David Sirota has an opinion piece – The myth of “the left” - in the Denver Post this morning.
He wishes to set the record straight: characterizations of the American “left” as being all-powerful are a myth. His argument is that many “progressive” institutions are “just propagandists for Democrats, regardless of what Democrats do.”
Mr. Sirota cites the BP oil spill as an example where a Democrat (Interior Secretary Ken Salazar) compromises his environmental principles in favor of keeping “categorical exclusions” for drilling in the Gulf. He also cites the Elena Kagan Supreme Court nomination as an example where a Democrat serves as Dean of the Harvard Law School, but “did not hire a single black, Latino, or American Indian” in a group of 29 tenure-track faculty (according to Guy-Uriel Charles of Duke University).
Mr. Sirota ends his article by noting that the Democratic Party's decision to elevate politics over principle is “why – regrettably – a powerful left does not exist in America.”
Here are some thoughts...
What Mr. Sirota misses is an understanding of the word “principle.”
The dictionary.com definition has descriptors such as “rule”, “law”, “truth” and “obligation”. The impression is that you stand by principles; you keep your principles.
Mr. Sirota shows us that allegiance to the Democratic Party is actually the governing principle, while progressive ideology is a prop. The ideology can be picked up or discarded, depending on whether or not it brings more power and authority to the Democratic Party. He tells us that environmentalism and affirmative action are “principles” but shows that they are cast aside when they conflict with the objectives of the Democratic Party. One has to wonder, are "principles" meant to be cast aside?
That probably sounds harsh, especially to a person such as David Sirota, who regrets that the American left is not more powerful. He rallies to a cause based upon his principles, and doesn’t like the feeling of being used as a prop.
That feeling is powerful, and appears to be awakening some introspection on the progressive side of our political spectrum. It prompts Mr. Sirota, in his third paragraph, to disclose a political secret:
“Everyone in professional ‘left’ politics knows this reality.”
That’s an indictment.