Advice to the left: If you want to win, keep your eyes on the prize

More than two years into the Trump administration, liberals and progressives are struggling to overcome internal divisions as they search for a strategy to push back and win against the Republicans. Some wise and insightful thinkers bring important lessons to the table from which we can all learn

Credit: Samantha Sophia/ Unsplash

 

If American progressives wants to win, they need to adopt the strategies of the right: find consensus, stay focused on goals, and be aggressive. This, parsed bluntly, is the message Caroline Fredrickson puts forward in an important article for The American Prospect. Frederickson, who is president of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, makes important observations like this one: “The right believes in long-term funding and general operating support while the left requires groups to perform against metrics in project grants and cuts them off after a short time to fund something new.” What can the left learn from the right, without compromising its values?  Read Fredrickson’s analysis here.

Democrats are trying to restrain the worst of the current administration’s excesses by pursuing their battle at the (blue) state level, via legislatures and the courts. In a sense, their strategy seems to be adopted from the Republican playbook, which since Ronald Reagan has made the phrase “states’ rights” synonymous with racist dog whistles. But Anna Lind-Guzik, a Harvard Law School graduate who is the founder and CEO of The Conversationalist, shows in a fascinating essay that historically both Democrats and Republicans have very pragmatically pursued their political agenda via states’ rights when they were stymied at the federal level. Stacey Abrams, who is suing the governor of Georgia for targeted suppression of minority voters, said in a recent speech, “Litigation can’t solve our problems — but it can illuminate them.” Read more.

By ignoring or sneering at Donald Trump’s tweets, Democrats are missing opportunities to investigate the president’s corruption. David Dayen, the new executive editor of The American Prospect, argues that in our strange and worrying political times, it’s necessary to look at unprecedented levers of power. Read more.

We see in the article above that Twitter can be an important source of information, but as a place for the exchange of ideas it functions primarily as an echo chamber and does not have the power to sway public opinion. As New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg points out, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez might be popular on Twitter, but Joe Biden is still the politician who drives the votes. Goldberg writes: “The future of the Democratic Party is still with left-wing social media dynamos like Ocasio-Cortez…Right now, though, her generation is mostly in charge only online.” So far, no-one has figured out how to translate the energy we see on Twitter from the left wing of the Democratic party, to the much wider voting public that is not online and not interested in the social media discourse. Read more.

Jessica McKenzie

Jessica McKenzie is a freelance journalist in Brooklyn, NY. Previously, she was the managing editor of the civic technology news site Civicist and interned at The Nation magazine. You can follow her on Twitter @jessimckenzi.