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What Happened To Progressive America?

Inauguration Analysis:

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Let me show you why I am angry before anything else:

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Conservatives have the “alt-right,” well let me introduce you to the “fringe-left.” I have observed this ‘movement’ for months now and there is a fringe group of people who have somehow been convinced that they are the ‘real’ progressives while pushing a mantra filled with nonsense. Not only that, but they actively worked to get the left to vote against Hillary Clinton for not being a ‘real’ progressive. This is our equivalent to Infowars or Breitbart. That’s the best description I can give to paraphrase. Now allow me to demonstrate the logic (or lack of) that is being used. I’m going to quote the first line that begins this write-up:

I’m done with the lame finger-pointing and the “We told you so” movement of thinking that this Trump nightmare is somehow the fault of those who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton.

News flash – Trump’s election is in fact because people didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton. That’s kind of how this stuff works, the person with ‘more votes’ gets a state’s electoral votes, hence they win! You can’t make this stuff up. She goes on to say:

I didn’t give a damn about Hillary’s emails or Pizzagate; I put all that in the bucket of the Benghazism that became the religion of the GOP. I cared about her actions in relation to Haiti and when she stood for laws under her husband’s administration that decimated poor communities, in particular, communities of color, under the guise of welfare reform.

You see where she said Hillary’s “actions in relation to Haiti,” look the source she uses:

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She actually quotes – as a source for her argument – something that Snopes deemed to be partially false. Her other issue she ‘drew a line in the sand’ with was Clinton’s welfare reform. While I can see one being upset about that she fails to mention that this ‘monster’ who ‘decimated communities of color’ cut African American unemployment in half, and reduced African American poverty to the lowest percentage it’s ever been in recorded history. And to top everything off, this was seriously the only two reasons she gave as to why she was against Clinton. Wow. Let me point out the first major flaw (other than lack of a tangible argument even existing) which ties back to her headline. What the hell does this have to do with neoliberalism? I mean, one could argue the Haitian minimum wage and welfare cuts are technically ‘fiscal’ issues, but to say that is where you draw the ‘neoliberal line’ is outrageous. I’ve seen this term thrown around so loosely among the fringe and frankly I’m convinced no one even knows what it means. Let me pull you out of your bubble for a moment.

Neoliberalism is a right wing economic philosophy. Privatization, free trade, fiscal conservatism in regards to the budget, cutting government spending, it is all about helping the private sector. You might as well say it’s a fancy word for libertarian, in the economic sense. But check this out – if you voted for Hillary you’re a ‘neoliberal hillbot,’ and the basis for this? Policy her husband put forth (something she didn’t actually do herself) two decades beforehand. Practically everyone I have personally come across that is on the left does not have these economic views at all.  Neoliberal is not a vague description of anyone who doesn’t line up with your ‘progressive’ ideologies (which aren’t even progressive). Some actually believe she used “McCarthyism” (a political term which essentially means starting a witch hunt) to blame the Russians for their role in the past elections among other things. Many have even labeled her (and Obama) a “war monger” and attached it to neoliberalism when militarization is actually a form of neoconservatism. So this brings me back to my original question – what the hell does voting for Hillary have to do with neoliberalism?

The sad part is there are real neoliberal examples the author could have brought up. Bill Clinton had many neoliberal policies but he also had some that represented the polar opposite of this view (like raising taxes on rich people). But to give you some ideas for your own argument – you didn’t bring up the budget surplus? I know this goes against everything you claim to know about MMT (a macroeconomic theory which states we have to create debt to keep the economy strong). How about NAFTA? That opened up free trade, definitely neoliberal. Or how he reduced import tariffs to open up the market. Or how he repealed the key part of Glass-Steagall that separated commercial and investment banking. Or how he pushed the fed to maintain low interest rates. Nope, none of that – just Haiti and welfare reform. I mean who could possibly argue with those two right? So in response to not knowing the definition of the first word in your headline, I’ll reverberate the last part of it back to you – shut the hell up.

