I Don't Know How Many More Progressive Victories I Can Take

by: Natasha Chart

Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 16:26

On issue after issue--war, the imperial presidency, health care, jobs, environment, unions, etc.--the public is overwhelmingly progressive and wants action. People didn't expect progress when the GOP was in charge, but they threw those bums out. What now? As a fellow once said to me, "I don't mind losing when we lose, but I hate losing when we win." People need hope that someone's on their side, that our democracy is not just a rigged game for insiders, that real change is possible. - The Hightower Lowdown, 2007

Dear Democrats in Elected Federal Office,

I refer to you that way because when I just say "Democrats", Chris reminds me that both of us are registered Democrats. And when I say "elected Democratic officials", he reminds me that this applies to him too, for a little while longer at least, and I shouldn't make sweeping generalizations about large groups of people. So having cleared that up at the beginning, let's just take it as read for the rest of this post that the term "Democrats" is going to be referring to you unless otherwise indicated, and as well, the word "you" is definitely referring to the parties aforementioned in the greeting.

I just wanted to ask you to please stop winning so many great, progressive victories on my account. I can beg, too, I'm not too proud.

Natasha Chart :: I Don't Know How Many More Progressive Victories I Can Take
See, because all these victorious steps you've taken towards broadly shared prosperity are really bringing me down. I mean, way, way down. All those years I spent telling people that it was important to vote and wishing key demographics would show up at the polls, they make me feel like a chump. Because they all showed up and then most of them voted for you. And then you ... won all these great, progressive victories.

The majority of your hopeful voters may be right now too exhausted to have followed up closely on your progress - what with getting pay cuts, or getting eaten alive by wages not keeping up with inflation, or losing their jobs, or losing their homes, or having to go into bankruptcy because they couldn't afford their medical bills, or dealing with massive interest rate hikes, or trying to help friends and family in those situations, because that sh*t is all-consuming - but they're going to notice eventually that their vote for you didn't make their lives better. You can't ask someone to believe you over their lying pink slip.

And you won't make things better because you don't work for us. You work for ExxonMobil, Blue Cross and Goldman Sachs, who are all stealing from us and making our lives worse. You can't work for the people who are stealing from the public and serve the needs of the public at the same time. A House divided against itself must fall, you cannot serve the voters and Mammon, etc., as they say. It doesn't matter anymore if some of you want to, or would if you could, because you didn't and evidently can't.

Someone recently worried in my hearing that not enough was being done to encourage people to register to vote, because that was the most important thing we could do for cause X. But it seems plain to me now that it just isn't so.

Maybe it's cynical and defeatist to say it, but I don't think it's useful to lie anymore, as if you were good faith representatives of the public interest. Not even to save us from the dread bane of cynicism. I hope you'll also pardon me, for example, for encouraging cynicism among people expecting to walk out of a casino with more money than they went in with.

What I'm certain of is that if an illusion must be maintained at all costs, it will eventually cost everything.

It's already cost us affordable health care, and likely much of women's access to reproductive healthcare, in your proposed insurance reform. Like many other registered Democratic voters, my plan for health care reform, or health insurance reform, whatever, was to get you elected. Because you said you wanted it as much as I did. You had watched your own loved ones suffer, and heard the heartbreaking stories about people made to endure tremendous hardship or even death, at the hands of bureaucratic executioners working underwriting desks at Aetna, Cigna, etc. You told us you wanted to work for us and make the negotiations over reform transparent, because you were on our side.

And even if the bills you came up with are being hailed as must-pass progressive legislation, I think you know you lied to us about what you were going to deliver. You lied. There's no point pretending it isn't so, either to myself or anyone else. You just lied.

The stock market isn't lying about it. Health insurance stocks are up, because the people with a lot of money and power in this country know who won this fight. It wasn't me. It wasn't your typical voter. I might not be the equal of anyone in the investor class in your eyes, but I think I at least have the right to as much truth as they do, and they know you lied to me for their sakes. I'm sure they're very grateful.

