Thursday, January 26, 2012

Taylor Marsh: We Need Our Own Tea Party

Two Tea Party protesters with an odd sense of history
Caption: No, they're not terribly bright, but when it comes to understanding how politics works, they're way ahead of your average progressive.

Image credit: Look At This Teabagger

In what may become something of a trend, Taylor Marsh was given space at U.S. News And World Report to criticize the Obama Administration on progressive grounds, and she made good use of it:
The Democratic base has a passive-aggressive relationship with Obama that resembles a dysfunctional love affair. He has all the power and the base has absolutely none, unless you count the gay and lesbian contingent which was as good a model as the Tea Party on how to get it done. It's not that progressives couldn't have power; it's that they refuse to wield any.

So they cannot pressure Obama at election time because he knows his Democratic base will be there. After all, they're not the Tea Party. It doesn't matter if they're unhappy, all that matters is he's got their vote and he knows it.

Time for a Tea Party of the Left
The title of that article is telling. We don't have the equivalent of the Tea Party on the Left. I've been writing that so long that I don't even feel like finding any links for it. I wrote such an article three days ago. The fact is that the Democrats do what they do, which is to fail to live up to any of our expectations, because most progressives continue to vote for them anyway. There are many reasons for that, but when I have to summarize our current political situation in one sentence, that's it.

No, the Occupy movements are not a Tea Party of the Left. They are avowedly apolitical, and as I've discussed already at some length, there's no reason they should be. They're a hammer, not a scalpel. They're simply demanding that we do something about the problems facing us.

As someone commented over at Taylor's blog post on the article, this may be the start of a trend of right-wing news organizations giving progressives a chance to criticize the Obama Administration. I'm all for that, for two reasons.

The first reason is that no one else gives us much of a voice to do such a thing. Beyond Glenn Greenwald, I have a hard time thinking of anyone who frequently criticizes the Obama Administration from a progressive perspective in the mainstream news. Most of the truly independent progressive voices are left to find their own outlets (like this one), or are confined to big blogs like FireDogLake or Daily Kos. There's Raw Story and Rolling Stone, of course, but neither is what I'd call mainstream news. So having a voice at all is a good thing, whatever the motivations.

Second, and this is the more important one, until progressives are seen as the roadblock to power in the Democratic Party, they will continue to be ignored. I've been saying that in one way or another since I wrote this regarding the Obama Administration back in March, 2009. The writing was clearly on the wall by then, just two months into Obama's first term. Anyone who can't see that by now either isn't looking or doesn't want to see it.

To progressives who are tired of being ignored, I'd say you should try first to explain to Democrats in the only language they will listen to that you've had enough. Don't support them, and if they don't vote the way you want, don't vote for them.

Maybe the most remarkable thing about this article is that Taylor Marsh wouldn't have written it two years ago. After a lot of haranguing from folks like me who understand this particular aspect of political power, and having watched what we've predicted unfold, Taylor figured it out. She used to call herself a "Democrat", now she uses the term "liberal", because, as she figured out, those two labels are no longer the same. Sadly, she's way ahead of most progressives on this front.

If progressives want real political power, they have to demand it. It's that simple. Until enough progressives do that, we will continue to be ignored, and I find it hard to blame Democrats, or any other politicians, for doing so.


Anonymous said...

Another bad thing about "progressives" is that they cn always be scared into voting for Obama [or whoever the batshit incompetent Democrat-of-the-moment is, because "oooooh, scary, scary, Supreme Court, what would the Republicans do?"

They fail to appreciate that people like Obama stomp down any and all criticism -- both of Obama AND of his BFFs that he's continually "negotiating" with.

I've voted solidly Democratic for 50 years. I'm done with them until a "real" one comes along.

Cujo359 said...

For my part, I keep wondering why such people assume that Obama will appoint SCOTUS justices that are to their liking. Once he's re-elected, he has no further motivation to do anything on behalf of the people of this country, and every motivation to sell out to the highest bidder.