Maybe the best way to move the progressive agenda forward is to relabel it in this time of political and ideological upheaval. There are many ways to skin a cat.
The Obama win was certainly a victory compared to the last two presidential elections, for those on the left with the sense to see that Obama is left of McCain.
The Democrats are afraid to go too far left. The pollsters report that 23-24% of people report being liberal while 34% say they're conservative. The rest call themselves moderates. But the word liberal has been trashed and is not longer a viable word for assaying political or ideological proclivity.
The fact is that many progressive Values and issues ARE centrist and moderate, not extreme.
Thom Hartmann told me last night, that Michael Harrison, the editor of Talkers Magazine-- the trade publication for talk radio hosts and radio stations-- said on Thom's show, the other day, that the new dynamic won't be between the classic idea of liberals and conservatives or left and right any more but that the debate will be between progressives and reactionaries.
Now, if that's the case, and the truth is that pollsters are using the wrong word to ask the ideology question, then what progressives need to do to make progress is to get their values and issues out on the table and stop talking ideology.
Hartmann says, that "we can characterize the right wingers opposing such moderate ideas as health care for all as being radical reactionaries."
Instead of focusing on the negatives of the Obama campaign, start talking about what he CAN do, what the mainstream of the people who voted for him would want him to do-- universal health care, out of Iraq, protect th constitution, out of Guantanamo, end torture, re-regulate rogue corporations, end our addiction to oil, social justice, ecological/environmental justice-- these are not extreme or far left. Yet they are core progressive issues. And Progressive Values and the failure o conservative values have been fleshed out brilliantly by Edwin Rutsch and other writers.
Even though greens and Naderites and others on the left lost in this election, there is much cause for hope and we face a vastly different and new set of circumstances and opportunities. It's time to rethink strategies, tactics, rhetoric targets an even vision and mission. Anything less is a failure to recognize the dramatic change that has taken place. There will be those who say there is no difference. Those who do so are sadly attached to their old ideas and will surely be disappointed when their misread of the current situation causes them to fail, if they actually engage in activism. Unfortunately, many of the loudest voices claiming nothing has changed just talk and do not engage in the activism or community organizing that makes change happen.
I'm sure some on the left will call me a sell-out, because I suggest that we can get our goals accomplished by re-framing them as mainstream, moderate and centrist. Frankly, I don't care. If I can get universal health care by calling it moderate, and 49 million Americans get health care, I'll let go of the progressive appellation. If I can get strong protections for the environment and reverse the global warming process and decrease climate change by framing these as centrist thinking, that's cool. If YOU need to stay with the progressive labels, maybe YOU are stuck on the words more than you care about the issues.
In summary, we have a whole new situation with a new set of opportunities and challenges. It will be wise to re-evaluate our vision and mission and to see which progressive values, issues and goals can be framed to fit the centrist approach that people like Rahm Emanuel and Nancy Pelosi say they are taking. There are definitely many of these progressive values and issues that will fit nicely in the middle. There is hope we can see them embraced, with legislation passing the targets we've long been shooting for. Holding on to old ideological language and framing, attitudes and grudges is a losing strategy.