Well, is the progressive movement failing? In a word, the answer is no, but it has suffered serious setbacks recently—and it could do much better than it has over the last decade.
I once wrote a zen Haiku that perfectly describes why liberal progressives have failed to dominate politics over the past decade:
Sparrows, fussing and
Fighting over nesting rights.
Starlings rob their nest.
It’s important to understand the distinction of “liberal progressives” used above. Liberals have not been the sole arbiters of progressive politics. Richard M. Nixon, in example, was progressive in many ways. In case you are not aware of it, he deserves credit for creating the Environmental Protection Agency, and forwarding the cause of equal rights through “affirmative action” to name two accomplishments.
There may still be a few progressive Republicans, but, if they exist, they are largely hiding in a closet that keeps out of view.
This brings us back to liberal progressives, and the reason they—despite large majorities of support for so many issues—have failed to dominate politics for so long. Though not necessarily the sole problem, the cynical left, now referred to as the alt-left, has been willing to scuttle the political aspirations of any Democrat who does not meet their expectations.
No amount of evidence, neither fact nor reason, can penetrate their cloak of self-righteous indignation over an apostate Democrat who seeks to raise the minimum wage to only $12, instead of the full $15 they demand. As columnist Molly Ivins once observed, “It’s hard to argue against cynics—they always sound smarter than optimists because they have so much evidence on their side.”
In example, despite evidence of Hillary Clinton’s progressive credentials during the 2016 Democratic Primary and presidential campaign, cynics would produce a litany of shortcomings and speculative doubt—with devastating consequence. This was not a one-off incidence. It happened in 2000, giving Republicans hegemony in government through 2006, and again in 2010, which assured an uphill battle that prevented the Obama administration from accomplishing all it could.
And it’s happening again in the wake of demands for absolute submission to their demands by liberal cynics.
What the cynical left most fails to appreciate was a truth once expressed by someone who struggled hard to realize a dream that we still struggle to attain today:
Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.
~ Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Politics is an evolutionary process, not revolutionary. It never involves a cynical choice of the lesser of two evils, but a choice of the best possible outcome. Debate over issues is important, of course, but support for the progressive consensus is critical for progressivism to succeed. Without it, the starlings will continue to rob our nest.