Here at LR Net we’ve always struggled with the question of how far do we go? Is it enough to be a Democrat? Should we identify as Liberals? Or maybe we should go further than that, and say that we are unapologetically Progressive? Even…dare we say it…Democratic Socialists?
Fortunately, wiser heads than ours have also wrestled with this problem. Consider, for example, Raúl Grijalva, a Democratic Congressman who represents Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District. He has just done a very interesting op-ed piece in the Washington Post that we all ought to take a gander at.
In Be progressive, Democrats, not merely liberal, he argues that it isn’t enough to just be well-meaning Liberals trying to deal with some of the basic problems of society. We must, instead, be active and assertive progressives, working to address the power imbalances that plague our nation. He writes, “For progressives, the central questions of public policy revolve around who has power, why they have that power and how it can be more fairly distributed. Progressives do not believe anyone should have the power to deny an adult the right to marry the person they love, the power to wage an expensive and destructive war under false pretenses, or the power to destroy millions of lives through economic greed and irresponsibility. We also question the system that granted anyone those powers in the first place, and ask whether a better way of doing things is possible. Anyone who agrees with this approach is more of a progressive than they may have imagined.”
It is a thoughtful and thought-provoking essay, and if Grijalva isn’t the first person to suggest that Progressives consider power while Liberals merely consider problems to solve, then he is certainly more forceful in his arguments than most have been of late.
He is also a serious challenge to the Democratic Party today. As we’ve seen far too often, the party seems divided between its Elites (for example, the DCCC and the DNC) and its voters. The former are less progressive than the latter, and, indeed, they’ve been actively working against genuinely progressive actions and attitudes. One wonders how long a house can stand, so divided against itself.
Maybe essays like Grijalva’s are the beginnings of rebellion which will, we hope, take the Democratic Party back to its Progressive roots.
The Little Professor