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Note to Democratic Centrists: Don't Forget The Roots Of Our Party's Activism

By       Message Ron Fullwood     Permalink
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Moderation has never yet engineered an explosion. -- Glasgow

Now that the midterm elections are coming into view, our party has a chance to capture the attention of voters and make the changes in Congress that will help us to begin to wrest back control over our democracy. Its past time for voters to pull the seats out from under the members of the republican party who have spent most of the last decade in power selling out our public and national interests to the highest bidder to feed their hunger for power and influence.

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As we in our party, and those who intend to lead us, begin to present our party's philosophy and intentions, we should be certain to present our arguments from the roots of their advocacy. Their progressive, liberal roots. Our argument on so many of our basic needs and concerns will not be well represented, nor will it be effectively furthered by an approach which starts the debate from the middle.

The republican opposition begins their advocacy from a craven position, obstructing any impulse or instigation of government that is outside of their sponsored militarization, or outside of the support and elevation of the business interests which bankroll and encourage them into power.

With the dual occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan - this republican party's only signature endeavors - there is barely enough of our contributions to our government for them to lord over and spend on continued tax breaks for their wealthy benefactors at the expense of everyone else. But, they try.

The middle is the republicans' political playground. They aren't at all sincere about their responsibility to the public interest. They don't actually want the entitlements they pretend to legislate and defend to actually have any priority as they divide the revenue pie.

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Basic concerns like health care, education, civil rights, the environment, are treated with miserly neglect by the republican majority as they reflexively, unflinchingly advocate and vote for more money for more occupation, more conflict, and more feathering of the military industry coffers.

Our party, on the other hand, believes in and advocates actually using government effectively to address these basic needs and concerns. As the nation's citizen's well-being goes, so does the rest of the interests and concerns which make our country grow and develop.

As we put forward our positions and arguments we should acknowledge the liberal origins of issues, where inclusiveness is a prerequisite to success, and partitioning of concerns is nothing but marginalization and abandonment.

Our leaders can not expect us to advocate from the middle. That's where we are ultimately, but not inevitably, compromised in our concerns. No one in a position to effect change should be sanguine about partial remedies that only manage to address part of a problem. Compromise should be an acknowledgment of work yet to be done, not a measure of ultimate defeat for the needs and concerns of those left out of the equation.

The liberal left or progressive contingent in our party advocates comprehensive approaches that bring all members of their constituency to a remedy together, leaving no individuals behind. For the left, centrist, incremental philosophies represent a bargaining off of one segment or another of those individuals they advocate on behalf of.

It seems absurd for them to offer up a slice of a whole loaf as a guiding ambition, especially since the opposition doesn't give a wit about the unlucky ones whose benefits are whittled away at the margins just so someone can claim moderation; as if half-assed was a virtue. Incrementalism may work if it intends to come back and pick up the loose pieces and isn't just a political pacifier, or a stopgap with no sustainability or commitment to the future.

Our environment won't be well served by bending to unaccountable industries that compromise on clean air regulations, trading emission output in the shell game Congress allows. It won't be addressed by centrist, state's rights arguments that obstruct state to state environmental links for wildlife and clean water. The environment won't bear centrist's compromises; half steps and window dressings that curry to industry. A liberal approach doesn't put business on the same level as our wildlife, our air, our water, and our land.

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Health care won't be adequately addressed without relying on the left's insistence that we provide universal health care. There wouldn't be incremental measures considered or adopted without the solid, inclusive position the left advocates.

Centrist heartburn about protecting business, advocating voluntary standards as opposed to enforceable legislation, leaves us vulnerable to uncontrollable price increases, barriers to eligibility and access, potentially limits the range of options and services.

How do you fight gerrymandering, or defend the Voting Rights Act without including the left's concerns about proportional representation that they use in their arguments about affirmative action? How do you get fair labor standards to make the centrist's 'free trade' work without fighting and defending the increase in the minimum wage the left advocates?

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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price

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