I’ve been hearing a lot about the progressive movement, the self-described conscience of the DFL (here in MN) and the Democratic Party. Kucinich’s candidacy brought to the forefront a lot of concerns people have about the party, and brought opportunities to speak about dissent within the ranks.
Has party leadership embraced it? No. Should it? Who knows? I won’t, and that’s what I’m blogging about today.
I’ll be the first in line to stand up and say there are problems with the Democratic Party. We’re slow to react. We’re terminally reluctant to fight fire with fire. We demand loyalty and are quick to forgive when it’s not won. Most of all, we’ve fallen into the habit of letting the other side define our issues for us, and now we’re letting the “progressive” movement do that as well.
I resent being told to vote my conscience. This battle-cry for third-party supporters and progressives who break with the party implies that I haven’t considered all the options. It implies that I have considered all the options and am making a willfully bad decision.
My conscience tells me that when people’s economic interests are met, they can take the time to educate themselves on the issues of the day, are in a financial position to work actively for the side they believe in, and can become integral parts in building a just society.
My conscience tells me that peace in Iraq is not going to come first on the first Bush-free day. Nor should it. I marched with millions against that war and believe it is a crime that we are there. But after breaking and entering and assaulting, we can either sneak out the back door or stand up, look around, realize what we’ve done and then make it right.
My conscience tells me that yes, it is better to choose benign neglect of my interests over malicious, calculated destruction of my interests. In an either-or situation such as this, I am not going to choose outside the system, because at this point, to do so would be foolish.
The changes that the progressives say they want — in health care, in economics, in peace and justice — are not going to happen through the existing system overnight. If they are going to work through the system, it will have to be incrementally. If they want instant solutions, it will only come through revolution, and I have yet to see a progressive endorse that.
Every election is not an end-all. History is not a moment. Voting for Kerry moves us away from the scary right-wing fascism we’re moving toward now. It does not get us to where many of us want to be. It moves us in that direction, however, laying ground for more progressive ideas and victories.