Grand unifying theory of progressive frustration

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 14:34


If I may be so bold, I believe I can sum up, in three main points why progressives are so frustrated right now:

  1. They are on the short-end of a left-progressive vs. Third Way ideological divide with the leadership of the American center-left coalition;

  2. In attempts to not be on the short-end of #1, and persuade the coalition rank and file to join them, they face a massive organizational deficit against the coalition leadership;

  3. Finally, if progressives look to split with the coalition in response to #1 and #2, more often than not they just end up getting squashed for it.
Full explanation in the extended entry.
Chris Bowers :: Grand unifying theory of progressive frustration
A grand unifying theory of progressive frustration:

  1. The ideological / policy divide within the Democratic coalition. The roots of the frustration arises from an ideological divide within the party pitting the progressive left, which seeks to use the public sector for public ends, versus the centrist, Third Way, New Democrat approach of using a subsidized and regulated private sector to achieve public ends.  Ed Kilgore nailed this ideological difference in his recent essay Taking Ideological Differences Seriously:

    To put it simply, and perhaps over-simply, on a variety of fronts (most notably financial restructuring and health care reform, but arguably on climate change as well), the Obama administration has chosen the strategy of deploying regulated and subsidized private sector entities to achieve progressive policy results. This approach was a hallmark of the so-called Clintonian, "New Democrat" movement, and the broader international movement sometimes referred to as "the Third Way," which often defended the use of private means for public ends.

    This "Third Way" philosophy is different from conservatism, which largely rejects the public ends in and of themselves, and left-progressivism, which views the private sector as unable to achieve--and in fact part of the problem in achieving--these public ends.  Six months ago, I depicted the Third Way philosophy as the "crime and reward theory of government":

    The philosophy is summed up as follows:

    The flaw in progressive legislative proposals is that they don't give enough money to the corporations that caused the problem(s) which overall legislative effort is supposedly trying to solve.

    It applies in all major cases. Check it out:

    1. The way to lower health care costs is to give companies that have increased health care costs even more money: As Olympia Snowe and many others have articulated, the problem with a public option is that it lowers the cost of health insurance rather than increasing the amount of money private health insurers generate in revenue. While one would think that the purpose of health care reform legislation is to lower the price of health insurance, it appears that for many the purpose is actually to make sure that the companies ratcheting up health care costs receive even more money from the process (ie, through mandates to buy their over-priced insurance and no lower priced, public option).

    2. The way to fix climate change is to give the companies that are the main cause of climate change even more money: As Collin Peterson and Claire McCaskill have articulated, the problem with climate change legislation is that it doesn't give enough money to the energy and agricultural conglomerates that are primarily responsible for global warming.

    3. The way to fix the financial crisis is to give the financial institutions that caused the financial crisis even more money: This one is pretty straightforward and has been covered extensively. From the Wall Street bailout program itself, to making sure that Congress doesn't pass laws restricting executive bonuses out fear that financial institutions won't take our money, the government's solution to fixing the financial crisis is to give the people and companies that caused the financial crisis even more money. The progressive alternative, temporary nationalization, should be opposed because it wouldn't make enough money for shareholders.

    These are the three major examples of the difference between the left-progressive view of government and the Third Way view of government.  To solve major problems, from health care to climate change to the financial crisis to education (an example Kilgore discusses in his piece), the Third Way philosophy is not for the public sector to take over where the private sector has failed (which would have meant temporary bank nationalization, carbon tax, single payer / expanded public options, and equitable education funding) but instead to use a heavily subsidized and moderately regulated private sector (which meant purchasing toxic assets and loan interest loans to struggling banks, non-auctioned cap and trade, health insurance mandate with subsidies, and charter schools).

    This is a huge ideological difference, which results in large differences in preferred policies.  The frustration for progressives is that the White House, the Democratic leadership, and indeed perhaps most Democrats in Congress, largely favor the Third Way approach rather than the left-progressive approach.  This is undeniable given the legislative policies they have pursued on the financial crisis, climate change, and health care this year.  It also puts progressives on the short-end of an ideological divide within the Democratic coalition.

  2. An organizational deficit.  A second major frustration for progressives is that the center-left coalition's leadership, primarily President Obama and his political operation, has a massive organizational advantage that allows them to maintain the dominant position within the coalition's ideological divide.

    This advantage manifests primarily in President Obama's dominant influence over opinion among the coalition's rank and file.  Even with all progressive-left netroots organizations, even with all of the left-wing movement of the leadership of organized labor, and even with all the new progressive media, all of the new progressive institutional strength combined cannot come even close to President Obama's ability to influence opinion among the rank and file of the American center-left coalition.

    Examples of this influence abound.  Those who favor the health care bill still outnumber those who think it does not go far enough by a 3-1 margin (see here and here).  Democratic rank and file opinion on troops levels in Afghanistan moved sharply away from withdrawal and toward support for more troops simply when Obama made the case for more troops.  Democrats, who in 2008 were at one time signigicantly more skeptical of the Wall Street bailout than Republicans, became its biggest backers in 2009 once President Obama started regularly making the public case for it.

    President Obama's organizational advantage, and resulting influence advantage, over the progressive-left is repeatedly demonstrated in his far greater ability to move opinion among the center-left rank and file.  There are many causes of this advantage, but here are the top three:

    • The large political operation of the White house, including Organizing for America and its 20 million+ email list.

    • The dominant media coverage any administration receives simply by being in the White House.

    • The personal connection and trust the vast majority of the coalition rank and file still have with President Obama.
    Facing all of this, it is very difficult for progressives to ever gain the upper hand in the intra-coalition ideological and policy divides outlined in point #1.

  3. The structural deficit. So, progressives are facing the short-end of an ideological and policy divide within the center-left coalition, as outlined in point #1.  Also, they are facing a vast organizational deficit that prevents them from influencing opinion within the rank and file of that coalition to anywhere near the level of the Obama administration, as outlined in point #2.  This leads to the third pillar of progressive frustration, in that the structure of the American electoral system prevents them from being able to break with the center-left coalition and still form a governing coalition on their own.

    Even though some people don't want to admit this, the progressive-left will never be able to form an independent coalition on its own that will reach majority status in America.  There simply is no way that a left-wing third party will become the dominant political party in America.

    Further, the progressive-left even faces problems within the intra-party, primary challenge strategy to electoral dominance if it publically breaks with the policies of the Obama administration.  Winning primary campaigns requires the backing of the majority of the center-left coalition.  As long as President Obama as able to determine the majority opinion of the center-left coalition, you can't rise to power within that coalition by breaking with President Obama.

    That last point is made particularly difficult for progressives due to the Obama administration's demonstrated willingness to use its political clout to back members of the coalition who break with rank and file opinion to the right, and to crush those who break with rank and file opinion to the left.  While the Obama administration will give support to Blue Dogs facing primary challenges from Progressives, they have also been willing to support right-wing primary challenges to Progressives if those Progressives break with administration policy.  As Rahm Emanuel has often done throughout his career (see here and here), the White House is is using their leverage against Progressives, not on behalf of them.

Overall, this leaves progressives on the short-end of an ideological divide within the American center-left, with relatively little organizational ability to shift that hierarchy, and facing the very real prospect of being squashed if they step out of line.  This is why so many progressives are frustrated right now.

The choices in this environment are to lash out and hurt the coalition's leadership for the sake of revenge split with the coalition anyway, give up altogether, or keep struggling through the coalition on a long slog.  I go with the latter, because I want to keep fighting over the long haul, which makes splitting with the coalition or just giving up not real options.  However, after writing this all out, I hope I at least articulated why some people are frustrated enough to choose other paths for themselves.


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There is only the right and the far right in the US of A (4.00 / 1)
There is only the right and the far right in the US of A

The right considers itself progressive thus neo-fascist.

The far right considers itself conservative thus 19th century Imperialists


Software Improvement Idea (4.00 / 2)
I'd like to be able to have a visual cue, like a text color, or semi-opaque screen to filter out comments from posters that I think habitually add noise (like random, bumperstickery, ideological generalizations) instead of engaging thoughtful posts.

Awesome post, by the way, Bowers.

I've got a feeling I'll be referring to it frequently over the next couple of decades. . .  

USA: 1950 to 2010


[ Parent ]
We are all progressives now... (4.00 / 1)
The conservatives have succeeded brilliantly in redefining the terms of the debate, by taking mainstream, moderate views and labeling them "liberal," therefore moving the term "moderate" rightward.

Meanwhile, they've also succeeded in making the word "liberal" so toxic that people who agree 100% with "liberal" causes reject them for fear of allying with the hated libs.

So you end up with this vast new "silent majority" of people who may agree with everything progressives say, but wouldn't consider supporting or voting for anyone calling themselves progressive.

Gotta love the right-wingers. Like all fascists, their ideas are for shit, but they can organize and goosestep like no one else.


[ Parent ]
The worst part is . . . (0.00 / 0)
that the right gets help from the Third-Way-ists.  

Their method is built in to their label, as in, they are neither right nor left, but a Third Way.  

The rhetorical strength of their "reason to exist" is determined by the degree they can delegitimize the left (and right).

USA: 1950 to 2010


[ Parent ]
Progressive delegitimize themselves (0.00 / 0)
by trying to acheive our objectives through neobliberals who are not our friends.

Bowers charaterize those of us who no longer do this as "giving up" or lacking fighting spirit, when in fact, I just don't want to ride a white sharks back to victory.  

Bowers believes the left cannot go it alone, so he is still willing to ride a white shark.  Good luck!

