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Tom Rinaldo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 03:14 PM
Original message
The Quest for the Progressives Breaking Point
Now you might think that this post is about the Health Care Reform Bill, or reappointing the Fed Chair, or about a new commission to balance the budget, or about torture at Gitmo, or Don't Ask Don't Tell, or any number of other specific issues. But it isn't. No, it's about the fabled epic quest to find an issue, any issue, on which progressive Democrats in Congress ultimately show less flexibility regarding their bottom line concerns than do centrist corporate blue dogs. It is a quest to find an issue, any issue, over which the left wing of the Democratic Party in Congress rebelled to the point of killing a major Democratic leadership initiative that the centrist corporate blue dogs faction of the Democratic Party had shown a good faith willingness to be flexible on in order to win one for the President.

This thread isn't about any of those above specific issues because specific issues always come and go, while lasting patterns get etched into the bedrock of conventional political wisdom. This is instead about a pattern as old as human history, it's the tale of the soft touch or easy mark, who can always be turned to when times get rough to get whatever it is that you need from them.

Lets update that morality tale to non political modern times. The first of the month is coming and the money just isn't there to pay all of your bills. One creditor, lets say its your fuel oil company, is known to be heartless and you can be sure they will shut you down instantly without loosing a minute of sleep over it. The other is a doctor who is treating you for an ongoing illness, who tends to show some compassion for the plight of others. You know both of these things to be true because your fuel oil company already shut you off once in the past for non payment while your doctor has renegotiated your fee after it was clear to him or her that you just couldn't afford the bill. Which of these creditors will you approach to tell them that they will have to accept less than they bargained for now?

Now you may think that I am about to argue that progressives in Congress should play hardball with the Democratic leadership over this or that specific issue. But I'm not. Reasonable loyalty and team play are positive political virtues that I support. But I am certain of one thing. At some point on some issue the quest for the progressives breaking point in Congress must be met with a loud *SNAP*, or progressives will continually illustrate the tale of the soft touch or easy mark for years to come in Congress, on issues that we haven't even heard of yet.
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Tom Rinaldo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 04:02 PM
Response to Original message
1. Heck, 4 R's deserve a K n/t
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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 05:23 PM
Response to Original message
2. k & r
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Tom Rinaldo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:15 PM
Response to Original message
3. One kick for every 4 R's seems just about right n/t
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Bjorn Against Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:39 PM
Response to Original message
4. K&R - it is about time for progressives in Congress to stand up to the Blue Dogs
Edited on Mon Jan-25-10 06:39 PM by Bjorn Against
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GinaMaria Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:49 PM
Response to Original message
5. Excellent.
You nailed it. This has been a repeating pattern. The DLC outrage imo is based in shock. I don't think they understand the push back as it really hasn't been there before. I think some of them see it as not being team players. It's going to take some repetition for folks to understand the soft touch party is over. A new pattern will be set. Their reaction is to be expected when confronted with an unexpected change.

I just can't call the DLCers centrists. The only thing they are in the center of is right wing ideology. For them to be centrist they would have to move considerably left.
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Tom Rinaldo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 07:51 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Good point
It could well feel like a betrayal if you long have taken some one elses vote for graned as belonging in your own back pocket when "suddenly" they insist on directing it elsewhere.
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GinaMaria Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 08:39 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. It's like any change in the dynamic of the relationship
Be it parent/child, romantic partners, friends etc. When one side decides to stop engaging in a certain behavior, the other side responds with a sense of entitlement, betrayal, outrage, lashing out, blaming... all things we've seen from the extreme right wing of the dem party.

They will push back as hard as they can in an effort not to change. They want the old ways. Giving in is the worst thing that can happen at this point. Giving in sends the message that behaving badly and being abusive will get you what you want.
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Tom Rinaldo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 05:24 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. Yes. it really shouldn't come as a surprise
...that human nature guides human behavior in politics too. Someone like Joe Lieberman long ago got the message that behaving badly and being abusive will get him what he wants, but he is too easy a target, lol. The pattern runs deeper than Joe Lieberman.
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Mithreal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 09:06 AM
Response to Reply #8
15. +1
For that and this, "The only thing they are in the center of is right wing ideology. "
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rucky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:54 PM
Response to Original message
6. A good example is Franken's anti-rape amendment.
He picked a battle he knew he could win, and one that would have political repercussions for those who oppose it. We run a few more of those up the flagpole, and little-by-little we'll gain some traction.
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Tom Rinaldo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 07:22 AM
Response to Original message
10. For the Record, I wrote this OP before hearing of Obama's spending freeze
Edited on Tue Jan-26-10 07:23 AM by Tom Rinaldo
...on non military programs. Just in case anyone is wondering why that wasn't on the laundry list.
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Overseas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 09:02 AM
Response to Reply #10
14. And now you see a Democrat choosing Hoover instead of FDR.
Must be some kind of Super Chess, eh?
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niceypoo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 08:04 AM
Response to Original message
11. Centrist = right wing
Progressive = base
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Jakes Progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 08:24 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. Centrist = Well Off + Compassionless
About the only way to be happy with the status quo and slow go ideology is if you are insulated from the pain. You have money to buffer you from personal pain and you have indifference to buffer you from other's pain.
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dotymed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 08:25 AM
Response to Reply #11
13. Sadly,
I hold to the notion that both parties are now just different faces of one huge elitist owned political party. IMO. We have to create a "Progressive Party" very quickly.
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bertman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 09:14 AM
Response to Original message
16. Short. Sweet. Right on target. Rec. nt
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DisgustedInMN Donating Member (956 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 09:57 AM
Response to Original message
17. Nice message, but unlikely to..
... to penetrate the Obubble insulating the one person who could actually do something about it.
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 10:02 AM
Response to Original message
18. I sometimes wonder if there should be a sepererate but affiliated Liberal Democratic Party
I don't mean an actual third party that would continually siphon votes and resources. But an infrastructure of a seperate political party that aligns with Democrats, but makes it clear that they are not to be taken for granted.

