Three small words and one very BIG idea: E Pluribus Unum – “out of many, one”. It is easy to say but troublesome to achieve. Our advancement inside the Party in the last four years has brought the Progressive movement to the brink of a broader leadership role. The question is – how will we evolve to claim that leadership role and show the way forward for the Democratic Party? Even more vexing is: will we be able to stand together to lead or will the pressure of the task – turning the ship of state back to the left – and the forces of the status quo prove overwhelming?
Some members of the Progressive Swarm favor defeating Democrats and Republicans who vote against the interests of the people and in favor of Crony business, politics and government. That is an undeniable necessity. Some Progressives favor electing more Progressive Democrats to carry our policy and craft it into law. That is a formidable task but an essential imperative. Others have been working inside the Party to establish a Progressive infrastructure that can be maintained and handed down to succeeding generations. That is the crux of the Progressive Plan.
What we have discovered in our vigorous efforts to accomplish the first two tasks is that the unfinished business of the third task has proven to be the lynch pin in the establishment’s defense of the bulwark of incumbency, endorsement and big money donors, which maintains the rightward drift of the body politic. We have chipped away at it and even had some marginal success. However, significant transformative change is just beyond our grasp within the Party processes, where entrenched interests are capable of out-voting us on the floor of most bodies of the Party.
How then, can we come up with the necessary “change” votes when we have at most 30% to 40% of the votes in any one body? We don’t have the luxury of time to go through cycle after cycle of elections to gain more members, which we will do in any case, while the world crumbles around us. The only available answer is – outreach and coalition with Liberals and other courageous souls within each body of the Party. In other words – we must allow our movement to evolve.
If we hold 35% to 40% of the votes, as we do, on any important issue that comes before the DSCC or its Executive Board, then we need 16% to 11% of the remaining votes to prevail on an issue – 50% plus one. Where would those votes come from? They would naturally come from the Liberals. As we posited in the Progressive Plan – Liberals are now the center of the Party. Moderates or Conservatives are on the Right of the Party. If Moderates hold 33% of the votes in any one body of the Party – local, state and national – and we believe that they do, then the third in the middle, Liberals, are the balance of power. So, how do we become the faction of the Party that realigns the vote and becomes the new leadership? Inclusion.
Our task at this point in time, as we foresaw it in the 2006 Progressive Plan, is to reach out to the Liberals and through collaboration, dialogue and rigorous debate, get them to invest in our Progressive Policy. In order to accomplish that, both sides must overcome their inherent fear of the other. Liberals fear our policy because they are uncomfortable with the pace and scope of change that we prescribe on a host of issues. Progressives fear that any coalition will weaken our policy.
As the infamous blues singer Robert Johnson once wailed, “I went down to the crossroads”. Progressives fear that a Faustian bargain will be struck at the crossroads, where some members will sell their soul for personal advancement and water down Progressive policy in exchange for an elected or Party job. Liberals, down at the crossroads, fear that Progressives are the mythic left of old (that was actually just a ginned up scapegoat of the rabid right in a vain attempt to hold back the future – i.e. the Culture Wars) and will seduce them into straying from Main Street American values. Neither fear is necessary. It is up to us, Progressives, to show the way forward. Courage overcomes fear. That is leadership. That is our destiny and destiny beckons.
We need to find liberals that will work on our policy with us, one issue at a time, and build mutual trust. Then we must take the time to explain why Progressive policy is the cure for what ails the body politic. We must instill in our new partners the reality that there is no time to waste on these vital issues. We need to convince them that gradualism, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us, is an untenable model for change:
“This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s, “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.
When we go beyond our comfort zone and bring the light of tolerance, understanding and inclusion to as many as we can, then we will have fulfilled our promise to each other to be different than the practices of exclusion, derision, mistrust and dismissiveness that we beheld when we came together in the Party. We are the change and anyone should be able to join us in that change. And we should be able to join with them, bound by Progressive policy.
This coming election of a new CDP – DNC delegation is an opportunity for both Progressives and Liberals to begin the realignment and form a coalition that will move the Party into the 21st Century. This election is a possible pivot away from fear and toward cooperation. Let us approach every corner of the Democratic Party with our Progressive Principles and Policy in one hand and with the other hand open to welcome others into a new understanding, a new and better inclusion. To paraphrase John Lennon – you say you want an evolution? Then let us go out to the Party, the nation and the world and grow one.
All together now
E Pluribus Unum
Brad Parker is an award winning artist, songwriter, producer and musician. He has recorded, toured and produced hits in North America, Europe and Asia. Parker owns Indie label Riozen records and is a co-founder of “muzlink.com”. Brad is a prolific political writer and speaker as well. Parker is very involved with Democratic political organizations including: President, Valley Democrats United, Vice President, Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, Platform Committee of the California Democratic Party and Delegate, CDP Central Committee from the 42nd Assembly District.
This article originally appeared in the Valley Democrats United newsletter, Margie Murray editor, on June 11, 2008. We have republished it with permission.