What Progressives Want And What They Should Do

As opposed to politicians, progressives should care about issues, not elections. Of course one follows the other. But pols are pols and do what they do. Matt Yglesias writes a confusing post, but he gets it right in the end:

If we succeed in achieving major progressive reforms in 2009 and 2010, weíre going to create a situation in which the existence of a workable national health care system deprives the Democrats of a winning electoral issue. A certain number of voters who have conservative views on some other topics but who liked progressive ideas on health care will vote for more Republicans. If progressives succeed in increasing economic mobility and decreasing inequality, that will probably increase the number of middle- and upper-class Hispanics who decide they want tax cuts. The goal, however, is to achieve the goal of a more just society, not to win a bunch of elections.

(Emphasis supplied.) Correct. It is why I wrote:

As citizens and activists, our allegiances have to be to the issues we believe in. I am a partisan Democrat it is true. But the reason I am is because I know who we can pressure to do the right thing some of the times. Republicans aren't them. But that does not mean we accept the failings of our Democrats. There is nothing more important that we can do, as citizens, activists or bloggers than fight to pressure DEMOCRATS to do the right thing on OUR issues.

And this is true in every context I think. Be it pressing the Speaker or the Senate majority leader, or the new hope running for President. There is nothing more important we can do. Nothing. It's more important BY FAR than "fighting" for your favorite pol because your favorite pol will ALWAYS, I mean ALWAYS, disappoint you.

In the middle of primary fights, citizens, activists and bloggers like to think their guy or woman is different. They are going to change the way politics works. They are going to not disappoint. In short, they are not going to be pols. That is, in a word, idiotic.

Yes, they are all pols. And they do what they do. Do not fight for pols. Fight for the issues you care about. That often means fighting for a pol of course. But remember, you are fighting for the issues. Not the pols.

Speaking for me only

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    Not to worry. (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 01:47:15 PM EST
    the existence of a workable national health care system deprives the Democrats of a winning electoral issue.

    If a workable national health care system is passed, the Republicans are likely to not only oppose its passage but to support its repeal, probably for several decades.  Assuming that it's a health care system that people value, Democrats can run on the platform "Don't let the Republicans take away your health care!"

    Exactly right (none / 0) (#21)
    by reslez on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 02:38:14 PM EST
    Yglesias once again misses the forest for the trees. It's unfathomable why he believes the health care issue will ever go away. Maybe this is just the latest scare tactic to frighten cowardly legislators. Did debates about Social Security go away when that passed? No: and 70 years later here we are, still arguing about it and electing people to protect it. And the Republicans, reliably enough, still want to smash it apart. The same will be true of national coverage. Social Security and related reforms ensured a stunning 40 year electoral advantage for the Democrats. No wonder Republicans are scared to death of UHC.

    I will add (none / 0) (#24)
    by reslez on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 02:48:16 PM EST
    The reason many people do not vote for Democrats is they don't believe any meaningful reforms will actually result.

    I've decided that I pretty much (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by Anne on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 02:33:03 PM EST
    hate the term "progressive," and wish we could just stop cowering in fear over the term "liberal."  Being a liberal means - for me, anyway - being averse to regressive ideas and policies; progressivism is inherent in the term "liberal," and I don't know why we can't just be proud to be on that side of these arguments.

    But, I digress.

    Why wouldn't people be thrilled at having a workable national health care system?  Why wouldn't they reward the people who made it happen?

    What we need to fear is an unworkable mish-mash of public-private initiatives, lack of mandates and taxation of benefits, which, when they prove not to have improved anything, will be held up as proof that (1) it is impossible to do national health care and (2) there is no point in electing Dems if this is how they approach solving the health care problem.  What truly scares me is that from what I am hearing about this issue lately, I am not sensing the will on the part of the administration to commit to the kind of strong, bold plan that single-payer advocates and experts believe will put us on the path to truly reforming this system.

    I feel the same way about how this financial system mess is going to be "fixed;" I don't see the will to commit to what is really needed; I see weak attempts to do this or that, but overall, still allowing themselves to be pushed around by financial executives who really ought to be told to just sit down and shut up.

