Let's stop being "progressives"
Okay, so you all know by now that the Democratic Party has become Republican Party Two and that there's nothing for "progressives" but vote-shaming between here and November. But that's okay! The "progressives" have a great repertoire of cliches, those great spoonfuls of sugar which will help the Biden-medicine go down. Below, I will discuss these cliches in context:
"Baby steps." "Incrementalism."
Yeah, the "progressives" really love incrementalism, those baby-steps toward the "progressive" utopia of, what? Public relations cliches as spouted by DNC speakers?
The real problem is that we are not progressing -- but that will come up in greater detail below. The past forty years of "incrementalism" has all been backwards, and Joe Biden has had his fingers in most of that. Joe was instrumental in giving us the Crime Bill, the Bankruptcy Bill, the war against Iraq and so on. The only example of forward "incrementalism" the "progressives" have is the ACA, in which insurance-denial for people with preexisting conditions was replaced by either Medicaid (good luck getting providers to accept it) or the "right" (an obligation, reinforced by a mandate penalty) to buy expensive health insurance you can't afford to use. The going-backwards part of it was that it strengthened the position of power of the health insurance companies.
Yeah, historically the Progressives (the ones of the period between 1890 and 1920) arose in the context of American history at the same time as the pragmatists, that great American school of philosophy, was in peak production mode. The Progressives were making political names for themselves at the same time as John Dewey, William James, and Charles Peirce were making names for themselves as philosophers. Here's the main problem in applying pragmatism to today's problems:
- Donald Trump is not going to solve the world's most pressing problems, not even close. It's easy to show this by his present-day performance.
- Joe Biden is not going to solve the world's most pressing problems, not even close. It's easy to show this by his past performance and by the fact that he's old and very unlikely to change.
Knowing those two things, what should we conclude? A REAL pragmatist would conclude that the world's problems are not going to be solved by a Presidential election, but by some other agency. So what are the "progressives" doing going around vote-shaming those of us who won't vote for Biden?
"Don't waste your vote on a third party."
The problem with this cliche is that in real life ALL votes are wasted, and it's been that way for some time now. We've been voting for the last forty years, in which neoliberals have won, the store given away to the Republicans, and carbon dioxide accumulated in Earth's atmosphere. What have we gotten for it? Voting is vastly over-rated.
"We must defeat Trump."
I'm going to cluster all of the "progressive" cliches which have Trump as their object into one ball here, as I've already posted a series of diaries laying out why the whole "progressive" Trump-cliche effort is wasted. I suppose the most important fact laid out in the series is that Joe Biden's sole path to the Presidency is through Donald Trump's political self-destruction and that nothing the "progressives" add to that Trump self-destruct is going to smooth the path for Joe Biden. Trump might indeed destroy his own political chances, thus giving the "progressives" hope, but Joe Biden himself doesn't honestly count as much of a hope for "progressives". It's that Trump will piss everyone off, and thus they'll vote against him. As for Biden, the most honest point of the DNC was in John Kasich's speech when he was telling his fellow Republicans to vote for Joe Biden because "he'll never turn left."
Moreover, we are not being invited to defeat Trump. The campaign to defeat Trump might tell us we have no choice but to vote for their candidate, but they are not actively looking for our votes. They thusly feel free to make their candidate as unattractive to us as he wants to be. We have only seen the beginning of the Biden campaign's shunning of us.
It's not just that we're powerless to defeat Trump through the promotion of Joe Biden, though. What needs to be defeated is not just Trump, but a system which encompasses Trump, Biden, and the elites (in dimensions economic, political, and mass-media) which support them and which make it a commonplace that things will get worse from year to year for most of us.
At any rate, the point of going over all of this dreck is to isolate the problem. The problem is that "progressivism" has been reduced to cliches, having been abandoned by both major parties and not having the integrity to join the Movement for a People's Party. I propose that we stop being "progressives," that we let the term "progressive" languish in the dustbin of history, and that we choose something to be that is more proactive than the term "progressive." "Humanists" (corresponding to "humanism") might work, also having a historical pedigree, but I'll let the alternative to "progressivism" float around a bit until people agree on something.
Here's the primary reason: We have stopped progressing. Instead we vote for neoliberal politicians and participate in neoliberal systems because we can't think of anything better. Society, then, has been regressing since 1980, the year of highest per-capita government spending upon college students, which used to be the future of America when that future wasn't just a clusterf*ck. The forthcoming disaster will be far larger than any elite power will be willing to cope with. Instead, the elites will receive direct loans from the Federal Reserve for the sake of gold-plating their social escape-pods while the rest of the world fries in catastrophic heat-waves or gets sick and dies of COVID-19. But that's a side-point -- the main point is that there is no point in being a "progressive" and deeming oneself in favor of "progress" when reality is in regress. Maybe some kind of revolution can make progress possible once again; but the "progressives" are not going to make that revolution, just as in two tries at Bernie Sanders' run for the Presidency they didn't make the political revolution a going thing.
So I submit that it's time we stop being "progressives," abandoning the term altogether, and choose something else to be. Revolutionaries, disaster relief, and nice people should all be candidates for the replacement term. "Liberals" will confuse us with neoliberals. Socialists can't be entirely counted out. "Democratic socialists" would be fine for now.