Most liberal pundits bore me. Worse, they bore the general public, and offer nothing useful that would motivate people to go to the polls and vote on election day. They seem to be hell-bent on generating anger, under the mistaken impression that anger is an emotion that motivates the most people to show up at the polls and vote against someone. Apparently, they don’t seem to notice that progressives have been losing ground for 40 years using this “strategy.”
They get it wrong, of course. That is because the average American voter sees government and politics as a tool to get things done, not a bludgeon with which to hit other people over the head. Regardless of whether you think they’re intelligent, most people are rational, and voting for someone because they voted against your favorite issue is not a rational act. The rational basis for voting involves casting a ballot for the candidate who is most likely to do with this for all of the people in his district or state. If you are one of those who bad mouths a candidate because he is not 100% progressive, you’re irrational. (Bet you’ve never been called that before.) Besides, most people already think politicians suck, so the fact that you reiterate that in your prose does absolutely nothing to advance the progressive cause.
We have to get smarter politically, folks. There are two camps on the progressive side of the aisle. There is, of course, the Progressive Unicorn Brigade, or PUBs, who see politics as a fantasy in which politicians magically do everything they want about issues they care most about. Of course, they also forget about everything else. Then, there is the other 90 percent of progressives, who are pragmatic and realize that we can’t get progressive policies implemented without winning elections. Unfortunately, it seems that the PUBs are dominating progressive political discourse and liberal punditry. they are overwhelmingly negative, and they actually impede progress, which is the opposite of what a progressive is supposed to be about.
Consider, for example, their seemingly endless criticism of President Obama.
This is probably the most brilliant and talented politician of our time, yet a great number of liberal pundits talk about him as if he’s the biggest moron who ever existed. Over the last six years, how many times have you read that “Obama is continuing Bush policies” on a liberal blog? Hundreds? Thousands? And yet, when confronted, they can cite maybe two or three, if that. And there are virtually no policies that Obama has continued intact from the Bush years. None. Nada. Go ahead, name them.
Then there are those who use the word “disappointment” to describe how they feel about Obama. The problem with citing President Obama as a “disappointment” is that the word “disappointment” is a personal one. It is based on personal expectations, and has no real meaning. It’s a childish word; one that sounds really good to an intellectual lightweight, but demonstrates a near-complete absence of intelligent analysis. it’s the kind of word that Glenn Greenwald revels in. If you think someone can do better as president, given the circumstances this president deals with on a daily basis, then the problem is not with Obama, but with your expectations. No one – not a Lincoln, or a Roosevelt, or a Kennedy, or a Washington – could get progressive things done with the current Congress that’s currently in place.
The same goes with their criticism of Democrats in general. Perhaps these liberal pundits haven’t noticed, but Democrats are in the minority in the House of Representatives right now. In order for any law to pass, it needs to pass through both the House and the Senate, and then be signed by the president. if Democrats are to pass anything progressive, they need to have a Democrat in the White House, as well as a majority in the House and Senate. In fact, they have to have a functioning majority in the Senate, which currently means 60 votes. Otherwise, any expectations from Democrats are not well-founded at all.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone. One thing most far left progressive pundits have in common is a complete and utter lack of understanding as to how the political process works. Complaining about Democrats in any way, shape or form right now makes no sense. The Republican Party’s main political strategy is to stop everything Democrats plan to do, and they have done that successfully. Democrats have had control of the government for exactly four of the last 34 years. therefore, blaming anything on the Democratic Party is nothing short of stupid, and blaming everything on the Democratic Party is even dumber than that. How are all of these things progressives claim to want supposed to happen, if Republicans always have enough seats to block them?
There is a severe disconnect between what these pundits want the government to do and what the government actually can do with the components that have been elected to it. It was completely unrealistic, for example, to expect a larger stimulus package in 2009, especially directly after an economic meltdown. They were right to say the stimulus package wasn’t big enough, but it’s damn near impossible to even envision a $2 trillion package passing Congress at a time when the economy was losing 850,000 jobs a month and 401(k)s were disappearing. But here’s the funny thing; it was possible to show that the initial stimulus package worked and then pass other stimulus package to supplement it. Unfortunately, when all you do is complain, that is never suggested as a possibility. Instead, by complaining incessantly they made it damn near impossible for Democrats to take back Congress in 2010 and pass supplemental stimulus packages.