My blog  


[ Parent ]
Everyone is entitled to opinions and we can disagree (4.00 / 1)
and still work together - this analysis is skewed to certain perspectives and, in many ways, sounds more like a rationalization of a political viewpoint.

As you can see - at best, the situatio cannot be distilled neatly into three points.  Some might even argue that doing so is a distortion.


[ Parent ]
I didn't read "achieve our objectives through neoliberals[3rdWay]" (0.00 / 0)
The choices in this environment are to . . .

. . . split with the coalition anyway, give up altogether, or keep struggling through the coalition on a long slog.  I go with the latter, because I want to keep fighting over the long haul, which makes splitting with the coalition or just giving up not real options.

Are you equating ". . .keep struggling through the coalition on a long slog" with "achieve our objectives through neoliberals"?

I don't see those as equal.

But maybe the more relevant question to you is, "Which position are you advocating?  Split with the coalition?"

If that is what you mean, then am I right you are advocating the establishment of a third party?

And if you are, then, I want to understand:

You really think Progressives will achieve more in the next 20 - 40  years by launching a new electoral infrastructure then they would by continuing an ideologically coherent internecine struggle within the Democratic Party, building on whatever ground has been gained since about 2002 or so when this recent "netrootsy" Progressive movement began?

Really?  

USA: 1950 to 2010


[ Parent ]
I'm splittin' and many more are too (4.00 / 1)
Do what you wish - not another dime, not another minute of effort, not another vote for dems.

The obama/rahm charade has been too much for me and many many others.  Do what you wish.

You obvisously don't agree but facts are:

*40 percent (approaching half) of dems say they will stay home next time around

*Almost half of US population as a whole does not vote

*Repugs brand is beyond tarnished - they are weaker now than perhaps even after tricky dick

*"Tea Baggers" are splitting the repug base.

Historic opportunity here, join if you like or not.  Many are going to do this regardless of what others say in forums like this.


[ Parent ]
What are you inviting me to Join? (4.00 / 1)
Are you are planning to run for office in 2010?

Are you inviting me to join you in not voting?

Are you inviting me to vote (or support) a different political party?  What is it called?  Who is running?

Are you inviting to join some kind of non-electoral political activity?  I might be interested if you can explain to me how your non-electoral activity is going to affect institutions like the United States Defense Department and the Social Security Administration and you know: all that government stuff.

Are you planning a revolution?  Do you think that would be an easier way to go?  Maybe like a flashmob takeover of the whole nation?  Just like, take it over, because everybody's pissed at it?  

Or are you planning to, you know, drop out and do something more like Che Guevara?

Actually, there are good precedents for the efficacy of direct action strategies.  But you know, I've read dozens of your posts over the last few days, mainly criticizing Bowers for his timidity, or secret agenda, or lack of integrity, or failure to be a charismatic hero of the vanguard, or whatever your problem with his arguments is, but I haven't heard anything about your much better plan of action.

Please tell me more.

USA: 1950 to 2010


[ Parent ]
Then you aren't really reading (0.00 / 0)
So I would decline to invite you to do anything. Have laid out some very specific actions and provided links to many more, but only for people that are ready to do something more than make excuses for obama/rahm and dem party.

You will either eventually come around or you will be part of the party we are going to work against.

And it just ain't me - 40 percent of dems say they will stay home (almost half) and that's BEFORE the massive healthcare sell out.

Here's some ideas:

http://www.counterpunch.org/am...

Not that I expect you to click on it - easier to misrepresent and complain.


[ Parent ]
So I clicked . . . (0.00 / 0)
I found an article on Counter Punch, rather like an article I'd expect to see on Openleft.  

It ended with this paragraph:

Progressives need to show that there is somewhere else to go, first by realizing that there are no saviors -- just real people working together. In this cult of personality masking as politics, we must acknowledge that the fault lies not in our superstars, but in ourselves.

I'm struck by the similarities with the ending of Bowers's piece, very much like resolving to slog and trying to be real.

I didn't see your plan there but I will start tracking back through your posts to see what constructive ideas you have offered.

Maybe you should start a diary?


USA: 1950 to 2010


[ Parent ]
IMHO (0.00 / 0)
Better to spread ideas around and link to good work that others progressives are doing and sharing than to start dialog.

Plan is pretty simple:

1. targeted economic boycott of the military-industrial media complex and the corpocracy that underwrites beck, o'liely, limpball, and right-wing noise machine.  Nothing meaningful will change until we quit handing our dollars over to them to hit us over the head with.

2.  stop. supporting. dems.

3,  run as many third party candidates as possible, especially for prez.

4.  when the mainstream media and the political parties exclude national candidates from debate platform - RAISE HELL (and back to step one)

Not first time I have posted this here.


[ Parent ]
Thank you (0.00 / 0)
I get where you are coming from. "Split with the coalition."  Thank you for clarifying.

You are certainly not alone.  Many readers and posters here probably agree with you.

I still think you should start a diary or join up with the Full Court Press faction that just launched in these threads.

I'm sympathetic to your sentiments though, you know, I've been watching people try to do your plan since the early seventies and frankly there's been much less to show for that method than has been achieved since, say, the Dean Campaign.

It makes a lot more sense to me to try to change the course of an existing structure rather than try to build a new party structure from the ground up.  

Anderson, Nader, Paul, Fulani: where are they now?  Where is their national organization?  Who is getting consistent national media to support their positions and mobilizing voters to vote for candidates that share their strategy?  Looking more closely at your plan I see by #4 you are preparing to be ignored and excluded.

Through FDL/Act Blue and the "Better Democrats" initiative Progressives have successfully changed the national conversation and achieved limited, not insignificant, electoral victories in the last 6 years or so.  I just don't see the wisdom in walking away from those hard fought achievements to start from scratch.

I'm down with #1 and again encourage you to start and hype a diary that helps explain to people how to go about that.  Color for Change made some real progress against Beck this year for example.

I appreciate that you took the time to state your position for me.  If you can offer strong arguments to support non-Democratic candidates, arguments at least as strong as the people working the Better Democrats strategy, I will listen.  So will many others.

But mobilizing voters and offering thoughtful arguments for alternative strategies is very different from lobbing rapid-fire complaints and personal accusations whenever posters here, like Bowers, suggest that we keep pounding away to remove bad Democrats, elect Better Democrats, and push them to do the right thing.

Just hanging out to complain is troll behavior.

USA: 1950 to 2010


[ Parent ]
If Dean ran as an Independent, (4.00 / 1)
he'd get a lot more support from all sides than he in 04.  Third party is not the problem, its a candidate.  Need name recognition and Dean has it.  He bucks Democrats, that ought to be good for votes from the right and left.  

[ Parent ]
In light of the previous several paragraphs which (0.00 / 0)
culminated in this one

Overall, this leaves progressives on the short-end of an ideological divide within the American center-left, with relatively little organizational ability to shift that hierarchy, and facing the very real prospect of being squashed if they step out of line.  This is why so many progressives are frustrated right now.

yes, what is the point of the long slog if we don't have a chance and must always work through a hierachy dominated by our opponants.

No ground has been acheived since 2002.  None!

My blog  


[ Parent ]
I admit the winnings are pretty meager so far, but . . . (0.00 / 0)
1. There is something called the Progressive Caucus and they have been able to exert some influence on the legislative process.  There was a nominal Public Option written into the House HCR legislation as a direct consequence of public pressure incited by these new Progressive institutions.

2. A much broader diversity of viewpoints is readily available than in 2002.  A few dozen Progressive bloggers have been able to carve out a significant niche in the pundit realm.  The Air America graduates Rachel Maddow and US Sen. Franken are illustrative of this new condition.  (Not to slight America's favorite Progressive blogger Mike Lux, or Bowers, Hamsher, Kos, Greenwald, etc. etc. etc. etc.)

Again, not all that much.  And, in particular, very little has panned out from what seemed within grasp a year ago.  

But nothing?  I don't think that is accurate.

The most significant thing might be that at least there IS a Progressive place in the "power structure" now.  It's a pretty shitty place and it looks like it might get shittier for a while, but at least it exists now.

I think Bower's Grand Theory, and frankly a lot of his work, is very helpful in trying to establish definitive terms for clearer thinking about how to run this shitty little space so maybe, say ten years from now it's not so little and shitty .

I haven't seen anyone offer a better, more realistic plan for accumulating political power on behalf of Progressive values yet, but I'm open to suggestions.  ;)


USA: 1950 to 2010


[ Parent ]
50 State Strategy (0.00 / 0)
Near the bottom of the thread someone has reminded me of the national rise of Howard Dean and the 50 State strategy.  That was a good thing, though again, fairly low on national deliverables (so far).

USA: 1950 to 2010

[ Parent ]
They are afraid of him. (4.00 / 1)
Look at how OT they reacted to his statement that the bill should fail.  

Dems need to be dropped on their asses.  They take working/middle class/grass roots for granted because they can.  Just once, we need to work against them and make them fail and fail big.  Until we can and will hurt them, we are just as ridiculous as they are.  I'm gone too.  I am not going to slog through muck to get nowhere.  I can get nowhere a with a hell of a lot less work and money.  I intend to make them fail.  


[ Parent ]
but which is harder? (0.00 / 0)
building the organizational strength to shift and replace that hierarchy inside the largely meaningless coalition called "the Democratic Party"?

or building the organizational strength to get past all the legal and technical roadblocks that have been put in the way of third parties and then also win enough elections to shift over and replace the current ruling hierarchy?

though, maybe i misunderstand. are you talking about going outside of electoral politics? it's definitely a pretty narrow area.

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.


