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Why Progressives Need a Long-term Strategy, Built on Values


Why Progressives Need a Long-term Strategy, Built on Values

John Atcheson

Ever since Trump got elected, there’s been a lot of talk about resistance. As the country marked Trump’s first 100 days, it reached a crescendo. Then Republicans in the House passed Trump care—one of the cruelest Bills in recent memory. The reason they can screw so many people with relative impunity, is that they’ve invested decades in creating a mega-narrative that insulates them from consequences.


The Progressive of the demo party just released the "Peoples Budget" and got no coverage on corporate media which repeatedly ignores Progressives and we the people.

What can we the people do besides marching and calling our representatives. I have good representatives and try to reach out to some of the ones that are not so good i.e. republicans wearing the D pin. It is impossible to get thru to them via email and telephoning them is almost as hard to get thru to them. Busy, hangups, transferring and the disconnects or flat out telling me I do not live in district doesn't matter. But for that to happen when calling Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Sessions, Pelosi, Schummer is a disgrace. They represent all the people of the US.

So who is working on your strategy?


It's not about values, it's about clarifying political/economic interests, building power in institutions and society and using that power to achieve those interests.

And by the way, if you look at the list of what Republicans" did over the decades , it is not hard to see the multiple occasions when Democrats fully co-operated with them or even exceeded them in terms of their shared "values" (promoting and growing corporate capitalism).

In fact, Dems are quite aggressive when it comes to deregulating things like finance, workers' rights, transportation, communication, etc. Also, they tend to be in front of the Rethugs in terms of imperial ventures throughout the world in the name of promoting "democracy" (corporate capitalist hegemony).


Yes - progressives do need to create a politics wed to values.
But to do so, it must disinfect itself of the false language that will re-pathologize it. Importing the language and therefore the ideas from the 'center' will always prevent real change. The 'progress' the center sells is a progress that intentionally contains anti progress and the enablement of the status quo. It will never provide the progressive politics of true democracy.
Progressives must exercise thorough scrutiny of issues and recognize how these issues are driven by authoritarian governance and the free market. Until people clarify and act to bring the market under social license and full accountability, there will always be false progress and more of the same problems this creates.


It is a grand tradition of Democratic and Labour heroes that love empire and their own brilliant minds much more than the conservative monarchists and fascists: Napoleon (hello!), Jackson, Polk, Gen. George McClellan, Grover Cleveland (less brilliant), Lloyd George, DeGaul, LBJ, Tony Blair, the Clintons and tragically, Obama.


Ever since the 1985 formation of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) the Party's mission has been to get more corporate money than the GOP.

The DLC's first "victory" was what Democrats continue to describe as "bipartisan 1986 tax reform", the most regressive tax reform in history, followed by three decades of decriminalization of New Deal regulations under the guise of "deregulation".


Scary indeed.

I don't see it changing. Even in a supposedly leftie area of the country, our state party and county parties are doing all they can to get establishment candidates in. Still dissing Bernie every chance they get.

I'm a PCP who likely will not be running in 2018 and will likely leave to be an Independent (joining Bernie).


agree, except that it is values that determine what they deregulate, imho.


I would say that the New Deal regulations were criminalized or vacated, rather than decriminalized, but I get your point.


I like Indivisible--they help organize people to speak up at town hall meetings. Both Republican and neolibcon Dems. And there's Justice Dems, Our Revolution, Democrat Socialists, and many more.

Or you can see how to sign up to be a precinct committee person (PCP) with your county Dem party and change it from within, if possible.

I love your hope!


If we could get a million people to register Green, it would send a powerful message to the Democratic party. Registering independent just makes the Democrats wonder why people are no longer registering Democratic, they are too clueless to understand.


A million people don't even need to register Green, just vote for Greens whenever Greens are on the ballot.



You are so correct and I do some of that but not enough. Need to clear my emails and keep on top of things. I must missed a Working Party meeting here locally.

I have a email from my Senator Merkley and I keep asking him to start a party of progressive.


