I’m really looking forward to engaging in a bit less intra-progressive sniping about political tactics, but one thing I keep hearing said on behalf of Occupy Wall Street protests is that the regular electoral process has somehow “failed” progressives. I don’t think that analysis withstands the slightest bit of scrutiny. We had fairly substantial political changes in the 2006 election (Democrats take both the House in the Senate), the 2008 election (Democrats take the White House), and the 2010 election (Republicans take the House) and in every case the direction of change has been as you would predict. Better, more progressive legislation happened in 2007-2008 than happened in 2005-2006. In 2009-2010 it got even better. Then in 2011 it’s been worse. None of that is a coincidence. It’s fine—necessary and important, even—to do things other than electioneering. But who wins elections turns out to be very important to determining what happens. When we wake up the morning after Election Day 2012 are remaining incumbents going to say a bunch of people lost seats because they didn’t do enough to curb inequality? That’s a really crucial issue for whether or not anyone will do anything to curb inequality.
If you think that Democrats aren’t left-wing enough, then the exact same analysis obtains. You have to beat them. On Election Day. At winning elections. Recruit a primary challenger to Dianne Feinstein. Elect a Green Party mayor of New York.