A political list I'm on has been having some interesting discussions running in parallel of late surrounding a variety of issues (Obamacare being the big one), and at the core of it all is a basic question: how do progressives aggregate and assert the power needed to effect the policies they support. (Which is ultimately the core question of all politics, I guess.)
So, if you're a progressive, and you're sick to death of being ignored, marginalized, gamed, played, punk'd, and told to eat your shit sandwich and like it because it's prime rib, bitch, what can you do? How can you get from point A (shit sandwich) to point B (prime rib for all Americans, not just Art Pope, Sheldon Adelson and the Koch crime family)?
If the answer assumes that you have to evolve the Democratic Party (as opposed to leaving it - and that's a big assumption, but one windmill at a time), then I think the path to more power requires to accept the following:
- You have to be willing to kill hostages.
- Since you have spent many, many years demonstrating that you're an utterly toothless, gutless, spineless, nardless weenie, the center-right Dem power infrastructure won't believe you when you threaten to kill hostages. Why should they?
- Therefore, you have to prove that you will, and there's only way to do so. You have to kill a hostage.
- It won't be enough to fuck Obama, the Clintons and the rest of the Republican wing of the Democratic party over on something they care about that you hate, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In order to demonstrate that you're to be taken seriously, you have to show that you're willing to suffer for your cause, which means sacrificing something that you care about, too. There's the old "very good is the enemy of great" saw, and it inspires a kind of defeatist pragmatism that causes you to accept the lesser evil as a matter of course. This is perhaps the centrist establishment's greatest tool, and it's why time and again American progressives choose to shoot themselves in the crotch - it's better to get shot in the crotch once than to get shot in the crotch twice, after all.
- So in order to change the dynamic, to upend the strategy that you beat Worse by being merely Bad, progressives have to strangle Very Good to death as the world watches.
So, now what? Step one: identify a hostage. It has to be a policy or program that the Dem establishment cares about. It has to be something that you can kill - if you shoot and miss you're even more fucked than you were to begin with. It has to hurt the Vichy Dem establishment and it has to be obvious that it hurts you, too.
Step two: pull the trigger while they stand watching helplessly.
Step three: walk over to them, the gun still smoking and bits of the hostage's brains still sticking to your clothes, and you say now, are you motherfuckers ready to talk? If not, there's a busload of hostages out in the parking lot and we'll kill every goddamned one of them.
I know, I know. This is a lot of big talk and posturing from a guy who couldn't swing three votes in a race for dog catcher. But I pay attention, and you can learn a lot from watching how mobsters and the Tea Party do business.
My approach can't be a whole lot less effective than what you've been doing, can it?