[ Parent ]
We should also note why so many Democrats prefer "The Third Way": (4.00 / 3)
Boatloads of corporate cash, and no repercussions whatsoever for their betrayal of their constituents.  This is not ideology; this is bribery.  We haven't been able to stop the bribes thus far, but continued capitulation to the corporate interests guarantees that they will maintain their dominance.

Additionally, what is the difference between these "The Third Way" Democrats and Republicans?  Eight years of Democratic capitulation/collaboration with Republicans has resulted in numerous disasters.  I find it difficult to see how capitulating to the identical corporate interests in the Democratic Party will result in anything different.

Nice piece, Chris.  Thank you.


That isn't really part of how "third way" has been outlined (0.00 / 0)
And if you want to reframe it as caving to political/economic interests, then that point has been largely undermined.

[ Parent ]
It is caving to to political corporate interests. (0.00 / 0)
Just look at what they are doing.  In addition to boat loads of cash, redistributed from the bottom up, they aren't even pretending to regulate the greed.  The third way is the wrong way.  

[ Parent ]
We should also note that many Democrats are (4.00 / 4)
simply centrists. With the Republicans so extreme, we've got plenty of matter-of-factly conservative voters and representatives in our coalition.

[ Parent ]
Point well taken - thanks for directly stating (0.00 / 0)
Many dems ARE NOT progressive or liberal and perhaps that does mean the "third way" explanation does have some merits.


[ Parent ]
You don't have to bribe people who agree with you (4.00 / 5)
Boatloads of corporate cash, and no repercussions whatsoever for their betrayal of their constituents.  This is not ideology; this is bribery.

All Democrats do not start from a state of perfect, progressive purity. Most of the Third Way Democrats in Congress were Third Way before they were elected, too.

The donations are reinforcing actions for people who are already of a certain ideology.  The donations did not convince people to become Third Way.


[ Parent ]
Also, there are Third Way people (0.00 / 0)
who are not politicians and never will be. I don't think they are getting any checks.  

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

[ Parent ]
If you are third way... (4.00 / 3)
you are much more likely to get a check. People tend to internalize values rather than admit to themselves that they are compromising their true values in exchange for money and status.

miasmo.com

[ Parent ]
I don't disagree, but that is not the same thing as saying (4.00 / 2)
that it's not an ideology, only a position taken when you are paid off.

In addition, if you are not in politics, you don't get a check.  And yet there are non-politician neoliberals. This is more evidence that it is, in fact, an ideology (a position that is entirely consistent with the view that money matters.)

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


[ Parent ]
"ideology" (4.00 / 1)
I suspect that if you poll people on this, the non-paid off third-way-ers will be predominately high information voters who get their opinions and information from corporate media and that this worldview will is nearly non-existent among low info and non-voters. Low info and non voters are probably either conservative, progressive, or some mixture depending on the issue. I have no specific poling to back this up, so correct me if you have any info that shoots down my theory. Anyway, I feel pretty sure that if the money spigot were ever turned off, the third way ideology would evaporate from public consciousness.

miasmo.com

[ Parent ]
I never said all Democrats started as pure progressives, Chris. (4.00 / 2)
I said that the motivation for this "Third Way" faux ideology is bribery.

I'd always read that Tammany Hall was a sewer of corruption.  I'd never considered that if the parties involved agreed with each other, then no bribery occurred even though money changed hands.

I guess Billy Tauzin wasn't bribed when he sold us out to PhRMA on Medicare Part D because they obviously agreed on things.  

Whatever happened to him anyway?

Sorry for the snark, but as you probably can tell there's a bit of anger out here.  Anyway, thanks again for an honest attempt to analyze this from multiple perspectives.  Gotta go.  Peace.


[ Parent ]
Who bribed Aristotle? (0.00 / 0)
The phrase:  "moderation in all things" goes back a couple thousand years.

I think it would be unwise to discount psychological temperament and a sort of ancient "normative linguistic tradition" as sources for the reproduction of the Third Way stance.  

That's not to say that economic success in many stations in society is not largely determined by a one's ability to show oneself as "level-headed", "moderate", and "not given to extremes".

In a way, that's a kind of "bribe" or at least a reward for a pattern of behavior one could also call docile.

USA: 1950 to 2010


[ Parent ]
Maybe some good points here but it is really about selling-out. (4.00 / 1)
Progressives were largely responsible for obama's victory.  To get this support, specific promises were made - they are on videos, youtube, and the campaign actively sought netroot support.

Once in office, he brought in rahm (bad sign), any number of holdovers from dur chimpfurher, and has actually reversed himself on patriot act, endless wars, wall street bailouts, healthcare, gay rights...

But it is more than not taking action or taking an alternative course of action - very credible reports that he has actually undermined progressives, especially the public option.

I fail to see you address this in any of your three points.  It is NOT your first point because you have rationalized this sell out as some inevitable natural progression proclaiming it to be the "third way".

It reminds me of how economists make up theories to rationalize greed and anything else they want in our economy, proclaiming they have identified all the answers while actually taking most of them off the table.

Sorry, can't buy that line - it is worthy of consideration, but these three points largely miss the reason for frustration.

Your second and third points have merit too, but mostly so if progressive keep buying into their exploitation for money, volunteer work, and votes.


Do you even know what selling out means? (4.00 / 5)
If Obama and Rahm sold out, then they were once hard-core progressives, but decided they could make more personal gain by sucking up to non-progressive interests.

They were never hard core progressives. Thus, they never sold out.

It strikes me as pretty crude and absurd to reduce everything about to a single phrase ("selling out") that teenage indie types usually reserve to refer to bands they liked better when only those teenage indie types liked those bands.


[ Parent ]
Sold "us" out may be a better term... (4.00 / 6)
We certainly were sold a different bill of goods on the campaign trail.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
Like battered women, (0.00 / 0)
the progressives will all line up again so the Democrats can use, abuse and sneer at them.   They don't learn. They get taken for granted because they never learn.


[ Parent ]
Defining this to the extreme situation is a cop out (4.00 / 1)
I won't speculate on what was "hard core" and it is patently absurd to suggest that is required for sell-out.

Sell out could reasonably be defined as pandering to progressives and taking what you could BEFORE an election in order to win an election.

And AFTER the election, pandering to other political/economic interests, thus "selling out" the folks that got you elected in the first place.

But only fools will make this about a precise definition (that fits one's own purposes) about the many different ways people can be "sold out".


[ Parent ]
Or it could mean ... (4.00 / 3)
Taking massive contributions from Wall Street and Big Insurance while campaigning for a public option, and then allowing it to go down the drain without a serious fight.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...

[ Parent ]
I think this works! (0.00 / 0)
And, again, totally undermines mythical "third way".

[ Parent ]
Dude, there's nothing "mythical" (4.00 / 2)
about the 3rd way.

The term refers to various political institutions and electoral strategies that have played a dominant role in the Democratic Party, and therefore mainstream American political discourse, since the Vietnam era.

Other similar terms:

Democratic Leadership Council (DLC)
"Triangulation"  
Moderate Democrat
Seeking Public/Private Solutions

The Clinton Administration and their legacy is definitive in terms of classifying this political practice.

USA: 1950 to 2010


[ Parent ]
Nope (0.00 / 0)
Its called selling out your base for corporate interests and has nothing to do with some type of mytical "third way".

You (and others) close your eyes to the fact that its really all about placing corporate interests over the will of the people.  HCR is a glaring example, but endless wars, wall street bailout and most other issues are the same.

You close your eyes and pretend it isn't there - fine, your chose.  But until you acknowledge the economic influences that undermine democracy in our system, don't lecture me abstract crap and "third way".

It is a cop out - intentional or not, just a red herring.  One that most here are not buying.  Your "similar terms" are more ways to confuse the issues and distract from the real question:

WHO'S INTERESTS DO DEMS ACTUALLY ACT IN?  It isn't the will of the people, buddy.  It isn't because of the "third way" either.


[ Parent ]
Repeating yourself (0.00 / 0)
is not an argument, and Rich has has not denied a role for economic influences. The choice between ideology and economics is not necessarily one versus the other.  Those of us who see a role for both have not closed our eyes to anything. But you seem to demanding (in all caps) that we ignore ideology.

Why do you think that ideology doesn't matter? Care to tell us?

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


[ Parent ]
Follow the money trail (0.00 / 0)
The ideology doesn't matter, unless you want to call endless persuit of dollars at the expense of democracy "ideology".

You refuse to acknowledge what others see as the fundamental problem, don't expect us to acknowledge your faux crap about ideology.  It isn't the driving force here - obama/rahm and dem leaders stand for very little.

You are pulling the same crap that people pointed out earlier today - misleading about what someone posts (intentional or intentional) and then complaining when they try to clarify as if its repeating.

DON'T MISLEAD WHAT PEOPLE POST AND THEY WON'T RESTATE WHAT THEY SAY.

That's on you.


[ Parent ]
Here's some typical dem "ideology" (0.00 / 0)
From a May 2006 interview with Speakin' Out News, an African American publication in Huntsville, Alabama:

QUESTION: What kind of Democrat are you?

PARKER GRIFFITH: A life long one, a Democrat for the little man, for small businesses, for small children, for families, for seniors. I am a Democrat that believes in an excellent education and health care for all of the citizens. This can only result in a strong, vibrant, and prosperous city.

-----------

And he just switched to repug...

But don't kid yourself, obama/rahm and dem leadership has shown that they don't really have any ideology that can't be overlooked either.  Myself and others have posted many links to videos and transcripts that illustrate this.  It just so happens in this case, griffith saw it to his advantage to change hats.

You can close your eyes and bury your heads in the sand, but don't expect other progressives to passively accept that any of this is about "ideology."