    No, the Dems have nothing to fear if they can fix these things, but the rise of moderate/conservative Dems, especially Evan Bayh's new Senate Blue Dog coalition, who have the potential to deep-six the most important liberal initiatives - and who are likely to have a strong ally in President Obama - bodes ill for both for chances of holding the electoral advantage in 2010 and 2012, and for enacting important and long-needed legislation.

    Precisely (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Pacific John on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 02:48:05 PM EST
    In the middle of primary fights, citizens, activists and bloggers like to think their guy or woman is different. They are going to change the way politics works. They are going to not disappoint. In short, they are not going to be pols. That is, in a word, idiotic.

    Part of the primary rift was that generally older policy pragmatists gravitated to Hillary, and generally younger people who saw Obama as a unique transcendent figure gravitated to him. It would have been best if all Democratic voters had been able to view all candidates realistically.

    I used to point out that Obama was a vessel into which all kinds of people could pour their hopes and dreams, and just like The Man from Hope was, he would end up breaking a lot of hearts. The response, over and over, I kid you not, was, "Clinton already broke my heart!" The irony seemed to be lost.

    Planned obsolescence. (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 01:12:26 PM EST
    Interesting idea.

    Evan Bayh's list of Senate Blue Dogs (none / 0) (#2)
    by magster on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 01:12:45 PM EST
    From First Read:

    "Leading the new group are Democratic Sens. Evan Bayh of Indiana, Tom Carper of Delaware and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas... [O]thers joining the group are Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Bill Nelson of Florida, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Mark Udall of Colorado, and Mark Warner of Virginia."

    With 59 Senators, I wonder if it would help the "greater good" by campaigning for progressives to boycott the general election in Bayh's 2010 election if he can't be primaried out.

    McCaskill? Hard to believe that. (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 01:14:13 PM EST
    What's upsetting is all those that progressives... (none / 0) (#4)
    by magster on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 01:19:59 PM EST
    fought hard to elect in 2008 (Hagan, Udall, Begich).  

    In my state "Boulder liberal, Mark Udall" kicked the GOP candidate's a**.  Udall does not need to run to the middle.


    Jawbone posted a link to (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 01:24:06 PM EST
    a different list.  See open thread.

    Is that sarcasm? (none / 0) (#11)
    by esmense on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 02:02:30 PM EST
    "McCaskill? Hard to believe that."

    No. Hasn't she been Obama's (none / 0) (#27)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 05:07:42 PM EST
    loudest supporter?

    I'm surprised Pryor and Baucus aren't (none / 0) (#8)
    by tigercourse on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 01:48:13 PM EST
    on there.

    indeed (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 01:56:52 PM EST
    Pryor for sure.
    personally not surprised at all about McCaskill.  having her as a mouthpiece was the most troubling thing about Obamas candidacy for me.

    Yes! (none / 0) (#26)
    by NYShooter on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 04:49:47 PM EST
    Just another one of those "troubling" Obama judgment tid-bits that are now beginning to pop up......and add up.

    Senators belong to one caucus... (none / 0) (#15)
    by NealB on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 02:21:03 PM EST
    ...their own. Not sure what Evan Bayh is up to here, but he's got about as much political mojo to form a coalition within the Senate as I do.

    Senators are loners. Look at them on the floor of the Senate--it's a snake pit.


    What a strange post (none / 0) (#6)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 01:34:59 PM EST
    Sure, I can believe there are politicians cynical enough to say "hey, let's not [pass universal health care, end the Iraq war, guarantee a living wage], so that we can continue to run on that issue next election!"

    But does Matt really think that progressives need to be persuaded not to go along with that sort of scam?  Given a choice between actual social change and a viable wedge issue that will help Democrats win elections, are there really a lot of progressives who would say "screw the social change, winning elections matters more"?

    When you put it in those terms, I sure hope we all agree that elections are a means to an end, even if we forget it sometimes in the heat of the moment.

