THE BLOG

The Lesser Evil in 2010

09/29/2010 12:54 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

All other factors being equal -- the work, commute, hours, advancement, co-workers, benefits -- which job would you take: one paying $7 per hour or another paying $7.1 per hour? Life choices are rarely that simple, but it's that simple in 2010 when it comes to the state of progressive support for the mid-term elections. I won't argue why, the metaphor is sufficient. It's too late to change the equation. If you think you'd prefer that lower pay by 10 cents then that's your call. Just bear in mind what choosing a lower paycheck forecasts for the future for yourself and your family.

This is not going to be an election about policy. Objections about the quality of health care and Wall Street reform are not going to be the issues. The issue won't even be whether or not these meager achievements will be repealed. The issue is whether or not America can survive another onslaught of Reaganism or make another dimes worth of progress towards turning back that cold black tide.

For fifty years following the successes of the New Deal, the repertoire of American politics was liberal. Progressive thought dominated from FDR through, yes, the Nixon Presidency, and then through Carter. It wasn't until Reagan that radical John Birch Society conservative power began to be competitive after the deserved long winter that came after the Great Depression which their ideology caused. Since Reagan, our economy and common civility have been in decline, duplicating the conservative ideological dream that served up the Great Depression, reflecting the politics and policies of conservatives both social and fiscal. We have been, since Reagan and the Southern Strategy, a country whipped raw by a conservative agenda, with corporations funding consolidation of power in conservatives. For the last thirty years, the repertoire of American politics has been conservative.

The "change" people voted for in 2006-2008 was not to change any particular policy, it was to change the mode and medium of our political concerns. It was to try something other than conservatism, the political reality that is all that half of the electorate has ever known. It was to change to something other than Bush/Reagan conservatism. But you don't alter the political landscape over night. Most people can't even articulate what it is that they want changed.

Like the "change" elections of 2006-08, this midterm is a litmus test of the political leaning of the country. This a yet another change election, as the first two didn't take. It tests whether the public understands what led to -- and who is responsible for -- the Great Recession, and nearly Depression. Or if you prefer, it is another dose of immunization against the virulent and well-nourished political movement that is preying on the middle class household -- i.e. the conservatives. This election is a booster shot for a flagging certainty about your intentions in 2006-08.

Liberals have a titular majority in government, but never yet an effective majority. The governance of America teeters on the Senate rules that allow a disgraced minority to filibuster and a sole Senator to block any or even all business of the Senate. An arcane courtesy has become the leverage that Republican have used to discredit and withhold effective response to the Great Recession. All the while, they hoped to make things bad enough that the Democrats would be blamed for it. They may have succeeded.

Had it been possible in terms of the election cycle, those Republican Senators -- now holding hostage 300 progressive legislative bills in the House -- would have been swept out with the rest of the Republican garbage in 2006. As it is, Senators only stand for election once every three cycles. This is the third cycle since the "change" movement began. Now should be the completion of the cycle of change. It takes six years, not four or two, to change the U.S. government because of the Senate rules and the Senate terms in office. It takes longer still than 6 years for the two-party system to comprehend that the "change" is made with conviction.

The most effective message that could be sent to the American political machine, regardless of party, is that "change" from conservative to liberal is here to stay. The only medium in which they will receive that message is a national voting pattern. If the pattern established in the 2006-08 elections doesn't continue in this 2010 election, the message will be that, as Obama said in his Rolling Stone interview, you were not serious.

We must re-establish liberalism as the language of our government, it's presumption as to how to govern. In order to do that, the one goal that needs to be accomplished first-and-foremost is to keep conservatives out of government with such extreme prejudice that no arch conservative will consider it a possibility to run for office. That can't be accomplished by splitting the vote. It's not voting for the lesser evil, it's voting for the greater good in the long run. Call it glass half full or half empty or just call it what it is: half a glass. How you vote will serve to fill it or to empty it.

I'm done with the Democratic inferiority complex now. I'm sick of the whining and recriminations. Vote or revolt. Just don't sit there feeling like someone else should do it for you.