Commentary

Will Hagan defeat force Dems to be FOR something?

Kay Hagan concession

Photo: WRAL.com

Last night’s election results were a sobering and at times confounding experience for progressives. It’s always traumatic and frustrating to see millions of people vote directly against their own economic interests in so many races.

That said, one thing that clearly isn’t at all confounding in 2014 is this: the pernicious and cancerous spread of big, dark money and the urgent need to combat it at all costs. This isn’t about the Tillis-Hagan result, or even the Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate that had been foreseen for weeks. Hagan and most of the other defeated Democrats had plenty of their own dark, corporate money as well.

Indeed, Kay Hagan’s Senate term was always a byproduct/side effect of other, larger forces rather than who she was or what she “stood” for. Hagan surfed into office in 2008 on the Obama wave (and Elizabeth Dole’s comical blunders) and exited the stage last night on the ebbing tide that almost always comes for the party in power during the last off-year election of a two-term presidency. Hagan probably could have spent another $20 million and still lost.

Moreover, had she won,there is little doubt that she would have continued to do the bidding of the big money forces who plucked her from obscurity originally and funded her campaigns. Yes. she would have voted with Democratic leaders on most matters, but beyond that, there was little to hope for or expect and no chance in the world that she would ever help lead any kind of genuine push-back against the post-Citizens United corporate-funded greed-fest that national politics have become.

So, are there any lessons from all this? Is there any way to break this dreary and destructive pattern in which North Carolina elections have less and less to do with what’s actually going on in North Carolina and the choices are always confined to homogenized candidates who are certified and funded by giant, mostly out-of-state rich guys?

In the near term, the picture is not terribly encouraging.  The big money forces are bigger and more powerful than ever and seem to be intent on keeping and expanding their hegemony.

If there’s any chance to bust up this monopoly at any point, however, last night’s results ought to have confirmed for us that it will require something more than better packaged candidates. Ultimately, the only way to effect progressive change is to truly be FOR it, to campaign on a progressive platform and to raise heck once in office.

Sadly, this was a truth that Kay Hagan never seemed to grasp (or have any interest in grasping) and, indeed, that President Obama only dabbles with on occasion.

Let’s hope that, if nothing else, this hard lesson is beginning to seep into the consciousness of would-be progressive candidates in North Carolina and around the country going forward. Simply put, if you want to bring about real change, ultimately, you have to be openly and assertively for it; Merely being kinder and gentler big money pawns ain’t gonna’ get the job done.

8 Comments


  1. Morning Post: Election edition

    November 5, 2014 at 11:09 am

    […] Progressive Pulse – Will Hagan defeat force Dems to be FOR something? […]

  2. Jim Wiseman

    November 5, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Tillis won because somebody had to. Neither of them is a real prize.

  3. Sean D Sorrentino

    November 5, 2014 at 11:59 am

    “Big, dark, corporate money” is the natural consequence of the “Progressive” agenda. When government chooses who wins and loses, those who have money will pay lots of it to get compliant politicians who will ensure more of it. You keep increasing the power of government and the centralization of decision making and you keep wondering why the people who already have money will pay so much to buy the decision makers. You’re focuses so much on the trees that you can’t see the forest you’ve planted.

    If the government wasn’t in a position to choose who wins and who loses, no one would care who was running for office. But you keep freaking out about corporate power while building a world that insures the power is centralized where corporations can buy it.

    I think it’s because for all your cant, you really don’t trust the people. If you did, you wouldn’t spend so much effort taking decisions out of the hands of the people.

  4. Jim Wiseman

    November 5, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    By all means, stand for “progressive” principles. The more you articulate them, the further you’ll push people away.

  5. david esmay

    November 5, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    I see Sean, like most neo-cons contradicts himself in the same sentence. The cry that progressives seek to take the decision making out of the hands of the “people”, while massive amounts of money buy the decision makers actually concentrates the decision making process into a few select hands. Nice point.

  6. Sean D Sorrentino

    November 5, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    No, Dean. You need to read for comprehension. What I said was the “Progressives” have done all they can to centralize power into the government, away from the people. Then they complain that those people get bought. You complain about the trees wile ignoring the forest.

    You built this system. You concentrated the power. You claim that you want power to the people yet every instinct you possess is to concentrate that power into the hands of the government. And then the corporations and people with money buy it.

    I can only conclude that since that’s the natural, perfectly predictable result, then that’s the result you wanted. I, on the other hand, would prefer a government that was not so powerful that it could pick the winners and losers. I would prefer a weaker government limited to what the Constitution says it’s allowed to do.

    With so much less power, the rich people and the corporations would have no motivation to pay to influence legislators to write laws in their favor. They can’t buy power that the government doesn’t have. But you can’t see that. You’re so terrified of people becoming rich and powerful that you build them a government that makes it advantageous for those rich and powerful people to take control of it. You hand them the weapon you claim to fear.

    Again, since it’s obvious even to a two year old what will happen, I can only assume that you’re either too stupid to see it coming, or that you’re lying and doing it deliberately. There are people who really want to be ruled. Maybe you’re one of them.

  7. Sean D Sorrentino

    November 5, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Whoops, that’s David, not “Dean.” Sorry.

  8. Alan

    November 5, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    What a pile of incoherent word-salad….

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