10 to go: “Putting aside the Democratic Party” is why we lose

I’ve been inundated with tons of stories extolling the virtues of Bernie Sanders as a presidential candidate in 2016. To their credit, most at least acknowledge that Sanders has no chance of ever actually becoming president. They envision his candidacy as one that would shake up the race and get candidates to talk about issues they don’t normally talk about. Unfortunately, most of these stories contains an element that is very disturbing. They envision Sanders running as an independent, or as a third-party candidate. Too often, these stories include a phrase similar to “putting aside the Democratic Party,” and imagines the establishment of a viable third party.

I’ve seen at least three stories this week. That means, with less than two weeks to go before an election Democrats have to win, prominent progressives are ignoring the 2014 election, which Democrats have to win. Even worse, they’re sowing the seeds for screwing up the 2016 election, as well.

We really need to focus on understanding two basic concepts:

1. We’re not getting anything progressive done as long as we have a Republican majority in Congress.

2. There is no “putting aside the Democratic Party,” if we ever hope to gain a foothold in, and actually running the government.

First of all, it’s a week and a half before an election that we have to win. And by “we” I mean the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is not an enemy of progressives. In fact, the vast majority of progressives are Democrats. Therefore, when a progressive uses a concept like “putting aside the Democratic Party,” these people, who are mostly white and have enough wealth to build a name for themselves, have placed themselves on a plane of existence above the vast majority of progressives, including union members, African-Americans, Latinos, immigrants, the poor and others. They are essentially pinning their hopes on a minority of a minority. In a democracy, they are doomed to a fate that is far less than even mediocrity by doing so. Unfortunately, they have such loud voices, they are dragging everyone else with them, by ensuring a Republican-dominated government.

This is not about Bernie Sanders. I’d like to see Bernie Sanders run for president, even though he has no chance of winning. He would have to run as a Democrat. In the debates, he would be a welcome voice and would perhaps inject viewpoints that wouldn’t otherwise be there. He could make people think. Unfortunately, if he ran as an independent or representing a nascent “third-party,” he can only do damage.

Do the people who fantasize about “putting aside the Democratic Party” remember what happened in 2000 and 2004? One of the worst presidential candidates in US history was able to steal two elections because these progressives essentially split the progressive vote. They also chose to run against Democrats instead of their natural political enemies in the right-wing-dominated Republican Party. There was nothing politically clever about the George W Bush campaign. The reason we ended up with the Bush disaster was because the same people who are now fantasizing about Bernie Sanders “putting aside the Democratic Party” and winning, did the same thing with Ralph Nader.

There is nothing particularly startling in what I am saying. It is simply not possible to have three viable political parties. The reason is basic math. The Republican Party is currently made up of far right wing wackos who will always vote for whoever is running as a Republican in every race possible. Since about 90% of them show up to vote in every election, we have to counter that by getting more people to show up and vote Democrat. We can do that if a small but very loud contingent of the progressive movement is always going off to do their own thing, while they badmouth the Democratic Party. when you have members of an ideology voting monolithically for whomever their party puts up, splitting the rest of the electorate is rather stupid.

If Bernie Sanders and the rest of the far left contingent who adore him succeed in any way, what you will have is a one-party electoral system, and that party will be the GOP. There is no way that can be seen as anything other than a disaster.

There is nothing to be gained by progressives whining about Democrats, especially with the odious GOP running things. Democrats are our natural allies. Besides the fact that most progressives are Democrats, our record of success was better when we worked with Democrats than it has been since we stopped doing so. The most progressive period in our history came between 1933 and 1970, when progressives worked hand-in-hand with Democrats to make major changes in our economy and our society. Progressive politics does not work well when some of us are standing off in the corner and playing with themselves. Progressives only make up perhaps 15% of the electorate, in total. That is simply not enough to win a majority in the House and Senate and the presidency, which is what we need in order to get progressive things done in this country. It is pure fantasy to think that 15% of the electorate can become a viable third party completely on their own. Worse, most of that 15% works hard for the Democratic Party; it’s only perhaps 15% of that 15% who fantasize about creating a progressive country simply by force of will. Do the math; that means approximately 2% of the electorate actually imagines having control of the entire government and forcing them to change everything they do in a way that appeals to them.

