Staying on the progressive track

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The progressive movement’s great mistake is assuming that a single election will right many wrongs. We’re learning the hard way, again, that changing direction requires mass not just speed. President Obama’s health care summit with congressional Republicans, a point of certain frustration for even being necessary, is a terrific example of the challenge we face.

During the 2008 elections, much seemed to go well. From a sheer electoral success perspective — majorities in the US House and Senate, the Minnesota State House and State Senate, a President — many people expected that popular expression would result in prompt policy change.

Boy, were we wrong.

The lesson is clear; real change requires discipline, hard work, and purposeful, long-term engagement. Popular, short-term frustration can be a powerful ally, but long-term policy shift requires altering attitudes, connecting state prosperity’s future with smart investments in education, affordable healthcare, transportation infrastructure and growth-oriented economic development. We must do more than steam over conservative policy-preservation maneuvers. We have to repeatedly make the case for positive, forward-looking progressive change.

Much work remains. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to it. No single election will deliver a better Minnesota future. Only accumulated effort will achieve real progress.