Liberals should seize the day by reorganizing the Progressive Party first organized by Teddy Roosevelt in 1909. It could serve admirably as a liberal rejoinder to the Tea Party and help keep the Democratic Party from slipping even farther to the right then it already has. The Tea Party has had a definite effect in propelling the Republican Party farther to the right and created an impetus and momentum that is dragging the left with it. Had the Democrats had such a party to deal with, the healthcare bill would very likely have had a single payer option and President Obama’s first two years would have been even more productive than they were.
The recent events in the Middle East and Wisconsin have sparked a renewed interest in public demonstrations and protest not seen in this country since the Vietnam War with the exception of the Tea Party rally’s and town hall meetings inspired by President Obama’s election. The union busting agenda of Governor Walker in Wisconsin has gone a long way toward unifying the middle and working class and convincing them of the national scope of the war being waged against them by the movement conservatives. It has identified the self-styled aristocracy that is the power behind the throne in the personages of the Koch brothers and with a concerted effort on the part of real died in the wool liberals the rest such as Doug Coe, Roger Ailes, Robert Murdoch and their ilk can be exposed to the same sunshine and notoriety.
Such a party or movement would serve to keep the blue dog democrats in line or replace them with real liberals loyal to progressive principals and values. It would generate a level of enthusiasm and excitement equivalent to or greater than that which the Tea Party has generated on the right and revitalize the liberal base coming in to the 2012 elections. Given the money that the Citizen’s United case will allow movement conservatives to throw at that election it is imperative that the left take advantage of every opportunity to energize its base and strengthen its position in the minds of American voters.
Strangely enough as an offshoot of the Republican Party the platform of the Progressive Party was one sure to be comfortably familiar to today’s liberal democrat. It included national healthcare, social insurance for the elderly, disabled and unemployed, farm relief, limited injunctions relative to strikes and workers compensation. It also called for giving woman the right to vote, judicial recall and the passage of laws by initiative and referendum. One of the strongest and most controversial aspects of the platform was the oversight, regulation and restraint placed on corporation and the strict limits and disclosure of corporate campaign contributions.
In my mind it is an idea whose time has come and the liberal media and organizations including the unions and major donors and contributors would be well served to organize and support a real grass roots movement based on the Progressive Party. There are times as any smoke eater will tell you when your best option is to fight fire with fire and this is one of those times. Some on the right will remind us that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery and that is OK too. Like them or not the Tea Party has strengthened the rights hand and pushed them even farther to the right as it was designed to do. In this case imitation is definitely called for.