See the problem? The loudest and most obnoxious element of the progressive movement are essentially ants who think they’re elephants. Instead of working with Democrats to form a coalition that can win elections and move the country to the left, these arrogant “progressives” imagine the rest of the electorate giving in to their demands and bending to their will. What they actually accomplish is to help Republican Party decrease turnout, and making the 90% GOP turnout more powerful. Keep in mind, Republicans are only about 24% of the electorate. That means when they show up at 90%, that represents about a 21% turnout overall. Again, do the math. If we can get overall turnout in midterms up to 50% or more, Republicans literally cannot win a majority. So, any progressive who isn’t working to increase turnout isn’t really being progressive.

We have an election in 10 days. In 10 days, we have to muster up enough voter enthusiasm to increase turnout well above where it was in 2010, because we have to get rid of the GOP majority FIRST. That is the most important thing right now, and that means advocating for Democrats. When we dismiss the 2014 election as being unimportant, which is what we do when we look past it to the 2016 election, we encourage people to not show up on Election Day. When we dismiss the Democratic Party as being just as bad for America is the GOP, which is what we do when we use phrases like “putting aside the Democratic Party,” we encourage those who want an alternative to the disastrous Republican party to stay home on Election Day. Neither of those things is progressive.

Get a clue. The key to a progressive movement comes with electing the best people possible, not by advocating for the perfect candidate and losing every time. When do we get tired of losing?

With Ebola, GOP scares people into staying home. Press helps.

There is no greater example of the national press absolutely dropping the ball on coverage of a story than the current Ebola panic of 2014.

Keep in mind, the number one strategy of the Republican Party is to drive down turnout. And the most efficient way to drive down turnout is to make people afraid of the future and distrustful of their government. Republicans don’t care about their base; they know those wackos will turn out in large numbers, no matter what they do or don’t do. They want to keep non-Republicans from showing up at the polls in any great numbers. That’s why Ebola seem so scary, even though there have been fewer than a half-dozen cases and only one death in a country of 310 million people.

But modern-day journalists don’t do their job. Perhaps unwittingly, they actually assist the Republican Party in dispensing their fear mongering and making people think their government is too incompetent to protect them, even though in this case that’s exactly what they did. Here are the facts. A man went to a private hospital for treatment, was diagnosed with Ebola and was allowed to potentially affect a couple dozen other people. A private hospital. it was and then Obamacare hospital, as I heard it described at least once. It was a private for-profit hospital. once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was notified, the disease was contained. Well, except for once, when a licensed medical professional who works for NBC News left quarantine to go get soup, and then proceeded to blame it on her “crew.” But I might remind the folks in the media that Nancy Snyderman also does not work for the government, and does not work for the Obama administration. Continue reading

12 to go: The odious Professional Left, Part 2

As I said in Part One, I am a proud Obamabot. He’s done a hell of a job, and he’s snookered Republicans repeatedly at every turn. If you don’t realize that, you spend way too much time with your face buried in those professional left blogs. Yeah, this is part two of yesterday’s column, because, while I may publish a book on this someday, I won’t bore you by putting the entire thing into one blog post.

I’ve been a progressive all my life. Everyone in my family worked in union shops, and I grew up in Maryland, one of the most progressive states in the union. I’ve worked for progressive candidates since I was 14, and while my views have always evolved, they have always been on the left side of the aisle. I want the same things every progressive wants. I am an idealist, just like every progressive says they are. I want peace, an end to war and poverty, and I want us to get off oil and to rely on renewable energy sources. We have to at least try to reverse climate change, or at least learn to live with it and not make it worse. On every issue, on an ideal level, there is little difference between me and the leftiest lefty that ever existed.

There is one major difference, though. I’m practical. Some say “pragmatic.” I prefer realistic. And when I say “realistic,” I don’t mean that alternate reality in which all 310 million Americans crush their internal combustion engine vehicles and switch to electric cars overnight. I also know that all gas stations will not be converted to electric charging stations in a week. I don’t mean a “realism” in which I think marching and protest will bring us all of the progressive policies we want. We also have to get rid of as many Republicans as possible. I’m talking about real realism; the kind in which progressives make up perhaps 15 percent of the population or so. The one in whch we have no choice but to align ourselves with others who are not so “progressive,” so that we can turn this into a progressive society. Continue reading

13 to go: The odious Professional Left, Part 1

Hey! Did you know I’m apparently an “Obamabot”? It’s supposed to be an insult; the label has been bestowed upon me many times by professional lefties and PUBs (Progressive Unicorn Brigade). I have to tell you, though, I’m in good company. Some of the smartest people I know are “Obamabots.” Why wouldn’t they be? Look at everything he’s done, despite unprecedented obstruction, and compare it to the people who constantly whine about him.

