Thursday, June 28, 2012

Progressives Need to Stop Celebrating and Start Organizing

A note to my progressive brethren: I know you are happy about today's SCOTUS decision, but this is no time for gloating or complacency.  Remember back in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected?  You guys showed up in unprecedented numbers to his inauguration, declared an end to thirty years of Reaganomics, and generally behaved as if the other side would somehow concede defeat and acknowledge the popular mandate behind the new president.

If you remember, conservatives responded by letting loose the dogs of political war.  Glenn Beck was on television every day comparing Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler, Republicans in Congress began filibustering and obstructing just about every progressive initiative, and the moneymen on the right astroturfed a pitchfork-wielding army of angry resentful White people, otherwise known as the Tea Party.  The complacency and lack of fight in the progressive ranks gave us the current wingnut House and governors like Scott Walker who are hell-bent on destroying collective bargaining rights.  The ass whupping the Democrats received in 2010 happened largely because the other side dropped any pretensions of civility or centrism and got their hordes to the polls in big numbers while many Obama voters stayed home.

Progressives seem to forget that the opposing political party is not a rational institution, but that it has become a batshit-crazy vehicle for an extremist Christo-libertarian ideology.  You don't have to go far to find evidence of this.  In the aftermath of the SCOTUS ruling today, the former spokesman for the Michigan GOP called for armed rebellion against the provisions of the healthcare law.  Indiana Republican Mike Pence compared the ruling to 9/11.  You cannot let your guard down around these types of people for even a second.

The other side will gnash their teeth and wail about today's Supreme Court decision, but they have plenty of loaded guns waiting to be fired.  Today they censured the attorney general in an unprecedented move that now appears to be based on utter falsehoods.  They are currently doing their best to restrict voting under the guise of limiting "voter fraud" in ways that are both racist and nakedly intended to win the election in swing states.  Speaking of disenfranchisement and racism, the Republican Party of Texas in its official platform has called for the repeal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the piece of legislation that has made the 15th Amendment a reality.  (I would even hazard a conspiratorial guess that the attacks on Holder are intended to stop the Justice Department from interfering in the disenfranchisement campaign.)  The conservative movement has marshaled unprecedented financial power, and is manipulating the law to set up massive piles of untraceable cash to be used in all kinds of negative propaganda against the president.

President Obama will be outspent by his opposition in this campaign, thousands of people who will want to vote for him will be turned away from the polls, and the nation's most popular cable news network acts effectively as the propaganda arm of his opponents.  So please, fellow progressives, stop gloating on Facebook about today's decision.  Now is the time to help explain the benefits of the health care law to those who are still fuzzy about it (and with good reason.)  Now is the time to get out the vote and to fight to make sure all of the votes get counted.  Don't make the same mistake you made in 2009-2010, because the people who are against you will stop at nothing, including fanning the flames of white racial resentment, misogyny, and homophobia, disenfranchising voters, and spreading scurrilous lies to put their extremist ideas into practice.  This is not a time to celebrate, but a time to organize, mobilize, and to fight.

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