In Chris Cillizza’s smug dismissal of liberal frustration, with the curt statement “liberals and progressives have nowhere else to go,” he overlooks the fact that liberals have plenty of places to go. More than ever, in fact. From a movement-building perspective, there are more opportunities than normal in an off year to really make a difference on progressive policy.
First off you have the Wisconsin recalls, where progressives are waging an explicitly class-based campaign to win back the state Senate. RNC Chair Reince Priebus, who happens to be a former chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, may not want to talk about the recalls, but they are crucially important to show that conservative extremism does not go unpunished. What’s more, it’s sparked a local movement out of an assault on worker rights, which was just unthinkable a year ago.
And there are even bigger fights in November. In the bellwether state of Ohio, voters will have to decide between two radically different initiatives. One would veto SB 5, the anti-union bill that strips most collective bargaining and the right to strike from public employees. The other is a largely symbolic effort to nullify the individual mandate at the state level. Both will bring out partisans on both sides. This is a true litmus test of progressive ideas like the right to organize.
Furthermore, an even bigger fight is going down in Colorado, where Initiative 25 qualified for the state ballot in November.
From a news conference under way now–supporters of Initiative 25, the ballot measure from Sen. Rollie Heath to restore Colorado sales and income tax rates to 1999 levels, plan to submit some 142,000 names to the Secretary of State’s office later today. Well in excess of the campaign’s goal of 125,000 signatures, and nearly double the legal requirement of approximately 86,000, it’s now very likely that a measure to raise the state sales tax from 2.9% to 3.0%, and income tax from 4.63% to 5%, will appear on this November’s statewide ballot.
This was a volunteer-based signature-gathering effort. If successful on Election Day, the measure would upend the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which has ratcheted down revenues and public services in Colorado and shifted the state into one of the worst for education funding in the entire country. The progressive argument of taxes being the price we pay to live in a free society is on the line.
So there are plenty of places outside of national politics for progressives to invest their time and money. What’s more, these alternatives carry tangible benefits and help build a larger movement, which is what is needed to break through at a national level rather than run into the wall that is the current Democratic leadership.