May 14, 2006
-- by Dave Johnson
Matt Stoller, in MyDD :: Go Get Yourself Some Power, Progressives,
What this means is that we have to make being progressive in politicians' self-interest, and acting as a right-winger against their self-interest.PLEASE go read the whole thing.
You see, politicians care about getting elected, and that's pretty much all they can afford to care about. You can't blame them for this, just like you can't blame companies for seeking profitable arrangements. I'm sorry if this bursts anyone's bubble, but Paul Wellstone was just a politician seeking power. So is Howard Dean. That Dean has popular support from an organized group that will rip people to shreds who criticize him means that he can afford to be progressive.
... The key for progressives is to understand that elections matter, but how politicians get elected matters more. It's not about sitting out elections if you don't get your way, it's about making sure that when a seat opens up, or an idea is under debate, or someone needs a set of numbers, your team is there with the people and the information. Politicians get elected based broadly on organization and money in a continuum. What we as progressives should be doing is trying to pull the political system away from money being the determining factor in how someone gets elected to making it one determining factor of many. And if possible, we want to make it impossible for a Republican or Democrat to be elected without taking progressive positions.
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That's an excellent article, and it's well worth reading all of it.
Years ago, when we were organizing the Women's Movement at the U. of Michigan, the subject of power came up. I asked a group of women gathered together griping, "What's power?" Nobody answered. They just stared at me. You have to KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN by power before you can get any.
I see the progressives as in pretty much the same position. They had power for so long it's been a horrible shock to have lost it. They remember what it felt like to be in power, but to a large extent they don't seem to have a clue to how they'd gotten power in the first place. It's not by any means just a matter of money or of "playing to the base." A base of what? Who?
I think it's a matter of having convictions, setting goals, and fighting like tigers to achieve them. To do that you've got to have personal integrity, based on a strong feeling that what you're doing is morally right, and believe me, whether or not you have that shows. That's what killed off Kerry. That's what is destroying Hillary. If progressives are going to get anywhere, ever again, they've got to articulate what in Hell it is they stand for, and what they have to offer. And they've got to mean it. It shows.
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