Liberals and Progressives Have to Avoid this Devastating Trap the GOP Fell Into

president-obamaIt seemed as soon as the 2012 election results were finalized, the loosely tied together alliance of liberals, progressives, independents and even a few Republicans came unraveled faster than Karl Rove could come up with bizarre scenarios and explanations as to how Romney would somehow still win it all. Before the last ballot was counted, the infighting broke out once again as people tried to establish their more-liberal-than-thou credentials, and the Northern Democrat vs Southern Democrat civil war flared up again like a temporarily contained wildfire.

Now we’re past the 2013 elections and headed toward the midterms in 2014. If you’d like to keep track, here’s a countdown clock. All 435 seats in Congress are up for a vote, plus 33 Senate seats, 38 governor’s mansions (none more prominent than Wendy Davis’¬†campaign in Texas), as well as 46 state legislatures.

In addition to all of these, there’s a number of ballot initiatives nationwide, some with very far-reaching consequences – like Tennessee’s proposed Constitutional amendment which states the right to abortion is not protected by the state’s Constitution. Or there’s North Dakota’s Measure 1, which would amend their Constitution to state that life begins at conception. This would set a precedent for possibly outlawing abortion statewide, and perhaps yet another review of Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court level like Casey v. Planned Parenthood in 1992.

Some aren’t as controversial as abortion rights or politically sexy as Wendy Davis but are important nonetheless. Take for example the Louisiana Artificial Reef Development Fund Protection Amendment, which may sound boring, but it keeps Bobby Jindal from using money designated for our artificial reefs for other purposes – such as funding religious schools or flying around the country to campaign for GOP candidates.

The religious right, the Tea Party and establishment Republicans are in an all-out civil war right now following the outcome of the 2013 cycle in which Tea Party-backed candidates lost in extremely conservative districts in both Alabama and Louisiana. Yet Virginia just barely went blue, despite having GOP candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General on the ballot who ideologically rivaled the Taliban for crying out loud.

What’s the point that I’m trying to make? The point is that infighting and trying to be more ideologically pure as if it was a political contest will probably be the death of the Republican Party as we know it, and we shouldn’t fall into the very same trap that the GOP finds itself in now. We should be using this opportunity to appeal to (and not alienate) those moderates in 2014 and beyond – the same people who’ve been alienated by the likes of Rick Santorum and the other radicals who pulled the GOP ever closer to going over the cliff into political irrelevance. This is not the time to rest on our political laurels or stroke our egos about how we’re “more liberal” or “more progressive” than others. This is not a contest – this is the future of our country that is at stake.


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