I could go on about the bank bailouts, your disastrous bribes to polluters masked by trite pennies thrown at renewable energy, failed promises to the LGBT community, the abandonment of the unions, yadda, yadda, yadda. But why? You started selling us out when you took over Congress in 2006 and you never stopped, not with the trifecta, not with your damn 60 votes, not with the earth-shattering momentum of the most successful small-donor fundraising campaign in the history of the whole *ing world.

I don't know what to do about all this, even if I think that 'nothing' is definitely the wrong answer. But you're obviously not a group of people with the power to make good on promises to serve the public interest. So I doubt I could any longer say with a straight face that voting for you is any kind of top priority for any cause I care about, unless I should wake up tomorrow and decide that it's good for the country's moral fiber to mandate 30% interest rates. Maybe then.

Otherwise, please stop lying about how you're trying to help the typical citizen. Or do us one better and stop trying to help us. Do nothing, perhaps. Just show up to argue on the floor and make pretty speeches now and again, but then after, deposit your paycheck, enjoy your private physicians' attention, attend your corporate-sponsored legislative retreats, cower before your politically powerful clergy a little longer so you can pretend you have values, and spend more time with your families. Or your Family. Whatever.

But my threshold for watching you win at things is getting ground down fast. I don't know how much more of this I can take. So please, please, just cut it out already.

In abject obeisance,
A totally insignificant voter

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Nice. (4.00 / 6)
Right on; all that.

It used to be I'd pray that nothing would get done when it was Republicans running the show, like here in Wisconsin when Tommy Thompson was Governor, or here in Milwaukee County, with our Republican County Executive hellbent on trashing the place. One year into Obama and it's painfully clear, doesn't make a bit of difference if they're Republicans or Democrats. Please Jesus if they'd All Just Stop.

Angry hippies are a feature, not a bug (4.00 / 6)
Federal Democrats have had an excellent year of kicking hippies and facilitating capital. With the GOP taking an even sharper John Birch/Lyndon LaRouche turn, they're quite pleased with their positioning to maintain the support of independents and Versailles. If they can smother a little steak sauce and bamboozle some of the base, so much the better. Where else are they going to go? Overall, federal elected Democrats are probably quite pleased with themselves.

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

spot on.. (4.00 / 7)
and a lot of us feel angry. But the overwhelming emotion I feel is sadness. That it doesn't matter who is in the WH and that the change we voted for ain't coming any time soon.

right direction/wrong direction (4.00 / 5)
As a nation, we are still headed in the wrong direction. I do not think we have changed direction; we seem to be still heading in the wrong direction and on some issues (Afghanistan/Iraq) our marching in the wrong direction has even accelerated.

[ Parent ]
It takes time to turn the ship of state (4.00 / 1)
and all that jazz.

Especially when you refuse to turn to the left.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
I laugh bitterly every time I recall his use of that particular metaphor. (4.00 / 1)
If you only allow yourself to fine tune Bush/Cheney policy it does seem unlikely we will have anything remotely resembling real change or even change in direction.  

[ Parent ]
Fine-tuning Bush/Cheney is incrementalism writ large (4.00 / 2)
after all, we can come back and fix it later.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Indeed (4.00 / 3)
Great post - that mindset you so capably depict here was a big part of why I became an anarchist.  

Join the fight to give students a real voice on campus: Forstudentpower.org.

You are making a point ... (4.00 / 7)
that I don't think all the Hamsher-bashers over at TGOS understand ... it's sad really

Thank you, Natasha (4.00 / 7)
You speak for me.

bilderberg (4.00 / 2)
Cool Hand Luke:

"I wish you'd stop being so good to me, Cap'm."

We live in the world of Bilderberg Democrats. We live in the world of Bilderberg Republicans. We live in a world where milions upon millions of utterly duped voters on Main Street alternate between them each election cycle.

Enough said?

Until progressives [and that includes the intellectuals and the pundits] figure out a way to communicate "what's the matter with Kansas" writ large across the entire nation, how much is going to change.

You want hope? Okay, work with other progressives to bring, say, a half million or so men, women and children marching on the Capitol Building next Spring. Wipe that smug grin right off Rahm Emanuel's Bilderberg face.


Here is a list of names we keep reading about in the news relating to the economic crisis.

