Lack of respect and failure to listen: the arrogance and blindness of the progressive left

Tens of thousands of impassioned words have been written in blogs and magazines in an effort to "explain" the following to Barack Obama and his supporters
we are up against a sharply partisan, radically conservative, take-no-prisoners Republican party. They have beaten us [..] by energizing their base with red meat rhetoric and single-minded devotion and discipline to their agenda. In order to beat them, it is necessary for Democrats to get some backbone, give as good as they get, brook no compromise, drive out Democrats who are interested in "appeasing" the right wing, and enforce a more clearly progressive agenda. The country, finally knowing what we stand for and seeing a sharp contrast, will rally to our side and thereby usher in a new progressive era.
Obama's failure to understand has been attributed to everything from a cowardly character, to exceptional stupidity/naivete, to the venality of his advisers, to his supposed nature as a fake Democrat- some sort of Manchurian candidate. The simple truth, that Obama understands and disagrees, is something that the "progresssives" seem unable to process at all. The paragraph above was written by Barack Obama in 2005 and published in DailyKos blog. The next paragraph started with "I think this perspective misreads the American people." Since 2005, Obama has enjoyed spectacular political success and various Democratic firebreathers have not. Yet like a tedious fanatic on a streetcorner, the progressives apparently cannot wrap their minds around even a possibility of good faith disagreement: failure to accept their analysis is not disagreement that one can debate, it is cowardice, venality, naivete, and worse - according to them. This attitude rests on a combination of a remarkable level of arrogance unrelated to any real accomplishment, an unwillingness to listen, and the extent to which the "left" has ceased to be an active, creative force in American politics. When I read the "tweet" above, my first thought was of Fred Hampton's description of the Weather Underground's program as "Custeristic". The appeal of "draw a line in the sand and get over-run" is not something I get. As then Senator Obama said in the same essay cited above
by applying such tests, we are hamstringing our ability to build a majority. We won't be able to transform the country with such a polarized electorate. Because the truth of the matter is this: Most of the issues this country faces are hard. They require tough choices, and they require sacrifice. The Bush Administration and the Republican Congress may have made the problems worse, but they won't go away after President Bush is gone. Unless we are open to new ideas, and not just new packaging, we won't change enough hearts and minds to initiate a serious energy or fiscal policy that calls for serious sacrifice
Perhaps President Obama is wrong about how to build a majority, but the "progressives" seem to believe that either that's an unnecessary task or that their confrontation recipe is self-evidently the way to go. The inconvenient absence of electoral success for people adopting their theory is not a problem. One can't know for sure what they think because it's clear that the progressives have never listened to, let alone seriously considered, President Obama's strategy. Instead, they insist on dismissing him as some naive affirmative action promoted lightweight, stumbling foolishly from "capitulation" to "capitulation". They can't make an argument, they can only jeer. And their jeering sounds quite similar to the jeering coming from the right. But this brought me to a second thought: a question on when "Kumbaya", the powerful song of the Civil Rights movement, became an object of derision for "leftists". There' a fascinating history of the song here, but it appears Kumbaya started to be used as an insult at the peak of the Reagan era when, I guess, the whole idea of the civil rights movement, of people who confronted brutality and ignorance armed with only faith and bravery seemed laughable and, more than that, humiliating. When cultural heroes became body-builder actors playing implacable thuggish killers, the nation was getting more in tune with "Dead or Alive" Bush than, for example, with do-gooder Quaker four-eye gays who want to hold hands and sing Kumbaya. What a bunch of pussies (as left-wing economist Max B. Sawicky recently wrote) about People's View. The irony of seeing this type of attack from people who continually portray themselves as the victims of "hippie-punching" is just hilarious. Richard Rorty said that the left fell apart when it stopped singing Solidarity Forever and started singing Yellow Submarine, but maybe the left needs a new song. Oh well. You progressives can march on with your revenge fantasies, your efforts to swagger, and your desire for W'like bluster. You sing your song and we'll sing ours- and maybe even hold hands

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