1.23.2005

hanging together as the only way of not being hung separately

If there was a single phrase that summed up the power of the 1999 WTO Seattle protest, it would have to be "teamsters and turtles." Yet here we are, over five years later, and I'm not aware of anything having happened in that time that could be perceived as delivering on the promise of finding common cause between organized labor and the environmental movement.

I don't know of a more telling symptom of what's wrong with the Left. As much as I hate to admit it, we truly have become little more than a dysfunctional assortment of special interests. And if that is the best we can do, there's really no point in any of what we say we are about. What we put up with (from each other at least as much as from our enemies) is far too much trouble to go through, only to end up where our current course is leading us.

I don't know who originated the idea that jobs and the environment are a direct tradeoff, but I do know that corporate America has everything to gain from that idea (and conversely, workers and the environment have everything to lose from it). I also know that it is pathetically flaccid and shortsighted of the Left to leave it at that. The one thing we ought to be able to get right is stuff like this.

I'm quite aware that forging a vision of a future that is both prosperous and environmentally sustainable is not as easy as selling your soul for corporate contributions, but (I think it was Harry Truman who said) if you run a republican against a republican, a republican wins every time.

My starting assumption is that the only way anyone running as a progressive ever loses an election is due to a breakdown of competence on some level. It is true that the opposition has a lot more money and infinitely greater appeal to reptilian thinking, but if progressives can't govern in a way that offers a clear benefit to the vast majority of the electorate, there is something very wrong.

Democrats are victims of a self-inflicted wound. By putting the quest for electability ahead of vision, they've ended up with neither.

Granted there is certainly a lot of fathomless stupidity that has taken over huge chunks the electorate (and perhaps always will), but what strikes me as being much more evident is a sublime discernment that has no use for a Democratic party unable to fulfill the only function it will ever have a chance of being any good at--offering a vision of a world made better by means of broad participation.

The voters can't possibly be as stupid as voting the way they did in November most obviously seems to suggest. It's more likely that many of them decided they'd rather vote for candidates who are at least honest enough to say they are on the side of wealthy slimebags than weasels who lack even the courage to admit how totally owned they are by the very special interest that most epitomizes the Republican Party's base constituency, large corporations.

....................................
The P! Editorial Team is currently working on our vision statement. Please help us with your comments here: Open Thread: Help Us Identify Populist, Progressive Principles. Thank you.