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The Emerging Progressive Majority

from The Nation:

For as long as I can remember, there's been a generally accepted story about the recent history of Democratic Party fortunes, a neat little morality tale that goes something like this: The New Deal majority fell apart when the party was taken over by forces outside the mainstream of American life. Getting blindsided by Reaganism was the party's just deserts. And if Democrats wanted the country back, they would just have to learn to become mainstream again.

For as long as I can remember, liberals have been complaining about awkward, self-conscious attempts to recover this "mainstream" sensibility and how they have paradoxically weakened the party. They forced Democratic politicians to become obsessed with polls. That, in turn, boxed Democrats into an identity the public--the mainstream--found the most off-putting of all: Democrats became timid. They couldn't pursue a bold public agenda because they were too hemmed in by polls. Very recently, among progressives, a new dictum has emerged: Hug close to the polls, worship the polls, be the polls.

Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987-2007, a massive twenty-year roundup of public opinion from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, tells the story. Is it the responsibility of government to care for those who can't take care of themselves? In 1994, the year conservative Republicans captured Congress, 57 percent of those polled thought so. Now, says Pew, it's 69 percent. (Even 58 percent of Republicans agree. Would that some of them were in Congress.) The proportion of Americans who believe government should guarantee every citizen enough to eat and a place to sleep is 69 percent, too--the highest since 1991. Even 69 percent of self-identified Republicans--and 75 percent of small-business owners!--favor raising the minimum wage by more than $2.

The Dems would do very well to emulate what made Reagan a political success. And I agree with this article that as Democratic power became entrenched, they took the people who made them a success for granted and became more beholden to those on the fringes. And this was a mistake repeated by the Republicans over the past few years which certainly did them great harm in the '06 election.

The terrible poll numbers for both congress and the White House show that the public is anxious for somebody -- Pubs, Dems, or even a third party -- to step up for THEM for a change.


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Comments (12)

ke_future:

that was an interesting article, i'll give you that. but the author's wrong, there is no progressive majority. it's more complicated than that.

for example, sure, most people think that government should take care of those who can't take care of themselves. but what makes it so that a person can't take care of themselves? who decides that? and what action should the government take? those are very real questions that say a lot about whether people are conservative, leftest, or somewhere in between.

from reading all the article, it looks like the Pew Center asked a lot of fuzzy questions, without any specifics. in those kinds of polls, it's always possible to make people look generally more statist than the really are.

you go and ask those same people if the government should have the right to bar commecials for eggs? (like was just done in the UK) and you'll get a resounding no. but that's just really a logical extension of some of the fuzzy questions and opinions asked.

i revert to my 2nd favorite saying of all time...

there's lies, damn lies, and statistics.

but for what you say, Paul. i think you are correct. i think that a lot of people think that both parties have failed them. i'm not too keen on the republican party right now, but that sure as hell does not mean that i'm going to go embrace the democrats.

i think the democrats are reverting the the same power for the sake of power and influence bunch they were before they lost in 94. (damn those republicans for getting and not doing the right thing)

where it'll all end up, i don't know. hopefully neither the tyranny of a dictatorship, nor the tyranny of the nanny state. if either of those happen, the world is in for a tough road.

personally, i'd love a country where i am free to make my own decisions for my life and not be dragged down to the lowest common denominator. where i am free to succeed if i work hard and not be punished for succeeding. to live in a country where those that truly need a helping hand, can get that help without becoming dependent on the state. a place that isn't afraid to use it's military and economic might in the cause of freedom, liberty and justice, but tempers it with the wisdom of knowing when to do so, and when not to.

vini vidi vici
(my number one favorite quote)

superdestroyer:

A few of the factions of the Democratic Party could be called progressive. I would not call the CBC progressive, or the Hispanic caucs, or the public employees unions.

I guess that the moveon.org types keep thinking that all of the Democratic party is like them when in reality about 40% of the Democratic party is minorities who definitely cannot be called progressives. Of course, the minorities can be taken for granted by the moveon.org types becuase the blacks or hispanics will never vote for the Republicans.

So, I guess since the black and hispanic vote is automatic for the Democrats, they do not really count.

