Are Progressives Wimps?

Do Progressives need to learn how to fight? Progressives (and I count myself among them) do fight, it’s just that too often the fight is among ourselves.


Meanwhile, the opposition goes to town. Whether it’s the birthers, tea parties, or disrupting town hall meetings, the Right acts…and we react.

I’ve seen a lot of media about why progressives, liberals, whatever…always seem to be on the back foot. All I know is, it’s time for that to change.

Progressives in the US stand to lose the battle over healthcare reform because there was no unified game plan ahead of time to fight for what we wanted (single payer, universal care). And I guarantee you, whether reform is passed or not, conservatives will claim victory. And well they should. They were better organized.

It’s true they hijacked the discussion on healthcare with half truths, faulty rhetoric, and straight up lies.

And no one, least of all me, wants to match them lie for lie. I don’t think progressives have to go that way. Yet the infrastructure they’ve built to spread their doctrine on a number of issues (the stimulus will bankrupt America, Obama was born in Kenya, the death panels) merits some scrutiny.

Believe it or not, I receive some of their stuff via e-mail. One thing you realize right off the bat. Conservatives never admit defeat. When the stimulus bill passed, they didn’t waste time with recriminations or blame passing. They told their followers, “you made a difference”. And then prepared them for the next battle. Sure, there may be some behind the scenes finger pointing, but when you’re fighting and fundraising at the same time, it pays to give the rank and file a sense of purpose.

Progressives can learn from this. The most important lesson, in my humble judgment, is to act rather than react. We can make fun of birthers and hostile healthcare reform opponents, but our message gets lost. The fact that, with few exceptions, there was little vocal presence in favor of single payer at most town halls to date points up the depth of the problem.



That means fighting to win, and fighting not with fists, but ideas for the long term health of the nation. We are engaging in battle on the enemy’s terms when we don’t stake out clear positions and act on them before they do.

We also need to fight with every means at our disposal. That means, and I’ve said this many times before, engaging progressive people of color on a level we don’t now see. We have groups of white progressives, black progressives, Latino progressives, etc.

How about groups of integrated progressives? They are out here, believe me. If Barack Obama’s election is to mean anything in the long run, more groups of integrated progressive Americans need to be formed, and plans to take the fight to our opposition put in place.

Or am I just nuts? You tell me.



  1. The reason Republicans unite around one simple idea is that:
    a)they have had a limited agenda for decades and it’s easier for them to remember it
    b)they tend to follow the leader, as in authoritarian

    Progressives have a lot of ideas, as well as being compassionate. The media loves
    the right wing, conservatives, in part because the owners are conservatives.

    There is a range of progressives – to radical. Progressives generally do not have an
    ideology nor agenda, as do the Right wing Republicans. And what’s a progressive?

    The phrase “integrated progressives” is new to me. It makes sense to cut across
    “all groups” for progressive “things” such as health care (single-payer), the
    right to free education, housing,… The Conservatives have put a lot of money
    into media, “think tanks” for decades. One example: in Robert Caro’s book on
    LBJ “Master of the Senate”, in a discussion of electric power, Caro points out
    how the rich corporateers put a lot of money into decades of propaganda,
    called “education” or PR that privatization of electricity is a good thing – Notice
    that Caro was giving history that began in the 1920s. We see how that myth
    got floated with success in the 90s, wrecking public electricity in many places,
    Enron and CA manipulation as part of it, etc. Another example is the century
    plus “war” on unions, that Americans are different, than Europe and workers
    don’t need those “greedy, corrupt” unions, so Western European workers
    have 8 weeks or so vacation a year, benefits, etc. and paid maternity/paternity
    leave and universal/singlepayer health care from birth….

    We know what Americans don’t have.

  2. Mark, if looking anything like the right wingers do today means “fighting” , then NO THANKS!
    I am completely ashamed to be associated with them as a fellow countryman.

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