Eight Rules for Progressive Realpolitik
by Chris Bowers, Tue Nov 28, 2006 at 02:41:40 PM EST
- 1. The Democratic Party is the primary vessel of the progressive coalition. It is impossible to enact real change without an electoral apparatus within your movement. In a two-party system, it is thus necessary to adopt one of the two parties as the electoral vessel of your coalition.
- 2. Within the coalition, intra-party democracy must always be adhered to. All party nominees must be determined by an elective primary open to all registered members of the party in the relevant district. The winner of the primary must always be supported by all members of the party apparatus, and all rank and file members should vote for the nominee (especially those who voted in the primary).
- 3. Party elections should be fair and open to all members of the party, and no one should ever be forced or muscled off of a ballot for a party office or nomination for public office.
- 4. There are no litmus tests to join the coalition. No one has to read or sign off on any document stating support for a particular policy. If someone wants to join, registering as a Democrat should be the only requirement.
- 5. Under no circumstances should any member of the party apparatus support any member of any opposing coalition, (in other words, any other political party).
- 6. Outside of issues relating to corruption, Democrats must never criticize each other in the same manner that Republicans criticize Democrats.
- 7. No Democrat should ever publicly call any Democrat unelectable, or publicly rank candidates based on perceived electability.
- 8. Don't expect the party to change on it's own. Be prepared and willing to change it yourself.
I try to follow all of these rules. I see them as my eight pragmatic laws of progressive Realpolitk. I do not try and follow them for their own sake, or out of some sort of high-minded idealism. Rather, I firmly and honestly believe that the more progressive stray from these rules, the less likely they are to enact the sort of progressive change they desire. If you ask me, every time a progressive violates one of these rules, s/he undermines his or her own desire for progressive change.
I did not arrive at these rules overnight, or all at once. Further, I used to violate quite a few of them myself on a regular basis. However, I just grew tired of not achieving anything, and of the country continuing to slide to the right while the left-center refused to work together. I think these rules solve that problem. At this point, few things drive me more nuts than watching any Democrat, whether s/he is in the leadership, the activist working class, or the rank and file violate these rules. Virtually all of my most vehement writing against individual Democrats takes place when I see a particularly egregious violation of these rules take place. This goes for Ellen Tauscher trashing the left just as much as it goes for Pennsylvania progressives who refuse to vote for Bob Casey after working for a different Democrat in the primary. If you want to know a way to get on my bad side, suggest a course of action that openly violates these rules.
I am very interested in knowing what you guys think of these rules, and in hearing some of your own laws of progressive action, whether they can be considered Realpolitik or not. Now, I have to return to work.