Avoiding Reponsibility

Many years ago, I was a very successful retail manager. My last retail management job featured me taking a small electronics store in a high-end shopping mall and turning it from a money loser to making a substantial profit within a year. I did such a great job that the owner of the store offered me a great deal to buy it, as long as I agreed to run the store as I paid off the sale. For a variery of reasons, I refused, but the owner was still appreciative enough that he wrote me a check for $20,000 when I left. (Just as an aside, he offered someone else the same deal to buy the store and it was out of business within less than two years, which makes me feel a lot better about the “opportunity” I turned down.)

I don’t tell that story to brag on myself. I offer it up to demonstrate that I understand how business works and I understand how to deal with people. At times, I managed upwards of 200 people, and I know what makes them tick. And one thing that I never, ever, had a stomach for was the “blame game.” Finding out why something happened is far more useful than finding something to blame it on. There is actually little to nothing to gain by pinning blame on someone for something bad that happens. If someone spills something on an aisle, the first person who sees it cleans it up; what would be the point of trying to figure out who spilled it? If someone put the wrong price on a product (back in the days when we did silly things like that0, the goal should be to correct the problem immediately, not to pin it on someone. In fact, the only reason to find out who was ultimately responsible would be to prevent the same thing from happening again later. There is nothing else to be gained. Ever. By the same token, if you are responsible for something bad happening, there is absolutely nothing to be gained by blaming everyone else for what you caused. If you spilled something on an aisle and a customer slipped on it and sued the company for $50,000, there is no reason for me to blame you, but you also should not be looking for someone else to take the blame, either.

I hated working in retail. I was good at it, but I truly hated it. I liked about 90% of the customers who walked in the door, but dammit that other 10% were bad enough to make me hate the entire business. However, the aftermath of this election has pushed me into flashback mode. I am flashing back to my retail career. Who’s fault is it that we are facing the specter of Donald Trump as president in just under a month? Is it the Russians? Is it the media? Is it voter suppression efforts, especially the “CrossCheck” program? Is it the “deplorables”? Is it the professional left? How about the Democratic Party and that damned Hillary Clinton? After all, she didn’t actually appear in several swing states that she barely lost, amirite? What about the people who didn’t even bother to show up?

Of course, we all know the answer, if we’re being honest. It’s all of the above. But really, who gives a shit who’s responsible? We have to make sure this kind of thing never happens again; that’s really all that matters. In fact, we should have been making sure this never happens again for the last 40 years, so this is nothing new. And if you are among those liberals who believes that placing the blame on the Russians, “the Democrats” or even Hillary relieves you of responsibility for what is likely to be an excruciating 2-4 years, you need to get a grip. It doesn’t. Not even a little. As was the case in 2000, if we had appealed to everyone to vote for every Democrat, no matter what, no one would have been able to steal it. If we encourage people to show up and vote for Democrats at every level and we flood the  system with voters, no one could possibly steal another election. How many more elections where a majority of voters doesn’t show up do we have to have before you get that people not showing up is the biggest problem we have?

As a retail manager, the spillage example above used to make me crazy. Of course, the person who spilled it and didn’t tell anyone pissed me off; that goes without saying. However, you know who pissed me off more? It was those idiots who saw the spill and wasted trying to figure out who spilled it instead of getting a mop and cleaning it up. It’s like the professional left this year. There are many who think the fact that the Russians interfered with the election somehow relieves them of responsibility for spending most of the last two years tarnishing the reputation of Hillary Clinton and propagating the notion that, somehow, Democrats were as bad as Republicans, which is nothing short of insane.

It doesn’t.