[ Parent ]
And so your suggestion is? (0.00 / 0)
I get that you are pissed.  I get that you are pissed because Dems, and probably all politicians are sell-outs, on the take.  Follow the money: that's all they believe in.

OK.  Points well taken.  So what?

Bowers's piece doesn't contradict your opinion.

Bowers's piece is basically trying to describe the lay of the land, why it is unlikely that Progressives will have anything but a fairly indirect, and frustrating, role in American governance for the forseeable future.  And he's saying despite those structural conditions, he is planning to stick it out and keep slogging.

Your argument seems to be, "That's not why I'm frustrated.  I'm frustrated because Democrats are sell-outs.  How dare you try to come up with all these fancy excuses.  I think you are just trying to obscure the fact that the Democrats are sell outs!"

Maybe you are right.  It's all part of Bower's diabolical plan!  A whole website that SEEMS to be about building a Progressive movement but really it's just a ruse, a sneaky way to bamboozle us into supporting centerist Democrats and fill our heads full of big words and mythical theories until we fall down dizzy.



USA: 1950 to 2010


[ Parent ]
They don't need to have been hard-core progressives to have sold out. (4.00 / 4)
Obama reversed himself on telecom immunity, no mandates for health insurance, and the public option to name only a few issues.  Regardless of whether you characterize these positions as "hard core" progressive or not (they seem to poll favorably across the spectrum), they were promises he made. If he didn't "sell out," then he was simply lying.  

[ Parent ]
Or (4.00 / 3)
It could be as simple as you described- the fear that one will loses one's position if they as progressives filibustered the president's bill or exposed his lack of support of the PO too early. This becomes a version of selling out principles that is a form of enabling. All of it pushes in concert (the different types) to maintain the status quo. Even the blogs play a role in this.  

[ Parent ]
selling out (4.00 / 1)
You yourself within this diary explain how stupid it is to pretend to solve a problem by rewarding those who are the cause of the problem. Do you think it is some crazy coincidence that this faction controls the coalition? This side of the debate is where all the money and status is! Third Way is a freaking gravy train as is conservatism. Corporate billionaires shovel money and power at these Third Way types. How is it not obvious that "selling out" is the main factor in this equation?

As for the option "lash out and hurt the coalition's leadership for the sake of revenge," how about "lash out and hurt the coalition's leadership for the sake of" getting better behavior by consistently and predictably rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior? And how is this inconsistent with your preferred option of "keep struggling through the coalition on a long slog"? Can the "long slog" not include some strategic lashing out?

miasmo.com


[ Parent ]
Obama is 100% (0.00 / 0)
what I expected him to be.

But, let's say you're right: he lied to your face.

What are you gonna do about it?



[ Parent ]
Well, there's the Full Court Press ... (0.00 / 0)
... if you want to get in my face about it.

It doesn't go after Obama directly, just his party, the party that passed the Stupak-laden House bill, the party that's passing the Nelson compromise that echoes the segregationist battle cry, "States rights forever!"

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


[ Parent ]
Where is the full court press? (0.00 / 0)
All I see is a link to a diary. Do you have a website or blog specifically dedicated to the idea?

[ Parent ]
The diary lays out the plan and the logic behind it. (0.00 / 0)
It's only a couple weeks old and that will be coming.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...

[ Parent ]
I'm working on a beta site (0.00 / 0)
It'll have the equivalent of blogs and forums, at the very least. Not sure whether Jeff will like it, though. Also, even if he likes it, I'm not sure how long he wants to "fly under the radar".

OTOH, the price is right ($0), so he's welcome to use it for  a while, then scrap it for something else.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
I'm more of a 'keep struggling' guy, but I think you mischaracterize (4.00 / 1)
the other choice as "to lash out and hurt the coalition's leadership for the sake of revenge."

I don't think that 'revenge' is always, or even usually, the goal. I think it's more often an attempt to equalize the organizational deficit, even if only slightly.


Distilling this to 3 points inherently distorts it (0.00 / 1)
I am disappointed that anyone, proclaiming to be a voice for progressives, would characterize this as "to lash out and hurt the coalition's leadership for the sake of revenge".

Clearly there are other options including a re-evaluation as to whether the money, volunteer time, and votes the dems demand will actually ever result in policies that represent the will of those voters.

Or for that matter - the will of the nation as a whole.  America overwhelmingly supports a public option.  Even a majority of repugs do.

It is not some magical "third way" that undermines the will of the people.  Pointing out how representatives have undermined the democratic process is not the same as to "to lash out and hurt the coalition's leadership for the sake of revenge".

This is all some pretty clever framing, but it is to limited to do any more than frame issues along certain perspectives and opinions - certainly not based in an objective analysis.


[ Parent ]
Yep to this (4.00 / 1)
"This is all some pretty clever framing, but it is to limited to do any more than frame issues along certain perspectives and opinions - certainly not based in an objective analysis."

The only value of mischaracterizing the arguments of others serve here is to create a false choice about what the debate is about.  


[ Parent ]
Well, I probably should have said (4.00 / 4)
Instead of revenge, I probably should have just said "splitting with the coalition." Would have been more accurate. Will update.

[ Parent ]
Thanks (0.00 / 0)
This is an important dialog and agreeing to be sensitive is helpful.

A dialog about splitting with the coalition is much more useful.


[ Parent ]
Are you really just saying that (0.00 / 0)
the power of the center-left is so disproportionate that the progressive-left gets frustrated and starts to grasp at straws?

Because I have a hard time disagreeing with that. And I'm not really understanding much of the push-back here. Just in case you're wondering.


[ Parent ]
No - I am saying it is a dishonest process (4.00 / 4)
In the case of HCR, saying the "power of the center-left is so disproportionate" is patently wrong.

The majority of Americans support meaningful change, including the public option.

This has nothing to do with center-left which, if you poll Americans, want a meaningful PO too.

And I (and other progressives) will take issue in framing this in any way that pre-assumes the conclusion that pandering to progressives for support and then selling those supporters out is part of some natural process over which we have no control.


[ Parent ]
The power of the center-left (0.00 / 0)
elected officials, though, is completely disproportionate.

[ Parent ]
I wouldn't say grasping at straws (4.00 / 1)
I think the disproportionate power causes people to seek alternatives.  Unfortunately, at least from my perspective, the alternatives usually don't lead to better results.

[ Parent ]
They are talking to some degree about different things (4.00 / 2)
Which fits into my risk theory. Here, arnie rightly is discussing the American people, but ultimately to me Chris is discussing DC. The question is why aren't progressives taking the necessary actions to make the point that they are with the American people rather than DC?  

[ Parent ]
Well, Chris said (0.00 / 0)
"... the short-end of a left-progressive vs. Third Way ideological divide with the leadership of the American center-left coalition" and "... face a massive organizational deficit against the coalition leadership."

So I think you're right! As to why we're not taking the necessary actions to make the point? I think we are. We've been successful on some counts, and tragically unsuccessful on others.  


[ Parent ]
And my only point that I am adding (4.00 / 1)
which Chris keeps attacking me for making by distorting it is that the problem at this point is not organization as in progressives on the street. The problem is that the character of the leadership in Congress amongst progressives is not strong enough to take the calculated risk necessary to obtain the benefit of gaining power. It is not about their organization to me. It is about the fact that even with a PO polling at around 60 percent they still were not willing to take the risk to break out of their shell to see what would happen.

My guess: they would have fought it out. The battle would have first been bad in public, but if they really stuck to their guns, and considering the polls they would have won the battle by making it a very public PR battle to win the hearts and minds of the public over the PO's necessity in the bill.

If progressives in that leadership are not going on in, then why is it revenge rather than say accountability to not go after them for such an easy win (relative to the risk they would be taking) by going all in in a very public and coordinated way.

I look at the list of behaviors about what people say they believe in, and it just do not match up against each other.  May be it is something I am not suppose to get. Why not threaten filibuster? Why not be intransigent in the House? Etc. I don't get it under the circumstances.

And, what I absolutely don't get is arguing "in face of these failures, it is revenge you are seeking to place pressure on and/or threatened progressives" for their choices. Why is that the case?

I ask these questions, and I get radio silence, mischaracterization of my questions and statements like he made like below. I just don't get it.  I have never known people who want or need something to to it in the way that progressives do.



[ Parent ]
Well, a) Chris changed the 'revenge' thing, (0.00 / 0)
so you're arguing about nobody with that.

But b) I'm not sure how you're disagreeing with him. You're saying that the congressional dems and progressives didn't take the necessary risk, right?

Why not? Because they're too 'center-left' and not 'progressive' enough? Because we don't have the organizational power to pressure them, whereas the center-left does?


[ Parent ]
Okay on the revenge thing (4.00 / 1)
and on b) I am not disagreeing about the need for organization. I am questioning whether we will be making the same excuses once you get it. That it is not enough to have organization if you are not willing to say it is no enough for you to mouth the words. I am saying character has to become part of the formulation of leadership on the left, and I am not seeing that right now. I think even if someone is progressive enough on paper, but they are not willing to fight for their convictions- it really of little value.  If Russ Feingold believes in the public option, and wonders why Obama did not push for the public option after it is too late for use to change things, then why not call out Russ Feingold (in a friendly manner) on what he could have done. When I asked Chris about it in another diary, he responded that the progressive Senators were afraid of reprisal from PResident Obama. I suppose the question for me is does one see oneself as a part of the progressives in congress or a source of pressure on them. Organization alone does not answer that question. It is a given to me, but not sufficient. I hope I am making sense.

