Sensible and Cynical Progressives

Sensible progressives will vote for Obama. Cynical progressives may vote for McCain. The later remind me of the famous ancient Greek Cynic Diogenes, who, according to The Cynic’s Sanctuary, “reportedly took up residence in a tub to demonstrate his freedom from material wants. This cranky street-philosopher would introduce himself by saying, ‘I am Diogenes the dog. I nuzzle the kind, bark at the greedy and bite scoundrels.’ He’d use a lantern by daylight, explaining that he was searching for an honest man. Even Alexander the Great didn’t escape unscathed. When the young conqueror found Diogenes sitting in the marketplace and asked how he could help him, the old philosopher replied that ‘you can step out of my sunlight’.”

Wikipedia defines American progressivism as evolving “to become a movement with close ties to the political left-wing, and contemporary progressives continue to embrace concepts such as environmentalism and social justice. Social progressivism, which states that societal practices ought to be adjusted as society evolves, form the ideological basis for many American progressives.”

If you identify yourself as a progressive and plan to vote for McCain, whether it’s because you are a Hillary Clinton PUMA or someone who is disgusted because Obama hasn’t lived up to your hopes and expectations, I suggest you read the seminal article in the latest issue of “The Nation, “Progressives in the Obama Moment” by Robert L. Borosage & Katrina vanden Heuvel.

The authors begin what they hope will be an ongoing discussion about how progressives can assure that their agenda is advanced: “the forbidding conditions and the constricted consensus make it vital that progressives think clearly and act independently in forging a strategy over the next months.”

Not uncritical of Obama, they note:

Many on the left were dismayed as the Obama campaign trotted out advisers from a Democratic bench that had championed the toxic Rubinomics brew of corporate trade and financial deregulation.

But they remind us that:

These concerns should not distract us from the central reality: this election features a stark ideological contrast. Although marketed as a trustworthy maverick, McCain accurately describes himself as a “foot soldier in the Reagan revolution” and attests that “on the transcendent issues, the most important issues of our day, I’ve been totally in agreement and support of President Bush.” He is committed to the full Bush catastrophe: continued war in Iraq, more tax cuts for the wealthiest, more corporate trade deals, more deregulation, more hostility toward labor, more conservative social policies and reactionary judges. Indeed, he’s Bush on steroids.

Online respect, rules and convention keep me from over-quoting this article. Therefore I urge people to read it because it lays out strategy and tactics for progressives to shift their cynical pessimism into constructive efforts to counteract the pressure Obama is likely to be under to compromise his progressive ideals.

Obama is the only chance we have for four years to undo the imperial rule of George W. Bush and the repackaged Bush in POW pajamas. This is from “Why I Will Not Vote for John McCain” by a pilot who was shot down and spent eight years as a POW:

I’m disappointed to see John represent himself politically in ways that are not accurate. He is not a moderate Republican. On some issues he is a maverick. But his voting record is far to the right. I fear for his nominations to our Supreme Court, and the consequent continuing loss of individual freedoms, especially regarding moral and religious issues. John is not a religious person, but he has taken every opportunity to ally himself with some really obnoxious and crazy fundamentalist ministers lately. I was also disappointed to see him cozy up to Bush because I know he hates that man. He disingenuously and famously put his arm around the guy, even after Bush had intensely disrespected him with lies and slander. So on these and many other instances, I don’t see that John is the “straight talk express” he markets himself to be.

It is true Obama isn’t the Platonic ideal of a heroic and progressive change agent like another Greek, Pelopidas, as this from Dan Balz’s Washington Post column, points out:

The decision to pick Biden rather than someone who reinforced the change message at the heart of Obama’s candidacy no doubt disillusioned some of Obama’s grassroots supporters, but it said something about the Illinois senator that while obvious is not often remarked upon. His will to win is overpowering. The choice of Biden was a hard-headed, cold-blooded calculation that he may need a Biden to win and will certainly benefit from a Biden in governing, if he become president. It was the action of a politician, not a crusader.

The second sign that Obama may be turning into a more conventional politician is his newly apparent appetite to take on McCain. When he launched his bid for the nomination, he often said he was prepared to return fire from his opponents but that he preferred to keep the tone civil and respectful. He resisted, in his own words, knee-capping his opponents.

Some would prefer that we still had Obama the crusader rather than the politician Obama running. But that Obama was showing every sign of losing.

The name of the game is winning first, and then endeavoring to make the changes that must be made.

Comments

  1. griff

    Not to mention the fact that Brzezinski is famously anti-Russian. He was instrumental in creating al-quaida in the first place. He hates Russia like no other and is still very much an Obama adviser.

    I have said it before and I’ll say it again – Bush is setting the table for the next President – and the menu doesn’t look all that appealing.

  2. D-TOx...

    D-TOx… The one thing I fear is that Mr. Obama would indeed set the world on fire. The turmoil in the Georgia area and the various ‘Stans around there could very swiftly turn into a huge storm of conflict. There are so many ways this could escalate into bio & atomic free for all. Mr. Obama has already had his ego expanded into unreal dimensions , thanks to the other O. I do not have any animosity towards the man , but with the crazy quilt of the Caspian Sea area , with all these different ethnic groups all at each others throats since before written history plus tons of NBC materials not too secured or indexed , it would just be one incident away from hell on earth and I don’t think team O’biden bin Bamo have the right crew to out manouver the Russians or the other blocks in that part of the world. This area could get really hot very fast!

  3. sherry

    Biden would make a great president. Actually, I would have voted dem with anyone but Obama at the top of the ticket.
    WJC was correct, BHO has the sense of a Chicago thug.

  4. colocritic

    “If Biden were at the top of the ticket, I would vote for him in a heartbeat over JSM.

    Sherry, I’m glad to hear you say you really like Biden, I do, too, He’s a really handsome, honest and very appealing guy! Isn’t he alone enough to help sway you to the democratic ticket? As vice president he certainly would not trample on our constitution the way Cheney has. IMHO, Cheney definitely is a war criminal and should be held accountable to the people of our nation.

    I think Biden is an excellent choice and will go out for Obama and win the votes in the places that have hesitated to back Obama. He is the type of guy that people really like and trust, an admirable quality after the liars that have tried to pour their garbage down our throats the last almost eight years now! I can’t wait to see the backside of all of them exiting after the democrats win the
    presidency.

    colocritic

  5. CheckerboardStrangler

    I’m just sayin W.W.J.C.D.

    (What Would James Carville Do?)
    After all he IS the anti-Rove, and we’d better not forget that we are up against Karl Rove.
    And even if we’re not going to use Carville, at least we should remember that this down and dirty fighter DOES HAVE two Democratic wins under his belt.
    And again, please remember that all of this is coming from a would be Republican. I might not be completely behind Obama but to me he is looking better than McCain and will continue to look better for quite some time unless he eats a live baby on national television or something.
    It’s time to bring the thirty year Bush Clinton Dynasty to a close.

    Jeff H in Occupied TX

  6. sherry

    Jeff you make a good point. Very good point in fact.
    Still can’t bring myself to vote for “the One” but it is sure to be a long 10 weeks.
    Obama is losing altitude and the convention should give him some bounce. No bounce with Biden, which I really thought would be helpful. Probably not popular to say, but I actually like Biden. Reminds me of a guy I dated years ago and still admire. Heck of a guy. Biden isn’t polished always. If he thinks it, he says it. Something to be said for honesty.
    If Biden were at the top of the ticket, I would vote for him in a heartbeat over JSM.
    The dems took the weakest guy in their arsenal, just like 2004 and they wonder why they keep losing