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Hard Times Bring Progressive Change in AZ: A Primer

chicago dyke's picture

A friend of mine likes to say: there's nothing like unemployment to motivate a person to become invovled in politics. I'm not exactly claiming that's what went on here in AZ, but this GOS diary is interesting. Here's a key paragraph:

"In this past election we had hundreds of volunteers coming through our Acoma district office for the general election and the party wasn’t prepared to provide the support we needed on voter contact and phone banking lists to keep our people busy and effective. Because of the huge number of volunteers we had, we burned through in one day Party targeting lists they expected would take three days. And the party was unable to generate new lists to take full advantage of our enthusiastic volunteers. From what I have heard many other districts experienced this same frustration. And that frustration was a contributing factor in this call for a change in leadership."

The bottom line is that it's not really that hard to 'take control' over the Party, and indeed, progressives could learn a lot from the record of the far right over the last 40 or so years, in which they transformed the Republican party into the current monster it is today. I'm not one of those people who believes that Republicanism is dead in this country; ~46% of the country voted for McCain; Sarah Palin is still a popular lightning rod who stimulates winger activism and involvement, and the churches aren't exactly under any threat from the Obama administration, and will likely be free to continue to preach politics to their millions of worshipers. And if the Obama administration fails to turn the economy around in the next four years, it runs a very strong risk of being a one-term failure.

My friend also likes to say, and I think a lot of people here would agree, there are really three parties in this country. The Far Right pro-corporate theocratic neofascist party, the centrist conservative party (which is in charge today) and the liberal/progressive caucus, who at the moment are pretty disorganized and lacking in vision, at least on the national level. But the AZ example shows how "storming the gates" of the party process can be a really good thing, and I sincerely hope the new progressive leadership proves to be open to ideas and strategies that work, and not as susceptible to corporate money or the socio-cultural influence of the Village. I guess we'll see.

Anyway, angry, unemployed or underemployed people who see their entitlements cut and their economic options dry up can easily be convinced of how to use their time and energy in politics. I predict we'll see more "storms" like this in the near future.

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coyotecreek's picture
Submitted by coyotecreek on

If there's Far Right (Republicans) and Centrist Conservatives (today's Obama Dems), who can we turn to in order to storm the gates with a demand for progressive policies?

I can't put any names to those faces.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

if i were making a list of national players, with a proven track record of at least trying to be "progressive" and "liberal" it'd go something like this:

the congressional progressive caucus
the female part of the CBC and most of the hispanic caucus
a short list of activist and lobbying shops like the ACLU, PFAW, Lamda Legal, JStreet, and occasionally the unions (who often get caught up in Village squabbles and act in opposition to what the membership wants and supports)

the problem is there is no real "leadership," in the non-snarky use of the term. i was just discussing this with a strategist the other day. very soon now, those with access to Big Money individuals are going to have to go to them, and plead out the case for the need to support a small handful of true progressives, so that eventually one of them can emerge as a strong leader for progressives. we just don't have anyone who can take the above groups by the balls/tits, and whip them into effective shape, and hit back on the issues and causes that matter.

a lot of the problem is Villagism. it's very, very hard to get Villagers of any grade to "do the right thing" most of the time, and that's mostly due to social and cultural reasons few people outside the Village perceive and understand. think "high school" and you're pretty close to understanding the tone, and how things get done there. but this wouldn't be a problem for someone with day, ethics and a brain, and some stout funding from a couple of rich liberals.

i'm still a believer in bottom up reform of the party, tho. it's one of my soapboxes and will remain so. primary challenge every last dem who doesn't rate a 100% rating from the ACLU, Lambda and PFAW. from a new batch of dems, a real leader will emerge. the bunch we have now have proven (to me at least) that since 2006, it's very clear that they are not The Ones.

pie's picture
Submitted by pie on

What's going on with Harper?

Governor General Michaelle Jean, the official head of state, who normally has only a ceremonial role, allowed Harper to suspend Parliament until Jan. 26, saving his government from defeat by a coalition of opposition parties that included one dedicated to splitting the province of Quebec from Canada.

Emerging from the governor general's residence, Harper said he would use the breathing space to focus on the country's economic troubles.

Today's the day. I just googled to see if I could get some info, and I read that he wants to make tax cuts permanent!

Throw that bum out, too.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

...ultimately what's going to keep them in power is the extremely inertial nature of the Canadian public, and the political cowardice and disorganization of the Liberal Party.

What the Canadian public is driven by is ultimately inertia, with some regional voting blocs for the left and the right. Canadians are actually passionate about defending political inertia, with the opposition-coalition-by-confidence-vote business being quite unpopular---though it is quite definitely constitutional and would actually represent a majority of the voters. But it is a drastic change and Canadians are extremely allergic to political adventurism.

pie's picture
Submitted by pie on

But it is a drastic change and Canadians are extremely allergic to political adventurism.

I guess, except for a few rebels here and there, we used up all our political adventurism in the 1770's. ;)

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

From a Canadian perspective, Washington is jerked back and forth by parties that, yes, are both very conservative, but still nevertheless represent a great polarization, modulo the general US rightwardness. A change of government in DC is a drastic thing compared to Ottawa. The Canadian parliament is noisy but ultimately it's rare that anything really important happens there.

Harper is a radical but he is trying to walk a tightrope and nearly fell off. That he survived is only by grace of public inertia. Consequently, the next version will be more muted. Canadians wanted a government different from the Liberal party in name and face but not in substance. Harper must sneak around this to implement his radical agenda.