Tuesday, February 03, 2009

'Make Him Do It' - But How?

In 'Moving the Political Center,' David Sirota, along with many other left-liberal progressives, argues that congressional Democrats should emulate their Republican colleagues under Bush, and start every policy initiative or modification from as far to the political left as possible. He gives some examples of successful progressive measures concerning the recovery package.

Unfortunately, he does not explore this further, for it is a central strategic question. For example, how could progressives systematically use the Overton window to shift public discourse and opinion even further to the left? More fundamentally, how best to articulate the relationship between progressives and members of Congress, so that the former can exert maximum influence on the latter? How do progressives need to build power in order to achieve that goal?

Trying to gain 'strength in numbers' is often insufficient and can even be misleading. For instance, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is the biggest caucus in the House, and with 71 members represents about a third of the House Democratic Caucus. Yet it can't point to a single accomplishment on its website. The same is the case for state Houses around the country.

Clearly, simply electing more progressives, even if they are 'genuine,' is not enough. Progressives have to find a way to hold them consistently accountable, and to nudge them to the left.

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