The Closed Left

Chris Bowers crunches some numbers at Open Left in order to determine "what sort of change really takes place from strong Republican control of the federal government to strong Democratic control of the federal government," and reports the difference in federal spending between the Bush and Obama administrations to be less than 3% of the federal budget. Considering his findings, Bowers adds two caveats:
I am not arguing that this shift is unimportant, and that we should stop fighting for it altogether . . . I am certainly not arguing that people interested in wider change should look to third parties, given just how ineffective the third-party electoral route has been at changing public debate over the past several cycles.
Of course, one could equally question how well the first or second party electoral route has worked in this regard. As Digby wrote the other day, "the argument against torture is slipping away from us. In fact, I'm getting the sinking feeling that it's over. What was once taboo is now publicly acknowledged as completely acceptable by many people." It is also noteworthy that Bowers finds it necessary to defend himself against accusations of third party advocacy up front. Perhaps he is merely warding off the inevitable criticism or incomprehension, as, for instance, met Scott Richard from the right, when he suggested the possibility of withholding one's vote from the major parties. The conservative, however, was at least open enough to consider third party candidates for office. Perhaps this is a luxury of defeat. But many 'progressives' are nevertheless Democrats first and progressives second. This is the closed left. There is, however, such a thing as independent progressivism.

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