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Dangerous Discourse: When Progressives Sound like Demagogues


Dangerous Discourse: When Progressives Sound like Demagogues

Norman Solomon

The Trump administration has already done enormous harm to the United States and the planet. Along the way, Trump has also caused many prominent progressives to degrade their own political discourse. It’s up to us to challenge the corrosive effects of routine hyperbole and outright demagoguery.


Thomas Frank’s The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule (2008) is a recommended read for those who want to unravel how relatively simple the game plan is. Trump is making Bush look like an amateur.


What bothers me about the fixation on Russia is precisely the point Nina Turner and Solomon try to make:

It sucks up limited air in the room that could be better spent lambasting the Republicans for their ineptitude (Flint), hatred (Muslim ban), greed (tax cuts), willful ignorance (climate), and dishonesty (tweet, tweet…).

Alternatively, maybe the D-Party has so little to offer, Russia is all they’ve got.


When “progressives” sound like Joseph McCarthy … and the entire pervasively corrupt, war-mongering, USA political establishment is a cancer on the planet…


I, too, am perplexed by the whole red-baiting talk.

What passed for laugh lines in MAS*H is now a talking point. Frank Burns stars as a wise thinker.

Furthermore, I am reading “JFK and the Unspeakable”. Frankly, everyone should read that book. But it depicts a military, a CIA out of control and trying to push a young president around. There was no courage from the FBI and Secret Service; if anything there was complicity. No spoiler here: JFK was assassinated.

One of the things in that book is that JFK was trying to create a back channel to Khrushchev, trying to create the conditions for peace. You may not agree with that. JFK was certainly more capable as a geo-political strategic thinker than poor bumbling Trump but it was something JFK was trying to do as part of a larger vision. Trump may have been trying to do the same through Kuschner, though it is harder to see any motive beside self-service.

Still, in the end both JFK and Trump will be managed I would suspect.

And as Solomon notes, the Democratic party will be part of that.

Thanks for this article, thanks for Solomon’s ideas. Retain independence of thinking. Talking to your enemies is not a bad thing; it’s the only doorway to peace.

we really all are in this boat called earth together.


Alternatively, maybe the D-Party has so little to offer, Russia is all they’ve got.

Sad, but probably true.

It isn’t just the Republicans who should be paying attention to what the electorate is telling politicians at town meetings all around the country. While Trump and Ryan are trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act, the Democrats have an opportunity to champion universal health care. Will they rise to the occasion?

When they start acting like a party of progressive ideas instead of a watered-down version of the Republicans, maybe the Democrats will gain some traction.

They’d better hurry up. 2018 isn’t far away.


Thanks Norman Solomon.

Progressives need to be vigilant. At the same time that I see more local community based organizing, I see right wing Democrats working to co-opt grassroots efforts and/or demonize and attack those of us who are critical of the Democrat Party’s support for private undemocratic profit-driven capitalism, continued fossil fuel consumption, universal surveillance, the espionage sectors, and worldwide perpetual war with impunity US personnel who engage in crimes against humanity.


Nancy Pelosi. Chuck Schumer. Tom Perez.

Those are the faces of the D-party. They’re openly courting billionaires as possible candidates in 2020.

You’ll pardon my skepticism in regard to how serious they are about change.


Mr. Solomon’s message about winning just one or two elections, with an over the top formula of conjecture and hyperbole, has to be contrasted to the economic insecurity most Americans worry about monthly. Or, to this year’s inadequate budget.
If four years is short-term thinking in winning hearts and minds for a more progressive future, as opposed to instant RussiaGate gratification,; well, just think about four months of not having enough money to pay your rent and utility bills.
The long game is for wealthy people who have the financial resources to weather the next crisis. And, can call a plumber to fix their own waterlines.
The elixir of the same old tune Centrist Democrats sing, " tomorrow, tomorrow " has worn out. That’s why Trump won today, in the here and now. He lied.
RussiaGate is trying to tip the lying s.o.b. over, sooner rather later. That may be desperation, but at least it’s not quiet.
As to the new fresh faces; like Congressman Raskin, he’s just another back bencher trying to get re-elected in 2018. He’s using what ammunition he’s got to fire up the base. Crossing his fingers for luck, as well. At least it’s not " identity politics ".
The Democratic Party majority blew it in 2008 pandering to a Corporate Healthcare System, jumping into Libya, not raising the minimum wage, etc.The 85-90K voters they needed to remain relevant and stop the despicable Trump have tired of waiting. The national party just stinks, currently.