For the record, I don’t agree with President Obama on absolutely everything, and never have. But I do trust him, and trust that he has the country’s best interests at heart when he embarks on anything. He’s level-headed and smart, and he has more information than the rest of us on most situations, so I understand that one reason we may disagree is because he has more information than I do. And so far, there have been no disasters, so my instincts about Obama seem to be right on. Except for Benghazi, there have been no terrible events, and the country is progressing. Could it be progressing more quickly? Of course. But you can look to the GOP House if you really have to blame someone for the slow pace of economic recovery. 

I’m proud to be an “Obamabot,” because he’s actually done a stellar job. Unfortunately, the professional left (meaning those bloggers and other lefty media types who make a living peddling their “liberal” opinions) seems to be all too happy helping the Republican Right Wing keep on winning elections, and preventing any more progress than the President can eke out on his own. It seems as if every GOP attack ad talks about “Obama’s failed policies.” However, you’ll note that none of those ads articulates what those “failed policies” are. They don’t have to, because the professional left has always been more than willing to articulate them for everyone. Here, we have the most potentially progressive president in a generation or more, and the most vocally “progressive” side of the aisle is more than willing and able to point up all of his faults. In doing so, they offer an able assist to the GOP in their ultimate goal, which is to depress turnout, and make their “base” votes count more.  Continue reading

17 to go: Flashback: A Wakeup Call for Progressive Thinkers

I first posted this on May 12, 2004 on my original blog, The Daily Weasel. The original received an overwhelmingly positive response. With two-and-a-half weeks to go before this very important election, It’s something to think about again. Some elements are dated, such as the part where we have to elect John Kerry, but the core idea is still valid. Do NOT call yourself a progressive if all you have is the right positions on specific issues, but you’re not doing what needs to be done to get the best people elected. Not the PERFECT people, the BEST people. 

Politics in a democracy is about winning. If you’re not winning, it doesn’t matter how right you think you are. 

A Wake-Up Call for Progressive Thinkers Continue reading

18 to go: Stop the reactionary politics, progressives.

Progressives have been largely sidelined politically for more than 40 years, and one of the major reasons is our tendency to play politics in much the same way as the Right Wing Republican party. And one of the most ridiculous tendencies progressives have developed is our tendency to be purely reactionary about too many things.

Take this week’s story on Alison Lundergan Grimes. All week, my Twitter and Facebook feeds were inundated with progressives complaining about the fact that the Democratic Party was pulling out of her race to focus on other races. There was reactionary screaming coming from progressives of all stripes, and all they managed to accomplish was to encourage a few more voters to stay away from the polls. You’d think the Democratic Party was killing their dog.

Let me explain this for you, reactionaries…

The race to beat Mitch McConnell is not the only one Democrats have to win. It would be symbolic, at best. I mean, if they beat McConnell, but they lose the Senate majority, what’s the point? There is a finite amount of cash available, and Grimes still has $6 million in her war chest, as of the beginning of October. How much more does she need? Also, the chances of Grimes winning have always been slim. I hope she wins, and I have no doubt her people will work their asses off, but if she wins at all, it will be a squeaker. Continue reading

21 (three weeks) to go: Be a better news consumer!

Did you know the word “gullible” isn’t in the dictionary?

Before you go look that up to prove me wrong, you should look up two other words that are necessary for intelligent news viewing:

Skepticism and discernment.

There may be some good information in a television talking head show or a political talk radio show, but such programs are not “news.” In some cases, the hosts may be reporters, but as they’re offering an opinion, they are not being journalists, but pundits. There can be some journalism behind it, but it is not, in and of itself, journalism.

There is nothing wrong with punditry. News analysis can useful, and I don’t fault those who engage in it. Sometimes, listening to the opinion of someone you trust can help you understand issues more completely.  For example, Walter Cronkite’s punditry on Vietnam was probably key to most folks understanding what a complete mess that was. But you have to accept opinion for what it is, and learn to extract the nuggets of “fact,” and use your intelligence to determine their veracity.

