As the Republican party and “leadership” moves farther and farther out of the mainstream and deeper into the realm of extreme, irrational, anti-democracy, backward-facing, obstructional politics, the struggle to maintain the gains made by the progressive movement over the past 100 years gets more difficult every year. Still, somehow, progressive ideas and policies keep pushing their way back into our collective consciousness, and rational, common-sense and common-good ideas manage to survive—perhaps because, despite corporate-sponsored, self-serving propaganda, policies that help, rather than hurt, are what most Americans actually want.
So, while we can’t stop being vigilant, and while lots of hand-wringing and worry are justified, it’s important to take a deep breath and reflect on the progressive successes of the past year.
Think Progress recently offered a list of the most important progressive victories of 2012. Here’s a summary that should make us feel just a tad better about the state of the union. Read the full explanation at Think Progress.
Historic progress to end the war on drugs
New fuel efficiency standards
Young undocumented immigrants received deportation relief
Anti-LGBT Senate candidates lost, in large numbers
Voters rejected anti-tax hysteria
President Obama endorsed marriage equality
Voters rejected anti-choice candidates
Voter suppression lost
The Supreme Court upheld Obamacare
Many of these gains, it should be noted, came about because voters made them happen. Others were the result of courageous leadership, pressure from the left, and/or pragmatic politics. Whatever the terms and the motivations, they’re reason to feel hopeful, encouraged, and motivated to stick to our progressive principles and to continue the fight.
Gloria Shur Bilchik is a freelance writer and community volunteer in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the editor of Occasional Planet. She views the preservation of progressive values as vital to making the US a humane, livable place for her children and grandchildren.