A piece after my own heart is Glenn Greenwald's recent: Daley is a reflection, not a cause. (Since I last looked, it's fallen below a pile up of pieces on our eroding civil liberties, our globally feared "justice" system, first under Bush, now under Obama - alarming articles which folks would do well to read.)
Not that I have much to say about the Daley appointment, but it really isnt the focus of Greenwald's piece either. Rather, the appointment, having stoked a recent billowy emission of outrage from Progressive Central, serves as a jumping off point to examine a deeper problem - that of progressives highly dysfunctional relationship with the Democratic Party.
I posted a diary here recently, Happy New Year, Progressives! Ready to Get Shafted (again)? In it, I went down some of the same paths as Greenwald (although not all, and down some where he didnt go). Where we converged is where chronically betrayed progressives insist on keeping their powder/power dry when it comes to the party that takes them for a ride, time after time.
Here are some quotes from Greenwald's thoughts on progressives' latest outrage (Daley) and their long-standing dilemma (all annoying bold and italics and is mine and mine alone):
But I do find the angry reaction from some progressives to be somewhat perplexing (even though I agree with the substance of their critique and am glad they're voicing it). [.. ] Why, angry progressives seem to be asking, would Obama ignore the views of his so-called "progressive base" while seeking to please those who are his political adversaries?
But it's perfectly rational for Obama to do exactly that. There's a fundamental distinction between progressives and groups that wield actual power in Washington: namely, the latter are willing (by definition) to use their resources and energies to punish politicians who do not accommodate their views, while the former unconditionally support the Democratic Party and their leaders no matter what they do. Similarly, the GOP began caring about the Tea Party only once that movement proved it will bring down GOP incumbents even if it means losing a few elections to Democrats.
That is exactly what progressives will never do. They do the opposite; That is the message conveyed over and over again by progressives, no more so than when much of the House Progressive Caucus vowed that they would never, ever support a health care bill that had no robust public option, only to turn around at the end and abandon that vow by dutifully voting for Obama's public-option-free health care bill. That's just a microcosm of what happens in the more general sense:
to ponder: Does this latest bout of outrage signal real rebellion or simply more blowing of smoke?
If it is the latter, then that means exactly nothing when it comes to effecting change, given that, at the end of the day, it manages to reconfigure (conform) into smoke signals issued forth from Donkey Central: Swallow, hope, comply: BUY! Regurgitate, volunteer, donate: SELL!
If, on the other hand, it is stoked by the fires of actual rebellion, either because it lit the proverbial final straw that ignites the fire, or because it added to a fire already burning, fed by numerous previous betrayals by Obama/Dems, then it might just mean there's hope for change.
A few weeks ago much of the media was in full orgiastic delight over Obama's tax cut-hippie punch, issuing the ever-familar taunt to progressives: "Where else do they have to go?! titter, guffaw" (Their version of a climax, I believe.) Thing is, although progressives will complain about this disrespect from talking heads, they look ridiculous doing so... I mean, they arent going anywhere! To make the media look wrongheaded for saying this (which is something they usually accomplish, all on their own), they'd actually have to be proven wrong.
Some thoughts that have sprung from reflections on this problem:
(Forgive my foray into a Carvellianism)
Chronically betrayed liberals often misinterpret the pile up of broken Dem promises and wayward acts as yet more proof of their powerlessness, when, actually, I think this is proof of their power - power they would have if only they would USE it!
The huge pile-up of broken Dem/Obama promises, their nasty habit of enacting polices they acted like they were against (during the 'courtship' period, aka, campaigns) or ignoring what they said they'd go for, is the bright arrow to enlightenment the disaffected Dem base somehow manages to blindly stumble past, time after time.
I mean, if progressives are so nonessential to Dem politicians...
Why woo them in the first place?
Why promise the good stuff?
Why play like they like liberals?
Why deal with the bitching of the betrayed?
Why create the need to task operatives with crafting those awkward CYA lines leaders must then lamely spin, to whitewash their betrayal?
Why make it that much harder to sound believable when Promise Time rolls around again, ie, re-election season?
They make these promises because they NEED progressive votes!
Until progressives draw real lines in the sand, threaten and follow thru with Dem rejection, they cannot have any chance of effecting change. (Ironic that they expend so much energy blaming pols for not doing what they themselves will not do... really fight for progressive causes like they mean it.)
A blueGreen dream...
I am profferring a potentially effective way for progressives to finally use this yet unused progressive power - an in-your-face, loudly trumpeted movement of disaffected progresive Democrats going from blue to Green (party).
I am imagining a movement that materializes by taking a breathtakingly convenient step over to an already available progressive party. Show up and speak out with conviction and strength in numbers, to threaten the corporate bought and sold establishment Dem party. Yes, threaten! (Tell me, what else has worked thus far? How many times have we seen our countless petitions of "outrage" show up on the news? Make even a dent in the status quo?) How about voicing, with conviction, a pledge to vote for principles over party (an increasingly endangered concept!)?
Such a movement could potentially create a stronger standing for progressives in our political landscape... similar to that of the Tea Party's to Republicans. I find it pathetic and appalling that progressives lag so far behind their rightwing counterparts in striking fear in the hearts of their party's leaders, especially given that progressives have had a much easier pathway to significant rebellion in that they havent had to create a movement from scratch. Yes, yes, I know about TP astro turf, but the rightwing had to clump this new thing together, regardless of the composition of fake to real turf.
I also know that the corporate media is much more willing to advertise rightwing views than those of the left. (Push that Overton Window, push it! that-a-way-->>) However, this should be all the more reason to fight fight harder and stronger and to use every tool available, like... oh, I dont know... supporting an already existing progressive party?
Isn't it worth it to make a real battle cry (yes, battle. Progressives are in opposition to the corporate establishment, thus to Democrats... thus, valentines and gentle whining move nothing). Isnt it worth a try to bring on a message which is clear and unwavering, one which demands that they stop selling hope and start delivering (common sense) change on the issues, especially given that on many of these positions they can find agreement with most Americans? (Or at least a 50/50 that begs for a real fight!)
By stepping over that line, going from blue to green, progressives can create that necessary , the one they spout off against Dems for never seeming to find. They need to prove they mean it when they say . Policies that must be fought for.
We have no progressive movement in Congress or the White House. Progressives from outside lead or ... no one does. The only place the Dems will lead you to is to another round, on them, of yet another pint of HOPE. Plenty of that on tap... Yes, you can! (Cry in your beer - by all means! - while we help Republicans push the Overton Window that-a-way-->>)