Friday, January 17, 2014

Jumping Off On An Idea

As the week winds to a close, much of the legitimate news media is still focused on the slow-motion drive off a cliff that is Gov. Chris Christie's political career. Although that story is still important, after some careful consideration, we noticed another thread winding through the news today, off the beaten path, that we thought warranted a more serious look.

While the bipartisan budget bill was far from the most progressive budget ever, on Thursday afternoon, the bill passed both the House and Senate, and went to the desk of President Obama to sign. That action is just one example of a Federal government that - after five years of perpetual Republican obstructionism - finally appears to be showing some movement again.

Even while some Republicans remain obsessed with skewed narratives about topics like Benghazi that make them feel better but aren't factually true - as Brian Beutler highlighted on Thursday - other Republicans have begun dealing with the electoral realities facing them in 2014 and 2016.

Take the newest proposal for fixing the Voting Rights Act, that the Supreme Court broke last year. Led by a bipartisan yet progressive-leaning group from both sides of Capitol Hill, a fix for the VRA was introduced Thursday that would once again strongly protect the right to vote for all Americans.

On the issue of immigration, the long push by immigrant's rights groups also seems to have finally begun to have some effect, as a growing number of GOP leaders seem to be finally accepting immigration reform as an issue they can no longer avoid. As Greg Sargent has been saying for more than a year now, if Republicans want immigration reform to happen, Democrats will be ready to pass it any time.

Even the issue of economic inequality - which still includes massive amounts of work - has seen some progress. While not as rosy a picture as Ben White paints, Wall Street regulation that Democrats in Congress and President Obama passed into law has begun to rein in some of the worst excesses of the financial moguls. Further, as Greg Sargent also noted, President Obama is even seriously considering executive action to raise the minimum wage nationwide, if Congress won't act.

On the issue of our twisted American health insurance system, a great deal of progress has been made over the last five years. On the state level, as Josh Marshall observed, Republicans are still doing everything they can to sabotage Obamacare. Still, as well-known right-wing pundit Erick Erickson admitted Thursday, a growing number of Republicans are beginning to acknowledge - finally and publicly - that they've lost their long, pointless war against the Affordable Care Act.

Small progress on multiple policy areas doesn't mean every problem in America is repaired. There is still a great deal of work to do on all the topics we mentioned, as well as other major issues like government secrecy, foreign policy, international trade, and climate change, to name a few. Some of the same forces that are currently destroying the GOP are also still a danger for the political left - like the kind of false framing that says the Democratic Party is divided into only two groups, liberals and corporate Democrats. [There are actually THREE major groups on the left: Progressives like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Liberals like filmmaker Michael Moore, and Corporate Democrats like Rahm Immanuel.]

After we take a look at the full picture of American politics, though, the thread that's clear to us is that after five years of leadership under President Obama, America is moving in a more progressive direction.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party is trying desperately to throw themselves out of the metaphorical car that Chris Christie is driving over the cliff - and they have nowhere to go but down.

Maybe 2014 won't be such a bad year to be a Democrat after all.