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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Seizing the “Historic Moment”

This staff post was originally published on July 10, 2009
Robert Creamer’s HuffPo post, “How Progressives Can Deliver on the Promise of Change in 2009 — Seven Rules for Success,” is a good read for Democrats mulling over the “So what do we do now” options. Creamer, author of ‘Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, ‘ one of the more well-regarded political strategy books of recent years, makes some bold challenges, including:

…We must always present our case in populist terms. We represent the interests of average people — not the elites that benefit from the status quo. The other side will try to argue that we favor a “government takeover” of health care that allows “Washington Bureaucrats” or some other elite to control our lives. If we spend all of our time talking about “insurance exchanges” and the arcana of health care policy we will lose.
We must frame the debate for what it is — a battle between the private health insurance companies and their multi-million dollar CEO’s on the one hand, and the interests of average Americans on the other. Populist frames are necessary for each one of our fights. Populism always trumps policy-speak.

Not a bad strategy slogan. And here’s a piece of Creamer’s carpe diem:

7). This historic window for progressive change will close if we don’t act, just as surely as a hole in the line disappears in football if a running back doesn’t burst through.
Mike Lux’s book, The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be surveys the history of progressive change in our country. He finds that it is not randomly spread. It occurs in clumps – during “big change moments.”
We are blessed to live in one of those big change moments. But, Lux finds, the lengths of those moments have varied enormously depending mainly on how well Progressives execute.
…For the next year, every Progressive in America needs to realize that he or she has an opportunity to make history that simply isn’t available to most people at most times. That means that all of us have a responsibility to all of the Progressives that have gone before us — and to our kids and grandkids — to make the very most of this precious opportunity.
More than anything else people want meaning in life. They want to do something of lasting importance. At this very moment we have that opportunity. It is up to each of us to seize it.
…But — just as in last year’s election — the critical ingredient that will allow us to be successful is the mobilization of millions of Americans. It simply won’t happen without us.
Some people are lucky enough to be able to say: “I was there at Selma.” For many, it was the proudest moment of their lives. Their eyes well up when they speak of it. It changed the course of history.
We all have the opportunity to be present at another one of those moments. To be there, each of us has to empty the stands — march into the arena – and help make history…It’s simple as this: If we don’t take advantage of this historic moment we may not have another for many years to come. If we do, we will help lay the foundation for a period of unparalleled possibility and hope.

Creamer urges progressives to get active with groups working for reforms and offers other pointers for making the most of the current political environment. As always, his insights provoke thought and inspire action.

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