The same thing happened with the Affordable Care Act. No one in their right mind thinks health care reform was completed with the ACA. No one. and yet, the people who still complain about it – especially the liberal punditry – keep creating circumstances that make it impossible to actually finish healthcare reform. They claim they want a public option. They claim they want all states to accept Medicaid funds. They claim they want a competitive environment. They claim they want to hold down costs in every aspect of healthcare. But how are we supposed to do that if the House continues to be controlled by a Republican majority that wants to kill it?
The problem with politics is, idealism is nice, but it eventually smacks into reality. Yes, we need more stimulus. but it’s impossible to even pass a clean highways bill through this Congress, so where is another $2 trillion in stimulus supposed to come from? how are we supposed to fix the deficiencies in the ACA, when the House of Representatives has to pass any law that would do so, and their overall goal is to kill it altogether?
These people know nothing about politics, and you need to stop listening to them. More importantly, the rest of us have to start drowning these people out. A lot of them think that proposing a $3 trillion stimulus bill could have been negotiated down to $1.5 trillion, and we would’ve been better off. Sorry, but that’s ignorant. That is not how bill passage works. Negotiations have to happen before the bill hits the floor. If you were to propose a $3 trillion bill on the floor of the House of Representatives, it would die before debate. why stop at $3 trillion? Why not ask for $10 trillion? Or $100 trillion? the answer is, those numbers are ridiculous. Well, in what way is $3 trillion not ridiculous to most people, especially when you’re talking about a single bill? total federal government spending is only $4 trillion.
Likewise, you couldn’t have started with single-payer healthcare and then negotiated down to what we got, plus the ACA plus a public option. Again, that is not how politics works in the real world. You have to negotiate to put a bill on the floor that can pass. if you don’t believe me, then I want you to cite the name of one bill that Dennis Kucinich managed to pass. A single-payer health-care bill could never pass in Congress, because the American people would never accept it. When you place a bill before Congress that has no chance of passage, it also has no chance of being debated, because there’s nothing to debate. Single-payer would never pass because it would’ve required the 81% of American people who had health insurance to give up their plan in favor of what was essentially a pig in a poke. You will never get everyone with health insurance to give up their health insurance and take up a government plan. This is a democracy; you have to work your way toward a single-payer plan, if that’s what you want. Of course, you also can’t work toward a single-payer plan as long as we have a Congress with a majority who think the system we have is too radical. So, there’s that…
By the way, Obama also never caved on the Bush tax cuts, which was a meme for a time. They were going to pass anyway, and he got concessions from Republicans in Congress. Obama and the Democrats have never, ever actually put Social Security and Medicare spending cuts on the table, which is another meme spouted by the far left punditry.
Also, his repeated attempts to reach out to Republicans were never “stupid” for “naïve,” as they have been characterized by liberal pundits. The American people want to see bipartisanship. they are sick and tired of the fighting between the two parties, and they wanted to stop. Obama and Democrats made themselves look good politically by reaching out to Republicans. Republicans made themselves look bad by slapping them away. The problem is, instead of using that fact to give ourselves a political advantage, the liberal punditry instead screamed and yelled at Obama and the Democrats for reaching out in the first place. Once again, they showed themselves to be politically dim, by looking at one play, and failing to see the entire playing field.
The fact that the president and the Congressional Democratic leadership knows that the GOP leadership will slap them down every time makes them smart. The fact that liberal pundits don’t know that, and think Obama and Democratic leaders are being stupid and naïve makes them not smart enough to judge anyone else’s intelligence. We have to deal with that problem. with one month to go before the election, we as pragmatic progressives have to take up positive progressive positions, and counter the negative impression that our segment of the media is propagating, which is completely negative and drives people away from the polls.
We have two choices in 30 days; Democrats and Republicans (with an occasional independent thrown in). If we are serious about getting progressive policies in place, we have one choice that makes rational sense. Stop reading and believing liberal pundits and start thinking for yourselves. More importantly, push Democrats – and that means all Democrats – as hard as you can, whether you like them or not. In the real world, Democrats are the only choice we have that will stave off disaster, and in order to be effective they have to be in the majority.