The problem was, it was led and directed by no progressive. John Podesta was the chief of staff for Bill Clinton-- a Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) type through and through. Podesta was brought in to run the transition for Obama's presidency, in which the White House was filled with Banksters, Finance corporate types and Robert Rubin acolytes.
I always felt that what Center for American Progress did was similar to what NPR did. They both co-opted the development of REAL progressive organizations-- advocacy or radio.
Now, the word is John Podesta is stepping down and is being replaced by another DLC type--
Just the simplest googling tells us that Tanden was a policy wonk for Obama-- even for his health policy program (shouldn't we really call it his health reform sabotage program? After all, no progressive was satisfied with it, while stocks in health insurance companies went way up after it was passed. And she was the domestic policy director for the Obama campaign-- and we know where that took us.
So now, she's going to lead the Center for American Progress. Perhaps it's time that real progressives face the reality that there is no well funded real progressive "think tank" that functions, like the "think tanks" of the right, as a progressive policy promotion organization.
The Center For American Progress started with over $10 million in funding. Whoever continues to fund C.A.P. continues to support a chimera-- an illusion that fools some people into thinking that there really is a seriously funded progressive organization.
Center for American Progress does a decent media operation, with thinkprogress
. It does a lot of reporting on what's happening, from a liberal perspective. But it makes sure it keeps Democrats comfortable.
I think there's a difference between a progressive organization run by a progressive who lives and breathes progressive values and one that is led by a Democrat who's spent her career serving right leaning Democrats, no, make that Democrats who have spent their careers trying to move the Democratic party to the right.
I'm not saying that Neera Tanden is a bad person. But her transition to leadership of CAP is a clear indication that the progressives in America still need a real, genuine policy promotion think tank organization that is based on progressive values-- not the centrist to right Democrat leaning values of the DLC.
We've seen the Barack Obama and his administration come down hard on progressives. They take us for granted or worse, disparage and disrespect us. We've seen the progressives in congress fold in the face of pressure from Obama, Reid and Pelosi.
I say all this about the Center for American Progress knowing that there are a lot of good hearted, well intentioned progressives who work there or who have worked there. The problem is, they are not leading it.
Now, we have a huge new phenomenon, the OWS movement, arising. It has the potential to be immensely powerful. It is NOT influenced by a few gazillionaires, like George Soros, who gave money to Center for American Progress.
I used to think that the left needed policy promotion "think tanks" like the right has. I don't know if that will ever happen. So far it has not.
Perhaps the way progressives will find a way to get their values put into policy is through the Occupy movement. Perhaps the big money way of the right was never the way the left was going to reach it's populist goals of health care for all, fair wages, clean elections without power and money buying wins, clean environment, sustainable energy...
Perhaps it's unrealistic to expect the wealthy people and unions it takes to fund a big operation like the Center for American Progress to actually fund a real progressive organization. Maybe we're going to need to look to the Occupy Wallstreet movement. Here's some news-- it's not nearly as partisan as the Republicans fear or the Democrats hope.
But if you look at the plethora of signs, you see, spelled out, again and again and again, progressive values.
So, congratulations Neera Tanden. Good luck. I really do hope you find ways to make CAP successful. But, just as I expected little to nothing progressive to come from Obama, I expect little from you, outside of the crumbs the Democrats throw the left, while mostly serving big corporations.
It's interesting to note that John Podesta, in a letter announcing his departure as head of CAP, claims responsibility for just about all positive progress on the left.
In less than a decade, CAP has become an impact player in the policymaking process and the political arena. Our intellectual imprint can be found in the substantial progress our country has made in areas as diverse as health care reform, the creation of a clean energy economy, education reform, and the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. You can see CAP's influence in smart and sustainable defense policies, budget proposals that give equal emphasis to job creation and deficit reduction, the long-overdue decision to end our military involvement in the war in Iraq, and the eighty-plus CAP alumni who serve in the Obama administration in key policymaking roles.
Why not take credit for the births of all the children born in America?
Okay, so the claims are ridiculous. My goal for this article is to observe that if you're a progressive and you think there's an institution that has your back, or that's standing up for your values, think twice. We have Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinich. We have a collection of progressive leaders who take stands and do civil disobedience to stand up for what they believe in. And now, though we're not sure exactly what it is or where it's going, we have the Occupy Movement.
Last night, at Occupy Philly, I got up on the stage and talked about why I occupy, after I'd spent a paltry six hours down there-- compared to the mostly 25-35 year olds and the homeless who lived there before it was Occupy Philly who call it their home. There are over 300 tents there and many sleep multiple people. That could easily make Occupy Philly bigger than what's happening at Zuccoti park.
In a way I was a visitor, but I've already written that I believe that there are many ways that we can all become a part of the movement by supporting it in different ways. So I talked about my efforts to support it, to show up, to be there for solidarity, to publicize it, to tell the story about what's happening underneath-- about the people, the processes. And I talked about my hopes, which are sky high. Yes, sky high. I dedicate my sky high hopes to ragged, unshorn young people who are working hard, in general assemblies, to define directions, goals policies, not with leaders, but with facilitators.
Here's a video that shows what General Assembly looks like. They're happening at the hundreds or thousands of "Occupied territories" a term that I first heard at Occupy Philly.
Watch it. See how different it is than a think tank of well paid employees funded by a handful of wealthy people and unions.
THAT is the future for progressives.