Progressives have a choice to make in 2012. Some progressives live in districts where a progressive candidate needs their support in a primary race in which the progressive faces a tightly contested but winnable race against one or more Blue Dog type Democrats. For progressives residing in such a state and/or district, their duty is very clear: support the progressive so he or she can face and defeat the Republican in the general election next November. We need as many consistent progressives in local, state and national offices as possible.
For many progressives their Democratic primary or caucus has no race where a progressive faces a serious contest with a Blue Dog Democrat. In this scenario, Democrats have a rare opportunity to do severe damage to a political party which has blocked nearly every substantial effort that President Obama has made to boost our economy by creating more jobs than the private sector is prepared to or willing to create.
This is not just any party. This is the party that has used racial hatred and fear of human sexual diversity to get tens of millions of people to vote against their own economic self interests. This is the party that lied to start a war which has killed and disabled tens of thousands of American service personnel and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
This is the party that has whored itself out to the richest bidders to keep people unemployed or underpaid and scared out of collective bargaining. This is the party that has feigned piety and patriotism while shipping millions of jobs overseas to a country that persecutes Christians along with people of other faiths, steals American technology, and uses slave labor inside and outside its national borders to produce cheap products of often questionable quality and safety.
This is the party that lies about global climate change to subsidize oil from nations that breed and fund terrorists who kill Americans along with people from every nation and religion on earth. This is the party that talks about energy independence in terms of "drill baby drill" and "all of the above" when what they really mean is "spill at will and give the people the bill" and "oil of the above." This is the party that refuses unemployment benefits and minimum wage increases unless its super rich patrons can get or keep an unneeded tax cut to invest in overseas quick bucks, garnered through slave wages and anti-environmental practices.
This is the party that believes that freedom of speech means that if you have money, you get the megaphone and if not, you can talk on Rush Limbaugh or blog on the internet to nobody but those who agree with you. This is the party that loves to kill criminals and to deny them retrials which might prove their innocence. This is the party that hates abortion so much they'll not hesitate to order aerial terminations of Muslim mothers and their born and unborn children.
This is the party that believes the fox is the best guardian of the hen house when it comes to pension funds and home mortgages. This is the party of oil slurpers and lying birthers. This is the party of Fox News and countless handsomely funded propagandists. This is the party that hates science and sex and you and me and anyone else who gets in the way of their duty to defend and protect the outlandishly opulent through any means of deceit or dissemblance.
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This is the Republican Party and they deserve to suffer, and for the sake of our nation's future they need to suffer the pain of permanent political exile or be divided into legitimately representative factions.
All that said, our own Democratic party needs to suffer as well because its leadership has chosen to ignore the clear intentions and desires of the rank-in-file members of our party. Instead they have chosen to push our party in the direction of a kinder, gentler global corporatism. They have chosen to play defense and dish out piecemeal, toothless and fruitless reforms, inadequate for the task of decapitating a systemic monster of unrestrained and insatiable greed. What we can do this coming year is to put Democratic Party leadership on notice by occupying the GOP into total turmoil in Tampa Bay.
Progressives have a choice. We can vote in the 2012 Democratic primaries and rarely, if ever, change the outcome of any race in a progressive direction or nominate any progressives other than those already predestined for the general election. Or we can switch parties in closed primary states or register unaffiliated in open primary states to occupy and vote in the GOP primary for Ron Paul.
Before your eyes roll out the back of your head, let me state the obvious. Ron Paul is not a progressive. His economic policies, if enacted in full, would only deepen the depression our economy is still unable to come out of. However, his nomination would undo the corporate grip on the GOP and send them running, begging to be let into our Democratic Party. We might choose to use such opportunists next November but that is a choice that the GOP establishment will fight tooth and nail to prevent us from making.
Progressives have a choice. We can vote for Obama again and hope that he really means it this time and that, if he really means it, he has 60 consistently progressive Senators to help him make it happen. We can vote for Obama in an uncontested primary to give him our thumbs up for what he has done or tried to do. We can vote for him because he will certainly know that with our vote in the primary, he will be empowered to revisit and rewrite the healthcare law so that we have a universally available public option to purchase Medicare before retirement and without disability.
With our primary vote, President Obama will know that he can demand that Congress send him a 3 trillion dollar investment package to build all the elements of a peaceful green economy, including an interstate and truly high speed rail system, and a state of the art, high efficiency fiber optic cable grid connecting every home, business and not-for-profit organization to super high speed internet service and cleanly produced electricity.
