There is a lot of truth to the notion that Progressives sometimes are a bit too… how shall I put it gently… timid, in advancing their agenda.
Indeed, business groups, Republicans, and right-wing zealots today not only oppose health care reform, but also tougher financial regulations, stronger workplace safety laws, policies to limit climate change, labor law reform, higher taxes on the rich, extension of unemployment insurance to the long-term jobless, and even providing medical benefits to the cops, firefighters and other 9/11 first-responders. The issues vary, but mantra is the same: This liberal (fill-in-the-blank) policy will kill jobs, undermine the entrepreneurial spirit, and destroy freedom.
The success of Social Security teaches us two important lessons.
First, the White House and progressive activists should aggressively challenge business groups and their political and academic allies whenever they issue warnings about the awful disasters that will befall us if government protects consumers, workers, seniors, children, the disabled, and the environment. As we’ve seen time and time again, they are usually “crying wolf.”
Second, the radical ideas of one generation are often the common sense of the next generation. . Don’t be surprised that by the time they can vote 18 years from now, the children born this year will take universal health care, clean energy, and gay marriage for granted. Throughout our history, progress is made when progressive activists and politicians propose bold ideas, and then win a series of stepping stone reforms that add up to major changes that redefine the social contract.