In 2011, The Question Progressives Must Answer: How Do We Vitalize Our Democracy?

I recently saw a great movie, “The Duchess,” set in 1770 aristocratic England — where everyone understood that the actions of a whole society were centered on the goal of benefiting the aristocracy.

It comes as a shock to realize the actions of our society are centered on achieving a similar goal. I wrote in “The Tax Agreement: Another Victory For The Party In Power — The Money Party” that we should take the time to be shocked at how our society actually works, again and again, to advantage the oligarchy.

We should be shocked that regardless of electing a Democratic president in 2008 who made repealing the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy a big part of his platform, and regardless of electing big Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, the ultimate outcome of the 2008 election is an extension of the Bush tax cuts for two more years. Amazing.

Amazing outcomes are not accidental. It seems, to me, the tax deal was all a matter of staging — like a goofy scene from a bad movie — all a sham. It allowed hypocritical Democratic legislators to shift blame to the Republicans. These Democrats, when they had the chance, had failed to act and were glad to find Republican cover for their lack of action. How self righteous those Democrats must have felt who declared: “Those mean Republicans are holding the American people hostage and we care so much about the American people, we are now forced — forced — to compromise.”

Victor Harris, responding to the Money Party post, defends President Obama’s tax deal.  He writes:

Ben Franklin said, “Politics is the art of the possible,” and I think his quote is germane to the tax-cut compromise. The President was left in a situation with two options (Not considering Democratic incompetence over the course of the year in getting progressive tax policies in place): we could pass a lot of good progressive tax policies, along with a few bad conservative ones, or get nothing in about 30 days. …

… Should we progressives be in a situation that allowed each group’s tax cuts to be linked? The answer to this question is obviously no, but those were the circumstances confronting the President.

…I know this is a hard pill to swallow, but due to the last election’s results we are going to have to get accustom to more compromise like the President’s with the GOP over tax cuts. Mr. Franklin was right. Politics is the art of the possible and we must adjust our thinking to focus on pragmatism in order to move our country forward over the next two years.

What Vic writes sounds reasonable. I appreciate the notion that we need to deal with the reality that exists in today’s politics. But, I question how much progressives should compromise.  How much compromise is possible before the character of progressivism is fatally changed?

The Money Party is in charge, and it seems to me the only hope for advancing a progressive agenda is via the overall vitalization of our democracy.  Progressives need to vitalize the Democratic Party as a democratic organization and progressives need to vitalize the Republican Party as a democratic organization, as well.   Neither party represents the thinking and values of its most faithful members. As it stands, both the Republican and Democratic parties are controlled by the Money Party. Vitalizing democracy within each party would be a major gain for progressivism.  If the common sense understanding of ordinary Republicans and Democrats would be what guides both parties, there would be a great victory for democracy and progressivism.

Many progressives today are feeling used. Many progressives today are disappointed with Obama and are bemoaning the energy and effort they gave to the Obama campaign in 2008.  They ask: Why did we not support a candidate of greater courage, vision needed to advance progressive principles?

Unlike the commoners of aristocratic England of 1770’s, we commoners today in a nominally democratic America of 2011, have the law, via a robust constitution, on our side.   The progressive question for 2011 is: Can we make democracy work?  What is needed is an effective grassroots movement centered on vitalizing democracy at the grassroots level.

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2 Responses to In 2011, The Question Progressives Must Answer: How Do We Vitalize Our Democracy?

  1. Rick says:

    This may seem off topic but it is related. I believe most of the readers of this forum would agree that eventually the US must: a)balance its budget and b)pay off its debt. If we don’t, our economy will collapse and their won’t be any democracy to revitalize.

    While some liberals believe that we can run a deficit forever, I doubt that the average Democrat or Republican believes so. There are a lot of the money party that make money off deficits because they get the money. This could include the big defense firms, the medicare and medicaid contractors, or scam charities.

    Where the people on this forum might differ is when the collapse will come.

    I welcome your comments. What should we do now to avoid a federal government economic collapse? How much time do we have? Should the federal government, broke as it is, bail out failed states and municipalies?

  2. Eric says:

    If we don’t, our economy will collapse and their won’t be any democracy to revitalize.

    Wouldn’t a has-been superpower turned third world debtor nation need to make revitalizing its democracy a priority? Just sayin’ …

    Might revitalizing democracy help prevent a superpower from becoming a third world debtor nation?

    As to timing, it all depends on the dollar vs euro prospects. Europes PIGS have bought some time for the dollar as reserve currency.

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