A Victory for Progressivism

(this post is inspired by democracynow.org and host Amy Goodman’s interview with historian, writer for The Nation and commentator John Nichols and references headlines and issues raised on that program)

The election results — if you watch network and/or cable news — of 05 November 2013 were all about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s blowout reelection victory over Democratic State Senator Barbara Buono. Now it’s all about Christie’s expected run at the 2016 Republican nomination. Yes, here and there were references to New York City’s election of highly progressive Democrat Bill de Blasio as its first Democratic mayor in twenty years, but by and large, the coverage was dominated by Christie, and then focussed on the closer-than-expected gubernatorial race in Virginia between former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe and the state’s sitting Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a radical almost to the right of the Tea Party, whose views on women’s health rights have earned rightful scorn.

But, if you only watch network and the two cable news networks (CNN & MSNBC — Fox is infotainment at best, lunacy, fear-mongering and Orwellian misinformation at its most accurate and fascist propaganda at its worst), you might not be aware that: 1) New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approved a raise in its minimum wage and mandated annual cost-of-living increases; 2) The Illinois House and Senate sent a bill to Governor Pat Quinn (who has pledged to sign it) that makes Illinois (my home state — we worked very hard to make this happen) the fifteenth state in the Union to legalize marriage equality; 3) the city of Portland, Maine legalized marijuana; 4) three cities in Colorado voted to ban “fracking”; 5) de Blasio in New York is poised to become the most liberal mayor in America, and of our biggest and most important city; 6) Martin Walsh, an outspoken backer of unions and strongly supported by labor, was elected mayor of Boston; 7) Hawai’i House committees advanced a bill that would make that state the sixteenth to legalize marriage equality.

And, despite the breathless anticipation of a Christie presidential run, he’s positioned himself (even if factually laughable) as a moderate to the left of his Republican colleagues Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). In the second term of an embattled president who has not lived up to his progressive rhetoric (and in foreign policy has, in fact, blatantly contradicted it), in an off-off-year election, progressive values clearly prevailed nationwide. There’s much to be hopeful about — a majority of Americans now say they support marriage equality and an end to Prohibition regarding cannabis; the discussion about poverty and lack of economic opportunity is gaining traction; the opposition to targeted murder via drone strikes is growing; an awareness of the nefarious tactics allegedly employed by the NSA and demands for transparency and privacy continues to grow.

It’s too early to be triumphant, and the hope and change of the heady days of 2008 are all but gone. We’re a bit more jaded, a bit more cynical — and all-too aware that it’s still big business calling the shots. But this election was a progressive victory in so many ways. There are signs of a progressive resurgence in America, and it’s about damn time.

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~ by Benji on 6 November 2013.

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