The lonely progressives | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The lonely progressives

Posted By on Sat, Dec 27, 2014 at 7:08 AM

An op-ed from the New York Times has some resonance in today's Arkansas. It's by a Nebraska "progressive" and her participation in groups that soldier on in a state that hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1936 and Republicans dominate the state's congressional and legislative delegations. None of the Republicans acknowledges atmospheric change.

Occasionally, there's common purpose. Republicans have joined the fight in Nebraska against the Keystone XL pipeline.

Mostly, though, the old-timers of the small progressive community are the "royalty of lost causes." They lose, but they keep working. This year, though, was hard.

The best Democrats in anyone’s memory ran for governor and the United States Senate. Chuck Hassebrook, our gubernatorial candidate, had been the director of the Center for Rural Affairs, a respected nonprofit committed to small farmers, environmental stewardship and social and economic justice. Our Senate candidate, Dave Domina, born on a ranch in the Sand Hills, is the best trial lawyer in our state. His firm has represented landowners pro bono in their lawsuit against the pipeline company TransCanada and the state of Nebraska to stop Keystone XL. Both were trounced.

The evening after this dismal election, we met for our usual potluck. At first, a few of us tried to point out slivers of silver linings, but then one of our members said flatly, “We are doomed.” What followed was a sad discussion of our broken political system, big money in politics, Fox News and four more years of inaction on environmental issues. This was the first meeting in my memory in which I felt worse at the end instead of better.

Sound familiar?

The writer ends on an upbeat note with some small environmental victories and a couple of promising candidates. They'll soldier on. Surrender isn't an option.

CORRECTION: A native Arkansan now living in Nebraska corrects some points made here originally. 1) Nebraska voted for LBJ over Barry Goldwater in 1964, one break from GOP preference in the last 78 years. 2) There is one Democratic congressman from Nebraska, by virtue of Brad Ashford's defeat of eight-term Republican Lee Terry from the district that includes Omaha. So Nebraska is one up on Arkansas in the congressional department.

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