Left of the Hill: "Oregonians Send Progressive Populist Message"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I was going to write about this, but Bryan Scrafford beat me to it and did a great job.
...Despite the fact that the right wing likes to claim that voters don't want to give the government the ability to collect taxes from the extremely wealthy, Oregonians went to the polls yesterday and voted in favor of these measures. The message behind this is that there is a populist movement taking place in this country but it isn't the one the Republican leadership has been portraying.


One of the main reasons that so many people in Washington paid attention to Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts was that Republicans made sure the media and elected officials heard their sound bites. Now that voters in Oregon have made it clear that this isn't a Republican movement, but a populist one, we need to make sure that our elected officials get the message. Of course, the best way of doing that is to call your members of Congress and write letters to the editors of your local papers. And now that our general assembly is in session and deliberating over the state budget, I strongly encourage you to let your Delegates and state Senators know that it's okay to make sure that corporations and the extremely wealthy pay their fair share.
Well said by Bryan. I would just add that when Democrats try to act like Republicans - by playing into conservative memes about how "government is bad," how you're "overtaxed," or how "spending" is out of control or whatever - we make a huge mistake. Among other things, we seriously damage our "brand" like Coca-Cola did with New Coke back in 1985.

Instead, what Democrats should be fighting for is "the power of the people against the predation of big business and tyrants great and small," the concept that government is good and should serve the people not the powerful, and the notion that "[w]e the people have a common interest in ensuring that all of us have the same opportunities to succeed regardless of the circumstances of our birth." When we focus on our Democratic - and even better, Teddy Roosevelt Progressive - core message, we win. When we get away from that core message - whether out of panic or "triangulating" lack of principle - and try to be "Republican lite," not only do we lose but we deserve to lose. Regardless, I'd rather lose as a real Democrat than win (or probably lose anyway) as a "Republican lite." That's why I'm on the "blue" not the "red" team, after all.

UPDATE: McJoan at Daily Kos has an excellent diary on this subject. Among other things, she says: "That is how we win, by not letting the Teabaggers claim the populist mantle and not assuming that populism = anti-government or anti-tax. We win by fighting hard for progressive values, including a belief in basic fairness and income equality." Exactly!