friends (particularly feminist ones) interested in the race and committed to vote for Ed. A phone call with a friends girlfriend the other day got her galvanized to get her Hampshire College friends to the polls, and they didn’t even know we had an election April 30th! And I don’t blame them, when I was in college in Chicago I didn’t own a television and rarely kept up with local politics out here. I suspect many of them during downballot races just check the D assuming he/she is good, and thats thats the attitude we have to change amongst the general public. And it starts locally.
Nationally we are seeing a broad coalition of labor-progressives-AARP-Hispanic activists-the NAACP-and others coming against Chained CPI. If we can harness that coalition for other fights (guns and filibuster reform come to mind) than we can start putting pressure on our lawmakers. Also we can boycott the DCCC and DSCC and just give to progressive candidates directly.