Tim Geithner
Larry Summers
Hank Paulson
Ben Bernanke
Paul Volcker
Alan Greenspan
David Rockefeller

All members of the Bilderberg Group. All men who wield enormous power when it comes to shaping economic power at home and abroad.

This is how the world works. Forget the Democrat/Republican/Liberal/Conservative narrative. That's the bullshit mainstream media mantra. If progressies want to finally transcend their 'world of words' approach to change they have to get about the business of organizing a mass fucking movement to create it.

The Democrats didn't "sell us out". They simply did what all those in power inside the beltway do: kowtow to Wall Street and the terrorist industrial complex.

I agree with this exactly (4.00 / 3)
What is the point of electing Democrats the next time?  What is the point of our elections if the right wing and the corporatists control both parties? They make a mockery of the last election.  Eighty-five percent of Democrats supported a policy of strong public option, and fifty some senators were persuaded to go along as least with a weakened and watered down version.   But they found two or three that stood for total corruption or nothing.  And pinned this "victory" on them.
I see the sell out to the insurance companies in this health care/insurance bill as the institutionalization of corruption.
In the past there was always the argument that no matter what, Democrats would be better than Republicans.  But to me, this sell out is worse.  
The good things in the bill should have been/could have been/can be passed piecemeal, in reconciliation, whatever, if the point was really to improve a bad situation for people.  But the point must be to shift wealth and power to the most corrupt corporate players, those who have been robbing our government and millions of individuals all these years. This is a disaster capitalist act.  Rob the people again.
I have resigned from the Democratic Party.  I will not vote for any Democrat who is a party to this bill.  I will not vote for Barbara Boxer, no way.  Don't try to tell me a Republican will be worse.
This is as worse as it gets.
We need to start a new party, or get with the Greens, or get the progressive Democrats to begin to run their own candidates.  I will work to that end.

Doing nothing will hit them where it hurts (0.00 / 0)
I don't know what to do about all this, even if I think that 'nothing' is definitely the wrong answer.

Actually I am going to do nothing about it - on election day that is.

If liberals don't vote, only conservatives get elected (4.00 / 1)
And if liberals won't vote for liberals, only conservatives get elected

[ Parent ]
the odds are pretty strong in this country that you won't have the chance to vote for a liberal (4.00 / 3)
at least, not one who could possibly win

thanks two party system!

[ Parent ]
Oh well then (0.00 / 0)
Best we just do what the Democratic Party tells us and take comfort in knowing that we are part of something incrementally less evil than the Republican party.

The job of liberals (who wish to change things) is to think their way out of this trap called the Two Party System and to show others the way out. Liberals can't win because liberals won't vote for them because liberals think liberals can't win.

Yes, legs will probably have to be chewed off in the process.

[ Parent ]
Why vote for "liberals" that only manage to get rolled (4.00 / 1)
by appeals to party unity and are enraptured by the mirage of bipartisanship?

Its like house training a dog - one must not reward wrong behavior.  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
You apply correction to a dog AFTER it misbehaves (4.00 / 2)
If the liberals gets rolled, don't re-elect them. Vote for someone more liberal, or who has more integrity.

I know I'm arguing for something fraught with dismay and disappointment. The thing is, at some point voters in the U.S. have to face up to the fact that our voting behavior is a major factor in the elected officials we get. Elected Democrats can see as well as anyone else that we'll vote for them just because their Democrats, while the big money will smite them if they don't roll. As you say, one must not reward wrong behavior.

Stop voting for people who stab you in the back. Don't let corporations present you with a short list of candidates to choose from.

[ Parent ]
Democrats in Elected Federal Office can be used by us (4.00 / 2)
to advance our agenda, but they are not on our side.  

Randy Shaw quotes Ernesto Cortes, Jr., getting it just about right.

It's unfortunate that fear is the only way to get some politicians to respect your power. They refuse to give you respect. They don't recognize your dignity. So we have to act in ways to get their attention. In some areas, what we have going is the amount of fear we can generate. We got where we are because people fear and loathe us.

Don't mourn, organize!

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.

