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KevenSeven On December - 17 - 2009

I came across a few columns that I thought that you might find interesting.   The reason that I get to write this column is that I have a new metaphor for these other guys’ point.

Why do we, progressives, lose more than we win?   We lose because we almost always play offense, and the reactionaries, by definition, are almost always playing defense.

Any student of military tactics will tell you that the defense always has an easier task.   We are the change agents.  We attempt to change the status quo.   Look for a moment at the features of our society and government that we have instituted, consider how much work they required to accomplish.   An end to human chattel.   Suffrage for women.  Social Security,   Actual goddam civil rights for black folk.   Then consider the judicial accident of Roe v Wade.   (Accident in the sense that it was not the result of extended political action.)   Those are now a part of the status quo.   Those would all require enormous effort to reverse.   (The Rethugs have no hope or expectation of reversing Roe v Wade, it would be the destruction of their party.   It is only a sop to the deranged religious zealots in their ranks.)

For every effort in social progress that we bring to the table, climate change or universal health care, we are the army storming the castle.   The Reactionaries have the castle.   It take a lot less people to stand at the top of the castle and dump rocks and boiling oil down on the besiegers than it does to bring the ladders and grappling hooks.

The status quo has the inertia of citizens’ fear of change.   The status quo can lie about death panels and granny croaking sooner, and we as the stormers of the castle cannot stop each of those arrows from reaching the electorate.

Progress is a king bitch.   It is the slow boring of boards, and we risk our soul in the effort.

What is astonishing to me?    That the whole teabagger campaign of the summer was a perfect reflection of the swiftboating of Kerry, and again, the Democrats were so goddam slow to respond.   We let way too many lies get past us, and did not get up and fight back at the level necessary to win this.  Our response was exactly as weak as that of Kerry’s campaign to the swiftboating.

You can find the thread of columns that discuss this further at: http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2009/12/16/asymm_majs/index.html

21 Responses so far.

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  1. Athena says:

    A great image it is -- Transylvania, I presume.
    I am disappointed that Obama isn’t declaring what exactly he will sign into law. Does that mean anything with Health Care Reform written on will be signed by him? Where does he draw the line?
    I think the reason this Health Care Reform debate is so endless is because it avoids as much price control as it can. All who are feeding at the current trough of run away medical cost, must be allowed to continue. That seems to be giant flaw in the entire “reform”.

  2. nellie says:

    I have to take issue with the idea that we get our butts kicked. The advances you listed show that when a progressive movement wins a victory, it’s a permanent win — unless something extraordinary happens. Our policies become part of the status quo. Conservatives eventually come to see progressive ideas as the norm, and progressives move on to the next battle. When we take a hill, we keep it.

    It just takes a lot effort to conquer that hill. I think we get too discouraged too quickly. Civil rights for people with African heritage took 400 years on this continent. Gays are still fighting for basic rights. Change is slow—not so much because people are afraid of it as the fact that the status quo has made the powerful their money, and they want to keep it. That means keeping things as they are. So they work hard at making others afraid to change anything

    I think of what my parents had to go through every day just going to work, just because of their ethnic heritage, and how they hung in there for years and years and years, toughing it out every single damned day. So that I would have an easier time than they did.

    Progressives need to toughen up. And hang in there. And not give up or turn their backs because things get difficult. When things get rough, that’s a sure sign we’re about to accomplish something.

    • KevenSeven says:

      We are about to utterly fumble the health care reform ball and you would say that we are not getting our asses kicked?

      • nellie says:

        Yes, I would say that. Because this is finally a first step. A first step that took us more than 100 years. Only if we give up with this version and stop fighting for better reforms are we getting our asses kicked. And that would be our own fault.

  3. KQuark says:

    It’s more basic than that. The political center of this country is center right with a pretty large skew to the right I might add.

    ” alt=”fff” />

    Can you imagine that most people identify themselves as conservative AFTER Bush?

