Monday, July 23, 2012

Progressives have Hobbled the Democratic Party

by Michael Phillips

Progressives have hobbled the Democratic Party and have played a big role in its drift to conservatism. Yes all the progressive allies of the Democratic Party, such as Move-on, the unions, the peace movements, the NAACP, the ACLU, environmental groups, human and civil rights groups, civil liberties groups….you name it, are all guilty.
This realization came to me after I attended a Democratic club meeting recently. I have been a member of this club for over thirty years. It has the reputation of being one of the most progressive Democratic clubs in the nation. But not anymore. I could barely endure the boring meeting. With all the very serious issues out there which threaten our very democracy, they serve up pablum. Compared to what this club used to be, it was a sad spectacle. Nowadays, crucial progressive issues are shunned and even when I try to raise some of these issues, even in my most always non-confrontational respectful manner, I detect discomfort among the members and some even try to shut me up. Now, when wishy-washy Democratic leaders are guests, instead of calling them to account and having a real discussion, they are mollycoddled. I looked around at my fellow members. What has happened? What Kool-aid have they drunk?
But, many of my progressive activist members were no longer there. They had quit the club years ago in a tiff with the more conservative members. That was a big mistake. Many went off to join,  or concentrate their efforts on, progressive organizations such as Move-on, the peace movement, environmental groups, the NAACP, the ACLU, human rights, civil rights and civil liberties, healthcare groups. Some even joined the Green Party although it is obvious that they do not stand a chance. They did some valuable work in those groups too. But, they had abandoned the Democratic club to the more conservative element and so the conservative drift became inevitable.
So in the club now, there are virtually no Move-on, NAACP, ACLU, peace activists, union members etc.. Now if some of these dynamic social activists were in the Club, what an impact they would make. Instead, I feel so alone there sometimes, but I will not give up.
This is typical. This conservative drift of the Democratic Party is nationwide and progressive leaders in the party are getting lonely too. In some places the party is virtually indistinguishable from the Republican Party. It is not enough for progressives to support the Democratic Party from the outside. I understand the organizations need to be non-partisan. But, members do not have to be. They need to get back to the Democratic Party, let their voices be heard, set policy, set direction and put it back on the proper course. The fact is that we progressives have left the congregation to preach to the choir.
In future Democratic club meetings, I would love to see it packed with members of unions, the ACLU, the NAACP, environmental groups, human, civil rights and civil liberties groups. We have great leaders of the many progressive groups, but their talents also belong in leadership roles in the Party, not on the outside. Being a registered Democrat is not enough. For progressives to complain about the Democratic Party is not enough. We have got to get back inside it and change it back to its traditional values. Otherwise, we are just spinning our wheels while the 1% use the Republican Party to dismantle our democracy. And, we had better act soon for it is urgent.
Michael Irving Phillips,
Editor, Hot Calaloo
Author, Boycott Money and Save Your Soul
- Launching The Goodwill Revolution".
"Bring Our War $$$ Home" - Codepink

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