I think you’re right on target with this article. I have to disagree on who would be the candidate though. The only progressive I have seen so far is John Edwards.
Even George Will, a Republican and staunch conservative said on This Week with George Stephanopolus, that John Edwards was the main advocate for increasing the minimum wage. He also supported Unite Here. I was there at the rally for hotel workers at the Parc 55. Edwards is like our Chris Daly. He not only supports the poor, elderly, etc. he rallies with them. I’ve been at many rallies where Chris marched with us.
John Edwards also came in first in Iowa with 36 – 40%. Check out the Time article when you get a chance. While the other two, Hillary and Obama are getting all the press, Edwards has been going to all the states meeting and talking to people about his ideas. And, they like him — a lot.
Hillary has too much baggage. Obama has not really taken a stand on anything yet. I like him and I think he would make a great running mate for Edwards.
I share your hopeful fantasies but do not think the shift to the right will disappear simply because Bush has become an PR embarrassment to all. As you say, he’s furthered many extremist goals, except for evangelical social ones with lower priority. I even think in neocon terms he’s clearly “won” in Iraq, causing regime change, establishing permanent troops and bases, monitoring oil reserves, prepping them for big oil, protecting Saudi Arabia and Israel, and even attempting shock and awe intimidation of would-be enemies (though here the evidence is mixed).
I even think the White House never worried bout producing more terrorists, knowing their relatively limited range to destroy (compared to the US military) and that would not have been incompatible with other neocon objectives, namely, to keep the global wars going (clearly, terrorism was never a main target). So, despite the big negative of Iraqi civil disorder (a minor trade-off for Cheney and Rumsfeld) and mammoth national building errors, our foreign policy is not on the verge of going progressive but increasingly (economically) imperialistic (as we have been for 100 years, whatever else has been happening, no matter who was president or in the Congress).
Politically, the right was strong before Bush and until (and after) the war is resolved, in 2-4 years, the rightwing propaganda machine will continue predating on uninformed or redneck or evangelical who want politics to be something else (dogma, religion, business advantage, permission to misuse natural resources, manifest destiny to take over the world, technology starter, whatever). And rejecting really bad rightwingers like Bush and Cheney is hardly the same as supporting progressives, except maybe, maybe with global warming and commitment to science (and re-establishing the quest for heath breakthroughs like stem-cell research).
And then alas, there is your penultimate paragraph and your argument goes down in flames, “Democratic primary voters will be fueling the appetite for change. So forget all the silly articles about Hillary Clinton—the Democratic nominee in 2008 will be either Al Gore or Barack Obama. Both would play the role of willing supporters of progressive movements from below.”
I think unfortunately (and unhappily) you are wrong on every account, beginning with the implied correlation between what Dem primary voters favor and final ’08 election results. Calling Hillary silly is itself silly since she is likely the nominee, alas, in part because of the parade of exceptionally weak Dem leaders (the GOP guys aren’t better but they are better marketed and funded and they appear strong). In any case, Gore is a long shot (and not exactly a wild progressive when in power) with basically one message about the climate, which comfort-loving Yanks will hear but not until they have to. Barack is weak because his image is all that exists now and image is vulnerable — if the Rove machine wanted to set up someone to later puncture, it could do worse than Barack, who could serve a VP nominee but is a long shot to get or win pres as a Democrat. I also don’t yet trust he won’t be co-opted by big money and don’t see a record of strong progressivism.
What earlier progressive movements had was superior leadership, taking the ’60s civil rights and feminist movements as two examples. Who on the left leads today — Cindy Sheehan? Ralph Nader? Michael Moore? Amy Goodman? John Stewart? We haven’t even been able to slow down the war industries, nor the war in Iraq, despite widespread public support and a really badly done invasion.
Yes, there are progressive Congress people but, except for Finegold, where is one progressive national voice — where are the spark plugs in politics as there were in the earlier periods you see as predictive. The past is not predictive and always viewed from the back of a train.
So your 30 year gimmick sounds better than it functions as predictor. I hope, at times desperately, you are right. Where’s the beef?
Robert Becker, Mendocino CA
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