Where is the progressive voice in America?

November 4th, 2010

This past Tuesday I voted in one of the most depressing elections of my life. Before me in the ballot box were two less than enthusiastic candidates for governor.

The Democrat, Ted Strickland, has presided over some of the most draconian death penalty procedures in U.S. history. Strickland has made Ohio one of the most frequent users of capital punishment. The Republican, John Kasich, doubts the merits of evolution and still thinks there’s a ‘scientific debate’ surrounding global warming – there’s not.

For those of you unfamiliar with the candidates, let me simplify my predicament: I could either be pecked to death by a duck, or drowned in an inch of Jesus water.

You can imagine my enthusiasm.

Yet, U.S. political culture is defined by two competing factions with little room for other opinions. We have two parties in this country—a center-right party and a party of religious nut jobs.

Every year I grow more and more disillusioned with our culture. We continue to value anti-establishment candidates that reject knowledge of the Constitution and government in general. These candidates run on a platform of ‘government is bad’ and then we wonder why they’re so bad at governing. Candidates like Christine O’Donnell and Sarah Palin argue that this lack of knowledge makes them better equipped to solve the sophisticated problems of tomorrow.

Where is the liberal voice? Where are all of the true progressives who stand firm to their principles? Where are the politicians who argue that, when run effectively, government can be good? The closest liberal ally in Congress is Cleveland’s own Dennis Kucinich, a man who supports the legalization of marijuana, universal healthcare, same-sex marriage and a progressive economic agenda.

And he does a damn good job of it. Kucinich doesn’t apologize for being a liberal, nor does he down play his agenda during campaign season.

Yet, true liberals such as Kucinich are treated as a joke—a liberal “socialist” out of touch with the “real America.” Conservatives have done a fantastic job of demonizing liberal politicians and painting them as unpatriotic.

OK, so you’re probably asking, “But Colin, aren’t the Democrats a bunch of liberals?”

Hardly. This is the first election cycle I’ve seen where the majority party attempts to conceal their legislative accomplishments (and by accomplishments I mean GOP-gutted legislation). The Republicans have done such a good job demonizing the left that even the best Democratic achievements have to be downplayed during campaign season.

I try to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt given the cards he was dealt. But at the end of the day, he comes from the same weak Democratic camp that has forced candidates to compromise their principles for the sake of winning the election. Obama has attempted to compromise with Republicans despite their unwillingness to cooperate. This lack of cooperation ultimately derailed comprehensive healthcare reform and stalled stimulus legislation.

OK, I get it. I’m a cynic. But I sincerely hope that the bright people of conscious will step up and represent my interests. Maybe some day I’ll enter the ballot box and see candidates who actually support progressive causes. Until then, millions of other progressives will be left without a voice in government.