Does America Want Progressive Leadership?
by nrafter530, Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 10:41:38 AM EST
Perhaps we've gotten off on the wrong foot. Allow me to reintroduce myself, I'm nrafter and I'm an apologist for our leadership. I'm not defending them because I don't think they should be fighting the Bush Administration or ending the war. I'm defending them because up until recently, I wasn't a regular here on the blogs. I'm come around, write a small diary, leave a comment or two, but I wasn't here everyday. I come from a conservative Republican "Reagan was Jesus II" background where I was not only an outcast, I was an enemy. I had to be ashamed of my beliefs. How can any American believe what I did? I was looking for a place where I didn't have to be ashamed anymore. I found it here.
You might be interested to know that my family hates the war hates Bush and voted Democrat last year, but aside from the war, they think we should bomb Iran, torture people because "tough saves lives" They think it's perfectly ok to conduct wiretapping without warrants and those who oppose it "don't understand the threat." They think gay marriage will destroy society and the ACLU is the anti-Christ. They think welfare should be eliminated because everyone on welfare is a fat minority who has 10 kids so they don't have to work, and little brown men from Mexico are trying to take over the country and make us Spanish-speaking drug dealers. They think social security should be privatized, and healthcare is people's responsibility and they aren't going to spend their money to take care of lazy people. They think Democrats hate the military and love Communists nad Joe McCarthy was an American hero. Whether the war ends or not, they're voting for Rudy Giuliani because "he's such a great leader."
Now those blasting the leadership are right. I'll defend Pelosi and Reid, but the netroots have a point. They should stand up for progressive ideals, but then there's reality. They can stand up for progressives and liberals against Bush and they'll lose. They're not going to get one piece of the progressive agenda passed against Bush. They could take their fight to the people and stand for what they believe in in the next election. We don't want torture, we don't want war, we don't want wiretapping without a warrant, we don't want privatized social security, scapegoating immigrations and bigotry. The people will have to decide. I think we here in the netroots, and myself included, saw last year's election as a mandate for aggressive progressive reform buoyed by the war in Iraq. I think we were wrong. I think if our leaders stand on progressive values, they lose. This country has not changed. It's still the same fascist country it always was, it's just a fascist country that opposes a war.
Public opinion is against progressives or close to it in many key issues; 40% support waterboarding, even though 69% call it torture. 43% are ok with warrantless wiretapping, even if courts order it's illegal. 65% still support capital punishment, even though 95% think innocent people are executed sometimes. We pride ourselves are being on the right side of a woman's right to choose, but actually only 39% support unrestricted abortions and only 21% thing abortion should be legal in all cases. 56% oppose gay marriage, 44% oppose any legal recognition of gay couples and 46% thing homosexuality is an unacceptable lifestyle. 50% think gays and lesbians should be banned from adopting
children. 48% think we should maintain the current healthcare system, even while a majority think it's a disaster. 55% think the Republicans' plan to privaitze Social Security is an effort by them to save the system rather han dismantle it and 40% think we should cut benefits to save the system if we have to. (Perhaps in our favor, 50% say raising taxes is ok)
I wonder now that if not for Iraq, if it hadn't gone as bad as it did, or if it never happened at all, would Democrats be in the majority today? If yes, then would our majority still be ruled by the conservative Blue Dogs who rule it today? Is a progressive majority even possible in the current political climate. Can we win an election standing on our ideals without Iraq and resentment toward Bush?
I am skeptical of where the public stands even on the Iraq war. 70% oppose the war, but only 46% want to cut funding and only 49% want troops out in a year. The leaves a big number of Americans who oppose the war, but oppose our strategy to end it. 41% still think Iraq was the right thing to do. In 2005, 66% supported the war and the other 33% were reduced to being called unpatriotic, being threatened and being told to go to Canada. Today, 1/3 of the country turned on the war. But why? Did they suddenly come to the realization that this war was a crime, or is it because it didn't go well and they don't want to play anymore? If things had gone differently in Iraq, would 70% still oppose it, would 59% still say it was a mistake?
