I’ve read a lot of post-election analyses today in the wake of Ned Lamonts historic victory over Sen. Joe Lieberman, but the one that spoke most directly to me was the following from MyDD’s Jerome Armstrong:
I was up in New Hampshire yesterday with college age Sierra Club activists, doing a back and forth debate/discussion with the Sierra Club President, Lisa Renstrom, over the issue of their embracing partisan politics, and advancing the progressive movement ahead of their own single-issue advocacy. I laid out the argument that single-issue advocacy was something that seemed to work in a previous time, but not in today’s partisan atmosphere, and that if a substantive, transformative change in environmental policy was to happen, it would occur because the millions of environmentalists decided to join the netroots/grassroots activists now taking over the Democratic Party. I quoted Krugman’s channel of CTG tough love. Lisa countered that social movements do not make up political parties, but impact them, and she effectively made the case that environmentalists can drive the public debate at the state level in a non-partisan manner. I totally agreed, but believe that that impact can be overtly partisan, and that a distinction must be made between the state, more local level, and the federal races.
Having become just another lobbying group instead of a movement, the Sierra Club and the many single-issue groups like them, NARAL, League of Conservation Voters, Planned Parenthood, AFL-CIO, SEIU, CWA, NALC, NAGE, Food and Commercial Workers, Teamster’s, Firefighters, Carpenters, Postal Workers, IBEW, Human Rights Campaign, etc., found themselves aligned in the minority alongside Joe Lieberman on Tuesday night. Lieberman’s problem wasn’t policy, it’s that he’s not been a part of the solution–the movement of change that forms its base with people of progressive values, not issues.
We are becoming strong enough in primary numbers to defeat the politics of old in the Democratic Party. But we cannot defeat the conservative ideological movement if they are united, and we are not; if they are modern and we are stuck in the methods of the past. In a nutshell, I argued that to win elections and transform the landscape enough to enact a broader environmental policy initiative that addresses issues such as global warming, every progressive individual, group, and organization must work together in the same vehicle. Sure the Democratic Party has been busted and broken in the past, but lets rebuild it and ride it to get there.
Read the whole thing, but that block quote is the gist of it.
This is of course a call for more partisanship and an end to the single-issue politics that has characterized progressive organizations up until now… a theme that I’ve been hitting on for the past few days. I know that some may argue that this isn’t exactly the most reliable path towards good government, but this is the path the other guys have chosen, so what choice do we really have? (That is, if we care as much about winning as we do just being right.)