[ Parent ]
Oh! Yeah, that completely makes sense. (4.00 / 3)
And actually I hope we do that. Part of what you mean is to, er, challenge our progressive heros to follow through? And to aim some of our fire on allies, not just enemies? I absolutely agree that we should do that.

But the example of Feingold makes me wonder. The fact that Feingold and Sanders--and Boxer, etc.--went along with this makes me suspect that the problem isn't 'character' or 'convictions'. I'm pretty fond of my own character, but I don't have much confidence that it's stronger than that of Feingold and Sanders.

I'm not sure I agree that they'd be afraid of reprisals. I think they'd be afraid of making things worse for America. I think that's one of our real structural disadvantages: caring. It's one thing to say, 'take more risks,' as I often do, from the outside. But if I was a Senator, would I actually take those risks? That's less likely than me being the one vote against the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act.


[ Parent ]
Very good point (4.00 / 2)
What you are talking about, I think, is the Rootsgap.  

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

[ Parent ]
If I saw the polling numbers on the public option (0.00 / 0)
and medicare I would. It is not like there are going to be many of these chances to break the power grip in DC. IF you think this one is hard, CLimate change is worse. The public is not with progressives on that one. so - why not take the risk of siding with t he p ublic here, and see where the chips fall. Perhaps you end up where you are now, but I don't think you end up in a worse position.

[ Parent ]
Maybe you've got more character (0.00 / 0)
and stronger convictions than Feingold and Sanders. I just have a hard time imagining that I do.

[ Parent ]
not sure why my comment is gone (0.00 / 0)
by i responded in a nutshell that what happens in DC is different from the calculus outside of dc. and I am discussing primarily  outside of dc. under the pressure of dc, may their decisions make sense, but in the face of 60 percent support it doesn't. Tonight we have yet another progressive not being plain in her meaning. It doesn't matter whot hey are if ultimately this is their action. It really just comes down to that rather than to what I would do.  

[ Parent ]
Okay on the revenge thing (0.00 / 0)
and on b) I am not disagreeing about the need for organization. I am questioning whether we will be making the same excuses once you get it. That it is not enough to have organization if you are not willing to say it is no enough for you to mouth the words. I am saying character has to become part of the formulation of leadership on the left, and I am not seeing that right now. I think even if someone is progressive enough on paper, but they are not willing to fight for their convictions- it really of little value.  If Russ Feingold believes in the public option, and wonders why Obama did not push for the public option after it is too late for use to change things, then why not call out Russ Feingold (in a friendly manner) on what he could have done. When I asked Chris about it in another diary, he responded that the progressive Senators were afraid of reprisal from PResident Obama. I suppose the question for me is does one see oneself as a part of the progressives in congress or a source of pressure on them. Organization alone does not answer that question. It is a given to me, but not sufficient. I hope I am making sense.

[ Parent ]
Grand unifying theory of progressives (4.00 / 2)
You are afraid of risk, and, therefore, as long as that is true, nothing will change. You can organize, make great arguments, win elections, etc. But, it all comes down to whether you are willing to take a chance. The answer is clearly no. This is why the choices you offer  at the end ring out to me as false:

"The choices in this environment are to lash out and hurt the coalition's leadership for the sake of revenge, give up altogether, and keep struggling through a long slog to try and make whatever gains you can.  "

This is not about revenge. It is about correcting behaviors that lead to the problems you try to describe in the first place. If you don't correct the set of behaviors, they will repeat themselves in each successive generation of Democrats and progressives. Always afraid to take risks.  


Well, its a good thing (4.00 / 1)
Its a good thing you will be around write that same comment nine bazillion times then.

Also good to know that every problem progressives, and I, face has one simple solution. And you know exactly what that is.

If only we progressives took more risks, then every problem would be solved.

Take more risks = solve all problems. Amazing!


[ Parent ]
That is not a fair rendition of what rabbit is saying (0.00 / 0)


Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...

[ Parent ]
Yeap- try to get him to engage my actual position (4.00 / 2)
instead get more and more distortions of it. Not sure what to do with that kind of analysis that does not engage my position its own terms. A couple of days ago, Chris stated something along the lines of progressives in the Senate/House could not filibuster etc because they were afraid of Obama going after them. I asked how that then disproves my views regarding enabling the status quo? Why were they not willing to take on that risk considering it was a good debate to have with the American public if they saw Senate/House members fighting for something the president said at the time he wanted? Etc. I really do not understand the false framing of this as revenge rather than understanding that if you keep making excuses for this behavior, then how are you going to change things. Organizing can only help if you have people in place who will ultimately vote the way you want, but if they are terrified to do so- then what's the point? The only other thing he added was that this was not about a single bill, which to me brought up the question isn't this tendency to give in to the right flank a pattern rather than a one off incident involving the public option?

[ Parent ]
You set up false choices to which I am responding (0.00 / 0)
If you don't want me to repeat myself, then don't mischaracterize what the choices are.  No one is seeking revenge.  That's a false choice.

You repeat the offense of setting up a false choice again by now mischaracterizing what I just wrote. I said taking more risk increases chances of greater gains and indeed gains in general. Taking less risks produces fewer or no gains or worse results. If someone is investing in the future- risk taking is a part of that process.  


[ Parent ]
Isn't it funny how some will (intentionally or not) mischaraterize (0.00 / 0)
a person's words and then flame that same person for trying to add some clarity to the words that (intentionally or not) have been mischaracterized.

As if, when your words have been recast by another (and yes, sometimes dishonestly), that it is somehow wrong for you to set the record straight.


[ Parent ]
I am guessing he is just emotionally caught up (4.00 / 2)
in defending a position he holds. There seems to be a lot of that, and so, objectivity about what someone is saying can and does go out of the window. The fact that I have been consistently criticizing him and other progressives for what I perceive to be a character defect in them with regard to taking risk probably does not help. However, the criticism unlike he sees it does not grow out of emotions about him or people in Congress or Obama for that matter. It grows out of the fact I know the clock is ticking.  

[ Parent ]
At the risk of confusing you (4.00 / 1)
I am going to use an analogy. When it comes to investment, they tell the young as a rule of thumb that they need to invest in growth stock and take more risk. They tell the old to go for safety stocks and take less risks.  The reason being that the former is trying to change his or her position and the later is attempting to maintain the status quo. Taking this analogy, and tweaking it, the problem with what you favor is that it maintains the status quo. If you take less risks with the status quo being what it is, you are disproportionately going to lose because you are not making any game changing moves regarding your status. When the progressives refused to filibuster, or at least seriously threaten it, they were limiting their outcomes to the status quo.

[ Parent ]
I sense real genius here (4.00 / 2)
But since, as you imply, I am confused by this, and since, you write, I have real character deficits, I don't really understand.

My objectivity is lost, yours is not. Emotions have clouded my judgment, unlike you.

At some point, perhaps when I am thinking clearly, the completely awesomeness of this analogy will make everything about how politics works clear to me, but until then I will continue to muddle through with my clouded emotions, chaacter defects, and inferior intellect.  


[ Parent ]
If you are not emotional, then why are you acting emotional? (0.00 / 0)
You take something I said because I am not sure I am making my point clearly (considering you mischaracterized) to conclude I am saying something about my level of intelligence rather than my on ability to write clearly.

I am actually trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here. Hence the comment about confusing you since you are mischaracterizing what I said. There are really two choices here- either you are confusing what I am saying because I am not being clear or you are deliberately mischaracterizing it.

Since others have clarified it, and you are continue to mischaracterize it, what's left other than emotions?  


[ Parent ]
Nothing is left (0.00 / 0)
I completely agree with you. You have me nailed. You are right about everything. Sorry if I wasn't clear on that.

[ Parent ]
You do not see how you mischaracterized my position? (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Can't speak for Chris, but (4.00 / 1)
I'd be interested to read a diary in which you laid out precisely which risks we oughtta take, who 'we' are, and what the possible return is.

In the case of HCR, I think your 'risks' are probably, 'work to scuttle the bill and take the risk that we can improve it later.' But I'm not sure to whom that applies. Big-mouth bloggers? The Progressive Caucus?

I could see agreeing in principle, but the minute I start thinking about putting this into practice, I run into the reasons for a Grand Unifying Theory of Progressive Frustration.

I mean, yes, let's assume for a moment you're right. Now what?


[ Parent ]
It is not just now at the end (4.00 / 1)
that they failed to take risks. Once you are there at the end, sure , it becomes harder to take a risk. It is throughout the process. Each step along the way they choose to deliberately to avoid risk. From the decision to take single payer off the table (I am not in favor of single payer, but understood it was a bargaining chip) to backing down on each line they could or did draw.  Each step was risk avoidance, which to me told the other side, "we  got them." Ultimately, it is not about killing the bill. I said that at one point out of anger, but utlimatley to me, even at this late date it is about the fact they are still unwilling to take any risks. Did you read what the leader of the progressive caucus said yesterday?

The solutions are not easy ones:

a) Pressure the progressives through money and the same tactics you threatened to use on way ward conservative dems. In fact, I would expect the results are far  more likely to work with progressives considering they need  the base more.

b) Overtime as progressive retire replace them with those willing to take higher risk. Have that as a variable that one includes in finding better Democrats.

c) Weed or don't support those candidates that will not take risks. Fund or create a heros fund for those who do. When FDL had this fund raiser this summer, the suggestion one person made was to reward outcomes, not public stances. Meaning, wait to give them the money base on actual votes rather than on claims of what they believe. The problem with progressives is not what they believe. It is follow through in action.