Lee Ward:

Latino voters in the 2004 Presidential Election

Bush - 44%
Kerry - 53%
Nader - 2%

Looks like a toss up in 2004. Bush knew how to reach out and grab Latinos. No reason why another Republican can't do the same.

ke_future:

SD are you being serious, or sarcastic? i can't tell because i've heard those charactorizations of minority voters being said in both cases.

i presonally hate race based politics. it's the most insane, assinine, stupid way to vote your issues away. if you actually talk to many african americans or hispanics you'll find that their issues of concern, and where they stand on them generally run the gambit. but if they don't vote or espouse liberal ideology they're labeled Uncle Tom's. frikkin insane.

superdestroye:

Lee,

You cherry picked the absolute best result the Republicans ever had with Hispanics. If you look at 2006 elections, the Hispanic result went right back to the 75% for the Democrats that is the traditional result.

Texas does manage to get some hispanics to vote Republican and Florida has the Repulibcan Cubans but for the rest of the country, hispanics are safety Democratic no matter the results of the politicians.

Do you think that Los Angeles will ever have an ango mayor again. I doubt it.

You did not answer if you thought that the 56% of those Hispanic in 2004 were really "progressiv?."

Lee Ward:

"You cherry picked the absolute best result the Republicans ever had with Hispanics"

Not true, all I did was go to the last presidential election, and show what a modern Republican candidate who "knows how" can do in terms of results with today's latino voting block. I didn't do any comparisons with past results, so there was no "picking" involved.

With all of Bush's faults, he was an effective vote-getter.

"You did not answer if you thought that the 56% of those Hispanic in 2004 were really "progressive?."

The use of the term "progressives" was The Nation's, not mine. What I see in this discussion about a "progressive majority" is merely a thought-police effort by Media Matters to reframe the voting block of liberals and "liberal-leaning moderates" - who I do believe are now the majority - and not call them "liberals" any more but call them "progressives" instead.

Sounds better, eh? Who's against 'Progress' - besides 'Conservatives' of course.

When I hear and think about big-P 'Progressives" I think Paul Wellstone. In a Wellstonian frame of reference, today's 'liberals and liberal-leaning majority' are not 'progressives,' although they do lean more in that direction than they did in 2004.

Not sure if that's what you were looking for, but since you put "progressive" in quotes I took that you were asking if they were literally "progressives" -- that's the literalist in me, so if I don't answer your question let me know (drop me an email since I'm gone all day Saturday and may not get back to this thread on Sunday without prompting -- leewardblue@gmail.com.

Here is the report(pdf) referenced in The Nation's article. I haven't read it but will try to do so if you email me that you want to discuss this further.

Some more reference stuff:

'Progressive' vs. 'Liberal'

Wellstone's wikipedia bio

You'll notice that Wellstone is not mentioned anywhere in the Media Matters pdf report linked above. That's akin to a discussion of conservatism that leaves out Barry Goldwater, or a discussion of neo-conservatism that leaves out Ronald Reagan.

And note the same sort of "thought-police" reframing is taking place on the right by referencing Ronald Reagan as a 'true conservative.' Reagan was a Democrat-turned Republican (1962) who was backed in his Presidential bid by neo-conservative puppeteers -- who in turn paired him with George HW Bush (who ascended), and in turn installed Baby Bush as their mouthpiece in 2000.

Today, the neo-conservative political machine is trying to distance itself from Bush by trying to sell the new crop of Republicans (like Thompson) as "true conservatives" (psst -- they are still neo-conservatives) -- in the same way those on left like Media Matters are trying to distance themselves from the label of 'liberals' by using the term 'progressives.'

Looking back on this comment there may be enough at work here to warrant a post on this particular tangent of Mr. Hamilton's thread. So email me -- leewardblue@gmail.com, if you agree and maybe I'll start a new thread instead of hijacking this one any further.

superdestroyer:

The Nation is correct in that the Democrats will become the one dominate political force in the U.S. It just has the reason wrong. It is not because people are becoming Progressive because to be a Progressive like Wellstone generally requires one to be a severe Hypocrite.

What will make the Democratic Party the one dominate party in the U.S. is that blacks, hispanics, and asians are growing as a percentage of the populations. since all of those groups vote more than 65% for Democrats, it stands to reason that the Democratic Party will dominate.

The future on politics in the U.S. can probably been seen in California where no one believes that the state house will ever have a majority of Republicans again. However, it would be a real stretch to call California progressive.

