As Republicans take over the Senate as well as the House, progressive American leaders are trying to find a silver lining, and so far guaranteeing the clouds will remain dark. Think Progress, which has many intelligent posts, has one by Mike Lux titled 2105: A Year OF Great Opportunity For Progressives, and then outlines a strategy that all but guarantees we will never do anything with that opportunity. In a nut shell, most of it is hope Obama will be a firm bulwark against the right. That is the “opportunity.”
Sigh. Good stuff as far as it goes, but it does not go very far. NONE of it a game changer because Lux and pretty much every progressive leader always thinks no more that a year or at most two ahead and never asks whether the rules are rigged in favor of the other side, or if so, what can be done about them.
We have TWO fundamental problems which Lux ignores. He then identifies the clue to addressing both and then almost inexplicably ignores it.
The clue is we won on the ballot measures far more than we lost. We generally win on the issues. Except for gun regulation it is usually the case. However the current corporatist domination of both parties guarantees these issues will rarely be raised, let alone addressed.
That observation helps us target the two unmentioned problems. First, we have corporatists in the Democratic Party that pretend to be liberals and progressives. They just gave a big gift to the banks at public expense while pretending to be liberals. The vote that did not matter can be used to confuse voters if ever there is a primary challenge. Which there won’t be in most if not all cases. This is actually a common ploy, for many of the most crucial votes in legislatures take place before the final one. They make sure the issues that matter somehow never get acted on, even when Democrats are the majority.
For two years we had Democrats and Obama with majorities in both houses of Congress as well as controlling the presidency and they could not even abolish the Bush tax cuts. They then gave us a health care plan developed by the conservative Heritage Foundation back when conservatism was sometimes sane. That the right wing now calls it “left” demonstrates what counts as ‘left’ is simply sane conservatism. That we call it “progressive” demonstrates how devoid of hope and insight the American progressive community has become.
At most progressive leaders urge us to elect better Democrats without ever wondering why we have this problem.
Then there are the Republicans who are so bad we have to vote for corporatist Democrats else we end up where Maine is. Challenge a corporatist and end up with a Republican. The tactics advocated by Lux and too many others would do nothing to solve this bigger problem.
The answer is to change the battlefield to one where we can show our strengths. That means moving to majority vote elections that empower third parties while guaranteeing the disaster of Maine, where a split Democratic/progressive vote led the teabagger LePage to win a second term, again with a minority of the vote. With majority vote elections this cannot happen.
Majority vote elections provide third parties with a far more level playing field and a chance to win at all levels rather than seeking a few high profile elections where they are at a big financial disadvantage. Third parties means we get the issues into the debate- and we are stronger on the issues than we are within the Democratic Party. That guarantees the issues will get public airing with candidates behind them.
Richmond, CA, is an example of what can happen when progressive issues matter to voters. A progressive coalition won control of the city government. They began actually enacting progressive policies. Chevron, which has an immense refinery there, spent over $70/vote trying to defeat incumbent progressives when they ran for re-election, and lost in a year where Democrats did not come out to vote.
PROGRESSIVES WON AND CHEVRON LOST BIG IN A YEAR WHEN NATIONALLY DEMOCRATS DID NOT COME OUT TO VOTE.
Think about that.
Changing the battlefield requires thinking strategically, not tactically. Can progressives do it? They finally are in Maine where they are circulating a state initiative to establish majority vote elections with instant runoff.