E.J. Dionne has done it again! Here’s the opening and conclusion of his piece in the WaPo today:
The reemergence of a Democratic left will be one of the major stories of 2014. Moderates, don’t be alarmed. The return of a viable, vocal left will actually be good news for the political center.
And here’s why moderates should be cheering [the new progressives] on: When politicians can ignore the questions posed by the left and are pushed to focus almost exclusively on the right’s concerns about “big government” and its unquestioning faith in deregulated markets, the result is immoderate and ultimately impractical policy. To create a real center, you need a real left.
And while I think Dionne’s reasoning is sound (though facile), hoping for the center to save us is pretty damn weak. Wingnuttia has wreaked their hideous policies on us since Mork and Mindy was on the electronic TeeVee machine, and it is not going to be the vast, status quo fanbois who will rescue us: they are too busy watching Honey Boo Boo.
The Occupy Movement had a chance, but like all progressives, they got caught up in process rather than in policy; I still maintain that they fought harder for the right to camp in public places more than for getting their message out. They also chose the wrong name (Occupy? Really?), when the 99% would have been so much more powerful.
But that does not diminish what Occupy were trying to do, and to the degree that we even are having this discussion rather than how quickly to eliminate the entire social safety net is due to them. After all, we have in the White House a president who would under normal conditions be considered a Rockefeller Republican, and who has frequently offered Social Security as a bargaining chip.
We don’t need an engaged Center so much as we need a Progressive Left with more grit in ‘em.