The Republic of T.

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Progressive Victory?

Matt has an interesting point, as he voices his frustration with the post Iowa chatter about “post-partisan” and “post-ideological” voters in the wake of Obama’s Iowa Victory. It’s one that I lamented the lack of support for the most progressive candidate in the race, but I don’t think I put it as succinctly as Matt did, after running down the numbers he says prove that liberals and progressives handed Obama his Iowa victory.

Obama’s self-identified liberal supporters aren’t even willing to claim what exit polls clearly show to be the case: Obama won because of liberals. Among moderates and conservatives in Iowa, Obama led Clinton by only a 31%-30% margin, while among liberals, Obama led 38%-25%. Without liberals, this Obama surge wouldn’t be happening.

This brings me to one of my major problem with Obama: if his campaign and his supporters can’t even credit liberals and progressives for a victory they quite obviously delivered to him, then what possible credit or influence will liberals and progressives ever receive in an Obama White House? Iowa progressives and liberals just handed the nomination the Barack Obama, and his campaign won’t even give them credit. In fact, Obama’s progressive supporters seem to, in large measure, have been convinced to not give themselves credit, either. If the campaign won’t promote progressivism now, and if it has the ability to convince progressives to shift credit for their victory to a false post-partisan and post-ideological narrative, how can we ever think that Barack Obama will promote progressivism? If you are interested in having an ideological progressive movement, that is a question that should worry you.

It does worry me. It’s worried me for a while.

It worried me back when Dean cozied up to Pat Robertson. It worried men when progressives started promoting less-than-progressive candidates, because “that’s what we have to do to win.”

But over and over I basically hear about all of the above “If that’s what we have to do to win … ”

And then I remembered something I hear a certain A-list blogger (who honestly seems to care about these issues, and keeps asking how Dems should talk about them) say a while back: just getting Democrats elected is not sufficient. Certainly not if they’re going to put their constituents and the convictions in the closet in order to win. A party that believes it has to put its own values on the back burner in order to win must not believe that it can and should win based on its values. It becomes something else entirely, and will find it hard to go back if the trick should work.

It worried me when Obama started evangelizing to the evangelicals.

So how do you reach out to people like them as voters when you have longtime constituencies around issues they’re either opposed to or would rather not talk about? It becomes even more challenging if a party’s positions on those two issues has anything to do with its values. You can try talking to those voters about those issues, without offending them or betraying your values on those issues. That’s difficult. Or you can avoid those issues, distancing yourself from them and their related constituencies, at least publicly. That’s easier, and it might get you more of the votes you’re seeking than it will lose you votes that you can pretty much (or at least have always been able to) take for granted. It might work. It might also make you a different party; slightly different or remarkably different remains to be seen.

…The change in positions doesn’t happen now. It doesn’t have to. A journey of 1,000 miles begins with just one step. That particular step may lie anywhere along those miles.

It bothered me when Democrats in Congress couldn’t bring themselves to cut funding for “abstinence-only” education, even though it’s been shown not to work and to be little more than government funded gravy train for the Republicans evangelical base.

In hopes of gaining support for their other domestic parties, the Democrats have voted to shovel money at the very people opposed to those parties. The logic there approaching Bush-like proportions.

And, thanks to all those who educated us on the necessity of electing “centrist” Dems for bringing us this moment. They have they’re cover, and the right will continue to get tax dollars to evangelize the world.

The day that Howard Dean sat down with Pat Robertson, I said that the ultimate victory of the Republican Revolution may turn out to be a more conservative Democratic party. I’m not convinced that we’re not headed that way. Especially now that the party has taken another step rightward.

If progressives aren’t getting credited with handing Obama his Iowa victory, perhaps it’s because progressives haven’t always demanded progressive positions from Democratic candidates. Perhaps progressives have been too willing to “set aside” candidates’ less-than-progressive positions on some issues, because that’s what they believed had to be done for Democrats to win.

The problem is that in doing so, they started the process why which “Democrat” becomes further differentiated from “Progressive.” It’s worked very well. Republicans started defecting to the Obama camp last year. And at least one poll suggests that Obama’s Iowa support came from Republicans and independents. Not Democrats.

Want a candidate and a president who will promote progressivism? Start by rewarding candidates for taking progressive position, and actually leading on some difficult issues. Start by supporting progressive candidates, who are unafraid to identify as such.

In the end, maybe you get what you vote for. If you vote for what you want, you may get it down the line. If you vote for what you’ll settle for, you’ll get it, but maybe not much more.

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