For too long, critics have been shouted down or shut out, but that has to change. It's well past time for us to hold the feet of our self-appointed leaders to the fire and demand some answers.
- Where are the results? During the two and a half years of the Obama administration, hell, during the previous 20 years - where are the victories for the environmental and progressive movements? Civil rights? Anti-poverty? Feminists? Any wins? Any concrete results?
- When are you going to fight for us? Since January 20 2009, which progressive or pro-environmental actions of the Obama administration have you supported and assisted to become stronger? We don't want to know about all the times you attacked the President, we want to know when have you ever supported something positive that they did?
- Coal mine safety regulation? The Department of Labor has been in a pitched battle against Massey for years, what are you doing to help?
- Coal burning regulation? EPA regulation? Other than EDF, have any of you tried to build public support?
- Nuclear power safety - the head of the NRC is under attack by NRC staff and Republicans for emphasizing safety and cutting off the Yucca mountain fiasco. What have you done to support this and push back against the nuclear industry?
- Labor - what are you doing to support the NLRB against Boeing and for quicker union elections?
- Wall Street Regulation - the Senate GOP is blocking consideration of ANY chair for the financial regulation bureau. What are you doing about it?
- Anything? Electric cars? Smart grid? Pesticide regulation? Civil rights enforcement? Any one single thing? Nothing at all?
- What about building public pressure to push for ending the wars? Maybe trying to get a peace movement going so that the Administration pace of ending the war is not the far end of the public debate? No? Too hard?
- Local and state elections. Where are the progressive candidates? Training for candidates? Is there a single US city with a mayor like Laguardia or even blue state where there is strong progressive legislative caucus? Not one. Not a single one.
- Re-evaluation of tactics? The Bold Progressives of the PCCC were all over twitter claiming credit for the defeat of Wisconsin Bad Impulse Control Judge Prosser until the recount. Have we
missed the careful reappraisal of whether the money PCCC spent on advertising was well spent? How about for the Arkansas debacle? The appalling loss in New Hampshire? The replacement of terrible Arlen Specter with the wingnut looney tunes Toomey? Was that a good idea in retrospect? Any thoughts bout, you know, how to win elections instead of losing them?
- Media. Independent media reaching more than a few tens of thousands already in the choir? No?
- New and appealing economic proposals that are help build a coalition for reform?
- Old and still good economic proposals appealing explained for a wide audience?
- Hello? Hello? Are you there?
Well, that's kind of depressing summary. Let's look at a few case studies.
When the Obama administration came into office, the National Labor Relations Board was essentially inactive. The NLRB sets rules for worplace and union activities. The Republicans in the Senate blocked all Obama appointees to the NLRB for over a year - paralyzing it. During that time, we got some coverage in the progressive media about the cowardice of the Obama administration in refusing to use recess appointments. However, the Obama administration did finally make recess appointments good ones. Suddenly, the whole issue of the NLRB became uninteresting to "progressives" and it has remained that way even as Republican attacks on the NLRB have reached a fever pitch. Here's a prediction, if the Obama administration gives way before Republican complaints and does not reappoint recess members - at that moment, the progressives will return because there will be a defeat to bewail.
Ok, what about EPA regulations? When the Obama administration's EPA started the process of regulating carbon and mercury in coal burning it tangled with one of the most powerful lobbies in DC. Fortunately, the Environmental Defense Fund supported the Administration as did .. um ... - well, nobody else. Nobody was interested. But but when the Republicans and some Democrats tried to extort EPA restrictions in exchange for passing the 2011 budget, a lot of "environmentalists" woke up and began loudly explaining that the Obama administration was going to cave and betray us and so on. There was a defeat, even just a prospective defeat to bewail. But the administration did not, in fact they were absolutely hard line - amazingly, the "environmentalists" forgot about the issue again.
What about choice? During the Health Care Reform debate there was a moment when all seemed lost when the Republicans found a bunch of Democrats who were willing to help kill health care reform to prevent women from exercising their right to choose. Naturally, all the progressive pro-choice organizations that had meekly let the cruel Hyde Amendment be renewed year after year, were incensed that the Administration was not standing up for choice aggressively. But after HCR passed and the administration absolutely refused to negotiate on defunding Planned Parenthood in the 2011 budget and when the Administration reacted strongly to try to stop state bans on Planned Parenthood funding in medicare, suddenly one could hear the crickets in the fields again. Because - there was no new defeat to bewail.
It appears that our professional "progressives", "civil rights" activists, "environmentalists" and "feminists" are good at only one thing: indignation based fundraising. But winning is so counter-productive to indignation.