Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What does it mean to be a progressive in local government?

Before I was able to get a copy of the City Paper today, I saw this item at Post Politics about the possibility of a Progressive caucus in Metro Council. As it was pointed out in the City Paper article that the Post is referencing, local officials don't affiliate by party. So what is the grouping principle or dividing line between progressives and conservatives?

The City Paper's Nate Rau points out: Oftentimes on local issues, the word progressive becomes synonymous with pro-neighborhood. To that end, some of the voices calling for Nashville progressives to organize have been those outside of Council with pro-neighborhood sympathies.

The article indicates that Councilman Jerry Maynard and others have a desire to get back to a more "traditional" progressive agenda of affordable housing and environmental concerns. Neighborhood interests, after all, don't always translate into progressive causes or candidates. In 2007, the Nashville Neighborhood Defense Fund endorsed Carolyn Baldwin Tucker for Vice Mayor. Every GLBT person who has lived in Nashville since 2003 knows where she stands on our issues. Similarly they said "Beware" of the following candidates: Jerry Maynard (whom they endorsed) and Ronnie Steine. I'm not knocking their process. They exist to protect neighborhoods, not to enact some broad progressive agenda. I'm just saying the neighborhood test is insufficient to establish or revoke one's progressive credentials. There are plenty of progressives who support business, development, and property rights. And social conservatives can find plenty of reasons to back a neighborhood agenda.

While not showing an interest in being part of a caucus, Councilman Steine considers himself a progressive, but his careful approach to social issues seems warranted:

“Issues like abortion and prayer in school and gay marriage, those are for the state Legislature or Congress to address,” Steine said. “Frankly I think one of the issues with the previous Councils was they spent too much time on memorializing resolutions that didn’t accomplish anything and it divided the Council.

“For me it’s a constant struggle, because [social issues] obviously mean something,” Steine said. “I think progress is in the eye of the beholder and you have to address it almost issue by issue. It’s more in terms of who wants to move the city forward and who likes the status quo.”

And with a Council of 40, I think that means gradual progress because consensus building is so important. A move to the Left too far and too fast is likely to inspire even more ballot initiatives like Councilman Crafton's English-only measure. We need a progressive wind in Metro Council, but one that blows gently forward, one that gives people the feel that they're moving mostly at their own pace. But moving, nonetheless.

1 comment:

Avalonfarms said...

When I look at the differences between progressives and conservatives I tend to focus at the national level but I think this measure is a good one even right down to the local school board...(regardless if they call themselves a Democrat or Republican) Today there are many "blue dog democrats that vote consistently with the republicans and to me they are not democrats. Definitely not progressives.

Here's the conservative:
Everyone should pull themselves up by their bootstraps, go out there like Daniel Boone and make something of themselves. If they can't do that they're lazy or stupid.

Here's the progressive:
Forgive the cliches but I guess they are cliches because they have meaning...(I also don't know how to type cliche) It takes a village...We're all in this together and it's our job together to help rise the tide that raises all boats. We are as strong as our weakest link. etc, etc.

In our current political climate an important issue to me is the conservative view of privatization. A current history of hollowing government to the point of complete ineffectiveness, telling the American people it doesn't work and then contracting it out to private companies. (Paying them with our tax dollars) Take New Orleans for example. There were well over 100 public schools before Katrina. Today there is only 1. Everything else is private. (no teacher's union) Another glaring example was FEMA.

That big fat guy on the radio Rush said "Roosevelt is dead...his policies live on...but we're doing something about that too."

There is an agenda that the conservatives are working very hard to implement. If we can't identify them even right down to our local school board and stop them, the America we grew up in will be gone forever.