After that the rest of the column turns in to a self righteous rant with a smug tone that, while pointing out valid things, fails to explain as to why those things justify a Trump presidency. I agree with the BLM points made especially, but now you’re trying to generalize everyone who voted for Hillary in to your own preconception. The fringe-left treats their own self-interest as the foundation of what they perceive as morality. Ironically this is definition of the ethical theory ‘egoism’ verbatim. The author channels her frustration at others on the left rather than the ones who have created the situations she is upset about.

She makes uninformed and misguided generalizations that are self-destructive to the progressive movement. It’s ironic that McCarthyism is such a widely used term on the fringe, because that’s exactly what she ends up doing. Creating a witch hunt through generalization. She shows that her self-interest is the foundation of her morality by making this about her personal issues and feeling. That isn’t progressivism. We don’t want others to suffer so we can say, how does it feel now? She didn’t support Hillary because – in her own words – “she wasn’t there for me.” You’re the reason people on the left are being called snowflakes. She ends her writing with:

Now suddenly you are in a complete panic because you can see the danger you are in.

Welcome to the club.

The ‘we told you so’ movement will continue to remind you how dumb this was for the next four years, so if you’re sick of it now you better toughen up. It is implausible to advocate a Donald Trump presidency and be progressive at all. This week we seen people get separated from their families, permanent American residents sent out the country with no precursor incident to justify what happened. His cabinet appointments – along with his other right wing peers – are poised to undo every left leaning progressive fabric that has been legislatively sown in this country going back almost 100 years.

You’re willing to jeopardize the foundation of this nation with fascism because you didn’t get your way? Willing to allow the repeal the ACA and strip millions of Americans their health insurance? Jeopardize the existence of social security? See medicare gutted and then turned in to a voucher system? Inevitably put in jeopardy what those people decades before us fought for to help the people most in need?! And for what – to prove an abstract political point to yourself?! Because you find some self gratification in seeing others suffer so you say “welcome to the club.” That is a deplorable stance to take and you really need to see the bigger picture. To others reading please don’t misinterpret my message – if you’re a Republican, a right-winger, anything else, it’s okay to want to change all of those policies if that’s what you prefer. All I’m saying is this – it isn’t progressive.

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That being said, I guess I need to remind people what progressivism is supposed to look like:

Theodore Roosevelt, though a Republican at the time, was America’s first progressive in the White House. According to him progressivism represented a “square deal” between business and labor to help out working class Americans. He promoted the use of science, engineering, and technology. He wanted to see the protection of the environment and modernization. Progressivism was a populist movement aimed at taking out the corruption in politics and in corporate America. He promoted law and order in a time where police corruption was rampant throughout the country. He created anti-trust laws to break apart monopolies. He wanted Americans to have access to the purist food and drugs possible to promote living a healthier lifestyle.  He was an advocate for civil rights and invited Booker T. Washington to the White House. He won the Nobel Peace prize in 1906 for ending the Russo-Japanese war. Yet this was also a man who, when the Spanish-American war started, stepped down from his political position to form the “rough riders” and actually went to battle along side his soldiers. This man was no snowflake.

You had activist like Jane Addams who advocated for world peace and fought for women to have the right to vote. She co-founded the NAACP as well as the ACLU (who is intensely going after Trump right now) and is credited with creating social work to help those in need. She created the Hull House in Chicago to help immigrants from the worst parts of the city. She also won the Nobel Peace prize in 1931. There was former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, a man once described as “dangerous because he was incorruptible.” He was considered a lawyer of the people that fought for social justice and to take down corporate monopolies. There was John Dewey who paved the way in education reform while Upton Sinclair paved the way in literature. Progressivism has a rich history of moving things forward, and did so in a way that affected many facets of life.

Do you see the common theme here? It was always about uniting for a bigger cause than yourself. It was always about social justice and helping those who need it. It was always a unifying philosophy rather than a dividing one. It is about being a part of the solution and not the problem. It is an evolving instrument of social change that adapts to the needs of society. It is about PROGRESSION, and the answer is never to purposely REGRESS. Or to purposely allow people to suffer for your own self gratification or self interest. Or to purposely allow this country to take a beating so it can be manipulated for your own political ideas. That’s not being a real progressive, that’s being un-American. One of my favorite signs I seen at the women’s march in Washington DC read, “if you are neutral in situations of social injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” This is bigger than us, and Trump never was – and never will be the answer in progressive America.

 

-John Streaker

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