So, are just some ideas that would shift the balance from just statements to finding the right character make up for the job you are seeking to perform. You are askign them to go up against entrenched interests. This is not easy, but making excuses for it seems like a bad idea to me.


[ Parent ]
I'm not sure that anyone here (0.00 / 0)
would disagree with any of that.

I sure don't. Isn't that just the 'better' in more and better Democrats?


[ Parent ]
If You Don't Take a Stand, You Stand For Nothing. (4.00 / 2)
The desire to take some heads is not revenge it is power politics. The Third way depends on the progressives to cave in. They just need to make whatever policy help some. Because real lives are involved the progressive left will cave or split because face it some help is better then no help. We are hostage to our compassion.

Fine they need to make their sausage. They can shaft us along the way. But they must pay a price. If we only get them to look over their left shoulder occasionally every problem wont be solved but every defeat wont be as sharp.


[ Parent ]
Bruh is unafraid of risk (0.00 / 0)
and is, as he has proudly admitted, prepared to just sit on his hands for ten or fifteen years and simply hope that (not fight for) better people get elected by then.  He isn't actually fighting, his fighting consists of berating others he thinks aren't fighting hard enough.  If I may coin a slogan he's replacing the Audacity of Hope with the Hope of Audacity.  Not exactly a step forward, as I view things.

Bruh, I have to ask - why are you still here?  Why not just go and check back in ten or fifteen years?  What are you actually accomplishing?  Trying to put myself in your shoes, which isn't that hard because contrary to your constant assertion, I am as passionate about these issues as you are, I would not be doing what you're doing.  I would be trying to build something that might make a difference in ten or fifteen years.  I would be looking for some issue, some lever I could find to maximize my influence, off to the side perhaps, but still in some niche version of the game with real long-term upside potential (not just hope), and pushing it as audaciously as I could, instead of making the same stale criticisms of Chris Bowers over and over.

Since you are here, I have to believe that you don't really believe what you're saying about waiting for ten or fifteen years, but you haven't quite realized it yet.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
If you ever want to really talk to me rather than (0.00 / 0)
do what you are doing here take note of how others who disagree with me a responding, and approach me that way. Otherwise, I am really not going to engage you at all.  

[ Parent ]
I don't care if you talk to me or not. (0.00 / 0)
But your wait 10 or 15 years and hope for better strategy is not a winner.  I've yet to hear any defense of it that makes the least bit of sense.  Actually I think my paraphrase of your "strategy" is a spot-on description.  Hope for audacity.  Not even fight for audacity.  Just "walk away from the deal" and hope for audacity in the future.

Engage if you want, or don't.  I don't give a shit one way or the other.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
You make opponents of the bill sound so emotional ... (4.00 / 1)
... while you are the super-cool cucumber.

The choices in this environment are to lash out and hurt the coalition's leadership for the sake of revenge, give up altogether, and keep struggling through a long slog to try and make whatever gains you can.

Thus opponents of the bill are "lashing out" and getting "revenge," childish reactions.  Well, good old Samuel Gompers used to have a policy that labor should "reward its friends and punish its enemies" regardless of party affiliation.

Now Samuel Gompers is not one of my idols, but he's hardly the emotional hothead you want to paint us opponents of the bill as.  In other words, I think that punishing the Democrats for voting for a Stupak-laden House bill, or for this sickening Nelson compromise that leaves destroying abortion rights to the individual states ("states rights," the segregationists used to call it) is in line with a good old American tradition.

My thinking that the Democrats and Obama should be punished for this is a cold calculation that we have to change the White House calculation that the left can be ignored, and as such is a precondition for, as you so eloquently put it, "keep fighting over the long haul."

Oh, while I'm in the neighborhood, you never said whether you would or would not support a healthcare bill that contained the Stupak amendment.  Still waiting.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


Number 3 covers it. (4.00 / 2)
Progressives usually lose.

Losing isn't fun.

Any significant liberal cause is likely to have decades of germination, several events of total failure, followed by a tepid or half-way success, before it becomes the law of the land.

It does usually become the law of the land, but it takes generations.

There is nothing to be done about that.  There is no effective retaliation or corrective action to be taken against Liebermann or Obama.  Just start the battle all over again and try to get used to losing.  Giving up isn't an option.


So does this mean progressive need a third party? (4.00 / 1)
After all, we can lose just as easily without them as we can lose with them.  At least building a third party may have some longer-term results (or potential).

It really makes no sense to be involved with a party that just uses you for money, volunteer work, and votes.

And remember - the repugs are splintered and in disarray too.  If there was ever a time for a third party, now is it.


[ Parent ]
It's all about neoliberalism (4.00 / 13)
Which is another term for the "third way" policies you describe. Everything comes down to corporate control of the economy and politics, and the "market first" ideology of neoliberals.

Progressivism, in its present iteration, is based primarily on opposition to neoliberal ideology. We reject the notion that the market knows best, refuse to support corporate-friendly policies, and do not buy the lie that what's good for the CEO is good for the employee. We strongly dissent from the notion that the private sector can do it better than the public sector.

And there are more of us in the Democratic base. Which is why Democratic neoliberal politics, ever since Jimmy Carter first embraced them, has been all about silencing the progressive base so we don't veto the corporate-friendly deals.

Democratic neoliberalism operates by offering a few genuinely decent things that are wrapped inside a corporate shell, and those decent things never, ever challenge corporate or market power. But when progressives point out the overall flaw of a proposal, the Democratic neoliberal reaction is never to embrace progressives as equal partners.

No, the reaction is to attack us and delegitimize us. We should accept the deal because it's the best we can get, the alternative is worse, we're bad people for wanting "purity," we're a bunch of dirty fucking hippies, etc. It's all about pulling the rug out from progressives so we don't get in the way of the sweetheart deal.

And too many people who claim to be progressive fall into that trap.

The outcome of this is always the same around the world: center-left neoliberals piss off the base, alienate the swing voters, and open the door to the right, which takes power after 8-10 years and pushes through a radical agenda. It happened in Canada in 2006 and is going to happen in Britain sometime in the spring.

So progressive frustration is very simple: we're being deliberately shut out so that corporate-friendly deals will be cut that undermine broad prosperity and open the door to a return of the right-wing.


be FOR something (4.00 / 4)
Progressivism, in its present iteration, is based primarily on opposition to neoliberal ideology.

i think this is right and i think it's a problem. i think it happens because of the asymmetries that Chris outlines. we spend a lot of energy arguing against bad policies because we're surrounded by them.

like, if i try to lay out my ideology, the first thing i think of is a belief that government is not a business, and it should not be run as if it was a business. i see that as a problem all over, from mass transit to education to health care. so, OK fine, it's not a business. but it's not a swim team either. what is it? i'd say that it's a service, but i know that i get pretty fuzzy pretty quickly. now, that could just be me. but i'm a pretty ordinary thinker, so my bet is that i'm not alone. diagnosis of a problem is always more straightforward than prescription for a solution.

i think it would be good to see more about what ought to be done, and maybe more importantly, why it ought to be - in a way that's not just aimed inward, but outward as an argument to all the people who have only been hearing the neoliberal/third-way/corporatist point of view.

we have to push for a better way as an alternative to the Two Santa Claus way or it will continue to win short-term and ruin us long-term. and somehow, from somewhere, find candidates for office who can speak clearly and plainly about that better way. that seems like the biggest hurdle of all, really.

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.


[ Parent ]
neoliberalism reinforces conservatives frames (4.00 / 2)
well said. i will just add that neoliberalism's natural coalition partners are conservatives, not progressives.

the following is about the healthcare debate, but it could be any number of issues because the modes of thought are the same (progressive, neoliberal, conservative):

...people using a neoliberal mode of thought do not view a market-driven, profit-maximizing approach as a surrender of any kind. They deeply believe that progressive moral principles can be served through neoliberal methods and forms of argument. We want to stress, however, that the consequence is dire whatever the motivation. The failure to articulate a clear progressive morality in favor of more technocratic solutions to profit-maximizing markets puts the progressive cause at a disadvantage on health care and other policy issues as well. It doesn't matter whether one is simply trying to avoid conservative and insurance company opposition or whether one truly believes in one's heart that the market will cure us. The progressive moral basis for providing health care for all-empathy and responsibility, protection and empowerment-is not stated. As a result, Americans don't get to hear the progressive moral basis for extending health care to all Americans, and they don't get to decide whether they agree with that moral premise. Americans only hear the conservative moral view. That moves them in a conservative direction, not only on this issue, but on all issues.

my bold. supporting neoliberal policies advances conservatism. not progressivism.

http://www.cognitivepolicywork...


[ Parent ]
Ideological Difference (4.00 / 8)
This is a huge ideological difference, which results in large differences in preferred policies.  The frustration for progressives is that the White House, the Democratic leadership, and indeed perhaps most Democrats in Congress, largely favor the Third Way approach rather than the left-progressive approach.  This is undeniable given the legislative policies they have pursued on the financial crisis, climate change, and health care this year.  It also puts progressives on the short-end of an ideological divide within the Democratic coalition.

It was, I think, fairly easy for people to fail to see, forget about, or just downplay, the differences between these two camps after 8 years of Bush.  The shared enemies of the Bush era papered over these differences.  What has happened since then is that promises made that were consistent with the Third Way have largely been kept, while promises that were not have been abandoned or slow walked.

I suspect that for many people who have a more Third Way perspective (not just elites) they genuinely think that the rest of us have gone mad. For many of those who do not share the perspective, Obama and the caucus seem to have done a major right turn and they can't understand how everyone else doesn't see it.

At the very least, increasing attention to these ideological questions will be healthy, and give us a better sense of what the divisions are among Democrats, progressives, the netroots, etc.

