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Sat Jun 16, 2012, 05:54 PM

Progressive Morality and the Looming Presidential Election


To what extent will progressive morality be a factor in the looming presidential election? Is it simply a nuisance? Will mainstream Democrats (yet again) cringe in its presence, disavow it, spout mostly Republican-lite platitudes about tough-guy patriotism-- and, positioning themselves, as ever, as the Lesser of Two Evils, count the progressive vote as theirs?

The election season, which ought to be more about promoting values than candidates, is barely about values at all, except as weaknesses to manipulate.

Ah, democracy! In post-modern America, the political establishment has quietly uncoupled the word from its definition even as it affects to promote democracy around the world. Campaigns celebrate and dismantle candidates' personalities and stand for no more than variations of the status quo.


And politically, of course, the public sphere - a.k.a., government - is as much the enemy to conservatives as terrorists are, even though private success is impossible without it. There's no insult more severe than calling someone a "socialist." The insult is without rationality but is deeply moral in its (flawed) meaning.

So, once again, I ask, why is this? Why have the Democrats remained stalled between solid moral positions since their last major moral stand, which was to support the civil rights movement and dismantle the political infrastructure of Jim Crow? Wouldn't it be easier to mobilize their base if they positioned themselves at its center rather than hemmed and hawed at the periphery, arguing policy instead of standing up for what's right? Wouldn't this reinvigorate not just the candidates and the party but our entire democracy?


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