The signs are everywhere, from North Carolina to Indiana to the hallowed halls of Congress. Those who want to take America back to the 19th century are girding their loins for the battle ahead. Their endgame is obvious, and has been for some time. The question that remains is whether those who call themselves progressives are ready to put aside their differences and prepare to "throw hands" (metaphorically, you understand). The stakes are as follows. If we want to have any hope that the more than 12 million Americans currently out of work will ever have decent jobs again in their lifetime, we're going to have to play politics to win.
That won't be easy for progressives. We pride ourselves at being somehow better, more high minded than our opponents. We won't engage in certain tactics that they take for granted to win elections. Maybe we don't have to. But we do have to have a clear idea of what we want to accomplish this and every election cycle. And yes, we may have to be ruthless in order to get it done. For the sake of our kids, if ruthless is what it takes, so be it. Our political aim should be threefold. You may not think he's done everything he should have, but electing Barack Obama to a second term is essential. So too is widening the margin of the Democratic majority in the Senate. The third priority is to turn just 25 Republican seats in the House to Democrats.
Why are these three goals important? The GOP minority in the Senate just killed (for now) a bill to freeze the interest rate on college student loans. In Indiana, a decent, long serving Republican US Senator just got his head handed to him by a Tea Partry Neanderthal. In North Carolina, a referendum just passed defining marriage as between a man and a woman. These are three recent reasons progressives must be ready to stand and fight this election cycle. Another will be evident to anyone who has passed over or under a bridge, an overpass, train trestle, whatever. Folks, our infrastructure is falling apart. The same people who think corporations are people tell us we're too broke to fix our roads. How many able bodied Americans could be trained and put to work creating the steel that upgrades these structures so central to our lives? Who will mix and lay the concrete that replaces the foundations that have rotted away from years of neglect?
Oh yeah, and before I forget. Right now the nation's unemployment rate stands at 8.1%. If it ever got back down to where it was when Bill Clinton was president (3.9%), we'd all breathe a sigh of relief. I want to go one better. I want every able bodied American who wants to work to have a job. Then those don't will have to come up with a really good reason why they can't work like the rest of us. And while I'm at it, I want universal health care, quality education for all Americans, and the end of the mess that has become our immigration system.
The President dropped his "to do" list on Congress the other day. You've just read mine, and what progressives need to do to reach these lofty goals.
What's your "to do" list? Can progressives get it done?