Rev Al Sharpton: A Message to Progressives

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New Yorkers say 'Yes, We Can.' Dante, Chiara, Bill and Chirlane

[The Blog]

Last night, I was glued to my television set like many others around the country, watching and waiting for election results to pour in. It was a historic evening to say the least. A liberal Democrat won in Virginia, a non-tea party candidate who openly worked with President Obama was reelected in the state of New Jersey and a proud progressive who campaigned against current stop-and-frisk policies will be the next Mayor of New York City.

In short, we witnessed a voter rebellion against the tea party that has strangled much of American politics since 2010. But before we put away our marching shoes and indulge in celebration, we must remember that big battles remain before us. Though we achieved tremendous victories yesterday, we now must prepare for the trenches -- most immediately, for the 2014 midterms.

A phrase we often hear repeatedly is that elections have consequences. Indeed they do. And the major triumphs of last night will undoubtedly usher in progressive changes that are desperately needed in a political climate that has pushed the needs of the people often times to last place. In areas like New York City, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has vowed to reform the draconian practice of stop-and-frisk that has criminalized an entire segment of this great metropolis. Last night's election displayed the very clear possibility of where we can go when we actively mobilize and engage in the political process. It's vital however that we remember that we have a clear path towards success, but not a complete arrival yet. If we don't change Congress, the winners of yesterday's election won't have the resources or the appropriate legislation to make progress a sustained reality. They won't have the ability to live up to their promises, nor deliver to their constituencies. And that will be a failure for all that we simply cannot afford.

When the tea party began gaining momentum, they strategized and made sure that their candidates were elected, and eventually took enough control of government to begin a process of obstruction that literally brought us to a standstill (as witnessed by the recent government shutdown). Instead of working with their counterparts across the aisle, they often behaved in an unprecedented manner that gave new definition to the idea of uncompromising. Political analysts and historians everywhere continuously state that they have never seen such division in Washington.

But one fatal flaw of the tea party that we can learn from at this very moment is the fact that they became intoxicated with their own victories. We, progressives, cannot allow ourselves to face the same fate. It's okay to acknowledge achievements, but if we have too long of a celebratory party, we will end up back in the dungeons of defeat. And that is something that we must prevent for the sake of our children and the future of this country.

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