A visitor from an alien planet, observing actual events, as opposed to speeches, would not see any obvious discontinuity in national events over the past year. Guantanimo, Bagram and perhaps other unknown torture centers remain open, and extraordinary rendition to such places in other countries continues. No high level officials have been indicted, or even investigated, for ordering torture and other violations of due process. There has been no investigation of massive corruption involving tens of billions of dollars poured into Iraq. The Afghan War has been escalated, the Iraq involvement continues, Iran is being threatened, the US is killing people in Pakistan. No progress has been made with respect to international action to deal with global climate change. Bankers still have their way with the US treasury. Globalization policies that have been de-industrializing our country and destroying American jobs remain intact. A noisy political battle rages over the details of a health care bill designed to further enrich the insurance and medical industries.
For decades now, the great majority of progressives, particularly those in leadership roles, as well as, labor unions, have supported the Democrats unconditionally. No matter what terrible things the Democrats do, progressives have thus far made it clear that they will continue to back them, because they feel the Republicans are worse. All they ask for is a few soothing words now and then.
Progressives obviously have no influence at all with the Obama administration. But the converse is not true. A great many liberals now support, or at least accept, policies such as the wars and gross Bill of Rights violations, that they previously opposed, because they do not want to weaken the administration they helped elect. Thus a "lesser evil" victory is turning out to be worse than a greater evil victory might have been, because virtually the same bad policies are being followed, but now with much less opposition.
It seems obvious that continuing allegiance to the Democratic Party is a dead-end strategy. Progressives should stop playing games with slick politicians and stand up for what they believe in. The time has come for them to devote their energy to developing a new party that will represent their views which, even now, are shared by large numbers of Americans. Those views would surely become even more popular if promulgated by a substantial, coherent party. This would take time, and the Republicans would probably regain national power for a while. But, since it seems likely that, as a result of their miserable performance, the Democrats will soon be out of office anyway, there is really little to lose by leaving their sinking ship now.
A big question is whether to start organizing a new party from scratch or to pour energy into building up an existing entity such as the Green Party. In any case grass roots organizing will be critical.