We can vote for him in the primary so that he will make sure that teachers get paid like lawyers, and doctors and nurses get to treat patients rather than fight insurance companies. We could vote for him in an uncontested primary for exactly the same reasons we voted for him the last time and get exactly the same results in his second term.
Progressives have a choice. We can choose to occupy and vote in the Republican primaries and caucuses for candidates who, like Ron Paul, will work and vote to dismantle the military industrial catastrophe and all its cash sucking empire building and maintenance. We can vote for a candidate who will stand opposite President Obama and ask him why he will not completely de-fund drug and other endless and senseless wars and occupations. We can vote for a candidate who is proposing to cut the Pentagon by 600 billion dollars below what President Obama plans to spend on and through it.
We can choose to occupy and vote in a primary for a candidate who rejects NAFTA and CAFTA and most favored nation status for China. We can vote in a primary for a candidate who wants to scrap the Patriot Act, end torture and close Gitmo at least as much as Obama wanted to do when he ran for president in 2008. We can vote for a candidate who wants to end no bid contracts for Cheney's gang, and who plans as president to remove all American funded military contractors from Iraq and Afghanistan. We can choose to vote for a candidate who will not decrease Social Security and Medicare benefits for seniors.
Admittedly, Ron Paul wants to cut all these things we progressives despise so that he can reduce debt (something we want to do as well over the long run) and cut taxes on everybody (something we think needs to be done for almost everybody). He also proposes to use half of the savings from reduced militarism spending to shore up entitlements (a laudable goal) and to enable people under 25 years of age to "opt out" of the entitlement system entirely (a myopic plan which would boost consumer spending in the short term and impoverish millions of seniors in the long term). Fortunately and ironically, our dysfunctional upper chamber will do the right thing and reject this "opt out" the way they nuked the public option, inspiring some clever combo to propose a good trade of "opt out for opt in," a better idea which will also never see the light of day.
When the "opt out" is put out of commission (the sooner the better), a President Paul would have to make a deal to do something different with that money. He ought to do (and could be persuaded to do with enough progressives coming to his side) a politically astute deal right now: agree to send all of that money to the states exclusively according to each state's population to do with it as each state chooses. Progressive states like California could invest that money into building high speed rail and modernized schools with well compensated teachers. Conservative states like Texas could choose to give billionaire oil slurpers another tax credit to "drill baby drill."
This would not be the ideal deal but it would empower depression defunded states to choose to do what the federal government will not do. It's a choice that will not bring us all that we need to build the peaceful green economy right away, but it will set up an interstate contest which proves once and for all that progressive governance produces more and higher paying and safer jobs than does laissez-faire economic permissivism.
Progressives have a choice to help replace neo-cons with libertarians in the leadership of the Republican Party. Progressives can choose to occupy and vote in primaries for libertarians to face down Blue Dogs in the general election. Progressive can choose to vote in primaries to send unelectable extremists up against solid progressives in the general election. In short, progressives can choose to turn the Republican Party into a libertarian party while setting up an election that puts a coalition of libertarians and progressives in charge of congress. This would include 60 Senators who will vote together to free up trillions of dollars to pay down debt and empower states and individuals to make better choices than they can now.
If progressives make the right choice to jump ship and infiltrate the GOP primaries and caucuses, we will turn a major party upside down and set our country on the road toward peace and, its younger sibling, prosperity. But this good decision would have the added benefit of giving us other choices.
For once we can have a Democratic presidential candidate facing an opponent who does not demand the Democrat prove he is not weak on defense by agreeing to put the Pentagon on more budgetary steroids. For once, we can have a Democratic presidential nominee debating how much to cut the Pentagon and how to use the money saved from ending endless drug wars and other deadly, forever self-defeating wars. Progressives have a choice of punishing Blue Dogs by voting for libertarian opponents or of letting Blue Dogs lie and Democratic progressivism die.
Progressives have a choice of making life a little bit better over four years or letting life go on with the same old song and dance, bait and switch routine of rhetorical flourishes covering legislative flushes.
Progressive have a choice that can lead to better choices. We can waste our primary votes affirming half measures and premature capitulations or make them count for something for a change.
God help us if we don't make the choice we need to make now!
I am a progressive evangelical Christian interested in unconventional and innovative politics.