That's true. The Clintonista Bunch/genuflected to, and then embraced, the SCOTUS decision in Buckley v. Valeo. Which opened the door to the likes of " The Koch Bros " and so many ensuing disastrous enterprises, known and a lot unknown. Then, the UniParty stepped in, as well. Narrowing progressive/populist sentiments/options and funneling choices through UniParty Consensus. Which translates to " gov't of the money, by the money, for the money " all to often, currently.
I always talk to Trump voters and use the Federal minimum wage as the classic example. ( The UniParty hasn't raised it. It's a joke, etc ). For retirees I use the SSI COLA example. Then wash, rinse, repeat. The UniParty Consensus then absolutely looks like a conspicuous agreement by 1%ers to rip off most of the 99%ers. Which, when compared to DoD spending, corporate tax cuts, capital gains tax, inheritance taxes, endless war, etc.... a lightbulb sometimes goes on.
At that point I ask them if they understand the meaning of words like hoodwinking, bamboozling, grifting, flim-flaming, swindling... mean, in a politcal sense, anyway. Sometimes the lightbulb gets brighter, sometimes it doesn't.


Wherefore art thou, Progressive Democrats of America?


I like Atcheson's agenda - either progressives take over the Democrats, or, failing that, create a third party. Certainly this is a major, long-term strategic question facing progressives - one that obviously divides progressives.

Missing is U.S. history and economics.

History: on the one hand, Atcheson ignores the historically right wing and, therefore, weak character of the US social welfare state - for example, how nonexistent, then weak government healthcare has given the electorate little reason to value government as an instrument of the social welfare of all. Therefore - unlike a western European democracy like France, say - socialized medicine was never 'locked in' for most citizens...making it easier for the right to take it away from the so-called "special interest" group of the elderly and poor.

(Nor, going back a little further historically, is there any decimation of radical left unionism by McCarthyism, itself built on a longer right wing domestic history.)

Economics: In Atcheson's account, there is no 'robotization' of, say, the unionized auto industry; hence no shrinking of an educated, mass-factory-based working class; hence no depoliticized, 'atomized post-industrial-service industry labor force; and also hence, no diminution of the political might of major unions.

Without historical or economic factors, Atcheson focuses completely on the only factor to explain the shift right: right wing politics from above. In his view, the single, root cause of the U.S. shift right is political - a unified right wing, forty-year ruling class "coup," funded by the rich, complete with its own "blueprint."

The right wing shift may have been assisted by Atcheson's political factors, but is not the sole cause of them: the motives and agenda of the right are basic to the right; the question is why they succeeded better here. To grasp our plight, and figure out what to do, we have to think about how the political has worked with the economic and historical in the U.S.


The D-Party's present role, first and foremost, is to raise money.

On policy, they've merely followed the R-Party lead for three decades.

As such, I no longer vote for them. That third (fourth and fifth) party thing the author mentions--that's where I'm at.


Organizing requires instititions. There has to be solid and growing institutions to keep people involved. Without unions, a free press, religious groups, businesses, or some place that allows steady engagement with progressive ideas, each march and each voting effort withers. The DNC leadership has their boardrooms and a venue, so they go on. People with money can sit and network and pull tricks all day. We are just as stuck as the Victorian working class and the road is just as hard. But the way forward is the same. They can't kill all of us, but if we won't even speak or move, they already have.


What can be done to break the back of the Duopoly? Seriously, I don't know. The voters and politically engagé in the world that is the US seem to be constantly rocking back and forth between the same absolute polarity, every two years. The two participant groups in this dance of death, and surely it can only end in a complete collapse, seem to be shrinking with every cycle. Greed and corruption almost completely dominate. Decadence and either mindless consumption and/or the despondence that accompanies impoverishment seem to have infected the entire culture. Humanity really has to wake up to the existential threat from the two headed monster of potential nuclear war and short term global heating. Don't count on guidance from the world's Imperial Master that is marching all life on earth toward extinction.

Don't count on these two Imperial parties, these confederacies of mad men and women, for salvation.


The radio media is the key. The right wing hate radio blasts off in every town, every town plays the masters Rush, Weiner and Levin, etc. but they also have a local shock jock. No more polka music on AM, just propaganda, sports, and religion. That needs to change and Clinton and Obama are to blame for not fighting back on this. The corporate Dems need to be moved to the back of the bus. Clinton needs to be burned at the stake for a human sacrifice to get the gods on our side.