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The Left Matters – Now, More Than Ever


The Left Matters – Now, More Than Ever

Richard Eskow

Some leading Democrats seem to have a love-hate relationship with the left. Sure, progressives seem to have more influence than ever in the party this year, at least rhetorically. But it doesn’t look like the friction will be going away any time soon.

President Obama has been escalating his war of words with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and her allies, reigniting a burning resentment he last let slip in 2010. Hillary Clinton has adopted more progressive rhetoric, but her unwillingness to fight for specific policies has left activists frustrated.


What Left?


We’re out here beyond your computer – lots of issue oriented organizations struggling for economic, climate and social justice and against corporate tyranny.


Indeed the Left is right but the American left needs to break from sectarianism, crippling cynicism and from the naive liberal anarchist tendencies described by Christian Parenti. We need to unite behind basic progressive principles of sustainable ecology and social justice. Together we outnumber the know-nothings and are a powerful force.


"Part of it appears to be a genuine feeling of contempt, despite the left’s enviable record. There seems to be a belief among some top Dems that ideological progressives are merely less sophisticated versions of themselves. They argue that liberals are “stuck in the 1960s,…”

Although he is not necessarily affirming this old shibboleth, Eskow, by trotting it out, gives it credbility.Serious progressive politics in this country should not only be grounded in the 1960s, but in the 1930s, the 1920s, the early 1900s, and further back into the Populist and other movements of the 19th Century. When Democrats of the 1930s talked about a “mixed economy” they were talking about socialist brakes on capitalist excess This is all lost now, one never so much as hears the term mixed economy anymore. If you take these ideas out of the Democratic Party, which is the case, there is no reason to be a Democrat. The only way a Democrat gets my vote is if it is Bernie.


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Oooh! A Glenn Beck U graduate.


Talk, Talk, Talk and more rhetoric about how right the left is and how the policies of the last 30/40 years have created the poor economies for most of us and especially the poor and middle class. But, these people still believe it is the fault of the unions and the taker/druggies. Why? Democrats at election time talk a good game and even when they win they do not follow through.

Not one word about Wall Street Journal letter from CEO’s demanding policies to reduce the deficit even though Obama and dems have reduced it considerably. Another false lie that just lays out there. These CEO’s and their huge corporations off their profits elsewhere and pay no taxes and in some cases get refunds??? and they hypocritically call for who to reduce the debt an how when they have rigged the system in their favor thru legal means and when done illegally they are only fined, no jail time.
The in your face by these sycophants is truly unbelievable but our media are them. We do not have a free press for the American people only the 1%. When will majority of Americans wake up and quit blaming their neighbors


While many of the things you said are true, I have a problem with moist religions. Each one professes to be the true and only one which can lead people into paradise.

Just as an example, many Christian churches believe that everyone who does not believe in Jesus will go to hell and many Muslims believe that not believing in Allah will send people to hell as well.

America was apparently founded on the idea of freedom of religions which no longer holds true at all. We have some Christians on one side who believe that America was founded on Christianity and nothing else will do. Then we have Atheists on the other side who often become just as tyrannical in their non-believes as the Christians.

What happened to the tolerance of all religions and those who do not practice any religion? There seems to be none at this point in America. Even Christians seem to eat their own. A Christian neighbor of mine once told me that the Catholic Church was created by the devil. Many other Christian denominations still do not like Catholics.


His “unfortunate role” - unfortunate, indeed, but one he has chosen to play …

PS - I just tried (several times) to register a “like” to your post, but was not permitted to do so, don’t know what gives …

Apparently it registered (smile) …


“Some centrist Democrats like to say they’d govern more liberally, but the United States is a “center-right” country.”

Whatever Wall Street wants is what politicians must say.

BTW, most liberals are leftists, but not all leftists are liberals. Stalin, Pol Pot, Little Kim, for example. Better to call us progressives or liberals instead of “leftists”.

Excellent article.


“The Church says “care for the sick” Leftist policy says “If they cannot work - terminate them.”
The Church says “women should be cared for” Leftist thinking is that pornography is a right, which makes women mere chattel objects for men’s lust.
The Church says “adopt unwanted children. Help mothers in need keep them.” Leftist policy says “Abortion is good and a right. The unwanted should be disposed of.”
The Church teaches to share the world’s goods within the context of limited private property. Leftists say “take it all, by force if necessary, kill the rich, distribute it all, and put it into a common pot.””

Sorry - i am both a Catholic and a leftist … Your characterization of the left is just baloney and quite insulting, to say the least …

I do agree with:

“As one person said here many months ago, for some reason, the Left hates the Church rather than seeking common ground with Her on so many issues on which we agree – Capitalism as a bad system, care for the poor, opposition to the warmongers and the military/industrial complex, respect for women, etc.”