Paul Hamilton:

KE said:
>>i'm not too keen on the republican party right now, but that sure as hell does not mean that i'm going to go embrace the democrats.

I know. Seems like as time passes, you get more and more disillusioned voters making any third-party effort that resonates with the voters a real threat to the current system. And that wouldn't be a bad thing at all.

Superdestroyer said:
>>I would not call the CBC progressive, or the Hispanic caucs, or the public employees unions.

I disagree with you about that union (and all unions) but you're right about the racially-based groups. Anything that divides the people is NOT progressive.

KE responded to SD's note:
>>i presonally hate race based politics. it's the most insane, assinine, stupid way to vote your issues away.

Exactly. When you really get down to it, there aren't RACIAL issues, there are just issues. Injustice is wrong no matter who is the victim. Prejudice hurts us all no matter who is the target. Our strength is in our unity.

Superdestroyer commented about the Hispanic vote:
>>You cherry picked the absolute best result the Republicans ever had with Hispanics.

But at the time, the Republicans were bragging about their progress. Yes, the results backslid in the next election, but that wasn't because Hispanics are someone genetically-programmed to vote Democratic, it's because the they believed the Republican agenda was not in their best interests. Ditto with blacks. It's the policies.

Lee remarked:
>>In a Wellstonian frame of reference, today's 'liberals and liberal-leaning majority' are not 'progressives,'

You got that right. He was a fearless defender of all things progressive and losing him caused the entire movement to be set back. And all these years later and still no one has stepped up to take his place.

Lee also said:
>>Today, the neo-conservative political machine is trying to distance itself from Bush by trying to sell the new crop of Republicans (like Thompson) as "true conservatives" (psst -- they are still neo-conservatives)

I don't know if that's true because I still have no idea what Thompson stands for. What I do know is that there are no overt NeoCons running at the moment. It's a discredited policy, at least on the military side, though maybe it's just shifting back to a religious emphasis like it did before Bush Jr took office.

Superdestroyer:
>>to be a Progressive like Wellstone generally requires one to be a severe Hypocrite.

Could you explain that remark?

And finally:
>>What will make the Democratic Party the one dominate party in the U.S. is that blacks, hispanics, and asians are growing as a percentage of the populations.

Jeez, can't we get past racist stuff like that? As I said above, race-based politics is repugnant. Reagan became an icon because his whole message was one of coming together, and while some of Bush Jr's policies were sort of like Reagan's, the reason he will never have the popularity is because he is a divider, not a uniter. If a candidate is out there whose agenda appeals to a broad spectrum of Americans, he will win. No matter what our race or ethnicity, we have much more in common than things that divide us.

superdestroyer:

Go look up how well Reagan did with blacks. When you look at black voting trends, one can assume that most blacks in the U.S. have probably never for a Republican in their entire lives. There is no issue, no campaign, no speech, no commercial that is ever going to get blacks to vote Republican with the lifetimes of any adult now voting. The same can be said for Hispanics and to a lesser extent, blacks.

Since the 20 somethings are the least white adult demographic group, it just does to show that the Republican are fated to become irrelevent.

Paul Hamilton:

But my point still stands that when you run a wedge campaign, it is not progressive and it ends up doing more harm than good. Tie this in with my posting about the appeal of a third-party candidate and you see the end result of the politics of destruction.

And yes, I realize the Dems are playing that game, too.

superdestroyer:

Progressives run wedge issue all the time. Free health care, public transportaiton, and afirmative action are all wedge issues and also cause most who claim to be progressive to act as hypocrites.

Progressives talk about the benefits of diveristy but enroll their children in elite, all white private schools. Progressive talk about lowering carbon loads but then fly to Europe to go skiing. Progressives talk about public transporation but end up liviing in white suburbs or in areas that public transporation does not go to.

Paul Hamilton:

You need the qualifiers that SOME SELF-PROCLAIMED "progressives" do these things. Our boys went to public schools from day one and we were very active in those schools to make them as good as they could be. We have CFLs in every light socket in the house where they will fit. As for vacationing in Europe, all I can say is LOL! And our neighborhood is just about 50/50 black and white and we get along with everybody. We are also active in a group involved in bringing more business and investment to our side of town since the city wants to throw everything they've got to the other side since that's where the interstate is nearby.

So yeah, we're walking the walk. It's simply not possible to be a true progressive if you are not an activist.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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