Progressives And The Bright Shiny Object

Posted by Bob Lord

RJ Eskew has a great piece up at Alternet, Are Corporations Trying to Distract Us While They Take Control of Our Economy?, where he makes far more eloquently than I did the point that it is now progressives who are getting distracted by social issues, particularly issues related to abortion rights and LGBT rights. Back in April, I wrote a post entitled A Sure Indicator of Dem Gutlessness, in which I made this suggestion:

Want to spot a Dem who won't stand up for progressive principles when it counts? This may sound counterintuitive, but watch for strong, loud, attention-grabbing progressive declarations on marriage equality and abortion rights. They're dead giveaways.

Eskew analogizes this to the phenomenon Thomas Frank explored in What's The Matter With Kansas, where Kansans (and others) were bamboozled by conservative politicians to vote against their own economic interests based on concerns over abortion rights and same sex marriage. Eskew identifies a breed of progressive today could be called a "reverse Kansan":

Politicians in the “liberal Kansas” school are increasingly outspoken on issues like reproductive choice and gay marriage, while at the same time continuing to promote their corporate economic agenda. Many, if not most, of them are so-called "centrist" Democrats from the Bill Clinton wing of the party. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Democrat turned Republican, is also a prominent member of the “personally liberal, economically conservative” clique. 

They’re not alone. I’ve known more than a few corporate leaders and Wall Street executives, and most of them were quite liberal on social issues too. It makes sense, when you think about it. When your goal is money, you’re not likely to care what people do with their bodies – as long you get their wallets.

That’s the “liberal Kansas” strategy in a nutshell.

In my mind, Eskew is dead on when he notes:

It seems that most of party’s rank and file is happy to let this rightward economic shift continue, as long as its leaders say the right things about social issues.

I'll put it another way. We're headed for a society where abortion is safe and legal; members of the LGBT community have the same rights as the rest of us and are treated with the respect they deserve; and 90% of Americans are unable or barely able to put food on the table. Is that the society to which we aspire? 

One response to “Progressives And The Bright Shiny Object

  1. That’s absolutely right. In addition it is cover for ignoring climate change.