    While at the core I think Americans are center left it does not matter because only perception matters today. As long as liberal equated to “tax and spend”, lenient on crime, weak on national security etc the true face of the center left nation will not shine through. Those perceptions simply have not changed for most Americans. That’s why Democrats should have fully de-branded from the term “liberal” and called ourselves progressives all the time. But the cat herd with it’s millions of unique voices has no idea how to stay on message with anything.

    Face it we only win national elections when conservatives really fuck things up bad. By the time anti-incumbency sentiment rolls around again people are happy to vote those crazy liberals out of office. Democrats are the necessary evil for moderates. The only way to shift this country back again is through steady incremental progress that does not scare people away so that we can shift the political center of this country instead of it shifting us.

    To put it in military terms we are outnumbered 2-1.

    • KevenSeven says:

      I don’t accept the premise of you point. I do not believe the numbers reflected in the poll, any more than I believe that 85% of Americans go to church every week.

      I don’t believe a word of it. I accept that the questions get asked and the responses tallied. I do not accept that Americans respond honestly, either deliberately or otherwise. The fact is that the political discourse in America has been so debased by the forces of reaction that the labels mean next to nothing.

      If those numbers were correct, more Americans would self-identify as Rethugs than as Dems. Yet the reverse is distinctly the case.

      • KQuark says:

        That’s our problem as progressives we don’t accept reality. These poll numbers are as good as they get because they sum many polls together to get one data point. I’ve seen other numbers in the 20L 30C and 40M range but the point is that’s what people think they are.

        The Republican brand is broken. Many moderate conservatives have entered the independent ranks or even the big tent Dem party. But this does not change the fact that they do want Republicans to be more accessible.

        Why do you think the MSM who wants to kill real reform keeps on labeling the PO as liberal and assholes like Lieberman and Nelson moderate?

        • KevenSeven says:

          You may have opinions as to why progressives fail, that’s fine.

          But you failed to address my central points:

          People do not accurately report their politics,

          In part because they do not understand the labels.

  4. kesmarn says:

    That’s a great image attached, K7.

    Here’s how bummed out I feel today.

    I’m going to say something mean, politically incorrect and elitist.

    The other primary reason it’s so hard for Progressives to win the day is that only 2% of the population has an IQ over 130.

    It’s hard to find a way to talk to the other 98%.

    Now my Catholic guilt is rolling in…..

  5. Khirad says:

    Loved the analogy. Also, unlike the right, we want that castle. Simply setting up a trebuchet and hurling Byzentine fire or dead cows is their thing. And, we want something left after we take it. Their whole ideology is about dismantling and demolishing the castle.

    What the progressive legislators needed was either a secret breach, or better yet, sustained cover volleys as they roll up the battering ram. And this includes counter demonstrations against teabaggers. That was sadly lacking. That’s another thing. The political physics -- and human nature -- of it being easier to moblize and fire up dissent than support.

  6. bitohistory says:

    Reminds me of a Mark Twain yarn. An organizer for pubic debate asked Twain to participate. Fully expecting getting turned down, he was prepare with his pleas.Shocked, Twain said “yes, as long as I can have the “con” position. The man asked why and Twin replied ” It’s easy to oppose most anything and you don’t have to prepare.”

  7. javaz says:

    I agree, Keven, and share in the disgust with Democrats and Progressives for not fighting back quicker and harder.
    But even when the Dems and Progressives push back, the MSM ignores them, and instead focuses on the Repubs and Teabaggers, or at the very least, gives them more air time.

    How do Progressives fight against the MSM, which has a bias towards the Republicans?
    That’s the real question.
    How do Democrats and Progressives obtain equal air time?

    • KevenSeven says:

      The bias of the MSM is inertia. The MSM, by virtue of being main stream, is all about the status quo being good.

      The media does not have a liberal bias. It has a lazy bias.

      The whole point of this column is not just that we did not do enough, but that it is by the nature of human existence, the more difficult position to take, to be with the forces of progress.

  8. KevenSeven says:

    Dammit. Here is the image that I tried to attach:

    ” width=”400″ height= “300” alt=”pix” />

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