One last point - where we shake out on ideological issues does not determine where we shake out on strategic issues or tactical ones.  I think too often people use one of these domains as evidence of the other domains.  

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


In reading the description of "The Third Way"... (4.00 / 5)
... I'm painfully reminded of John Kenneth Galbraith's description of the modern conservative:

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.


Clear analysis. (4.00 / 3)
Thanks, Chris.

Honest question: in addition to thinking about beefing up 'progressive movement' organizing as the way to obtain more influence in the center-left coalition (the positive half of the strategy), what about strategies that work to cut the influence of the Third Way (the negative half)?  I haven't seen much anti-"K Street" energy since 2006, when the Dems took Congress.  If memory serves (a dubious assumption) that was one of the progressive-left's hottest issues while GWB was in office.  Do you think there is steam left for an anti-lobbyist movement within the progressive-left organizational infrastructure?  It would be something that Obama could potentially stay neutral on, since it appears non-ideological.  

Follow-up: I would think that a certain percentage of right-wing populists would be potential allies for the progressive-left on this matter because they wouldn't be targeting their own Congressional majority (governing majority yes, party majority no).  But perhaps public financing of elections would be a sticking point.


Haven't heard much about that, unfortunately (0.00 / 0)
While many of us have come to better realize the power of lobbyists within Congress, I have not heard much about any effort to pass legislation that would reduce their influnce.

[ Parent ]
I have difficulty seeing how you address the problem (4.00 / 1)
of lobbying influence through legislation directly.

It seems to me there are couple of approaches, which would be used together - all of them long term.

1) Clean election laws - which seem unlikely at the federal level, but more likely at the state level. In places where comprehensive clean election laws are not possible, some elements might be possible (this is also something to think about at the federal level - and probably worth organizing around even if its a very long term project.)

2) Creating the capacity to elect candidates without large contributions - this process in already under way, but it has  long way to go. The big missing piece, I think, is the ability to mobilize voters at the grass roots level through face to face interaction.  This model is being used in some places, and has been in the past.

3) Changing norms - It should be outrageous to conduct business the way the Village does. Most Americans think it is, but it's considered natural at the elite level.  The filibuster wasn't the same tool it is today until it became accepted natural. Presidents weren't always able to conduct war without limit.  It's no doubt easier to move norms in ways that favor elites, but it can go the other way as well. How to do that, is another issue - I'm not sure I have any answers - except that working on #1 and #2 would help if done the right way.

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


[ Parent ]
Clean money elections (0.00 / 0)
are being pushed by Public Campaign at the national, state, and municipal level. Since we are stymied in many ways by the corruption money in politics, now would be a good time to support their work.

[ Parent ]
I appreciate the clarity of the problem, and (4.00 / 1)
you stating your position on what to do with it.   I won't be following you.  I will not donate or vote for them.  A third party may be a waste of time and resources, but supporting this right leaning neoliberal centrist is a bigger waste of my time and resources.  

The "throw the bum out" complaint coming from people of all stripes is exactly what you point out.  People are fodder for wars, corporations, education, health care - nothing matters but privatization and profits.   Not my idea of Democrats.    


"I will not donate or vote for them." (4.00 / 3)
Many comments on this thread and others talk about not wanting to support "them" meaning "the Democrats," and usually it is set up as though the only two choices (besides supporting Republicans which is not a choice for most of us) are either to support "the Democrats" or not to support "the Democrats."  

I live in Illinois and right now we are having a highly contested primary election for Cook County Board President. In this race there are three corrupt machine Democrats and one (Toni Preckwinkle) independent, honest, smart progressive Democrat. So when I read someone's comment about how it is a waste of our time to volunteer or donate money to "the Democrats" I look at this race and think of the very real possibility that Toni will loose because the progressive people that should be supporting her have instead dismissed her as part of "the Democrats."

To me a huge part of the "long haul" that Chris talks about is working at the local level to build the bench, to push progressive policies, and to create the organizational structures (public financing of campaigns would be a big one) that will give us better choices in the future.

Again, I live in Illinois so I know that Obama would not be in power right now had he not learned long ago to accept the strings-attached help of people like Richard Daley and Rahm Emanuel. If another path to power had existed would he have have made other choices? I don't know. But I DO know that there are good progressive people out there who WOULD make other choices but who can't GET into power because they don't have the infrastructure to support them.  This is why I have been spending my time trying to build a small part of that infrastructure.

As another example -- though you may feel that working on Obama's campaign was a waste of time, what about the 2004 Democratic presidential candidates?  In many cases I would say yes, it was mostly a waste of time, but there is one big exception to that -- Howard Dean. The work that we did created the space for him to exist and become a voice for progressives at the national level. We need more than just one voice but we wouldn't even have THAT if we had all decided back in 2004 that it was a waste to support "the Democrats."    


[ Parent ]
If I believed your argument was possible, (0.00 / 0)
I would agree with it.   Howard Dean was taken out by the Democrats.  Howard Dean is feared and hated by the Democrats.  The reason you can impact local politics is because there's so little money and power in it, relatively speaking.  They leave the chump change for the chumps.

I wish you and Chris lots of luck, but I can't play the game anymore.   This admiistration's  blatant disregard for people, fairness, and justice showed just how corrupt and useless government is.  


[ Parent ]
Marketing principles (4.00 / 2)
It seems to me, Chris, that you have developed a perfect theory for marketing of individual principles in order to maintain political viability.  Of course this theory really isn't new.  It's usually referred to as "Selling Out."  

I have voted for every Democratic presidential candidate since 1968.  I voted for this fella in 2008, but in 2012, I'd rather stand up with Joe Wilson and hollar, "You lie!" than vote for this backroom dealing, corporate whore and his bought and paid for henchmen.  He is a liar.  He works for those I despise most.  

If I have to vote a Republican to get rid of him, so be it.  I'd rather vote for someone I know is trying to steal from me than for someone who says, "trust me," and then breaks into my house at night and takes whatever he and his buddies can get their hands on.


"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


Still on the outside looking in (4.00 / 6)
The limited development of the House progressive caucus notwithstanding, we still really don't have any leaders on the inside. We have no single elected official in either body who can act as leader and spokesperson, who has to be taken seriously because he/she can control/deliver a decisive block of votes and speaks for a significant block of voters. We have no effective power base on the inside, which makes the organizational and messaging challenge more difficult.

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans

Key point (0.00 / 0)
When push comes to shove, the CPC folds - and has done (to my recollection) pretty much every  time since I started Congress-watching 5 years ago.

In part, it's a lack of leadership; but mostly, I think, between every time it's put on the spot - to kill or fatally wound a bill that is too corporate - it needs to reject the half glass in favor of none.

Which leaves them as toothless in opposition to bad bills; and, when (as with HRC) the CPC issues big bold declarations about fighting legislation, and then does nothing but blather some more, Progs' credibility inside and outside Washington slides down the pan.

Even if they were willing to engage seriously with activists to try to move the Dem party in Congress leftwards - and I don't see any sign of that - the Progs are wouldn't be able to do much: there is a solid majority of corporatists in the Dem parties in each house which isn't going away any time soon.

(Besides, Progs need to eat, too.)

 


[ Parent ]
Our leaders are strategic morans (4.00 / 3)
Al Swearengen: That Bullock's a fucking strategist, ain't he?  Sets terms to publicly humiliate me, and my penalty if I don't comply is he walks into the bar downstairs and takes 15 bullets in the chest.

Here's Louise Slaughter claiming she'll oppose passage of HCR unless something that will never, ever happen occurs -- that the Senate scrap its bill and start over. And she's a Chairwoman...

As Atrios would say, The idiots who rule us...

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans


CPC take different view, apparently (0.00 / 0)
Yesterday, we had Chairman Grijalva suggesting that his people would OK the Senate bill, providing they get a fig-leaf:

I asked Grijalva if he could support the bill if such a change were made, even if it lacked a public option or other similar concessions sought by liberals.

"It would sweeten it somewhat," Grijalva said, "if they speed up the coverage mechanism."

He added: "That would be something I'd have to look at very closely."

And

"We need a win on our side of the aisle," Grijalva said. "That's very important politically."



[ Parent ]
Slaughter is retreating already! (0.00 / 0)
According to Greg Sargent, at least:

... a spokesperson for Slaughter, Vince Morris, confirms she's not ruling out a vote for the final bill, even if it lacks a public option or other concessions sought by progressives.

"She's not ruling anything in or out at this point," Morris tells me. "She is hopeful that we can make the bill better in conference."

Slaughter is Chairman of Rules, of course, which serves as a tool for the leadership: she's the last Dem rep you'd expect to go off the reservation on such a vital matter.

And, from the quick row-back, it doesn't look as if Pelosi authorized her comments either.  


[ Parent ]
Further solidifying her strategic genius (0.00 / 0)
For the record, here's what she wrote in her CNN piece:

Supporters of the weak Senate bill say "just pass it -- any bill is better than no bill."

I strongly disagree -- a conference report is unlikely to sufficiently bridge the gap between these two very different bills.

It's time that we draw the line on this weak bill and ask the Senate to go back to the drawing board. The American people deserve at least that.

That's 180 degrees from "she is hopeful that we can make the bill better in conference."

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans


[ Parent ]
The Progressive Caucus Co-chair (0.00 / 0)
Another strategic genius at work...