I believe in collective responsibility (4.00 / 2)
And when I say "elected Democratic officials", he reminds me that this applies to him too, for a little while longer at least, and I shouldn't make sweeping generalizations about large groups of people.

Sometimes you have to make sweeping generalizations about large groups of people.  Why cover their asses?  The Democratic Party has done this.  Not just Obama, not just officials, the party.  That's why the Full Court Press advocates filing in all 435 congressional primaries in 2012, and is going for as many races as it can in 2010.

When the House Democrats passed their Stupak-laden version, they accepted responsibility for it as a party.  But Weiner and Pelosi and others didn't vote for the amendment when it was first offered.  Tell me, after the amendment passed, did Nancy Pelosi call for Stupak to be defeated in 2010?  No?  Then she's responsible.  Did Obama called for Stupak to be driven out of the party?  No?  Then he is a Stupak Democrat as well.

Am I being realistic?  Realistic Democrats gots ua  a healthcare bill that will have a Mandate that forces working people to buy policies they can't afford.  Did you see the Bob Herbert piece in today's Times ( http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12... ) about how the tax on Cadillac plans is destroying any decent insurance that people have?  And Stupak Nelson Stupak Nelson Stupak !!!

No.  The Democrats did this AS A PARTY.  I have no problem voting Democrat in the general election.  But not a one of these Stupak Democrats (all of them) should get by without having to answer for it in the primaries.

So Natasha, you express a lot of anger.  But what the hell are you going to do about it?  Take them off your Christmas list?  Not let your kids play with Malia and Sascha?

I know what I'm doing.  Others will follow.  The punditry is working overtime to explain away how the Democrats are going to get clobbered in 2010.  The question is, will it be a massive whimper or a serious bang?

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

Stop voting for Democrats (4.00 / 3)
Vote for liberals instead.

Outstandingly said! (0.00 / 0)
I had just sent words of support to another great woman, Louise Slaughter of New York, for taking a hard stand against the Senate bill- "Start over" she says.
(No dis to our bold and beloved menfolk)

Slaughter and Pelosi have done their damnedest in Congress amidst a pack of d***less male whiners in key leadership positions.
But Emanuel, Reid, Hoyer and Clyburne -oh and our DNC chairman, haven't seen him in so long forgot his name, have so prostituted themselves out no one can or should ever trust a word they say.
They've become strangers. And you know what they say about taking things from strangers..


Nationalism is not the same thing as terrorism, and an adversary is not the same thing as an enemy.

Nice Lament.. (0.00 / 0)
.. undoubtedly having a great deal in common with the mindset of conservatives around the close of the Bush presidency. The irony of it all..

it's 2009 (4.00 / 2)
What intellectually honest progressive thinker would self-identify as a member of the Democratic Party?

Rise Of The Independents (4.00 / 1)
Thanks!  That's about spot on with how I feel.

I've been mulling over ideas about what progressives do next for 2010 and 2012.  I've been trying to bubble up ideas which can be implemented at a grassroots level, without the support of a major party as I think it's safe to say that even Democratic party support of all progressive candidates may be spotty or problematic.  Plus I'm looking for a way to blunt Republican populist teabaggers.

So we currently have two independents in the Senate - one I don't really care much for at all, but I think Connecticut voters are going to nail him next time around anyways.  How may independents are there in the House?

What would happen if all progressives which were unable/unwilling to run as Democrats in elections from now on out ran as independents?

They can run against a corrupt DC.  They can even attempt to snag the teabagger vote.

The problem is money and the inability to raise money without a large party machine, but honestly, it's time to figure out how to run a small political campaign ala viral internet and to frame the raising of big bucks as part of the problem rather than a requirement.

Thoughts?  Start with this is fucking nuts, and then let's see if we can figure out how to do it.  

If you're serious ... (4.00 / 1)
Consider taking the fight to the corporations. They're the ones obviously wielding the clout, working both politicians and the public to their ends.

You can't negotiate when you aren't talking with the decisionmakers. That's not the people in DC.

[ Parent ]
The way we we take the fight to the corporations ... (4.00 / 2)
... is through our elected representatives, specifically the Democratic Party which now holds the White House and has a solid majority in Congress.

