Sunday, August 01, 2004

Don't player hate. Player participate!

There was a great article in Harper's recently entitled "Liberalism regained: Building the Next Progressive Majority." I couldn't find this article online, but it was a great read. My favorite quote of the feature came from Ralph Nader:

Nader: But [the liberal community's] message is also missing somehting else: the emotional content, in the best sense of the phrase. One of the reasons is that liberals aren't good haters. Wheareas the agents and apostles of the right, they really are haters.

My immediate reaction was internally uproarious laughter. Did Nader just call the Republicans haters? Thank God. Somebody needs to inform those suckas that they bout to get served, and Nader seems like a worthy candidate.

Which is not to say that I prefer him over Kerry, but despite the fact that he's siphoning away votes, you've got to respect the man for what he represents. Nader is not afraid to wear his liberalism on his sleeve. He and many others are trying to do what I think Shaula means when she says "redefining the terms of the public debate."

One term the liberals in this article relied heavily on was the "reactionary right." I think this is most telling, and at the same time most disheartening. Many people support the Republican party because they have a clearly defined and vehemently upheld message and focus and purpose. However that focus fundamentally boils down to fighting off liberals and there attempts to change the government. Slashing taxes actually means cutting down on liberal government programs. Anti-gay legislation actually means attacking the social movements that surround the progressives in this country. The political right as it is defined today is fundamentally a reaction to the political left's desire for progress. However they are able to pretend to have tangible goals and messages and they flood the American public with these goals and messages using their influence in corporate media and political organizations.

On the other hand, liberals actually do have very credible and outstanding goals. True freedom and equality for all. Fair wages. Social justice. A cooperative and enlightened foreign policy. The problem is that liberals have been spending the past three decades running away from the label of "liberal" rather than projecting our message into the minds and consciousness of Americans. Polls show that the majority of citizens actually support progressive measures such as a living wage, yet for some reason the political climate always seems to be at an equilibrium somewhere to the right.

What does that all mean? It means that Liberals actually have a righteous policy focus. It means that Conservatives policy focus fundamentally relies on destroying liberal gains and blocking progress. If the Republicans didn't have the Democrats, their party would fall apart (or turn this country into a military state). Democrats truly have the better argument. Philosophically they should have an easier time arguing their rhetoric, yet we've seen the past three decades more or less dominated by a Republican executive branch.

I can't remember exactly who it was (I think maybe it was Chris Miller?) but someone at Campaign 101 urged us not to think of the Green Party as a group we had to work to steal votes from. Instead he described them as the far left wing of the Democratic party that we abandoned when we lost power to the reactionary right and told us it was our duty to bring those true liberals back into the Democratic party. I'm beginning to take that call much more seriously. In the 7th House district Eric Cantor is being contested by an Independent Green Party Candidate. Dr. Brad Blanton will have a ridiculous battle to fight to win over the 7th district, but the fact that he's fighting in areas that Democrats have long abandoned as hopeless is an inspiring sign.

It's a discussion worth having. Too often Democrats tend to disappear after elections. This gives me something to focus on whether Kerry's in the White House or not. Redefining the terms of the public political debate can't be won unless we progressives organize. In the time since LBJ, there has never been a greater opportunity for us to take back the political climate in America than this very moment. I'm so excited.