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans

[ Parent ]
same as it ever was (4.00 / 2)
somewhat ironic, Adam foregrounding this old post of Matt's just below you:
Ezra is happy with the Democratic candidates; most Democratic voters share Ezra's views.  I don't (and neither do a few others).  The issues we are dealing with today - health care, jobs, even a war in Iraq - are literally the same issues we dealt with in 1992.  How can that possibly be considered progress?


not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.

another left wing intellectual "analysis" (0.00 / 0)
Yet another left wing academic analysis of the "progressive" deficit that does not situate the "center-left" coalition now in power in the Clintonian triangulation/reconciliation of the Democratic Party with the Republicans and Wall Street in ushering in our post Glass-Steagall era.

Bowers never mentions the agenda of Bilderberg, the Council On Foreign Relations or the Trilateral Commission in his scholastic speculations.

One is left instead imagining this is a titanctic struggle of ideas [ideals?!!] that the left has just not been able to win.

Bowers will stay with the Clintonians for now...as long as he does not have to actually name what the Clintons stand for in a world owned and operated by the Henry Kissingers.


he also left out SMERSH (4.00 / 2)
and the Illuminati. typical.

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.

[ Parent ]
atypical (0.00 / 0)
Not to mention atypical. You know, given how few others bring this up at all.

[ Parent ]
call it what it is -- neoliberal (4.00 / 2)
This is a huge ideological difference, which results in large differences in preferred policies.  The frustration for progressives is that the White House, the Democratic leadership, and indeed perhaps most Democrats in Congress, largely favor the Third Way approach rather than the left-progressive approach.

i'm not frustrated that the president and congressional dems are mostly ideologically neoliberal because that is what i expected.

what i didn't expect was a bunch of people who have claimed to want to be leaders in a progressive movement to, as soon as the dems win the white house and majorities in both houses of congress, decide it is now a good time to support neoliberal policies, call those polices progressive, and then mock/ignore/ban progressive supporters who felt betrayed.


I support Chris's position and yet I have no problem calling Obama's politics neoliberal (4.00 / 1)
Because that's what they are.  They're a disappointment to me even though, like you, I'm not terribly surprised.  I held open a slight hope that I could have been wrong.  But I wasn't.

However, it appears the bill is NOT going to be killed and the kill-the-billers are not making any arguments that convince me.  It's all "blow this thing up" and somehow, the people will all get behind us and we'll be back in no time.  I don't believe it.  Nor do I believe it's all a matter of daring, or of "negotiating skills".  It's a question of power.  They have more than we do.  And they know how to use it.  Our side has played a weak hand pretty well too.

I may be giving temporary support to a neoliberal bill but I'm not calling it anything other than that.  There's little or nothing progressive about it.  We're in for a long slog of trench warfare against these guys.  But we gain nothing by starting a kamikaze assault on them now.  And it's not even that, the biggest weapon being proposed seems to be taking our ball and going home.  Sure that makes them quake in their boots.



sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
i meant last summer (2008) (0.00 / 0)
summer of 2008 was a lousy time, imo, to sign up in support of a neoliberal policy and pretend it was a progressive policy.

[ Parent ]
I don't want to argue the past (0.00 / 0)
and your argument is inconsistent.  You said, upthread

what i didn't expect was a bunch of people who have claimed to want to be leaders in a progressive movement to, as soon as the dems win the white house and majorities in both houses of congress, decide it is now a good time to support neoliberal policies

but now you claim you were talking about summer 2008.  Which is it?

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
frustration is about what has happened -- in the past. (0.00 / 0)
you're right, i was inconsistent.

i thought (wrongly it turns out) that the summer 2008 cave was all about electoral politics (support the dems for the coming nov elections) and that as soon as elections were over they would return to advocating progressive policy.

in one case i was referring to what i thought was happening (post election -- which was when my frustration level went off the charts), and the other with what i saw happen (2008 summer, but didn't take as seriously as i should have). and just to make things more confusing, i now actually think the cave was pre summer of 2008.

sorry for the confusion. hope the above helps clarify my changing thinking a bit.


[ Parent ]
2 points of disagreement (4.00 / 2)
1)I see no evidence they want even moderate regulation of the industries used to acheive these ends. Otherwise Obama would have put strings on the bailouts and he would have made attempts to make health insurance control costs.

2)I do believe progressives could become a replacement second party in the us because our ideas are more popular than third way nonsense or republicanism.  You don't qualify the statement that we can never go own way, you just make it some sort of arbitrary rule and expect the rest of us to accept that.



My blog  


I think we are missing the real failure here (4.00 / 3)
The arguments among progressives are mostly missing what went wrong on this debate.

I have now seen three major health care reform efforts; one in the State of Vermont in the mid-90's when I was a resident of the State of Vermont, the Clinton effort and this one.

In each, majorities came to conclude that if reform passed their costs would go up, and the quality of the health care would go down.  In fact, the numbers on these points in '94 and now are amazing in their similarity.

To win this debate, you have to start by understanding as I posted in a Quick Hit months ago that health insurance ratings have a net positive rating in polling.

This fight was not lost inside the Beltway, it was lost outside of it.  Had the polling on HCR been 55-35 for instead of what they are now, the entire political atmosphere that governed the Senate negotiations would have been different.

To that end, I think the entire progressive infrastructure was spending too much time lobbying Washington, and not enough winning the fight in the rest of the country.
More broadly, I think we need to think about why the larger political fight was lost, and less on how the votes went in the Senate.  Before we lost the Public Option in Senate, HCR was unpopular.  We should be asking why.


winning the argument (4.00 / 1)
this makes sense to me.

i have begun to wonder if, in a way, we are better off without the weak tea public options. just because the whole concept of a public option - a premium-supported insurance company that happens to be owned by the government - is in the wrong direction. it makes a difference if the states can still go to their own single-payer systems, making use of the money that would normally be coming in from this plan, and i'm somewhat confused about the status of that.

have you seen any of the Blue America stuff over at FDL? it's a little bit like jeffroby's thing, recruiting candidates who are advocates for single-payer to run in every district, to make the case.

also, can't find old Quick Hits - can you say a bit more about what "health insurance ratings have a net positive rating in polling" means? is that like community ratings?

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.


[ Parent ]
I can't find the QH (4.00 / 1)
either.  There doesn't appear to be a way to search old quick hits.

Anyway, if you ask people whether they have a positive impression of health insurance companies, and give 5 choices: strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, strongly disapprove and undecided, you will find the positive impressions outweigh the negative.  In addition, if you ask them if they are satisfied with their own health care, they will answer 75-25 that they are satisfied.

In each of the three HCR fights I mentioned, opponents to HCR have argued that reform will change the way people will receive care, and as a result most came to believe that the quality of the care they personally receive will go down, and their own personal costs will go up.  

One lesson here is to think about why that happened, and what should be done in the next fight.


[ Parent ]
that's really surprising (0.00 / 0)
i would have expected health insurance companies to be down there with used car salesman and Congress. i've never heard anyone with anything good to say about their own insurance company.

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.

[ Parent ]
winning the fight in the rest of the country (4.00 / 1)
To that end, I think the entire progressive infrastructure was spending too much time lobbying Washington, and not enough winning the fight in the rest of the country.

that's what the single payer movement has been doing -- look at all the state bills coming up. good thing too, because it's probably the only way to provide universal healthcare and control costs in our current political anti-regulatory environment.

build a movement, the votes will come -- eventually. it takes a long time, but it's been that way for every struggle for fundamental human rights).


[ Parent ]
Easy. WTF is a public option? (4.00 / 1)
It should have been medicare for all.  Everyone in and everyone pays something.  Insurance companies and free markets would have been left in the game with supplemental and designer policies.  

Why we lost health care isn't the issue.  It is only one loss in a 30 year long string of losses.  The question is why are we losing everything?  Gitmo,  torture, DADT,  EFCA, and perpetual war. The question is, how do we start winning?  Doing more of the same is not the answer.  I don't know what is, but I know this isn't it.    


[ Parent ]
On HCR (4.00 / 2)
My point was that we started by assuming that people hate insurance companies. The polling data suggests as a whole that they don't. I find this absolutely amazing, but that was what the date showed. This meant to win we needed to direct significant fire on insurance companies to change the perception of them.

The answer to the teabaggers and their imagined death panels was to point to the real death panels at every major health insurer.  I think some on the left assumed insurers were more broadly disliked than they are, and I think the White House's accommodationist strategy prevented them from changing the perception of health insurers, and as a result they lost the core argument over HCR.

To your point, you can see the same thing in other fights, most notably on the TARP.


[ Parent ]
I have been saying much the same thing but in different words. (4.00 / 2)
Our white-hot anger at the betraying Dems has blinded us to the needs of taking the "50 state strategy" seriously.  As long as we are unable to impose punishment on ANY Republicans who stood truculently together against ANY form of Health Care Reform we will not win what we need.

Which, I guess, is similar to what YOU mean by saying we needed to take the fight outside the Beltway.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
If By Struggling You Mean Wait Until It All Falls Apart? (4.00 / 1)
I don't necessarily disagree with Chris' overall argument, although it is telling that not only is a significant segment of the population non-voting, but the potential for this mid-term to surpass the usual level of disinterest is rather high.

But I do disagree with working within the existing system. I believe the best we can hope for under that belief is the certain failure of the New Democrats agenda, and act accordingly.

The longer we limit ourselves to two ideologically similar choices, the larger the level of disaffection, which serves any progressive agenda rather badly.

But it will take a lot more work than a post here, a blog there, or simply hoping we can elect third-party candidates to the House and Senate on a flimsy whim.

Sadly, we need to see things get much worse, while simultaneously building the traditional media/information framework that has been used against us by both Republicans and Third Wayists like Obama.

Oh, and pick one issue to work like it's never been worked before.  I'd suggest corporate influence...


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