This obsession with Russia should be all the evidence that any progressive needs to realize that the Democratic Party has not changed and that it remains firmly in the Clinton camp. With the 2018 elections drawing closer, the party has yet to offer a proactive platform of substance to voters. Rather than make fundamental changes, the party is counting on the anti-Trump vote, once again. Change? Why? They’d rather blame it all on the Russians.

Speaking of Clinton, her recent speeches have become ever more delusional and riddled with conspiracy theories on how she was robbed and none of the party elite have dared to tell her to crawl back under her rock. What we may, in fact, be seeing is the start of a campaign for a Clinton run in 2020. If the Democrats run Clinton, again, the Democratic party is dead and deserves to be buried in a hole so deep that it can never see light, again.

Of course, there’s also Joe Biden and he has stated that he might run in 2020. Same old, same old.


The interview with Raskin is very telling and well worth the watch. The Real News reporter is sharp and showed what real journalism is like, exposing the complete factual vacuum that informs the Congressman’s descent into contemporary McCarthyism.
It is shocking to realize Jamie Raskin is the son of the highly respected and well known-at least to my generation-progressive activist Marcus Raskin. Wonder what his father thinks of this. I can only guess that nine years at Harvard ruined the boy.


Excellent article though I differ with his description of Robert Reich as a “progressive”. Reich was Slick Willy’s labor secretary, and though further to the left than most administration apparatchiks, is best characterized as a liberal. His role in the contemporary scene fits Phil Ochs’ definition of a liberal perfectly, “one step to the left in good times, two steps to the right when it affects them personally”. He has always leaned toward the Clinton/Obama gang of prevaricators in his thought processes. It is unfortunate because his experience in the Carter, Ford and Clinton administrations could inform some much more profound critiques.
It is important to add that the Russia hysteria follows what I called the Goebbels theory, or maybe it was Goering’s, which goes like "if you tell a lie often enough it becomes true.


Nice to see Solomon’s voice of reason.

We need MANY MORE people speaking up and stating the truth about what the corporate Democrats are doing here to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” regarding:

  1. General corporate-Clintonite Democratic complicity – for decades – in the US-led global crises of war, ecology and economy;
  2. Specific corporate-Clintonite Democratic responsibility for the awful campaign of 2016, and the emergence of Trump.

Common Dreams, also, should keep its own coverage and reporting on the Trump-Russia story fact-based, and always in context.


The D-party is where it is on purpose. Waiting in the wings to be the kinder, gentler oligarchs.

Billionaire funders, billionaire-friendly policy.

I criticize Bernie Sanders, but he showed a whole bunch of us how to raise money and stay on message.

You start that chicken and beer party yet?


Climate change is but a tiny blip on the radar screens of most Americans.

2020 will be a referendum on personality. The Trump team is already working on clever attack names to use relentlessly on whoever the Ds nominate. Crooked Hillary worked like a charm.


Mediocre as Raskin is, he’s far better than the Clintonite DamnocRat he edged out in the primary – Kathleen Matthews, wife of MSNBC’s loudmouth boor Chris Matthews (who should have been fired years ago, IMHO).


When progressives sound like demagogues by falling back on anti-Russia talking points, I am hesitant to call them progressives. I couldn’t care less about Russia, its in the back-water on a back-burner out in the boondocks. What progressives really need to think about is forming an effective political force and get progressives elected at all levels of government.


[quote=“jneastra, post:10, topic:42232”]“Speaking of Clinton, her recent speeches have become ever more delusional and riddled with conspiracy theories on how she was robbed and none of the party elite have dared to tell her to crawl back under her rock.”[/quote] Krooked Hilliary blames the Russkies for robbing her of Her Rightful Throne by leaking proof that she and her minions had robbed Bernie of a fair chance to win the primary.  Note that, SFAIK, she has never claimed that the e-mails between herself, Podesta & Dirty Debbie were fake – only that they shouldn’t have been leaked . . .


Crooked Hillary worked like a charm here.


The Democrats will not run Clinton again. I’m concerned that they will run Cuomo, or Booker, or Newsom. There is a deep bench of opportunism.