How do we go fight a corporation?  Unionize?  What has the Democratic Party done for unionization lately?  Go punch a CEO in the nose next time we see one?  Have angry mobs with torches and pitchforks seize their offices?

Since I am realistic, I count on my representatives.  If they don't bother to represent me, then I work to get rid of them and get new representatives who will.

This used to be obvious ... until today.

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

[ Parent ]
Money And Politics (0.00 / 0)
Corporations rule because of the money required to elect people. How do we run a campaign and elect people with little to no money?

Obama score well with lots of small donors to raise money, could this model work on a smaller scale for a House rep election?

And up front this issue in the campaign, lack of money is not the problem, it is the guarantee that the person being elected isn't sold out.

[ Parent ]
Boycott (4.00 / 1)
There are three major employers in Nebraska who got be used against Ben Nelson:  the Strategic Air Command (move it to Michigan or shut it down), Cabela's, and Mutual Of Omaha.  It should be easy to squeeze the nasty fool.

Nebraska has a low unemployment rate yet they are soaking in federal dollars.  A general and consistent vote against agriculture subsidies particularly for the corporates would also be effective.  If we could target certain states that would be better.

[ Parent ]
It's Time (4.00 / 1)

This situation is similar to what kicked off the American Revolution.  The only difference is that corporations have taken the place of England and the King.  Today, there is no more self-determination than back then (of course if we had stayed put instead of revolting, today we'd all be covered by a good health care system like they have in England).

2012 will be the election where where the decision will be made if it's "We the People" or "We the Corporations".  

In the meantime, let's kick off a new Constitutional Convention.

[ Parent ]
nice rant...agreed! (4.00 / 2)
Probably the best way to fight corporations is to hurt them in the pocket book. The idea of a consumer boycott to starve the target of business appeales to me.  This will necessarily involve targeting one at a time, so as to hurt them and not us.

Most corporations are "bean counter" fanatical about money, so even a 10% drop in business is effective in getting us an opportunity for meaningfull dialog with them.

This organization will be attractive to all disgruntled citizens, voters or not. And does not require any effort to operate when used. It does require organizing to set up originally, but the field of discontent is HUGE!

In practice, the public would (I believe) cheer us on and even join our boycott to a degree.

Easily used, inexpensive to operate, highly effective, and aimed at our real enemies not their bought politicians, the selective consumer boycott is waiting to be enacted.

As example, after years of refusing to negotiate, and expanding market gegraphy, but still loseing market share, Coors (in violation of their long held beliefes) agreed to negotiate with the union.....It can be done!!

Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob..... FDR

[ Parent ]
excellent rant, woman! (4.00 / 2)
you speak for me. i have ideas about "what to do" about it all, but i don't think enough people are ready to hear them. yet.

it's been very interesting, as a hard core gay rights atheist type person who has always and only advocated for universal single payer, to see the shifts in the liberal blogosphere over the last few months. i'm not interested in being meanspirited about it, but the thought "i told you this would happen" has been in my head, a lot lately. obama was Wall St's choice from the day he made it to the federal level. anyone could see that. since when has Wall St ever gotten behind a true liberal? never, that's when.

personally, i think one important step we can all take is to help convince people that celebrity =/= competence. too many people cast their votes upon images and sounds, without reflecting on the substance (or lack thereof) in them. i include intelligent, educated, politically aware liberals in that group. it's amazing how different one's attitudes about politicians become, when one avoids them in visual presentation and only reads their words, but never hears the speeches. this is what i did with candidate obama and senator obama, when it was clear that he would be a front runner. i had no doubt in my mind that he would be a staunch friend of corporate interests, because basically, he said so, over and over. far too many liberals just could not or would not perceive that. imho, a lot of that had to do with racism. "he's black, he must be liberal!" sat in a lot of left leaning minds, for all people didn't come right out and say that.  

hahahahaha (4.00 / 1)
good on you Natasha.  Nice to see someone willing to actually call it the way it is.

Yes, they're whores, and we can't afford them.

Or as I used to say about Bush's vacations.  "Why is everyone complaining when he takes a vacation.  Please, take more vacations!"


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