EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


July 15, 2013

Column: Left need to aggressively pursue progressive agenda

Same-sex marriage is now unstoppable. For progressives, the U.S. Supreme Court’s tossing of the noxious Defense of Marriage Act is a huge win and a rare reason to celebrate.

Now the American left needs to take stock and reassess. Why is it that beyond same-sex marriage the progressive agenda is waning?

There are varied and complex reasons.

The left is fractured, with environmentalists, civil rights activists, Occupy-movement types, labor supporters, advocates for the poor and their subgroups all working their own agendas.

It is up against almost unlimited money on the political right, from plutocrats like the Koch brothers and corporatists like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Since President Bill Clinton proclaimed himself a “New Democrat” and pushed aside economic justice issues to give Democrats access to Wall Street money, progressives haven’t had a real political home.

But the movement is also, in a sense, suffering from its own success, like an army that took a hill but is now struggling to keep it.

Everywhere you look, there are right-flank attacks.

The Texas House voted last week to ban abortions after 20 weeks and force most abortion clinics in the state to close. The Senate likely will follow suit,despite the heroics of state Sen. Wendy Davis’ 11-hour filibuster June 25.

During 2011 and 2012, an onslaught of 135 state laws were passed restricting abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

With preclearance under the Voting Rights Act neutered, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and Virginia have announced plans to implement or pass strict voter identification requirements or other changes that make it harder for minorities and the poor to vote.

Collective bargaining rights, the very process that created the middle class in America, are under attack anywhere Republicans think they can get away with it.

So are public schools, with voucher proponents looking to weaken teachers’ unions and proselytize children.

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