BY MICHAEL COLUMNIST)
A raucous debate is taking place in progressive circles these days, and it is one largely free from the abstract and absolutist sentimentalism of past periods of similar introspection. The defeat of November 2nd, so heartbreaking because of the clarity of Bush’s victory despite the unprecedented unity of the Democratic Party, left progressives with a taste for pragmatism. In truth, conservative control of the levers of power inside the Beltway leaves us with few options.
The upcoming battle over Social Security will be the first test of this newfound unity. Even the business-friendly scions of the Democratic Leadership Council have declared opposition to the President’s plans for privatization. This is a happy development. Though the country is in sore need of pension reform, a cowed minority party will be in little position to ensure that the coming reforms are as concerned with the interests of working families as they are with the investment-savvy. The coming battle will force the party to come to terms with its minority status, and adjust its strategy accordingly. Chief amongst these adjustments will be greater cohesion and collaboration between the various interest groups and factions that make up the base of the Democratic Party.
The factions that make up the Right embraced such collaboration during their time in the wilderness, and institutionalized through frequent meetings between the leaders of the Evangelicals and social conservatives, economic libertarians, think tankers and journalists, and Republican spinners and strategists. Progressives have only recently begun to mimic this collaboration, and more remains to be done. Legislative dogfights over Social Security, judicial nominations, and tort reform will test this spirit of collaboration and produce a more spirited opposition during President Bush’s second term. This new taste for unity has made its way to our law school campus.
A year ago, several campus groups came together and formed the progressive coalition. This effort has produced greater cooperation in the planning of conferences and other events. The 2020 Democrats are leading a constellation of organizations including America Coming Together (ACT) and the College Democrats of America in drafting a one page statement of progressive principles. These efforts are the beginning of a trend that will continue as the Democrats discover their voice as a minority party. Traveling down this path will also lay the foundation for future victory, and the undoing of the damage done to our social infrastructure at home and credibility abroad during the life of the current Bush Administration.
Michael Negron is a 1L.