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After last November’s debacle, Democracy for Missouri distilled the reason for the losses–basically, that the people Democrats worked so hard to get elected keep tacking toward the center instead of representing Democratic core values. The writer denies that the loss is a mandate for Republican ideas–as if the American people want a return of the same policies that put us in the worst economic downturn in seventy years. Rather, voters are frustrated that the war on the middle class continues to go so well. The only way they could express that frustration was to punish the people who had the power and didn’t use it well enough on their behalf.

Perhaps the vote would have been less disastrous if so many progressive activists hadn’t sat this one out.

In 2006 and 2008, Howard Dean led a resurgent progressive movement to take back the congress and the presidency. These grassroots activists canvassed, phoned, and organized for their favorite candidate. Unfortunately once these Democrats were elected, they abandoned their base by running to the center. When these same people who put [in] their time and money wanted their agenda pushed forward and had the nerve to speak out, they were met with words like f$%^ing retard and accused of being the “professional left” by Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and press secretary Robert Gibbs.

If Democratic office holders keep running away from their base to try to appear Republican, they will continue to lose. Robin Carnahan lost many [progressives] when she decided to continue the “Bush” tax cuts despite big deficits and [cuts] in services. They personally told me that they would not work on her campaign and they have had it with Democrats that try to appear conservative

while universal health care access still [eludes] our [citizens], war is still being waged, and big money rules the political system.

The writer particularly warns Nixon, McCaskill, and Koster to heed that advice.

Nixon has not. Instead of so much as whispering the words “more taxes for the wealthy”–perhaps never even letting those words cross his mind–the governor keeps cutting necessities to the most vulnerable. The Communications Workers of America were so outraged, after the State of the State address, that they issued a press release:

Among the wrongheaded recommendations he announced were plans to lay off nearly 500 direct service employees in Department of Social Services and Department of Health and Senior Services. In addition to adding hundreds to Missouri’s already historically high numbers of unemployed, these cuts will:

  • make accessing and applying for Medicaid, Foodstamps, child support and child care services vastly more difficult for thousands of financially struggling Missouri families
  • reduce the number of state employees assigned to protecting children, senior citizens and people with disabilities from abuse and neglect
  • force families with troubled youth to travel hundreds of miles to access state mandated treatment services.

Thursday’s Post-Dispatch headline–“McCaskill joins Senate GOP in deficit-reduction bill”–tells us that Claire is still courting people who will never vote for her.

Calling the move risky, Sen. Claire McCaskill introduced on Tuesday anti-deficit legislation that could impose automatic cuts in Social Security and other entitlement programs.

She is not, as she’d like to present herself, brave and fiscally responsible. She’s misguided. Repeat after me, Claire: Social Security did not cause these deficits. In fact, the government has been subsidizing its debt by selling T bonds to the solvent Social Security Trust Fund. Thank god that Social Security, as least, has been so well managed. So what purpose could possibly be served by cutting funds to seniors down the road? That would only take more money out of circulation. And when the economy suffers, so do tax collections, thus increasing the deficit.

Goddammit, Claire, learn to think like a Democrat!

Finally, we have Republican turned … sort of … Democrat, Chris Koster. Not even McCaskill would join a lawsuit challenging health care reform, which is what Koster is contemplating. He has this odd notion that “nonpartisan” means letting himself get bullied by Republicans into doing the most partisan thing possible.

You’re a Democrat now, Mr. Koster. Live up to it.

But you know what? I can lecture those three till the cows come home and they’ll continue tacking toward the center. They’re made that way. It’s easy for them to shrug off cyberspace scolding. Instead of figuring out that they’re alienating their base, they assume they didn’t wander far enough to the right. We progressives have got to find a way to get their mulish attention. We need to get our heads together and figure out how to organize so that we have more clout. Our efforts, heartfelt as they are, are scattershot. We need to find a way to turn them into lasers.

One way to do that, if you’re in the St. Louis Metro area, is to contact Rea Kleeman, who founded a group called Progressive Democrats–STL, devoted to revitalizing the state party. (Her contact info is beckkleeman@charter.net, 314-727-7374.) That group is maintaining contact with Susan Montee and hoping to help her with organizing and effective messaging. The larger that group becomes, the more help they’ll be able to offer. And the more she’s likely to listen.

I wish I could say that joining PD-S was just the first of several options, but for now, that’s the only one I can suggest. Some St. Louis progressives are looking into others, though. I hope to have more ideas to report in the near future. If any of you in other parts of the state have been having more success, I hope you’ll give the rest of us some tips. I hear Springfield and Kansas City are doing better at organizing themselves than we are.