More than a month has passed, actually now it has been two. In the third week of June, I heard the song in my head for the first time. With each day that passes the volume increases. Friends, family, and familiars were privy to what has been a curiosity for me. Still haunted by what I know needs to be shared farther and wider, today I tell you my tale. The story begins with two Florida Democrats. Each aspires to fill the one open United States Senate seat. The date; June 22, 2010. I was amongst those invited to attend the initial Meek Greene debate.. The place? The Palm Beach Post headquarters. The time? Midday. The reality realized and the reason my mind marinated in the melody titled It's About Time, today, Democrats, Progressives are not as they were.
I knew this was true and have for quite some time. Still, never was this veracity as stark as it appeared to me on that day. Oh yes. Daily, none of us escapes what fills the airwaves. We have heard the newer definitions and seen greater divisions within the Party; indeed, the population, for years. During election seasons yours and my mailbox burst with messages, all of which signal the metamorphosis. Often, in most every campaign, "It is about time, about space, and about two men [or women] in the strangest place." The difference for me, is blatancy.
A close comparison, face-to-face with the candidates, the two campaigns, persons in the crowd, and the strange circumstances that surround each of these, magnified what is evident everyday. Amongst the audience alone, there were Democratic loyalists, persons with a strong commitment to the Party. Independents, people from the Press, there only to cover a story took their chairs. Present were former Republicans, individuals who did not identify their preference, and those truly enamored with a billionaire's earnings. Then, there were a few such as me. I value the common good, government of, by, and for all people. The commonweal, I believe, is the basis for all that ensures a quality life, liberty and the possible pursuit of happiness. We were a somewhat skewed sampling of the electorate. Within the Senatorial candidates and campaigns one could see aspects of any or all of us.
Their beliefs, background, and circumstances that brought each challenger to this scene were as dissimilar as the makeup of the spectators. Jeff Greene led a lavish life of luxury and indulgence. Even in the hard times, he managed to attend all the best schools and work in exclusive environs.
Kendrick Meek has a skeleton in his closet, or at least that is how Mister Greene framed the phenomenon. That aside, Senatorial hopeful Meek has a far more humble background. He is and has always been an average American, amongst the working class. Despite his less than glamorous childhood; he has achieved. Ultimately, Mister Meek worked his way into the Halls of Congress. Currently, he serves Floridians in the United States House of Representatives. Separately and together the two personify the strangeness of the times we live in and the dilemma that has become Democratic politics.
In 2010, Democrats are a divided bunch. Perhaps, they always were. Near a century ago, Will Rogers asserted, "I do not belong to an organized political Party. I am a Democrat." At present, a far Left fringe and followers of a more conservative liberal agenda are self-identified Progressives. As one author observed, Beware of the Progressive Democrat. Helen Redmond cautions against a "Party of Lemmings." One might wonder . . .
What Do Progressives Believe?
When I was younger, I trusted that Democrats believed in social equality. Those who identified themselves as advocates for democracy, a principle that speaks to government of, by, and for the people, marked off the box on their voter registration forms that denotes, "Democrat." However, slowly, over the decades, a silent transition occurred.
Democrats began to define themselves as "Progressives," or at least many did. Unlike a score ago, when a large body of research revealed "that individuals were frequently unable to correctly identify their ideology, unlikely to express an ideologically constrained set of political values, and unable to consistently use ideology to inform their political preferences in a coherent way," today individual survey respondents report a preference for an ideology that does not fit neatly into the conventional liberal or conservative categories.
Polarization has come to define political elites and the common people. People presume that labels are legitimate. The latest examination of the electorate exposes what is evident through Jeff Greene and Kendrick Meek.
Let the Debate Begin. Pundits, Press, the Public Define Progressive Positions
The opening scene began with little fanfare. The dynamic duo, or applicants for the United States Senate seat, walked onto what sufficed for a stage, and spoke to citizen concerns.
Democratic Party neophyte, frequently featured CNBC guest speaker, The Man Who Shorted the Subprime Market, also known as a billionaire, Jeff Greene espoused his expertise. Next to him, and there to promote his past performance, as well, was United States Congressman Kendrick Meek.
Years earlier, the specifics of what each said, would not have been defined as democratic. Today, we see this novel truth daily. Countless Democrats, moderates, conservatives, and liberal, call their positions Progressive. Studies seem to support the divergence that has occurred. For me, the hour and one half encapsulated what had occurred over time and in the vast space we classify as America.
The candidates posited their "Progressive" practices. Humanitarian travels were amongst Greene's treasure trove. A trip to an island Republic, certainly would calm the United States, Cuban conflict. Further investigation revealed that Cuban American affairs were not Mister Greene's priority. Personal purchases played a primary role in what was professed to be a charitable mission.
Kendrick Meek humbly offered his own openhanded gestures. He unassumingly touched on his work in Haiti. The Congressman never mentioned the banner headline; Haiti tragedy puts Kendrick Meek in spotlight, his record. or the ample documentation to support his claims.
Congressman Meek has often been characterized as an actual Progressive by numerous reputable and respected organizations. On many themes the Representative speaks and votes as a more liberal person might. However, whether or not Mister Meek is an authentic Progressive, well, that depends on who you ask and what actions you assess.
For persons who favor a fuller, more robust reform than we have seen enacted, Kendrick Meek can be quite regressive and Progressive. Thus, the dilemma for persons in the audience such as me. I felt and feel immersed in a strange time, at a strange place, almost as though I were in outer space.