2012: Are progressives learning how to get their message out?

Although the decline of the middle class has been discussed for decades, if Netroots Nation is any indication political progressives are settling on the notion of the American Dream as their metaphor for what's at stake in the current struggles in state and federal legislatures over issues like taxes, public spending, union rights and gay marriage, and what can be won or lost in the next election. Van Jones has been advancing the idea (here is the closing section of his speech this weekend at Netroots) of branding the hundreds -- thousands? -- of progressive organizations that work for change the American Dream Movement (apparently, Equal Rights-Economic Justice-Labor-GLBT-Women's-Peace-Reproductive Rights-Environmental-Veterans-Corporate Accountability-Death Penalty Movement is seen as unwieldy).

Throughout the Netroots gathering, restoring or reviving the American Dream was used as a shorthand by union and economic justice activists to describe their determination to upend the Right's assault middle and working class Americans. Just today, Change to Win, a labor research and organizing coalition that focuses on the plight of middle class, introduced this video:

This afternoon in Minneapolis, progressive congressmembers, represented today by Reps. Raúl Grijalva, Keith Ellison and Jared Polis, launched a series of teach-ins -- Speakout for Good Jobs Now: Rebuild the American Dream -- that will travel the country in the next few months to hear how the economy is affecting average people and to build support for progressive Democrats running for Congress.

On Thursday at 8pm (est), Jones will join MoveOn.org Civic Action and others to launch a Rebuild the Dream campaign to kick start  the American Dream Movement.

The American Prospect devoted its March 2011 issue edited by Robert Kuttner to America's Endangered Middle Class: Why saving it is ground zero of American Politics. If progressives want a winning theme that the Right can't match, as Jacob Hacker argued in the issue, this is it.

Update: Sen. Al Franken was joined by AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Lee Saunders, Wisconsin Education Association Council President Mary Bell, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, UFCW President Joseph Hansen and Bob Kuttner for a keynote session entitled "Attack on America's Middle Class and the Plan to Fight Back," moderated by Ari Melber of The Nation.

Watch live streaming video from freespeechtv at livestream.com
See, also: Progressives Push For Job Growth On Tour by Sarah Kenigsberg (Huffington Post 2011-06-18).

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