Around this time a year ago, those of us on the progressive side of politics were celebrating a successful campaign season. Not only was President Obama reelected by a huge majority, we picked up seats in the Senate maintaining control and even picked up seats in the House, though not enough to take control away from the Tea Party. This was a major accomplishment.
Many factors pointed to not only a closer race between Obama and Romney, but many seriously believed that not only would the Republicans maintain all their House seats, they were expected to pick up some and take control of the Senate. Due to the gridlock in Washington, a weakened economy that just would take off again, there was little hope of any kind of Democratic victory.
However, two inconceivable and previously unheard of factors were in play during the 2012 campaign. One; social media really took off with progressives spreading the word that ordinary Americans weren’t getting from mainstream media and two; the Republicans were in open warfare with themselves. They lost unity and the most extreme fringe took too much power that ended up turning off the moderates, progressives and even some true conservatives in the nation.
Like thousands of others, I took to tweeting and blogging what I saw was wrong with the Republican agenda. I took swipes at the inane logic of their platform, the pro “uber” wealthy and corporate agenda that left middle and working class in the dust, the results of 30 years of failed Reaganomics and the gridlock perpetrated by those in office merely because the President was a black Democrat. I was one voice in thousands working together to change the narrative in the real world and expose the Republicans for what they were and what they represented.
We were all unified to ensure that they not only didn’t take the Presidency, they weren’t going to take the Congress either. Of course, the Tea Party helped us all during this time. In their delusional way of thinking, oblivious to the reality around them, they believed their redefined sense of “Conservatism” is what the majority of Americans believed in and wanted.
It is true that when polled, a majority of Americans consider themselves “conservatives” and the Tea Party took that literally and refused to look deeper about what specific policies Americans are for and against. Though most Americans call themselves conservatives, they also by large majorities support:
Sensible gun control and universal background checks
Social security viability and oppose privatization
Properly funded and staffed civil services
A populous agenda that doesn’t take a backseat to corporate interests. All of those things and more the Tea Party are absolutely against and would call those who support those ideas “socialists” and “liberals” and thus, are anti American in their way of thinking.
So in their mind, only the most extreme of those in their newly defined sense of conservatism could win a general election and take the Senate. So they helped us, they primaried traditionally strong conservatives successfully and ended up with nut jobs running against centrist Democrats for the Senate and many House seats. The Tea Party “litmus test” about true conservative and Republican ideas cost them dearly in 2012. The results are history.
So we celebrated our gains and successes and patted ourselves on the back for a job well done. However, we then stopped working together as we moved into 2013. Just as the Tea Party destroyed the Republican Party numbers and message with their litmus test, some on the progressive side began to single out certain beliefs and certain individuals as not true “liberals” or “progressives”. In many cases it was for some undefined reason.
Many were attacked not for what they were saying, but for what they were “accused” of believing, or siding with, or organizing with. Many brought up unsubstantiated and quite frankly weak and unconvincing evidence they called “proof” of the “true nature” on many select people on the left and began to harass and intimidate them. They started to split the progressive movement under their own definition of what a true progressive is. They began their own “litmus” test and were vicious and vile to those who didn’t ascribe to it. As I observed it and was victimized by it, I came to the realization that this wasn’t for ideological reasons per se, it was more about vanity, personal vendettas and quite simply meanness. Regardless, the progressive movement on social media began to lose unity as 2013 progressed and many previously active progressives simply dropped out due to disgust and in some cases fear.
Fortunately the progressive civil war has died down considerably in recent months, but it still exists. Occasional swipes are still being publicly presented on Twitter, malicious attacks and phony harassment claims being sent to Twitter support to get accounts of people who the perpetrator simply doesn’t like, suspended. False and misleading accusations still fly, but not as bad as it was several months ago.
We are now entering the 2014 election cycle, the midterms.
For those who remember the 2010 midterms, the progressive movement took a huge hit due to lack of unity and lack of interest. Few showed up at the polls to vote. The majority of those who did were the unified Republican stalwarts who successfully took control of the House and many State governments. Worse yet, they did it in a Census year and used their newly acquired control to gerrymander Congressional districts to their benefit in future elections.
They were unified and we weren’t. We were fighting amongst ourselves, we weren’t happy that the Public Option was taken out of the Affordable Care Act, we weren’t happy that President Obama gave in too much to the Republicans. Many “liberal” media personalities openly complained on air about how bad and ineffective the administration was and told their viewership to teach the Democrats a lesson in 2010. That lesson came back to bite us.
We can’t allow this to happen in 2014. In fact, we need to totally reverse the tone and outcome of the 2010 midterms to our favor in 2014. We not only need to be unified again like we were in 2012, we need to work the existing system to our favor if we can’t change it in time for November. Though difficult, voter suppression laws like voter ID can be overcome.
The strength of the Progressive movement is that it is a populous movement. The bigger our tent, the more inclusive we are, the stronger we become. Our litmus test must be no litmus test.
We don’t need to embrace each and every idea out there, but we must be tolerant of conflicting ideas and concepts. We need to approach each other with open arms, not closed fists. What’s more, we need to bring in others not normally associated with the progressive movement. Many Republicans in gerrymandered districts are just as pissed off with the Tea Party as we are. However, if we don’t talk to them, make them feel safe within our movement, why shouldn’t they still vote GOP?
Tolerance, Openness, Compromise must be our mission statement to bring as many to the fold as we can. After that, we need to educate everyone on the issues and why they matter to them individually, finally, we need to urge them to not only register, but to vote in each and every race this year and beyond. The higher voter turnout it, the more in tune the results are with the views of the nation. That’s why the GOP works to suppress the vote.
I do not claim to be a journalist, I don’t claim to be unbiased, I don’t claim to be a central point or important voice in the progressive movement. I’m only one of thousands out there who has some views that I think thousands, if not millions share that I want to get out anyway I can. I believe in the progressive cause and I believe in what’s known as Evidence Based Practices. EBP is the concept of using those things that history and research have shown actually works for any stated goal. Use what has been proven to work and discard what has been proven to not work. A very simple process.
I will be blogging about the issues at hand and more importantly, the voter ID and registration laws that exist around the nation and what can be done to work the system so as many of you who can still vote will be able to. If the system is set up against you, work the system in your favor.
My goal is to convince you to be involved, registered and vote your interest in 2014. We only have 11 months to go. I won’t tell you how to vote, only to vote if you can.
If this is important to you too, then help me and others get the word out. Give me your ideas, post your own ideas on social media, start your own blogs, get the word out but please, don’t let this go to your own head and inflate your own egos like some out there. This country is more important than any one person’s ego.
So, let’s get started. Whether you are OFA, Unite Blue or like me GDI (God Damn Independent) let’s all respect one another, work and compromise with each other and unify together for a progressive and successful 2014 midterm.
More to come in the week and months ahead.