Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Progressive Manifesto

When you're someone like me -- someone with a blog -- you have to be careful about how you use your considerable e-power.  I refrain, generally speaking, from getting involved in politics.  After all, if I speak my mind, I might actually change something, and I think I already outlined those risks.

But since I've dipped my foot in this pool, I may as well go for a quick swim.  The water's so nice and blue -- red -- no, blue . . . anyway, it's warm from the bloodbath.  (Pardon me if this post meanders into earnesty.) 

If you agree with the following post, feel free to declare so on the facebook page I just created!

In 2008, 70 million Americans across 50 states voted in favor of Barack Obama's platform of energy independence, health care reform, military restraint and transparent, accessible government.  The political results have been, at best, mixed.  However, while the ensuing progress on these issues has been disappointing to us, we have not stopped believing in or fighting for these issues.

To continue to do so effectively, we must reject the following three common presumptions.

1) The progressive "left."  We must reject the idea that "progressive" values are in any way "fringe" in American politics.  The words "progressive" and "liberal" are currently used almost interchangeably for far left politics, and these terms are simply not the same.  We live in a political climate where many progressive ideas - like those outlined above - enjoy great popularity, yet they are viewed as borderline socialist ideas.  This is inaccurate.  Most progressive ideas are very popular. (If you live in Massachusetts, you should definitely click on that link and call it to the attention of your representative.)

2) Democrat = Progressive.  We must reject the idea that the Democratic Party is the people's party or the avatar of progressive ideas.  During the last two years, Democrats have enjoyed an unprecedented opportunity to fight for progressive principles, and they have compromised those principles repeatedly.  While there are many truly progressive Democrats who deserve their constituents' support, the party as a whole is too fragmented to be labeled "progressive."

3) The outsourcing of political debate.  We must reject the idea of a distant government that must in turn be lobbied and beseeched to carry out the will of the people.   In the 2012 general election, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be open to our will, and each registered voter will receive one vote.  The officials in our government are beholden to us, and we must not be afraid to exercise our power.

Given these principles, I believe that we, the people of the United States who organized so boldy for progressive principles in 2008, must use that same organization to reclaim that power in 2012 by doing two things.

1) We must continue to support progressive candidates in major parties who have stood boldly these two years for our ideals.  We must differentiate between those who have relied only on rhetoric and those who have channeled their principles into a voice on our behalf.  We must reward them.

2) In districts where there is no option which we can enthusiastically support, we must oppose Democrats and Republicans alike by fielding and supporting true independent, progressive candidates in the general election.  We can not allow politicians in the current parties to take our vote for granted simply because we are willing to vote for the lesser of two evils.   We must give rational, disillusioned, angered voters in poorly-represented districts an alternative to voting against a system which does not truly represent them and offer them one that does.  Previously, progressive organizations have supported progressive candidates in Democratic primaries.  This is not enough.  We must present all Americans -- not just registered Democrats and those who vote in the primaries -- a positive option at the polls, and we must see those options to victory.

We musn't forget that the enthusiastic voters and volunteers who believed in changing Washington in 2008 are still here and that, in fact, our numbers are growing.   By our continuing to organize through the free press, through social networking sites, and by simple word of mouth, we can absolutely attain these goals.  By doing so, we will gain new leverage over a system that is drifting further and further from its democratic roots.

How does this sound?  A little too idealistic?  Well, I have three words for you. "Yes, we . . ."  Wait.  We're going to need a new motto this time.

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