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Tom Rinaldo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 10:13 AM
Response to Reply #18
20. Something more reaching than a Congressional Progressive Caucus or more integrated than
Democracy For America? I'm not quite sure how that works out differently than where we are at now, but I am open to suggestions. In New York State there are third parties that offer alternate voter lines for Democrats and Rppublicans to seek to run candidates on. For whatever mix of reasons, it is seen as an advantage to have your candidate be listed on more than one slate. The votes across those slates get tallied together so one does not hurt the Democratic candidate by voting for him or her on the Working Families Party line for example. It gives the Working Families Party a tiny amount of influence over the Democratic Party to have a second line that Democrats can run on.
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 11:41 AM
Response to Reply #20
23. Maybe something like in New York
A candidate from the Democratic or Republican parties can be the candidate of a minor party, but not automatically.


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Selatius Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 10:19 AM
Response to Reply #18
21. The Labor Movement was one such infrastructure. It was destroyed after the Taft-Hartley Act.
Edited on Tue Jan-26-10 10:20 AM by Selatius
In its hay-day, the Labor Movement could mobilize millions, and they couldn't be ignored either because they also attempted to unionize news rooms. The corporate barons were only able to stop unionization drives when they bribed enough politicians to get on board with the idea of breaking labor power by enacting the Taft-Hartley Act. To his credit, Truman vetoed the legislation, but enough Democrats voted with the Republicans that they were able to override the veto in the House and Senate with the necessary 2/3rds requirement.

The only other movement in America that could mobilize anything of that size in the last 100 years was the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. King. That was a movement that was subordinate to no party except its own agenda. It acted as a pressure group, not a group interested in power. Political parties, by nature, are interested in power. Movements aren't.
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Jakes Progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 10:08 AM
Response to Original message
19. I fear we are doomed to capitulate because of our nature.
In the battle with centerists (let alone with conservatives) they have the advantage. There are things we won't do. There is nothing they won't do.

Take food for children. We want hunger eliminated. They worry more about the money. So we compromise to get some food for some, while they won't compromise because they don't care. We are not willing to sacrifice everyone so we sacrifice some. They are willing to go to any extreme whereas we are not. I watched it happen in many organizations. The very worst people rise to positions of leadership because there is nothing they won't do. Those with principles are always at a disadvantage.
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Tom Rinaldo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 10:29 AM
Response to Reply #19
22. There is a bias as you describe but it is not absolute
Edited on Tue Jan-26-10 10:31 AM by Tom Rinaldo
To put it in a dramatic frame, progressives understand that some first responders must sacrifice their lives in order to protect the lives of others. We also agree to send troops off to war, knowing full well some will die, if the cause is thought important enough, even though we may be far more selective about which wars we are willing to be party to. We understand taking a stand and making sacrifices to do so when the reason is obvious enough. Back in the day workers who had absolutely nothing joined in General Strikes and faced down Pinkertons even though there was a minimum of bread offered to feed their families if they continued to work under exploitive oppressive conditions.

At some point blackmail is obviously blackmail, and there is a point where it is apparent that a liberal agenda has been kidnapped and is being held up until a hefty ransoms is paid to free it, and if paid that the next ransom demand coming down the rosd will likely be higher still. At some point it becomes clear that always paying ransoms always leads to more kidnappings. At some point it is enough.

Deep down under our ideologies humans are wired in similar ways. At some point emotions rule and people say "F*ck it, I dont care what you do to us, we're not going to let you get away with that any longer." It's instinctive and maybe it is the only reason why bullys don't have complete and total control of this planet.
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Jakes Progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 09:48 AM
Response to Reply #22
31. Okay, but my point wasn't about what they do to "us".
Progressives also get upset over what is happening to others, to humanity in general. I'm royally pissed about the health care debacle even though I already have adequate coverage and decent care. I can't understand why we are still spending even more money on wars that we know were not called for in one case and poorly executed in another, but I'm passed the age of service as are my children. I'm straight, but find the administration's rhetoric only stance toward those issues reprehensible. Mostly I watch the thousands and thousands of families ruined and lives made desperate because there are no jobs. This also doesn't affect me personally.