Sometimes I think as to what made some Democrats, like Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, back the President on Iraq. I wonder why they didn't take the right side and fight the President on Iraq and vote no like some of their colleagues did, then I think, if the war had gone differently and Iraq not descended into civil war, would we have been able to get out of Iraq quickly and would the public have moved on from it, ignorning the fact that it was a criminal war based on lies? Would they have cared? We won, so whatever, and if those Democrats had their way Saddam would still be threatening us, Israel and it's neighbors? Would Clinton and Edwards be viable Presidential candidates today had they opposed the war and the war went well? Are the viable candidates, because like America, they supported the war, then turned against it? We lucked out because the only reason we got the public on our side on Iraq was because it didn't come as easy as everyone thought it would. I think this is dangerous; it leaves me with the impression that the American public will follow our leadership into another criminal war if it's easier if we elect another criminal.
On other issues, if we stand up for universal health care, will we win? I'd like to think so, but I'm skeptical. Republicans do a good job spinning someting like universal health care as "You paying to take care of lazy people." They do a good job spinning pathways to citizenship as "letting people get away with a crime; Typical Democrats, soft on crime." Public opinion is on their side. The typical common American with healthcare and no undocumented family or friends don't see how our positions on these issues effect them positively, but they see, through the GOP PR spin, how they can effect them negatively.
Today you might be interested to know those family members who treated me like a POW, hate Bush, hate the war and voted Democrat last year. Did they have a sudden political transformation? Are they now welcome members of the progressive coalition? Absolutely not. They still love waterboarding, think it's great, it's "tough not torture." Bush can spy on them all he wants, they're not guilty of anything. They still think gay marriage will destroy society and the ACLU are the anti-Christ. They still think we should privaitze social security, and welfare receipients are fat black women who have 10 kids by 8 men so they don't have to work. They believe Mexicans are seeking to turn this country in a Spanish-speaking crime-ridden third world drug land, black people are criminals, Target is destroying Christmas and everybody named Mohamed is a terrorist.
We need a better PR machine and we need a better grassroots progressive organization. We also need to think past Iraq. We may find out the country is not with the progressive netroots on most other issues meaning our leadership will not back us often at all.
We need to create the society where people like Melissa Bean, Brad Ellsworth, Bud Cramer, Heath Shuler, Joe Donnelly, Jim Matheson, John Barrow, Allen Boyd, Nancy Boyda, and Nick Lampson vote with us without the risk of being thrown out of out office by fascists. They don't vote with us because they're just like Republicans. They vote with their constiuents because that's who votes for them. Maybe there is no difference between the parties because the public doesn't really want a difference. They don't want progressive liberal Democrats, they want better Republicans or Republican-like Democrats.
I think we're too caught up in thinking people will vote for us if we stand our ground. No anti-war conservative Republican or Republican-leaning representative will vote for us no matter how much we stand for our agenda. They only voted for us because the Republicans pissed them off. We need to make them want our agenda, not our politicians. When they want our agenda, they'll want our poltiicians.
Perhaps they want our agenda and we just have to nail it home. Perhaps if our leadership stood up on it, they'll win, but I'm skeptical, just in my opinion of looking around and hearing what I hear, I think progressives are not what this country wants, but it's what this country needs. We need to fight the convince the country that, but until then, we can't expect our politicians to fight for us, it's great if they do, but we can't fault them if they don't.
Just my take. You want to bring progressive values to the people. Convince them why we need us...I'm with you. I'd rather be doing that than calling the leadership names.
Tags: 110th congress, 2008 Presidential Elections, Abortion Rights, George W. Bush, Harry Reid, Heathcare, Hillary Clinton, Iraq War, John Edwards, Nancy Pelosi, pentagon, Same-sex marriage Social Security, war funding (all tags)