Friday, March 1, 2013

The Dying Breed

Trey Smith

For the social compact of the United States, most of the Congressional Progressive Caucus has gone missing.

While still on the caucus roster, three-quarters of the 70-member caucus seem lost in political smog. Those 54 members of the Progressive Caucus haven’t signed the current letter that makes a vital commitment: “we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits — including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.”

More than 10 days ago, Congressmen Alan Grayson and Mark Takano initiated the forthright letter, circulating it among House colleagues. Addressed to President Obama, the letter has enabled members of Congress to take a historic stand: joining together in a public pledge not to vote for any cuts in Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

The Grayson-Takano letter is a breath of fresh progressive air, blowing away the customary fog that hangs over such matters on Capitol Hill.

The Progressive Caucus co-chairs, Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, signed the letter. So did Barbara Lee, the caucus whip. But no signer can be found among the five vice chairs of the Progressive Caucus: Judy Chu, David Cicilline, Michael Honda, Sheila Jackson-Lee and Jan Schakowsky. The letter’s current list of signers includes just 16 members of the Progressive Caucus (along with five other House signers who aren’t part of the caucus).
~ from Progressive Caucus Folds by Norman Solomon ~
I don't know about you, but I don't know what the word progressive means anymore. Progressives voted FOR the Wall Street bailouts. Progressives voted FOR many aspects of the so-called "War on Terror." Progressives voted FOR the defense authorization bill that allows a US President to kill American citizens without charges, a trial or a jury. Progressives have voted FOR the so-called Patriot Act more than once. And Progressives voted FOR the anti-labor, anti-environment North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

I'm not saying that all progressives voted for these things, but in almost every case, many progressives did. Even worse, "progressive" voters didn't hold their feet to the fire and often provided these elected progressives with the political cover to turn their backs on progressive values.

In terms of the issue Solomon writes about, the vast majority of the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus won't buck their non-progressive President on a core issue important to their progressive supporters. So, what in the hell does it actually mean to be a progressive these days?

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