So, this morning I read some media plonker warbling on about how Hillary Clinton is infuriating the Right by positioning herself to win in 2008, and all I can think about is how every progressive I know despises her—her centrism, her moral values twaddle, her disingenuous posturing, her pandering, her Iraq hawkishness, etc. And it occurs to me that not only do allegedly liberal politicians continually marginalize the Left, but the rest of the country expects them to do so, because they do the same.
There seems to be endless tolerance for the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter and Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell and James Dobson etc. etc. etc. In my experience, even moderates who don’t particularly like them don’t seem to find the same reserve of contempt for them that they do for the mere thought of an unapologetic liberal.
And you know what? It’s really beginning to piss me off.
Thanks to progressives, we have Social Security, a minimum wage, welfare, a 40-hour work week, overtime pay, job protections, equal opportunity, and labor unions—all of which are resoundingly supported by a plurality of Americans, and all of which are also perpetually under attack from conservatives.
Thanks to progressives, we have legalized birth control and safe and legal abortions—both of which are supported by a plurality of Americans, and both of which are also perpetually under attack from conservatives.
Thanks to progressives, we have equality (such as it is), and strides made toward full equality for all Americans are being made almost exclusively by progressives, as conservatives continue their assault on minority communities, women’s rights, and LGBT equality.
Thanks to progressives, we have voting rights and civil rights protections (such as they are), and efforts to ensure real and unassailable security of each are being made almost exclusively by progressives, as conservatives continue their assault on minority voters, fair elections, and civil rights.
Thanks to progressives, rural America has electricity, schools are desegregated, we have a National Endowment for the Arts, we have Public Broadcasting, and a conservative president’s vision—Nixon’s Environmental Protection Agency—is now bolstered by a national environmental movement, even in the face of an unprecedented battering of the environment by a neoconservative administration.
Of the Americans who criticize the current Social Security system, most don’t want to see it dismantled. Of the Americans who criticize our flawed welfare system, most still endorse its existence—if reformed—as part of an integral social safety net. Most Americans who don’t support equal marriage rights for gays still support a prohibition on job and housing discrimination. Most Americans who wouldn’t vote for a female, black, or gay presidential candidate still support women’s, minorities’, and gays’ right to vote. Most Americans who bitch and moan about the NEA still support publicly funded museums, libraries, university art programs, and theaters.
The America that most people want, and the America that most people live in, was brought to them by progressives, who still want to make sure every American, irrespective of skin color, sexual orientation, gender, religion, or class, can live in the America they want to live in, too. And on their behalf, I ask those who seek to marginalize the Left: How dare you?
The truth is, any American who disdains progressives probably has progressives to thank for that luxury.
I’m not suggesting that progressive policies are flawless, or that progressives have solved all of America’s problems (or are even capable of doing so). But I would like a modicum of perspective from those—including many of those in the wanking Democratic Party—who have benefited from scores of legislation derived from an inclusive but vast progressive movement, and now see fit to stand in judgment of progressives, condemning them to disenfranchisement from the political process and conflating them with the radical Right. Wanting drinkable water, breathable air, a functioning safety net, universal healthcare, alternative energies, true equality, fair elections, fair taxation, improved public education, and increased workers’ rights isn’t radical. It’s a worthy and achievable agenda, and, perhaps more importantly, it’s what America wants. Polled on issues alone, that is domestic agenda most Americans support.
And the conservative movement, including the current administration and the congressional GOP leadership, does not simply dispute progressives’ tactics for achieving these goals. They have systematically sought to undermine each and every last one of them.
Dems moan that the GOP is great at framing language and debates, and that’s true. It’s difficult to compete with the kind of mendacity that allows one to label a massive, orchestrated plundering of the environment The Clean Skies Act. But the Dems need to stop being ashamed of progressives. We are the history of much of what is right with America, and I’m sick and bloody tired of the compulsion to categorize us as anything less. You, and everyone else who looks down their noses at progressives, can shove your contempt for us straight up your arses, you ungrateful pricks.