Harold Meyerson has a good op-ed in today's Washington Post about "Real Live Democrats". He never mentions Howard Dean by name, but the theme of the entire column is the return of the "Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party" and the DLC's foolish attempt to equate this neo-progressivism with the failed liberal politics of the 1980s.
In their zeal to demonize liberals, though, From and Reed miss the pragmatism that informs today's movement. On health care, the Campaign for America's Future manifesto argues that "the most sensible strategy [for a Democratic candidate] is to ask voters for a mandate for affordable care, vowing to put the leaders of both parties into a room until they emerge with a plan that addresses prices and guaranteed affordable care to all." What the DLC duo misses above all is the degree to which the radicalism of the current administration has concentrated the liberal mind on the need to unseating Bush in next year's election. Greens are even talking about lining up behind the Democrat. If From and Reed weren't so bent on fighting yesterday's wars, they would understand that the party's Democratic wing and its electable wing are really one and the same.
Pragmatism, along with anger, is one of the key elements in this movement. There is still the desire of many to push for their particular pet issue. But now, as never before in my lifetime, many have come to understand that all issues are supplanted in importance by the #1 goal of removing Bush and the rest of the Republicans from positions of power. I have commented previously that one problem the Democrats have had is that its constituents focus an inordinate amount of attention on their own little bailiwicks and lose sight of the big picture. The big picture is this: unless you get people sympathetic to your cause into power, no amount of campaigning for your cause will make any difference. Neo-progressivism is progressivism tempered by a spirit of pragmatism while inflamed by a sense of justified anger. It is essentially a set of principles that require us to disavow the failed politics of the past while unapologetically embracing the positions that have defined progressivism as the vital political movement that it is. * No more will we make the mistake of insisting on ideological purity in our candidates when the stakes are so high. * No more will we stand aside when our representatives allow themselves to be defined into ineffectiveness by the media operations of the opposition. * No more will we stifle justified anger in order to pursue some fantasy of non-partisan cooperation in the political sphere. * No more will we apologize for deeply held beliefs just because some people find them offensive and/or laughable. Sometimes it is more important to win the argument than it is to win friends.