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Member since: Wed Nov 10, 2004, 09:49 AM
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"How the left took over the Democratic Party" -- sez beltway hack

(h/t scarletwoman for improved subject line!)

BLUE CRUSH: How the left took over the Democratic Party.

This is an interesting piece from former Clinton political director Doug Sosnik wherein he says our party is more united than ever before, but: "simmering beneath the surface of this united front is an ascendant progressive and populist movement that is on the verge of taking over the party."

And I'm not sure if he's thinks this is a good thing or a bad thing.

"The lead-in to the 2016 presidential campaign could force a tipping point as early as next year if Hillary Clinton declines to run and a broad field emerges. If that happens, candidates will feel a great deal of pressure to appeal to the highly engaged, energized and well-funded activists who have been clamoring for a robust progressive agenda. Even if Clinton runs, her candidacy won’t preempt the party’s eventual takeover by the activist forces. It will only slow it down."

There are a lot of charts and framing up the claim that progressives have taken over the party, and then Sosnik lays down the problem as he sees it:

While progressive activists are ascendent in the party, there's a countervailing force sure to dash hopes for change, and that's the desire of the American public is to shrink government."

Since Obama became president, the number of Americans who want to expand the role of the federal government has decreased sharply...The botched launch of Obamacare last October only reinforced those perceptions.

I'm here to tell you this is a small hurdle. First of all, the ACA has saved lives and kept families afloat. Dems who run away from this (like Alex Sink in FL's D-13 loss) pay the price. Running from anti-government rhetoric doesn't win elections for Dems. We need to OWN THIS.

This is true, especially in the face of epic real-life "small government" disasters such as Brownbeckistan and Detroit, and the refusal of Republican-run states to expand Medicaid resulting in dystopian "donut hole deaths."

Sosnik nevertheless claims that this one tiny piece of public perception is strong enough to put the kibosh on progressive action going forward. I say he's dead wrong.

Big government vs small government is a disingenuous semantic game that disguises the fact that EVERYONE wants government to work for them. "Small government" is a bullshit administrative definition that means nothing to working families, or the Tea Party conservatives who use it. Corporate conservatives love "big government" in the form of corporate welfare. Social conservatives want government in everyone's bedrooms and women's health clinics. Mid-level business conservatives never miss a chance to socialize risk while privatizing rewards.

Meanwhile, there's impassioned calls for an Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders presidential run. Do you see anyone knocking down Chuck Schumer's or Diane Feinstein's door? Warren and Sanders know that "big government vs small government" is easily exposed as an excuse to steal from the poor and give to the rich, and they speak the truth that it's a core Democratic value to reverse this.

This "public desire" for a thing called "small government" might register on opinion polls, but not around the dinner table. We want better schools, 21st Century public transportation, and a fair deal for workers in which full-time work results in being able to afford a damn apartment. You want to change "public desire"? Keep talking about minimum wage, sick days for working families, and affordable child care. Refuse conservative talking points, already.

And when it comes to our "public desire" let's not forget where we were just 25 years ago with regard to another "insurmountable" public perception: LGBT issues and the AIDS crisis.

In the late 80s I attended a meeting of southern college progressive groups in Chapel Hill. The goal of the meeting was to form a "powerful new coalition for change." We'd hoped to build on the success of the so-called red/green alliance of environmental and social justice groups.

The conference literally blew up in the face of a proposal to embrace LGBT human rights and mobilize to end the AIDS crisis. I remember that hot auditorium like it was yesterday. "Gay rights, are you crazy?" It's "too difficult," and "a losing battle." Some said it wasn't pragmatic. Now isn't the time…the usual. And this from our country's brightest young progressive leaders. Sure, I was intimidated by the proposal, but knew deep down that we had to go through that fight because it was the right thing to do.

"What the heck were we thinking" we ask now. Our insecurity on the "public desire" regarding gay rights actually demonstrated that this was exactly where the pressure needed to be applied. Now it seems unimaginable that LGBT support required debate. It's boilerplate.


At the end of the article the author states: "democratic activists will need to reconcile the public’s desire for smaller government with their own progressive impulses."

Sure, but we've already reconciled it the same way we reconciled LGBT support in the 80s and early 90s. It's not "big vs small." That's disingenuous bullshit. The real tension is between government that's on the side of working families, vs government on the side of big business. This battle may seem "impractical" today, but I guarantee you it's tomorrow's "what the heck were we thinking."

He says as much here:
"There is an overriding belief that our political and economic systems are either broken or corrupt and that they’re out to favor the few at the expense of the many. These beliefs transcend partisanship or philosophical orientation…"

Activists change public perception; we don't chase it. Progressives are on the front lines and poised to lead, while Clinton and the ever-shrinking Blue Dog Coalition are tee'd up to fight the last war.

Looking back on my experience of the 80s, it's clear that the impossible task of changing the "public's desire" on LGBT issues wasn't as impossible as we thought. As a matter of fact, it was absolutely necessary, and right and moral to take those positions, and THAT'S WHY we won in the end. We must take that lesson forward with regard to the pressures we face today such as reigning in Wall Street, curbing global warming and supporting economic security for working families.

Now is the time to apply pressure precisely where our political and economic systems are broken. To refuse to do so -- because of "public desire" for "smaller government" -- would be political malpractice.
Posted by nashville_brook | Sun Jul 27, 2014, 05:56 PM (136 replies)
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