One of the first blog posts I wrote here was titled “No True Progressive,” which looked at the ever-shifting goalposts used to determine just who (or what) was “progressive.” I said back then that
You can see this on various left-wing blogs, if you look at the posts and comments. “President Obama is not a progressive, he hasn’t” – fill in with whatever the writer thinks is the progressive stand. “Senator (name) voted for this bill, they’re not a progressive!” When it’s pointed out that on other issues the given politician is progressive, the goalpost will be moved to a new position which excludes that particular issue. “No true progressive” would do/vote for/say this!
I was reminded of that reading a recent post by Milt Shook over at his blog, “This is why we lose, Progressives.” He’s taking on a Daily Kos diary that supposedly takes to task some Senators for not being “Real Democrats.”
In the South Pacific, there’s a set of beliefs which are known as “cargo cults.” While they may seem ridiculous at times to Westerners, they make sense in terms of a society attempting to explain something in terms of that society.
Since the modern manufacturing process is unknown to them, members, leaders, and prophets of the cults maintain that the manufactured goods of the non-native culture have been created by spiritual means, such as through their deities and ancestors. These goods are intended for the local indigenous people, but the foreigners have unfairly gained control of these objects through malice or mistake. Thus, a characteristic feature of cargo cults is the belief that spiritual agents will, at some future time, give much valuable cargo and desirable manufactured products to the cult members.
Many of the rituals mimic what they saw during various times, particularly World War II. There are “airfield,” “control towers,” and so on, all designed to influence the gods to redirect the cargo to them. So what does that have to do with politics?
Back in the heady days right after the 2008 election, there was a lot of gloating going on in various Democratic circles, particularly on the progressive blogs, about the Republicans whining about what “could happen.” One of the sayings thrown back at them was the title of this post, “Elections have consequences.” It can be put more rudely as “We won, you lost. It sucks to be you.” There was a lot of chatter about a “permanent Democratic majority,” and on the state scene here, discussions on how Democrats could take the last two Republican held seats in Congress. Looking back over the past 4 years, that was hubris, the “pride that goeth before a fall.” You see, despite saying that elections have consequences, they didn’t believe it.
In my post on “What’s Next?” I talked about the “next step” for dealing with the police problems that are currently grabbing the nation’s attention. In the comments, there were statements made about the Democratic Party’s need to “reach out to activists, and invite them in.” All well and good, but in many ways, it’s a variant of a theme I’ve heard a lot of over the past few years from many on the left: That the Party needs to do something before they’ll get involved with it. It’s more often than not a case of putting the cart before the horse.
Over the past several months the news has been full of stories about police violence and protests against it. Ferguson, and Michael Brown. Cleveland and Tamir Rice. New York and Eric Garner. There have been protests around the country, and a lot of discussion about not just police racism, but racism in society as a whole. We can point to the amount of use of deadly force by police around the country, often as a first resort, not a last. The protests and discussions have finally made it clear that “Things aren’t right,” even though they haven’t been all along. People are fed up, and they have every right to be. The protests are a first step. They’ve called attention to the problem, made it clear that it’s not just a “fringe issue,” and that action is required.