The centerists are in my position but don't really care about those issues. They lack compassion. They see any progress in those areas as things that will cost them tax money or prestige or political power or just spite points. Lacking compassion, they are willing to jettison anyone else to get their way. Progressives will toss some overboard to save others. This isn't a matter of first responders volunteering to save others. It is choosing which child you will give up to save another, choosing whether you get to keep the museum or the clinic. For us it is people. For them it is money.
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Tom Rinaldo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:40 AM
Response to Reply #31
32. Agreed. Hostages and ransoms might be the best analogy
There comes a point, even for bleeding hearts, when the realization is unmistakable that more people will suffer in the long run if we allow the game to continue to be played by the other sides rules than if we refuse to play it that way any longer, even if that does put some people at immediate risk. I realize and agree that it takes more to bring progressives to that point than most conservatives, for the reasons that you give. Which takes us full circle to the theme of this OP. What will it take to reach that breaking point?
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Jakes Progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 01:28 PM
Response to Reply #32
33. Yep, that is sort of the concept that
I remember from college English lit. My memory of Fathers and Sons is that the nihilists believed that since society was so messed up, their duty was to deny everything and hence hasten the new society. More than a little drastic, but I remember how the Democrats took the black vote for granted for decades, never really doing anything for that constituency until prominent members began suggesting that the way to get their issues dealt with was to suffer through the problems that occurred when they didn't vote as a bloc, through the inevitable pain of a republican reign. As you say, suffering so that the end result can be better.

Maybe 8 years of bush wasn't enough for America to learn its lesson. They have certainly forgotten soon enough. And it hasn't helped that our guy want to be their buddy and avoids ever pointing out where the problems (war, unemployment, financial ruin) came from. Not to mention exempting them from prosecution for obvious crimes and then mimicking many of the same policies.
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grantcart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 12:41 PM
Response to Original message
24. The problem is that progressives are a collection of individuals
as opposed to conservatives that organize as a disciplined gang.


This is the problem that progressives have had for decades and only rarely does one issue like Vietnam or Iraq command a truely unifying with discipline 'breaking point'.
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Tom Rinaldo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 01:05 PM
Response to Reply #24
25. There's some validity in that
But more so on the streets, so to speak, than inside the Halls of Congress. Progressives in Congress tend to pull together to stand behind Democratic leadership with more predictable dependability than do blue dogs. But beyond that it is a matter of degree. While I agree progressives are less prone to act as a disciplined gang than conservatives, that doesn't account for all of it. Progressives also tolerate more disappointment from their political party than Conservatives typically do.
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Goldstein1984 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 06:50 PM
Response to Reply #25
27. Progressives will gain no ground until
the sheep grow fangs, the flock becomes a pack, and they go after the wolves.

Moderate/DLC/Third Way/New Democrats are nothing be wannabe wolves is sheep's clothing--collaborators.

I Progressive Democratic Party would be a nice first step towards fangs and a pack.
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katty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 06:08 PM
Response to Original message
26. Centrist=do nothing & wait for others to do the heavy lifting
Edited on Tue Jan-26-10 06:09 PM by katty
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 09:25 PM
Response to Original message
28. kick
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omega minimo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 09:30 PM
Response to Original message
29. no mention of women's reproductive health issues........
be flippant about "this or that issue" as if it don't make you no never mind ...... couldn't be bothered to mention the issue that invades and markets women's bodies .........................................

Don't be surprised when they lead the split.
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Tom Rinaldo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 03:48 AM
Response to Reply #29
30. Didn't mean to be flippant. That is a crucial issue
I was commenting on that yesterday on another thread. My focus simply wasn't on individual issues for this specific OP so I made no real effort to cover them well. There is no mention of either of our wars, or environmental concerns either, and that matters a great deal to me also. It was a haphazzard list used to illustrate that the dynamic I was writing about was not only driven by the specific issues, but reflected a deeper underlying relationship between progressives and the rest of the Democratic Party.
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mochajava666 Donating Member (771 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 02:29 PM
Response to Original message
34. I think every liberal has their own breaking point.
For me, it was last fall, when I saw secret backroom deals with Big Pharma, and no leadership when the gang of six was stalling or when bailed out corrupt bankers got multi-million dollar bonuses, and secret renditions were still OK. For others, it was more recently, when the public option went down. You see the process happening right here on DU. Much of the base has lost faith or is in the process of losing faith.

How will we know when the breaking point is? When congress doesn't pass something right-wing or centrist favored by Obama? Like the freeze? The Senate HCR bill? The House seems to have reached that breaking point by not approving the Senate HCR bill as is.
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