Marriage equality in NJ, Scott Brown’s win in MA, and never believing “Be patient” again

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.  

Comments (13)

  1. Jay Lassiter

    ….you KNOW i am gonna recommend it!

    Reply
  2. Nick Lento

    a few weeks/months/(one year)….so give him more time”……I’m gonna throw up.

    President Obama won the election…….he STILL has the power of the bully pulpit IF he chooses to use it effectively and dramatically.

    The bum who won up north deserves credit for being vociferous and energetic and actually GOING FOR wtf he believes in…..now he’s dead wrong and a merde-head; but he won against a milquetoast Democrat…..which is pretty much what just happened here in NJ…….and I LOVE Obama and Corzine and believe they are both wonderful decent humane beings……….but they should NOT be one termers…….Obama has more political skills than Obama but he’s well on track to losing his job in three years unless he changes course and boldly LEADS the party and the nation!!!    

    Are the Democrats REALLY all just bought off corporate whores?   Are they stupid or incompetent?   Are they afraid of being shot?  Are they being blackmailed?  

    We progressive Democrats have the facts and the arguments and the logic and the VALUES of common human decency ALL on our side of the equation….yet our “leaders” and electeds are mostly inefectual chickenshit cowards when it comes to standing up to the Republican crapola…….and one does occasionally stands up like Representative Grayson did……it’s “man bites dog” news!

    Damn!

    Reply
  3. Thurman Hart

    are risk aversive.  They have to see the pay-off before they take the bet.  That is true even when there is no down-side – such as when a Democrat votes for marriage equality in Jersey.

    I don’t like the “be patient” meme, either.  I prefer, “Go back and get more people to make noise.”  As the tea partiers are proving, it works.  It works.  It works.

    So would photoshopping pics of Gerald Cardinale into gay porn…but that idea of mine has been shot down by everyone in position to make it count.

    j/k (or am i?)

    Reply
  4. Rosi Efthim

    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.

    Mmmm hmmmm.  

    Reply
  5. Hetty Rosenstein

    The argument that one needs to be patient about social justice, because there is a need to address economics while still not addressing economic justice couldn’t be more false.

    The fact is that our party is not dealing with economic justice – the gap between rich and poor has widened, the people who wrecked the economy remain unregulated and just gave themselves $150 billion in bonuses with OUR money, and workers still can’t organize unions in this country and here in New Jersey there are Democrats who are attacking the Social Contract and public services.

    So please – to pit social justice against economic justice is nothing more than a big lie.

    We want and demand both – economic and social justice! NOW.  NOT LATER.

    Reply
  6. JRB

    It would make things a lot better no matter who you vote for, as the choices in elections would become clearer.

    Reply

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