The other day Tavis Smiley made the point that president's job plan didn't go far enough. I'd bet a lot of progressives concur and I think pushing the point is healthy, legitimate, essential and fair. But it's also healthy, legitimate, essential and fair to then ask, "What would make more progressive legislation possible?" That line of thinking has to confront the kind of statements and action by Democratic Senators who evidently feel little or no pressure from their progressive base.
One of the reasons why I've harped on the "flying while brownish" series is because I think liberals are much more comfortable attacking whoever seems to hold the most power, and much less comfortable examining the power of the "weak," as well as the power that they, themselves, wield. Power confers responsibility. In evading the notion that citizenship in a democracy confers power, you also evade the notion that it confers responsibility. It's comforting to believe in a narrative of liberal "betrayal," to argue that the game is rigged in such a way that the Hippie-punchers always win.
It's also pretty cynical.
Tom Carper [mouthing off that the best Jobs bill is a bill that reduces the Long-term deficit] from the comfortable environs of blue Delaware is a failure of Team Commie to be regarded as serious political force. People who talk of primarying Obama need to pick smaller targets--and thus elicit bigger results.
But being taken seriously involves actual work. It means a poverty tour that doesn't just bark (Obama the black mascot) but bites (voter registration in swing districts.) If you don't like the current iteration of America, you need to remember that you are America. The failure to build a more progressive America isn't merely a testimony to dastardly evil, it's a testimony to the failure of progressives.
If you're a progressive and you feel that the political system isn't doing what you want, it's misguided to look at this as a personal failure of elected officials. It's, if anything, a personal failure of you and people like you. Justice and equality doesn't just happen because it's nice, people need to make it happen. If it's not happening, then its advocates are failing.
Somehow we got in our head that the Civil Rights movement happened because Martin Luther King was a really nice guy. We don't really talk about the movement as an actual force, as applying force. We don't think about what SNCC was really trying to do when they were risking their lives to register voters in the delta. When we think about people trying to kill them we think about evil, but we should think about power and fear.
Let me make my stance clear, in case it isn't already. I love Liberalism. I love its ideals.
Liberals, on the other hand...