    My $0.02 (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 02:20:24 PM EST
    This is why Republicans (specifically Bush) never really pushed for overturning Roe.  They mention Roe in an election year, and it's an instant mobilizer and multi-million dollar fundraiser. It's not the issue, per se, it's the politics.

    one of the things I have decided I like (none / 0) (#9)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 01:54:46 PM EST
    about Obama, as opposed to, say, former president Clinton, is that he seems more concerned with doing all he can do as quickly as he can. not with doing what he needs to do to win a second term.
    but sadly I think many democrats do think more about winning elections.

    Well (none / 0) (#13)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 02:17:17 PM EST
    I think Clinton started out with a fairly ambitious agenda, but after the wipeout in the 1994 midterm elections it necessarily became more about survival than enacting a progressive agenda.  Not to disagree with anything you said, but the landscape did change rather abruptly for him.

    no argument (none / 0) (#16)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 02:23:00 PM EST
    but anyone who know Bubbas history knows being "loved" was very very important to him.  as far as I can tell Obama could give a sh*t.

    I like that.


    Is there a difference (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 02:41:00 PM EST
    between being "loved" and being "adored" in politics?

    personally (none / 0) (#25)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 02:56:00 PM EST
    I think the difference in this case is that Obama never really asked for it.  he exploited it, which is fine, but I think it is/was mostly projection and I dont get the feeling that he thinks much about it.
    Bubba NEEDED to be loved.
    not sure Obama does.  at least in the same way.
    but time will tell.

    So, the key might be (none / 0) (#17)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 02:26:46 PM EST
    if Republicans take back the House or all of Congress in 2010 - see how Obama plays then.

    (And not that it means anything, but it will be an interesting trend to watch....)

    Support for the Democratic Congressional candidates fell to a new low over the past week, allowing the GOP to move slightly head for the first time in recent years in the Generic Congressional Ballot.

    The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 41% said they would vote for their district's Republican candidate while 39% would choose the Democrat.

    Investors now favor Republicans by a 46% to 36% margin, while non-investors would vote Democratic by a 45% to 33% margin.

    Democrats began the year holding a six or seven point lead over the GOP for the first several weeks of 2009. Over the past month, the gap has been smaller, with Democrats holding a two-to-four point lead. It remains to be seen whether the current results reflect lasting change or statistical noise.

    Over the past year, Democratic support has ranged from a low of 39% to a high of 50%. In that same time period, Republicans have been preferred by 34% to 41% of voters nationwide.

    yes (none / 0) (#20)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 02:35:39 PM EST
    I saw that story this morning. who can know what it means.  I think it might be as much about bailout fatigue as anything else.  and yes indeed,  it will be interesting to watch.  particularly if, god forbid, that happens as it did to Clinton in '94.

    The 15 democracts of power (none / 0) (#12)
    by Saul on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 02:14:31 PM EST
    If I heard the news correct this morning, 15 moderate democrats have pooled together as a check on Obama's programs.  They feel that Obama is just trying to much at one time and they want to control what will get passed or not for Obama.

    Actually, I think it's closer to 20 - (none / 0) (#19)
    by Anne on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 02:35:35 PM EST
    but three or four of them do not want to go public with their participation.

    [shaking head]

    Now, there's some real Democratic spine for you...


    Just what we need... (none / 0) (#28)
    by JamesTX on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 07:19:10 PM EST
    don't you think? After all, the libruls have been in power for so long now that they've destroyed all the accomplishments of the Reagan revolution. For heaven's sakes, income is no longer concentrated at the top, the prisons are emptying out, we have no troops on foreign soil, there is no Patriot Act, the Bill of Rights is back in force, everyone no-good bum has a right to see a doctor, and look how soft the new AG is on crime -- just a meager 1.5 billion for the bloated law enforcement community to spend on new toys and cattle prods (how cheap can you get?). Isn't anyone sick of it all yet? Aren't there any real men left? About time somebody had the balls to start pulling this boondoggle back to the right. The libruls have had their chance, and look what they've done! They've destroyed ire cunchry.