Why the 2014 midterm elections are crucial to a future progressive agenda in America.
It is in my belief that the 2014 elections should be remembered as a “Progressive Revolution.” Now, I admit, much of what I think and conclude on this matter are mere wishes rather than concrete projections. Yet, I think it is time for progressives in the US to at last push for a really progressive sweep in Congress. Realize I am saying “progressive” rather than “Democrat.”
The 2014 midterms can be crucial for a number of reasons. Midterm elections aren’t generally seen as too important, but in reality they are. Examples can be taken from the last two. 2006 effectively derailed George W. Bush’s agenda in his last two years in office. The results of the 2010 elections are still causing Obama a major headache.
This year, we on the progressive left should use the cycle to try and push Congressional Democrats as hard as possible toward a progressive path. In the past it has often been shadowed by ideological splits. 2014 should not be a repeat of 2006. The reasons for this are quite clear.
Whether liberals like it or not, the Democratic Party has to become more ideologically focused if it expects to battle Republicans in midterm elections. While Democrats are winning Presidential Elections fairly easy, midterms are more localized and hence more complex. A party can win or lose elections more easily, based on factors such as turnout and message coherence.
Progressives should forget 2016 for now. That election is two years away and, honestly, 2014 could be far more important if progressives stick together and organize for the proper candidates. The party that wins 2014, could influence the elections in 2016.
In 2006, the Democrats won by a slim majority. The Democrats that took office in that election cycle were anything but unified. Across the board, many blue-dog Democrats were elected, who tend to serve as nuisances for progressive causes of party liberals. For example, Democrats could not stage a successful legislative action against Bush’s policies in Iraq because the conservative blue-dogs were all too willing to strike neutral tones and even side with the GOP on defense issues.
These same blue-dogs were also the ones that made Obama’s first-term agenda so hard to complete in the beginning. From 2009-2010, though Republicans were fighting hard, it was the blue-dogs who compromised progressive ideals. The blue-dogs blocked the closing of GITMO, and watered down the ACA and Dodd-Frank reform bill.
The point here is that Democrats were so eager in 2006 to simply win seats in Congress that they weren’t paying attention to how they would be able to govern once elected. There was no homogeneous agenda being pushed by the entire elected body of Democrats, so passing fully progressive agendas were extremely hard. Because the party was ideologically split, a unified policy seemed hard to attain. That is one thing Republicans did very differently in the aftermath of 2010.
Republicans, unlike Democrats, are much more united by ideology. One reason, I think, they won 2010 was because their message was unified and pretty clear. Whether you agreed with the message is different, but at least the message was unified. While the Democrats would tend to rotate statements (one Senator says this while another says that) the Republicans stood on a unified platform and managed to form a cohesive understanding as to the agenda they planned to pass. In a sense Democrats were quite lucky they held onto the Senate.
The 2010 elections revealed that if progressives desire to win a majority in Congress, then they are going to have to push Democrats to a more leftist position. This can only be done by getting involved, and actually taking an interest in the elections. If you want your guys to win, you have to help make them win. Having a unified front helps tremendously in this respect.
To the liberals looking forward to Hillary-2016, please save that for the year 2016. What we need right now is for progressives to get fired up about 2014, because it will determine the end of Obama’s presidency and the beginning of his successor’s presidency.
If we sit back and let the elections run their course, then we risk Republicans sweeping the Senate, and derailing any chance of a productive Congress in the next two years. If we band together, and push Democratic candidates toward a unified front based on a progressive values system, then perhaps we stand a chance in making a real case this cycle to the American people.
2014 needs to be a game-changer. Progressives have to band together in order to win. Democrats should not merely be focused on winning seats. They should also consider who will be holding the seats that are won. Winning the election is pointless if no one can agree to pass anything meaningful. Democrats need to grow a progressive backbone and unite around a single cause. We can’t expect progressive laws to be passed and protected if half of the so-called “liberal” party stays neutral or sides with Republicans. And 2016 will mean very little for progressives without a progressive Congress to follow suit.
2014, The Year of the Progressive Revolution. It does have a certain ring to it.