The Leftist Wilderness Ahead
Progressives appalled by the GOP agenda and control of all branches of our government have many options and tactics ahead of them, including some of the few broad options I have considered myself and looked at here. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but we all only have so much time and effort to give, and the pros and cons of each are different. Where then should progressives invest our time, thought, and work to establish a more progressive society? How can we best resist and dismantle the regressive policies and executive orders that are going to flow from D.C. like a plague in the coming months and years? (These are real questions and I invite your answers in the comments sections.)
For me, Option 1 is off the table. I view the Democratic status quo as too problematic, too narrow in who it actually benefits, and too narrow in who it actually protects with the progressive legislation it does deliver on. I am also not alone. Only a fraction of those who voted for Clinton actually excited about her candidacy and vision for the future. Most likely Democratic voters want change and for good reason. If progressives try to run the business as usual Democratic playbook again in 2018 and 2020 the Democratic losing streak will not end and the GOP control of government will continue. Even if they did, we would be back to a government like the one we’ve experienced the last eight years which was bad for millions of people and regressive in many ways.
Option 2 seems to be where many progressives are putting their hopes. I personally think the Democrats in power in D.C. will not respond to their bases’ calls for change. They insisted on Clinton in 2016 and are creating far more excuses than they are internal reforms. I hope I am wrong on this, as a reformed Democratic Party that takes the direction of Sanders is the most practical and feasible way to stop Trump and deliver on progressive issues in the short-term. I fear reform efforts over the next two years will not be successful enough to win back the Democrats voter base.
This leaves me personally with Option 3 or Option 4; I believe progressives should build up an alternative Third Party or put their efforts towards revolutionary education and survival-pending-revolution programs. I am personally torn between the two, neither is viable in the short-term, and both have advantages and disadvantages. Regardless, the easiest road is not the best road and I believe the Democratic Party has forced our hand by how they set their course decades ago and how they refuse to change now.
Progressives need to walk into the wilderness, get involved, build something better. While this may be daunting, and there are no guarantees of success, I think we are at a point in our political history where if we want to establish a more progressive society, this approach is necessary.
Very good essay. The second wilderness image is provocative and well-chosen.
There is ample time now for progressives (at least middle-class ones) to examine their own lives and think about how they may be quietly enabling the kinds of tyranny they deplore. Movements to boycott Wells Fargo and US Bank (over the DAPL pipeline) are promising, I think. And we should not forget holidays tailor-made for resistance like International Workers’ Day on May 1st.