What Progressives Don’t (part two of two)

June 24, 2011
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In yesterday’s first part of this diary, we talked about the 1912 Progressive Party Platform. About how starkly its wording applies to the conditions under which we now live, 100 years later. About what real Progressives believe in and fight for. In short, what Progressives do.

And we promised, here in part two, an object lesson in the lengths to which false progressives and other protectors of the “profits before people” status quo will go in quashing dissent. In other words: what true Progressives don’t.

The lesson comes by way of the blog at the website of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA).

On June 14, one Mike Hersh – who is identified variously at the PDA site as the group’s “Maryland State Coordinator,” as “PDA Staff,” and as “PDA National Staff” – put up a post called “The High Cost of Voting for Spoilers.” (Hersh is also – although “hopes to be” seems more accurate, based on his own web site – a political campaign consultant.)

The PDA’s blog appears to have begun in January; I could find no archives dating further back. In those six months, no post has come close to Hersh’s in terms of reader comment. Despite being open for comment literally for months – they are still open, in fact – few have received more than eight replies.

By contrast, “The High Cost of Voting for Spoilers” got 89 comments in just one week, and would have had more – but Hersh shut it down Tuesday night.

That’s right. This “progressive” shut down the Progressive Democrats of America’s most-discussed blog post of the year. In mid-debate.

So, what happened?

After throwing everything in the cupboards – and then the kitchen sink – at the six commenters who took issue with his post (five, including the author, supported it) Hersh knew the jig was up – that’s what happened.

Too many commenters – too many for Hersh’s liking, at least – refused to accept his “facts,” let alone the smarmy, know-it-all, accusatory style so symptomatic of so many who purloin the term “progressive” for their narrow interests. You know their rigmarole:

- Gore lost because of Nader voters.

- Democrats are the better choice and anyone who doesn’t see that is willfully blind – but saying this is not the same as promoting lesser-evilism.

- The (insert name of neolib org here) supports and encourages open debate and discussion. (Unless, of course, we shut it down.)

So, after providing numbered answers to “three questions” Hersh thought crucial, and which he excoriated his critics for “refusing to address” (though we had, repeatedly, with the sum of our comments); after it was clear that any point which discredited his thesis would be met with obfuscation at best; and about 36,000 words into the Hersh Vortex of Circular Logic, I got a notion (and yes, I’m kind of embarrassed it took me so long).

I posted the following:

OK, Mike, let’s try this. A simple yes or no answer will suffice. No qualifications or explanations. After you answer, I’ll ask you another question. Fair enough?

Do you consider a vote for Canada’s NDP “voting for a spoiler”?

Just a reminder: yes or no.

Thanks in advance for your reply.

His response:

Anthony—

I already answered that, [no, he hadn’t] but here it goes again. No, voting for NDP was not “voting for a spoiler.” Under the very different Canadian system, and considering they were already an established, effective party with seats in parliament, and representing more than 1% or 2% of the electorate: No.

(Good thing I asked for no qualifications or explanations, huh?)

Hersh continued:

Everyone—

At this point, let’s all admit some of us are not talking about the same things. A few people on this thread are unwilling to agree with the basic premise. As long as those people refuse to accept the terms, this is a waste of time.

[Translation: So many people are telling me my basic premise is flawed that I don’t have time to keep responding!]

At this point, I am closing this thread and inviting people to learn more about PDA, comment on the other blog posts, and get on with their lives.

Clearly, about midway through typing in his 50-word answer to my yes-or-no question, it dawned on the poor guy what my next question would be:

“So, Mike, if a vote for the NDP in 2011 was not ‘voting for a spoiler,’ because ‘they were already an established, effective party with seats in parliament,’ a vote for the NDP at its founding 50 years ago, when it had no seats, would, by your definition, have constituted ‘voting for a spoiler.’

“My question, then, is exactly how new political movements and parties can come into existence without being what you degrade as ‘spoilers’? If you got your wish and no one supported new parties, how would anything ever change?

Hersh knew the legs supporting his premise had been cut out from under it, and didn’t want to admit it. So he picked them up and ran away.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is not what Progressives do. On the contrary, it’s how major-party operatives, and those who seek to be, have co-opted, fear mongered, and quashed populist movements – like the Progressive Movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries – out of existence.

We must take back the Progressive mantle from these “Falsies” – false lefties, false liberals and false (a.k.a. small “p”) progressives.

Me must again imbue activism with the meaning, and with the peaceful militancy, which made that first Progressive Era the most beneficial period in our nation’s history – by far – for working Americans.

That era, not coincidentally, also united the largest percentage ever of people of all political stripes in pursuing and advancing the common good. It brought together Americans who embrace non-intervention, industrial justice, environmental protection, equal access to education, and care of our youth, our aged and our downtrodden.

True Progressives must reclaim this proud heritage. The first step in doing so is to exposing “small p” progressives and other duopolists for the enablers they are, and the hateful things they do. Things true Progressives don’t.

Anthony Noel
NPA Facilitator

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