Finding A Real Progressive Strategy: It's All In the Numbers

09/28/2007 11:39 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

As promised a few days ago, my new nationally syndicated newspaper column takes a hard look at exactly why the progressive movement's strategy of focusing so much of our resources on Congress rather than the states and expecting to pass Iraq-related legislation through Congress fails to comprehend the most basic construction of America's power Establishment.

The column is entitled "Tyranny of the Tiny Minority" Taking the lead of author Thomas Geoghegan (hands down one of the best writers in America) and his terrific book The Secret Lives of Citizens, I analyze the raw numbers behind the U.S. Senate's absurd reputation as the beacon of democracy. When you see these numbers, they will blow your mind - but they will also show you where we should expect real change, where we shouldn't, and what we can and cannot expect out of Congress.

On domestic policy, the column should explain pretty well why I devote so much energy to pushing the progressive agenda at the state level through the Progressive States Network. As the progressive movement obsessively focuses on Washington largely to the exclusion of everything else, 15 states have the "trifecta" - Democratic control of both houses of the legislature and the governorship. About one in three Americans live in these trifecta states. In all, two thirds of America lives in states where Democrats control at least two-thirds of state government. These numbers spell out the potential to move real legislation and make real changes in places that have no filibuster.

And yet, we continue to have tunnel vision, focusing on Congress to the exclusion of almost everything else; we continue to see self-described "strategists" targeting most of the progressive "infrastructure" building at Washington; and we continue to watch the Washington media's self-declared "expert observers" of the progressive movement - who, of course, have absolutely no political experience whatsoever - write utterly vapid books about the purported brilliance of bloggers and billionaires focusing all attention exclusively on the Beltway - and shocker, many "progressives" inside the Beltway are stumbling over themselves to offer up ever more gushing superlatives for such schlock. This, even as the numbers show that Washington is rigged to allow a tyranny of the tiny minority to stop almost anything.*

On foreign policy, the column should explain why I have long lambasted Democrats' Innocent Bystander Fable - the one that claims that Democrats have no power to stop the war because they can't find 60 Senate votes to pass anything. As I show, the Innocent Bystander Fable does the opposite of prove Democrats to be innocent bystanders - it actually admits that Democrats might be able to muster the 41 votes necessary to stop war funding, if the major antiwar groups in Washington started pushing them to do that, rather than continuing to echo dishonest excuses and shamelessly spreading more Partisan War Syndrome - a syndrome whereby groups are more obsessed with scoring points on Republicans than on actually pushing issues regardless of party.

Go read the whole column here and let me know what you think. And if you'd like to see my column regularly in your local paper, use this directory to find the contact info for your local editorial page editors. Get get in touch with them and point them to my Creators Syndicate site.

* By the way, here's a real "argument" - How about we focus on passing things where we have real power, and how about New York Times political "reporters" get out their insulated world of resort hotels and gossip and go out and do some real "reporting" rather than launching ad hominem attacks on grassroots leaders like Markos and giving everyone a clinic on the fundamentals of conventional wisdom regurgitation and stenography - a clinic that dishonestly portrays the entire progressive movement as merely a tiny handful of elites...Newsflash, Mr. Bai: There is a whole country out here - America, you may be surprised to learn, is not one giant, invitation-only cocktail party.

Cross-posted from Working Assets

Cross-posted from Working Assets