Together We March: It is Getting Elected and then Getting Elected Again

| June 6, 2008 - 3:13 pm

Tags: Democrats, elections, Obama, president, Progressvism

Together We March:  It is About Getting elected and Then Getting Elected


I recall when Joe Lieberman ran as an independent after the Democrats had left him to his own devices and actually left him to sink or swim; after being with them for a long time! One of the things about Democrats is that we are inherently opportunists and our need for progressivism makes us jump wagons faster than I used to jump subways to avoid paying when I was a kid.  The problem with progressive band-wagons is that we fail to establish a strong tradition and we fail to create a legacy that would facilitate what posterity will look up to.  Professor Ken Sherrill, now retired from Hunter College, once said that the purpose of politics is getting elected and then after get elected again.  As much as the Democrats are  a party of “progressives” we fail to realize that in the end it is about elections and getting as many  people who are progressive into the institutions that actually structure our lives.


            Obviously this is in reference to Barack Obama: we should not allow his election or the subsequent representation of the greatest democrat ideals to be indicative of his race. We should be more practical and try to unite democrats under one banner and practically take this opportunity to take the nation ideologically and practically to a different level. It has always been my understanding that the American presidency is not just an office; it is the closest thing to God on earth and who ever occupies that office needs to understand that they have the power to change the world in four years; how they decide to change the world is up to the level of accountability that we hold them to. For me it wasn’t so much that this year we could have seen a female or black president, but the fact that the societal excitement of actually seeing that happen will obscure us from actually doing the work that we are supposed to be doing. Remember, there are still elections after Barack!!!!!!


            It is obviously difficult to put our excitement in the jar as Barack has been said to represent many Americans. However,  we need to also have what I would consider practical idealism; where we understand that we have reached the pinnacle of progressivism in the United States but also not forget that  politics  like anything else is about winning and we should undeniably pursue that. With a democratic president, it would not be stingy for us to   make sure that we have a significant weight in both houses of congress; it will simply be politics!!!  Election, elections!!


             In addition, we should be looking to the future because we need to get a lot from the four years what we couldn’t get in the 8 years of Clinton.    We can’t in any shape or form actually settle; for being content will lead to extinction!!! We should work with a view to the future because what happens in the next four years will structure what happens to the Democratic Party; we either build presences in American politics or we simply just continue debating to death.  We should champion pragmatism as well as getting tangible results tangible results; idealism is what leads us to make giant achievements and pragmatism is what allows us to stay there!! This way we can amass enough credibility to win the next elections!!!

It's not about getting elected

While you've got nuggets of truth in there, I think your overall message is on the wrong track.

"Professor Ken Sherrill, now retired from Hunter College, once said that the purpose of politics is getting elected and then after get elected again. As much as the Democrats are a party of 'progressives' we fail to realize that in the end it is about elections and getting as many people who are progressive into the institutions that actually structure our lives."

That's a horrid, myopic, and ultimately conservative view of politics. I'm glad that guy's retired!

Having a "level of accountability" that we can bring to bear on elected officials isn't made by signing people up for an email list - it takes a significant amount of resources, time, and energy, all of which politicians and bureaucrats would prefer be funneled into electoral campaigns (and usually are, sadly enough).

What makes people excited about a political party isn't simply the desire to see their favorite color show up more on congressional maps - it's about the ideas and values that parties ostensibly represent. And if we make that distinction between political stances and parties, then we can see when the latter diverges and goes astray of the former.

As history has shown, there will never be a lack of people willing to run for office, or willing to help people get elected to office. However, we're always in short supply of people willing to work outside electoral politics to hold politicians' feet to the fire and make them do some good. And if we want to end up with truly progressive politicians and legislation, we need a much stronger non-electoral progressive movement: one that's not afraid to take to task the very people we may have helped elect the previous November.

We shouldn't parrot the typical politician's rhetoric that the only thing stopping real progress is a few too many politicians in the other Party, and that we'll be able to reach the Promised Land if we can manage to get a few more people from our Party elected. If we do, then we're little more than workhorses with blinders on: always trudging toward the next election, never actually seeing what's going on around us, and never noticing who's really holding the reins.


Conservative View

it is true that is a conservative view and that is the one i actually believe in. Party politics will never end; and entering some of these politicians offices they spend time thinking about their re-elections; especially Congressmen. i just think it is the reality and the sherrill always said to me never question the rules of the game just make sure you play it better than the other side; for me that is practical and politics is no different for me. However, i do agree that we need a more "non-electoral progressive;" but i'm more interested in washington and who is controlling that place this is about elections and who gets elected and the re-elected and what party they belong to. To me that is just a reality i can never think otherwise.

George N Mtonga


Ah, but reality is what we make it! Party politics didn't exist for most of humanity's history, and there's no reason to think that it will continue on forever. If you were to go back in time to someone living in 1840s America, and tell her that in less than twenty years, slavery would be abolished, she'd laugh at you. If you were to go to someone in Russia in 1900 and told him that the Czar would be overthrown in less than twenty years, they'd laugh too.

It's true that what happens in Washington does matter - you're absolutely right. But "the rules of the game" are much more fluid and changing than those in power would like you to believe. The rules right now are stacked to serve those of privilege and wealth; our goal (albeit a long-term one) should be to rewrite those rules, right? :)