I read this article which was shared by a friend on my Facebook timeline. I think it highlights some real issues concerning the future of the movement and how it proceed in the face of increasing likelihood that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee.
Once again, the age old argument about whether it is better to work within the system or in opposition to the system comes to the fore. The 2016 election presents a particular problem for progressive activists and making the right choice about how to proceed. If their candidate of choice can’t win the nomination, and they try to mount a third party challenge, write in a different candidate, or simply not participate in the voting, we could easily have a repeat of the Bush / Gore election when Ralph Nadar broke ranks and ran as a third party candidate. That decision gave the election to Bush and the result was eight years of, not just not progressive administration and policies, but eight years of undoing years of progress.
The tone of this article is that the “establishment” Democratic Party is the enemy. It describes how the “centrists” co-opt the agenda of the Left and then somehow hold the Left hostage (hence the Stockholm Syndrome illusion). Personally, I believe this is the source of the ineffectiveness of the Left in moving its agenda forward. The activist movements, Occupy, Black Lives Matter, etc are important. But what drives change is the movement of the center.
It is a fact that the majority of our citizens exist at just Left and just Right of the center of our political spectrum. Now that center moves over time depending on circumstance. In recent years, it has definitely moved Right. But it is still the case that the majority of voters are moderate and will normally support the establishment of their chosen political Party.
What is perhaps unique in 2016 is just how polarized things have become. Both political Parties have found themselves dealing with serious insurrection within the ranks. The GOP has completely lost control of its membership. None of the establishment picks for the GOP nomination received more than token support. The two candidates left standing are both outsiders who are far to the Right of what the establishment party leadership is comfortable with. The fact that it was their 8 year barrage of extreme anti-government, anti-Obama propaganda that caused this situation is neither here nor there. They are now stuck with resorting to trying for a contested convention to try to stop Donald Trump.
The Democrats are in marginally better control of their membership and it looks almost certain that Hillary Clinton will prevail and be the nominee. But far from being the automatic nominee that was predicted, she has struggled, barely staying ahead of Bernie Sanders in the delegate lead and showing huge weaknesses in voting blocks that she will need in the general election. While Hillary Clinton’s great strength exists with African American voters and, not surprisingly female voters, Bernie Sanders has destroyed her with younger voters and the independents that will be crucial to win against the Republican nominee.
This situation has provided leverage for the progressives that we haven’t seen for years. It represents an opportunity to move the progressive agenda forward and get buy in from the establishment “centrists”. But it remains unclear whether the activist Left will take advantage of this situation or, in a pique of righteous outrage refuse to support the Party nominee. In my opinion this would be a disaster and would almost certainly result in a victory for the GOP. It would, in my opinion, be an example of “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory”.
The only way things are really going to change in the country is to move the center. Yes, activism is important, but the Civil Rights Movement did not prevail until Lyndon Johnson threw the weight of the Federal government behind it. The Anti-Vietnam War movement didn’t really accomplish much until it put a million people on the mall in DC. Those weren’t the hard core activists, those were the very centrists that the activists disdained as “limousine liberals” etc.
There has been a movement away from the center towards the extremes by a large number of people on each side of the political spectrum. This fact is the direct result of a government that, for many years has failed to deliver to its people. The Left and Right activists have basically driven the discussion for a number of years leaving the majority centrists feeling like the whole political discussion isn’t addressing their concerns and isn’t being conducted as they would wish.
With the GOP looking like it will certainly nominate a candidate with abysmal national approval ratings, a unified Democratic Party looks to win and win big. But can it and will it unify? Hillary Clinton is a tested and experienced candidate. Yet, she is as unpopular with the extremists on the Left as she is with the folks on the Right. Many committed Progressives have actually said that they will not vote for her or support her, no matter what.
I find this attitude appalling. It smacks of hubris. It says that for the sake of being “right”, for the sake of feeling “righteous”, they would be willing to sink the whole ship rather than have a captain they didn’t like. This despite the fact that this political ship is the only hope of moving the ball forward towards a progressive future. It is a fact that, if this ship sinks, the ship captained by the other guys wins the race and it is also a fact that that they are absolutely committed to, not only preventing moving that progressive ball forward, but actually undoing decades of progress.
Activists always have the dilemma of pushing a society in ways that are uncomfortable. But often they are out of sync and push harder or faster than the society will move. That can even create a backlash that can be counter productive. This is a unique time. The establishment Democrats absolutely need the support of the progressives who are at the Left side of the Party. Because of the tremendous showing by the Sanders supporters, the Sanders Progressives have a tremendous leverage to get Hillary Clinton to commit to progressive policies that she might other wise not champion. But, if these folks refuse to unify with the Party, they lose all chance of effecting the outcome in anything but a disastrous way. We could find ourselves with the Anti-Christ (from a progressive / liberal standpoint) as President and a bunch of self righteous activists bitching about how corrupt the “system” was. This just strikes me as a sort of suicide wish among people who purport to be acting for the benefit of all the people. It certainly will not benefit anyone if this happens except the very people who are the real enemy.
Read the article below and see what you think…
The Democratic Stockholm Syndrome | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community
After weeks of hard and increasingly heated campaigning, Hillary Clinton scored a decisive victory over Bernie Sanders in last night’s New York Democratic primary. Despite losing a majority of the state’s counties, she won in huge margins in New York City and the popular vote overall.