Lefties do seem to toss the baby out with the bathwater - but considering your characterization of them, I suggest that perhaps your stated desire to “seek common ground” may ring a bit hollow in their ears …

The Church itself is schizophrenic - there is a conservative as well as a liberal, long excoriated, wing, - Liberation Theology was condemned for a long time, but seems to be making at least a bit of a comeback under Francis - note Raoul Castro’s, that avowed Marxist’s, statement that he might even come back to the Church … but, IMO, the Church has a ways to go, particularly with regard to women …


Well, yes, the left can point the way - and many, though, sadly, not enough, are pointing the way to independent politics - just cut the Gordian Knot the duopoly has constructed, instead of trying to untangle it … It is not just that the D/R barrels have too many rotten apples in them - the barrels themselves are wormy - as they say, doesn’t work to put new wine in old wineskins …


The left may be right, but it’s not left–not in the party.

The left lost inside the Party, to the point that it has been excised by its leadership. Leading to the '08 election, Obama turned to Hillary C and spoke words to the effect that so many candidates could not be allowed. Moving towards '16, all have been removed, and the challenge has to be imported.

“Love hate” might describe the attitudes of someone like Elizabeth Warren, whose imperialist foreign policy easily balances her moderately progressive economics. It does not describe Obama or Clinton: there’s no love.

Clinton is vague about policy because she disagrees with her supposedly moderate or left constituency and is too far in front of Sanders to take foolish risks.

If the left was right, in Eskow’s sense, that does not leave the right incorrect–right meaning Obama and Clinton. They continue expanding wars, restricting liberties, extending monopolies, extracting from ecosystems and populations, increasing coercion of all kinds, and callously and successfully pretending to people like Eskow that they in some way “love” the left or tolerate it and that there is something “unusual” about their attempts to cripple any whiff of leftism within the Party other than the extremity of their success, for which we would have to go back to before Roosevelt to the long aftermath of the Civil War in the “solid Democratic South.”

There is nothing particularly subtle about this. The sitting president and his party claim to be legally entitled to kill any person at will, without public standard, and without review, and have taken deliberate steps to sell that as a normal state of affairs to be carried out above boards. At the same time, the US is carrying out acts of active, live war in at least 7 countries and in some relationship with coup governments in at least two more. Since most of these actions are more or less covert, I have probably missed at least several.

Why should we not compare this to Italy in the 1930s or Pinochet’s Chile? While it is at least outwardly less severe in its deviation from electoral politics, it is clearly more severe in its production of outward violence, comparable though distinct in its use of internal violence, and far more extensive in terms of internal and external surveillance.

There is now virtually no action, not even any rhetoric against any of this by elected officials within the Democratic party. Resistance within the official party has been virtually exterminated. It is Rand Paul, of all people, who is again just done filibustering in the Senate, this time against NSA surveillance.

(It is a pity that I have to go outside of CD to see this, though it might have not yet arrived or I might have missed something (http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/sen-rand-paul-launches-filibuster-nsas-controversial-data/story?id=31182495). I do not relish trusting organizations like ABC with respect to these things. )

Now, there are plenty of reasons to dislike Rand Paul, but that is beside the point. As we here generally use the term “left,” Paul is far to the left of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on these issues. In this, he is acting to the left of the entire Democratic Party, whatever he himself may say to disagree with such a characterization, and not because Rand Paul qualifies as left, but because elected officials in the Democratic Party do not either.

The left matters, but it has left the Party.


Spot on, good post. I might quibble with a sentence or two but very good indeed.


Thank you - often my disagreements are with lefties who spit on religion as a whole, because of the admitted atrocities committed in its name - but I am equally upset with “conservative” Catholics, e.g., who insist on spitting on lefties because of the atrocities committed by so-called lefty regimes … neither attitude, IMO, serves us well …


Back when you could still get a good cup of coffee for a quarter, I learned that being right plus two bits buys a good cup of coffee.


The term “progressive Democrat” has indeed been an oxymoron ever since the Clintons and others formed the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) in 1985 and narrowed the party’s mission to GET MORE CORPORATE MONEY THAN THE GOP.


“The left” did not leave the Democratic Party, the Party left the left.

As much as I have never voted for a Republican in a general election and find many disagreements with Ron Paul and now Rand Paul, I will continue to vote for the Pauls in primary elections since they are indeed to the left of any D or R that has been nominated since 1984 in the case of the Democrats and since 1976 in the case of the Republicans.