Seeking Progressive Social Change
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We WILL Get Fooled Again

Well, here we go again. Every election we get pumped up about the “changes” put forth by candidate X or Y or the Democratic Party as a whole and think “this time it will be different”. Then the elections pass and the working class heroes we cheered on the campaign trail become corporate defenders of the status quo when assuming office. Look no further than the 2006 Democratic Party takeover of congress, which has been endlessly disappointing, as pointed out by the always on-target OpEdNews. It’s been quite a letdown.

I’m just as guilty of falling for the rhetoric myself. As I’ve written elsewhere here, I’m tugged by Obama’s eloquence and I hope Hillary’s campaign ends quickly. But honestly, what are we to think when Obama raises $50 million in one MONTH? That bread’s coming from some deeper pockets than mine and I fear our friend Barack will be inside many of them.

Who's Next?Sure there are differences between the two parties and I will continue to prefer Democrats to Republicans. But when it comes to ending the corporate dominance of our culture and economics I’m afraid we’re going to be fooled again, as The Who sang. Ralph Nader, back before he became the scourge of the Democrats, once brought real pressure through a mass movement; the result was congressional action and significant change (auto safety, workplace safety, the EPA, strengthening the FDA, and so much more). Now he talks about being stonewalled on consumer issues – by the Democrats – for the last twenty-five years. He makes a good point. I mean, have you seen any hard-charging investigations on CSPAN lately? Well, we did see Roger Clemens get grilled pretty good.

And then there’s the impeachment issue, or non-issue, as the case remains. Having a 20% approval rating doesn’t come close to addressing what ought to be outright anger spilling into the streets…but then again even I’m not in the streets. And I’m as impassioned about this as anyone.

Amusing Ourselves to DeathSo where’s the outrage? Maybe it’s from living in a time of “amusing ourselves to death”as Neil Postman wrote in ’85, and he hadn’t even heard of DirecTV. At the same time who among us isn’t “working ourselves to death”? After a twelve hour day of work/commuting/stress, who’s got the energy to march in the streets? Most of us want to pick up our kids at daycare, if we remember what they look like, and go home.

So what to do? Being a progressive in 2008 is frustrating indeed.

The way I keep (somewhat) sane is to remember that our culture is conservative by nature – I don’t mean the right-wing kind of conservative but one that resists quick social changes. But history shows that once an idea gets momentum, anything’s possible. Imagine being an abolitionist in 1820, or a trade unionist in 1880, or anti-establishment in 1950. Tough times indeed. But all of these periods gave way to some of the biggest changes in US history.

I stumble the web all day and you could make the argument that change is in the air. True, in the short term the Democrats will continue to (mis)represent themselves as the progressive party and many voters will go along. But there’s an awakening underway. Maybe the next Progressive Era to turn back the last generation’s pro-corporate policies is already here.

I’ll tell you this much: If the economy keeps heading the way it’s going and the gap between the Haves and the Have-Nowhere-Near-Enough’s keeps growing you’re going to start seeing some honest-to-God angry folks, and they won’t be yelling at the TV, they will be marching in the streets.

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March 4, 2008   |  Filed Under Political   |    Permalink

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