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Glenn Greenwald on Progressives, Obama, and the Democratic Party

What should Progressives do next?

Three well informed — and I think reasonable — Progressives discuss the question here.

It turns out the three find themselves in solid agreement that Obama has abandoned Progressives, and that Progressives should therefore abandon Obama.   My guess is they are not alone in their thinking, but represent the thoughts and feelings of many Progressives these days.

Progressives seem to be close to taking on Obama and the Democratic Party in somewhat the same way that the Tea Party took on the Republican Party.  But “close” doesn’t count for much.  The question is, will they?

8 thoughts on “Glenn Greenwald on Progressives, Obama, and the Democratic Party”

  1. That “will they” question is a good one. There’s no financial incentive for corporations to back us like they do the Tea Party, nor is there a media engine predisposed to promote our interests. In our case, we’d require an actual grassroots organization to spring up and fight.

    Do we have the sort of leaders we need for this type of thing? I feel like even the leaders we might have had, Dr. Howard Dean for example, are more and more tied in to the system.


  2. I think progressives are their own worst enemies.
    1) they focus too much on national level politics, leaving the communities they expect to rally to their side to rot. Local elections determine more about education, environment and economic policy than the clowns in the federal level to… and it is where new faces gain experience and recognition.

    2) they only act when expressing outrage and slide into complacency when they feel they “won” the election.

    3) they turn on themselves for “impurity” far too quickly… Obama is not the messiah.

    4) the engage in far too much hero worship… see #3.

    5) they spend too much time dithering instead of staying on message, focused and concise. Look at the mess they made of selling health care. A real no-brainer IMHO. I mean come on… death panels was blatant fear mongering, but it worked because progressives dropped the ball and couldn’t refute it without loosing the audience.

    6) they spend too much time demonizing the other side rather than actually examining their own tactics. I’m not a fan of the Tea Party, but they took the progressive grassroots model and owned it… they took not only federal but local elections despite the mockery heaped upon them.
    Neither side wants to or is going to “destroy America”… if the civil war didn’t do it, squabbling over a tax cut isn’t going to.

    I’m not going to even get started on the crappy way either party deals with the other when it comes time to actually accomplish anything.

    ok… rant over.


  3. Those are remarkably astute observations, Sean. In the video I linked to, they make it look so easy, but I think you’re right that any Progressives who want to pull a Tea Party face some major hurdles.


  4. Wow, Wolf! When you rant, you really rant! You not only get hard hitting, but you get pretty comprehensive, too. I’m impressed (but I’ve always been impressed with you!). You make some very good points.

    I happen to think a lot of people who would not call themselves “Progressive” or “Liberal” nevertheless take Progressive positions on things. For instance: I recall most polls discovered a majority of Americans were in favor of a public option on health care. That was a Progressive position that the majority favored, but there has never been a majority of Americans willing to call themselves “Progressive”. To sum: I think Progressive causes are a little bit better off than they look at first. At least in terms of how much support they have.

    Yet, I agree with you that Progressives need to focus on the local and state levels, and not just try to win nationally. That’s a sharp observation, Wolf.

    Also, I agree Progressives are their own worse enemies. But I think that’s true because they are typically disorganized.

    Good comments, Wolf!


  5. Well, truth be told the wife and I were discussing the issue as we drove her to class this morning. She is getting her Masters in “Advocacy for Social justice and Sustainability”… so the issue is one of concern/frustration for us. 😛

    I agree that Progressive issues are majority favored… and that is why it is so frustrating to see “progressive politicians” fail so consistently at not letting others dominate/set the tome of the discussion.

    It’s not like this is a new problem. Californians rejection of Prop 23 only proves that it’s not simply a matter of corporate money as the bogyman du jour either.


  6. Wolf, here’s something I would like your opinion on… Chris Hedges recently wrote:

    “The American left is a phantom. It is conjured up by the right wing to tag Barack Obama as a socialist and used by the liberal class to justify its complacency and lethargy. It diverts attention from corporate power. It perpetuates the myth of a democratic system that is influenced by the votes of citizens, political platforms and the work of legislators. It keeps the world neatly divided into a left and a right. The phantom left functions as a convenient scapegoat. The right wing blames it for moral degeneration and fiscal chaos. The liberal class uses it to call for “moderation.” And while we waste our time talking nonsense, the engines of corporate power—masked, ruthless and unexamined—happily devour the state.”

    What do you make of that, if anything?

    And if anyone besides Wolf would like to comment on that, please do so!


  7. I think it’s absolutely true. 😀

    Americans even most self declared “liberals” are actually center right and wouldn’t know what the rest of the world understands as “left” if it bit them.



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