It seems more and more to me that progressives almost constitute a “party within a party,” one whose agendas are largely shared by the majority of the country but who find themselves in opposition to the Democratic establishment and entrenched incumbents who use a variety of excuses to resist voting in the public interest.
It has become apparent that one of the only ways to force change is to take the seats currently held by BushDogs. That’s why it’s heartening to hear that MoveOn is polling its members regarding heavily funding primary challenges.
I was on a panel last night with Gay Talese on Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York. Talese at one point said that opposition was alive and well in his generation, in the sixties, when people weren’t afraid to demonstrate and get arrested for what they believed in but that’s dead now, it doesn’t exist. I objected and said that opposition was very much alive online, where people are actively and aggressively organizing to oppose this administration and just because we weren’t getting arrested didn’t mean we weren’t passionate and committed. I said I spent all day trying to figure out ways to get the progressive votes to get us out of the war and enact responsible legislation on a variety of issues that just isn’t possible right now.
He said, “Name one hero. Just one.”
A woman in the audience raised her hand and said “Eli Pariser.”
Then everybody clapped.
MoveOn is an incredibly valuable asset on the progressive side and it’s no surprise that entrenched Democrats who see them as a threat took an opportunity to take a swipe at them. Yet everywhere I see Petraeus written about these days there is a note of skepticism, often from the same people who were quick to scoff at the “General Betrayus” ad as ill-advised.
The meme traveled, usually on the lips of angry Republicans, but it traveled and it resonated with a public who don’t like Bush and don’t like the war.
MoveOn stuck their necks out. And I believe it worked. People talk about it as if it was a “distraction.” From what? From ending the war? As if. I hope they continue to find meaningful ways to combat the horrible trajectory this country seems to be on by continuing to fight for progressive values.