"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance"

--James Madison--

"The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries, but between authoritarians and libertarians"

--George Orwell--

Progressive Democrats, Now And Then

"Progressive" commentators frequently invoke the Great Depression, FDR, and the "Money Party" (I love it when alleged progressives keep invoking a quotation from one of the players that brought us this mess in the first place), when trying to account for all of the evils in the world and the fact that the government hasn't solved all of their problems.  Things were different during the Great Depression, during the reign of FDR.  

Damn right.  The Great Depression was a much different situation than today's. More importantly, FDR didn't do anything in a vacuum. He didn't wave any magic wands and just make the depression end. He had to deal with a mostly non-compliant Congress, and anything he accomplished (much of which was illusory anyway) only happened because the legislators in Congress passed bills, most of which he didn't introduce.  

Democrats (but not all of them) voted for the bills that created what we have of a social safety net.  Republicans voted against them.  Just like now.

Even then, CCC and WPA combined didn't end the depression. They shaved about 1% off of the unemployment stats. The depression ended because the big ass war that FDR had been jonesing for his entire political career finally appeared. Japan lifted us up by attacking us. The resulting military buildup was paid for through increased taxes, but they were paid for as much by the middle class as the wealthy. The flip side of the high taxes was that the middle class ended up paying higher taxes as well. You will now probably now tell me that they got more in return then for their high tax burden.

Bullshit. If anything, they got less. No TANF, no WIC, no food stamps, no SSDI (even after SS was enacted, which the middle class pays for almost exclusively), no EIC, no Child Tax Credit, no education credits or Pell Grants...nothing much except the soup kitchens that had already been there for a couple of decades.

The gains that were made through expanding social programs (most of which did not happen during FDR's 14 years in office) all happened as a result of narrow legislative victories. Almost all of the very close margins went more or less along party lines. SS, Medicare, etc.--all were passed by the efforts of progressive Democrats. They always face an uphill battle, but they're successful when there are enough of them and sympathetic centrist and even conservative Democrats, combined with a Democrat in the White House.

Yeah, a Democrat. Does pointing this out make me a party apparatchik? If you think so, you're wrong. It's just reality. All of those social programs listed above? Every last one of them was signed into law by Democratic Presidents. FDR, LBJ, Carter and Clinton. Yes. Even Bill Clinton. Every last one was passed when Democrats controlled at least one House, but mostly when they controlled both. Every last one passed by a narrow vote. A few more Republicans in the House at any one of those times, and, well...no Social Security to even argue over.

Some say that there are no more Democrats like that, but theyre wrong. People are people. There are still Wall Street lawyers who really do care about the less fortunate. That was the only private sector job that obscenely wealthy FDR ever held. Today, that would be a disqualifier. Same with being obscenely wealthy and doing nothing with your life other than the pursuit of power in politics. Bye, bye JFK and RFK. You'd probably dismiss anyone who was an obscenely wealthy real estate developer, too. Like LBJ.

So the progressive Democrats of today get dismissed for having resumes quite similar to the greatest heroes of the liberal pantheon. People like, in my neck of the woods, Andrew Romanoff (law professor, corporate attorney), Ken Gordon (lawyer, professional politician), Jared Polis (venture capitalist, wealthiest member of Congress) and Mark Udall (scion of a political dynasty that spans the Rockies).

If we had more progressive Democrats in there, we might just have a better health care bill, along with other goodies, maybe even including military spending cuts, new social programs, and increased taxes on the wealthy. All of the politicians listed above are Democrats, and they're all in favor of just those policies. But there aren't enough of them. A big reason for that is that not enough "progressives" support them. Almost all of them got in with narrow victories, and wouldn't be there or have been there without progressive votes, and...the campaign donations of the wealthy and big business. Except for Gordon.

If there ever is another FDR-like champion of the people, few progressives would recognize him anyway. They wouldn't vote for a Wall Street lawyer.

He'd also need a Democratic majority in at least the House to get anything done.  Which would require the support of progressives in every district in the country.

Support that they don't get from a lot of "progressives" because, oh, horror of horrors, there's...money involved in politics! I'll tell you, there wasn't any money influence in politics in the 1930's and 40's!

No Wall Street lawyers, either.