The Progressive Demise
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The nation’s liberal ideologues have had a dramatic cultural and political meltdown as we have moved toward the November elections. Last week I observed 4 milestones that showed me the depth of the progressive political disintegration. I saw the first milestone in London. Despite the city’s preoccupation with its own commerce and turbulent political affairs, the newspapers and broadcast media were filled with speculations about our US midterm elections. Many in both the UK and continental Europe could not understand how the charismatic law-professor-turned-politician could have fallen from grace so soon.
The prevailing opinion among the media elite is that America will have a significant swing back toward conservative, political values. For example, the BBC repeatedly called the midterms a “referendum on Barack Obama” - - - a referendum, by the way, that the president is destined to lose. Further, many grassroots Brits believed that an Obama presidency would bring a new era of hope, peace, and cultural acceptance. Instead the US, UK, and Europe seem to be targeted for worse terrorist attacks than 911. To add insult to injury, the once strongly Christian nation of England is being overrun with a new wave of anti-Christian politicians, just as in America. For example, Nick Clegg, the UK’s Liberal Democrats’ new leader, waited until just after their recent election to defiantly declare that he is an atheist.
The second milestone that showed the demise of the progressive political influence was President Obama’s visit to the Daily Show last week. Pundits from both the left and the right have questioned the wisdom of having him lower himself to speaking about serious things on such a nonsensical show. Unfortunately for the president, he came off as being weak and out of touch with his supporters. His affirmation of Larry Summers (the Harvard president turned key economic adviser) brought into question the administration’s competence as well.
The third milestone was an online poll released last week by AskMen.com which named John Stewart as the most influential person in the nation. Stewart topped the list of 49 prominent men from politics, philanthropy, entertainment, business, and sports. More than half a million AskMen readers and their site staff voted. It is revealing that the president showed up in 21st place, behind Bill Gates of Microsoft (2), Stephen Colbert (11), Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook (3), and Conan O’Brien (12). Let’s remember that throughout the campaign cycle of 2008, President Obama would have been in the running for the top 5 spot in any national poll from the left or the right.
My point is not simply that the president has declined in popularity. The issue is that the progressive movement does not have a bona fide spokesperson. Satire and comedy can be used to attack one’s opponents, but they are not great approaches to educate or indoctrinate. A spokesperson is needed to declare a movement’s agenda and priorities. Without a cogent, unifying message there can not be a rallying cry. As a result of the violation of this spokesperson principle, progressive voter turnout could be low for this midterm election. In addition, as progressives move toward the 2012 presidential election, they will continue to lose momentum unless they find a new message.
The fourth milestone that shows the demise of the progressive, political movement is the Rally to Restore Sanity in DC last weekend. Although Jon Stewart and Don Colbert’s rally of 200,000 was very peaceful, its purpose was reactionary and some what nihilistic. There is a sense of hopelessness that often comes through from this group. It often plays the role of the victim. Groups like Stewart’s perennially accuse conservatives of fear mongering, but in many cases they have actually become more negative than their opponents.
The rally ought to have been a political “showdown at the OK Corral.” They should have made the case for their movement or offer the nation hope during this season of national financial pressure. Unfortunately, as I stated earlier, this and other progressive groups have had no unifying message other than “We should be in control.” Their secondary message was, “Conservative Neanderthals pretend to be so good but they are all hateful, narrow-minded bigots who cannot be trusted with power.” To prove my point, the UK Guardian carried a picture of one of the most incendiary signs. It read as follows: “I masturbate and I vote: but not usually at the same time.” The words obviously were referencing Christine O'Donnell of Delaware’s much ridiculed statements from years ago.
Despite Stewart’s rally in DC, there still seems to be an enthusiasm gap on the left. What do I mean by an enthusiasm gap? All the polls show that progressive candidates are not going to maintain control of the senate. Progressives are not excited enough about their candidates and legislative options under Nancy Pelossi and Harry Reid to rally at their local voting polls.
In conclusion, I want to encourage conservative voters and activists to remember that at the end of the day we are at another major transition point. Therefore, America needs answers, not rhetoric. We must vote the right people into office, and they must produce results. If we don’t seize the moment and produce, no excuse will be good enough.
Let’s take back the nation and do the right thing!