There is a lot of great journalism out there, on just about every subject, But it seems to be buried these days underneath a mountain of opinion. Cable news really isn’t “news”  much of the time these days, and I’m not just talking about Fox. Journalism is hard work, and done well, it can uncover the truth and make our lives better. Unfortunately, it’s far too easy to call oneself a “journalist” these days, and it shouldn’t be. Someone with a great penchant for researching on Google or LexisNexis, and piecing facts together is not an “investigative journalist.” Think about it a minute. If I’m searching Google and LexisNexis online, I’m finding sources that other people have already researched and written about. Sitting in a villa in Brazil and opining on hundreds of thousands of supposedly secret documents dumped in your lap and releasing them is not in and of itself “investigative journalism.” That’s true, even if a billionaire has decided to buy you a blog.

We have a responsibility as consumers of news. While the journalist does the hard work of uncovering the story, it’s our job to make sure others know about it. We also have a duty to get the story right, so we have to check the story’s veracity before we pass it on as “fact.” A real reporter enters a story with nothing but questions, and will never publish a story until he or she has solid answers to a number of questions that matter. Don’t ever trust a “news story” that asks more questions than it answers. A real news story doesn’t ask questions, it provides solid, provable answers. Continue reading

22 to go: Outrage does not motivate voters.

An apparent specialty of the professional left and PUBs (Progressive Unicorn Brigade) is their innate ability to manufacture outrage.  If you frequent lefty blogs and Twitter streams, you’ll see that the demands for outrage are unrelenting. They are always searching for subjects that might piss you off, because that’s what they think gets you reading day after day. Every time I Tweet my list of Obama accomplishments, a few “liberals insist on whining about it.

The problem with Manufactured Outrage™ is, while it might make for a decent marketing tool to other outraged lefties, it’s useless as a political tool. And with about three weeks to go before an election Democrats have to win if progressives are going to salvage something from the most progressive president we’ve seen in our lifetimes, our goal has to be to get the most votes. Manufactured Outrage™ has the OPPOSITE effect.

There’s the cognitive dissonance that permeates the PUB segment of the progressive movement. They are apparently just like right wingers, in that THEY are motivated by anger and outrage, so they think everyone is. As usual, they are wrong. Only those who occupy the far left and right ends of the political spectrum are motivated by outrage. The vast majority of voters are actually de-motivated by outrage and anger. They want government to work, and they want to elect people they see as competent. The reason so many people stay home these days is because they don’t see anyone as competent, because all of the rhetoric is negative. Negative works for the right wing; it works against everyone else. Continue reading

Toward a better understanding of religion: Muslim edition

I rarely talk about my personal religious beliefs, because they’re, well, personal. They’re supposed to be, too, according to most religions. Just saying…

Basically, I don’t believe in religion. I’m not a full-fledged atheist, because I admit I don’t know enough. None of us does. For Chrissakes, people; after millions of years, we just discovered the universe a few hundred years ago, and we haven’t even begun to explore other stars or planets. As I suggest in my novel, “Not Another Savior,” how do we know we’re not part of some experiment in a lab by a “creator” named Phineas? How do we know we humans don’t keep blowing up planets, and this is our third or fourth try? The answer is, we don’t, which makes strident religionists and strident atheists roughly the same to me. You don’t know anything, really, so stop pretending you do. The “Big Bang” is as valid a possibility as any, and evolution is just a fact of life; one we see every day. Like I said; we don’t know anything, really. Continue reading

25 to Go: Our energy future is green, but not with the GOP in charge

One way you know the current incarnation of the Republican Party is just plain nuts comes when they continue to complain about the stimulus package passed by Democrats and Obama in 2009. One thing that bill did and continues to do, is to greatly increase our investment in clean energy production, which is the future. The issue is climate change, but it’s also everyday life. We need energy; there is no denying it. And the reality is, we will never, ever meet our needs through drilling and fracking everywhere we can.

Oil is not the future, it’s the past. And it’s not the past just because gasoline is permanently more than $3 per gallon, and is due to go to $5 per gallon within a decade. One major reason fossil fuels are the past is because more people are using more energy, and we can’t survive in a world in which 7 billion people drive internal combustion engines, and use fossil fuels to generate the electricity we need. We have to figure out how to balance our production and use of energy with the need for clean air, wholesome, nutritious food and a clean and a plentiful supply of water.

Because everything in nature works in harmony, we have to produce what we need, while disturbing as little of the natural world as possible. It doesn’t whether you “believe” in climate change or not. It doesn’t matter how many jobs, companies and countries are “dependent” on the extraction of fossil fuels for their economic needs. This is about nothing less than the survival of the human race. Continue reading