I was originally going to do one of my patented And Fuck...rants: And Fuck Progressives. Just thinking about the post, I essentially got enough catharsis so I'm going to dial it down a notch, though admittedly I still harbor some of my original annoyance.
It has been interesting to post at different places outside my usual haunts with their predictable audiences. There's been such an array of reactions to what I've been writing about reform and action lately, often surprising to me because many comments are about little asides, my choice of titles and other things instead of my actual thesis or conclusions.
Some folks tell me I set the movement back by engaging in direct action. Others think the current HCR bill is a nice step forward so I should accept it. Still others say I clearly hate poor people and am pissing in their faces.
It's progressives like me who have killed real reform. And I'm not a real progressive for wanting to kill the bill. Oh, and while I'm totally right about killing the bill, I'm a faux progressive (not to mention ignorant) for thinking a PO might be a suitable springboard for future reform. Have there been updates to the Qualified Progressive Manual that I've been unable to download over dialup?
Okay, I don't want to turn this into a whine about how mean people in the blogosphere hurted my feelings. I've just found it fascinating, albeit sometimes frustrating, and more confirmation that The Left is anything but monolithic. The only thing any of this has proven is we none of us have a monopoly on the Truth, as Gandhi observed.
The key to me is moving the new normal--not just the "conversation" as Reid and Dems are saying whilst keeping their powder dry--forward and building upon its foundation. Even after HCR, there are other crucial peace and social issues to deal with, and achieving justice in one area helps bolster our chances of creating more in another.
Lots of us wanted full marriage equality in Vermont over a decade ago, but celebrated Civil Unions in their imperfect, separate-but-equal way, and used that tactical achievement as a springboard as we kept fighting for our strategic aim. It was hard enough to get CUs with 2/3 of Vermonters against that compromise, but even people who resisted any social change got used to the idea over the intervening years. While it still wasn't easy, we were able to get full equality passed last year despite the Governor's veto, so the arc of history bent further toward justice in our little slice of America.
Medicaid, Medicare and Tricare are clearly considered normal, having been around so long, to the point that you have to remind people they are government programs. In our current push for single-payer, there may still be points where we can shore up gains in the immediate term as we continue to press the issue as forcefully as possible.
Justice delayed is indeed justice denied, and in this case delay in fact denies health and even life itself. Sadly, the struggle is necessarily long and after only a year of sausage making with no significant progressive pressure on our elected employees, we should prepare ourselves for the inevitable "loss" in this round. Yet if we are persistent and aggressive in exercising our great collective power, we will stack up enough glorious defeats to achieve success in the end.
Each of us, with our differing ideas on what constitutes meaningful reform and a legitimate fallback position, is an important part of the process--a pestle in the mortar of change--so we should respect each other as we grind away, trying to figure out the answers. The "extremists" are necessary to create space for the "moderates", both in terms of ends and means. The "moderates" are also necessary as, well...a moderating force since there are positions staked out on the far sides of the equation. All this tension is a good thing.
What's important is that we all are active and passionate, rather than passive and impotent. That's where social progress comes from.