This is getting kinda fun. Progressives are telling the Democratic Party, "Change or die."
Let's begin with not-so-young-any-more Turkish-American Cenk Uygur. A few days before the election, Uygur announced in a Young Turks segment that, he would be voting for Hillary Clinton, despite his sympathy with the Green platform and his residency in a "safe" Blue state (California). A week after the election:
So, what should real progressives do now? They should tear that house down. The DNC is not misguided; it is guided exactly as it is supposed to be. We have to start all over again. The party of Hillary Clinton and Evan Bayh are never going to win over the American people. Voters couldn’t have been clearer in this election—they can’t stand the establishment. But the DNC will never get that message because they are the establishment.
Like many progressives, Uygur wobbles between Democrat, Green, and independent (maybe Socialist too, but I've never heard him say so). Policy is more important to him than party identity. Like most Americans, when push comes to shove, he doesn't want to back a loser, and Clinton was the presumed winner when Election Day began. His announcement seems aimed more at swing-state than himself, urging them to do whatever they can to stop The Donald.
Give Uygur progressive cred for encouraging his viewers to join protest movements and exercise other political avenues, regardless of who might win the presidency, because democracy isn't just about voting. Still, his vote reflects his (quite understandable) Fear of a Trump Planet.
Uygur is not the only name-brand progressive to fire salvos against the Democratic establishment for being extreme centrists. There's also Joseph Stiglitz, insisting in Vanity Fair that "the days of triangulation are toast." There's Peter Bloom of Open University, asking progressives to abandon the Democratic Party with all due haste.
There's also this piece from Politico's Ben Schreckinger, about groups actually mobilizing to form a "Tea Party of the Left." Good on 'em, but I have my doubts. Sure it would be nice to see progressives challenging moderate-liberal Congressmembers in primaries, but who will provide the funding for such challenges? The left doesn't really have its own answer to the Koch Brothers.
A representative of Roosevelt’s Army, whose leaders prefer to remain anonymous, said the group would combine such tactics with electoral politicking. “We differ from the Occupy folks in that we are slightly more politically involved,” he said. “There’s a lot that protest movements can learn from election campaigns and vice versa.”
I can't argue with that. I'm still waiting for Obama and Clinton to learn something from Occupy Wall Street. Still...that name...Roosevelt's Army? Rilly?
Those are some of the opinion pieces I have stumbled across in the last couple of days. I'll be looking for more of them, now that I need an occasional fix to help me get through poll-watching withdrawal.
Democrats should have run left in 2016, and they should run left in the future is not the only opinion circulating in the progressive corners of the Web. It is, however, the one opinion that best reflects Dr. Jill Stein's diagnosis: namely, that the Democratic Party's path to victory would be populist and progressive. "You can't have a revolutionary movement in a counter-revolutionary party!" should be printed on every cocktail napkin at every Democratic happy hour until they get it.
The conventional wisdom about independents and non-voters has long been that these folks occupy the middle ground between the two major parties. "What middle ground?" sez I. On the national level, the Dems have drifted so far to the right, pushing the GOP even farther to the right, that the space between them can no longer be called "middle."
The 46% of registered voters who did not vote last week are hungry for the real change that would benefit them. They did not see that change from Barack Obama's presidency, mostly but not completely due to an obstructionist right-wing Congress. They certainly did not see that beneficial change coming from a Clinton.
Given a chance and given the funds, populist progressives, will defeat the GOP in 2018 and 2020. But the same ol' faces can't just suddenly start stealing Bernie Sanders's best lines and spewing them from the stump. The Democratic Party needs new blood, not just in the leadership of the DNC, as Uygur demands, but in the ranks of candidates as well. If Democrats do not start reshaping their party immediately, the only hope left for progressive voters and those 46-percenters will be groups like the Greens and Socialist Alternative.
And I'm OK with that. That, comrades, is why the Greens must continue to build their infrastructure. We need to hedge against the likely eventuality that the Democrats will not learn the lesson of 2016—or will learn that lesson but not translate learning into action.
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