It’s the most painful thing in the world, watching Democrats squander their chances to do well, and do right. – – promoted by Rosi
Among progressives nationally, there’s been a healthy debate between those who believe President Obama has moved too timidly, versus those who believe the President has been terrific compared to his predecessors and will do more great things if we just give him time.
I happen to be in the former camp. Political capital to do bold things is greatest early in a leader’s time in office – and that was particularly true for a President who had enormous goodwill. Rarely will that kind of capital grow as a term moves on, and more often than not it will diminish.
Even before Scott Brown’s loss, I just couldn’t see, with the Democrats’ majorities in both houses of Congress certain to take a hit in November, that the national Democratic party would have GREATER will afterward to advance a progressive agenda.
Nor did I see that happening between now and November, as Democrats’ anticipatory dread would begin to create a chilling effect on the progressive agenda.
And with Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts, the chilling will hasten. In fact, within one news cycle of Brown’s win, we’re already seeing some Democrats run away from comprehensive health care reform.
Watch for much of the mainstream Democratic zeitgeist to mouth things like “we have to get back to basics, focus on the economy.”
You know what that means – action a number of progressive causes at the national level will be in doubt. It’s a completely false choice, of course – i.e. to pit progressive causes against fixing the economy. In fact, we progressives see our causes and fixing the economy as going hand in hand.
What we’re about to hear in Washington from Democrats will be eerily similar, and an equally phony choice, to what we heard in Trenton on marriage equality right after Chris Christie’s win.
“We can’t work on marriage equality (in Trenton) or a progressive agenda (in Washington – pick your issue) now. We have to be focused and fix the economy.” Again, a false choice – economic and social progress are linked, not diametrically opposed.
It should teach us the Murphy’s Law of Social Change: Never believe a politician who tells you to be patient, or wait until some future time, ie after the next election.
We didn’t believe it in New Jersey – we kept pushing, pushing, pushing, clobbering really, politicians to move on marriage in 2007, 2008 and earlier in 2009. But our own Democrats, with their fingers on every button of power, would not budge at those earlier times no matter how freakin’ hard we tried.
The answer, I believe, is longer-term and structural. We have to remake the party, both statewide and nationally, with leaders who understand that shifting winds, many unforeseeable, will always jeopardize social progress when you say, wait, be patient.
Patience in the political cliimate that is today risks being folly in a worse political climate that you might never have dreamed could be tomorrow.