Yes, ultimately the Russians swung this election. And yes, the journalistic profession essentially sold us out and reported on Trump as if he was a “normal” candidate. The entire press is so enamored with a horse race, they rarely told the truth. They went ballistic over the non-story of Hillary’s email server and they ignored the (quite literally) hundreds, or even thousands, of examples of Trump conflicts of interest and outright corruption. They bought the story that Clinton would win no matter what, and they spent as much time as they could trying to “level the playing field.” So, yes, they are largely responsible for the outcome of this election. However, you can’t discount the influence of the professional left and so-called “progressives,” who spent the better part of two years trashing the hell out of Hillary Clinton. You may think you can just blow that off and you may be able to talk yourself into believing that you had no effect on the election, but really; if turnout had been 60%, she would have had upwards of 350 electoral votes and I wouldn’t even have to promise that the words “President” and “Trump” will never appear together on this blog unless I’m quoting someone else.

If you think you had to verbally assault Hillary Clinton in order to support Bernie Sanders, you’re a fucking child, not a “political junkie.” If you think the Clinton Administration was anything but good for most people, then you have no sense of history and no sense of politics. I know, I know; Bill Clinton “passed the crime bill” and that makes him an asshole in your book. What you fail to acknowledge was that the crime bill was an absolute necessity in 1993. Police departments were ignoring poor and minority neighborhoods and crime in those neighborhoods was off the charts. Also, if you’d look more closely, “the crime bill” wasn’t the problem; it was the draconian sentencing provisions put in place by Republicans that essentially forced judges to sentence people who smoked or sold pot to ten years in maximum security. Also, it’s 2016; even many Republicans are on board for reform that would put fewer people in prison.

Oh, yeah, and another thing; no, Bill Clinton was NOT “responsible” for the mortgage meltdown, in ny way, shape or form. Of course, many of the “progressives” trashing Hillary Clinton also think “the repeal of Glass-Steagall” was a key to the Great Recession when it was not. Yes, that’s right! You progressives who believe that bleating “repeal of Glass-Steagall” as if you have Tourette’s Syndrome makes you look smart are wrong again. That doesn’t mean the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act didn’t lead to the mortgage meltdown, but it wasn’t the “repeal of Glass-Steagall” part that did it. Besides, the bill Clinton signed passed the Senate by 90-9, so his signing the bill was irrelevant to the bill’s passage.

What I’m trying to say is that the complete destruction of Hillary Clinton’s previously vaunted reputation had a lot to do with the lack of enthuiasm for her that was experienced by many voters and the left was about as culpable for that as the far right. That is especially true when you consider that most voters are somewhere in the middle of the pack and they consider the far right to be batshit crazy. When our side, which are considered relatively sane by most people, engages in the kind of anti-Hillary rhetoric as they did, and when they even suggest that Democrats of all stripes are as bad as the Republicans, you deserve as much blame as anyone for this travesty. Not only that, but until you acknowledge that reality, we can never fix this problem.

The problem is that Republicans win too many elections. Everyone who helps in that deserves a measure of responsibility. And if you EVER say anything bad about ANY Democrats during a given campaign, like the one we just endured or the one we will face in 2018, you are helping Republicans perpetuate their dominance and you are just as responsible as any Russian out there.

Our goal for the next two years is to sit the fuck down, shut the fuck up and listen to the people we supposedly care the most about when they tell us the Democratic Party is the only thing that can save us. And then, ALL liberals have to be on the same page. Even if you’re not enamored with al Democrats, you have to get a clue that the worst of them is still 100 times better than any Republican.

Stop looking for who to blame for a while and work with the vast majority of progressives, to get rid of the GOP once and for all. No more blame game; it’s time to win elections. That is far more important than “being right.”


Avoiding Reponsibility — 8 Comments

  1. I agree with how destructive of Hillary and other Democratic candidates the Bernie campaign was. Plus did the Bernie people really they would get the Obama supporters for someone who advocated primarying Obama in 2012?

    But what I have really been wanting to say is to watch out for the dangerstorm of a post mortem. I have seen in business swinging back and forth from one set of failures to another set of failures that were encountered before. You need to look at what worked as well as what failed. And a lot of things worked for Hillary’s campaign.

    I believe the Obama colailition is now the base of the Democratic party. It sounds to me that Milt is right about who we need to connect with: those who want to preserve and expand the safety net; those who want the poor and middle class to have a decent chance; those who want well run regulations to protect people and the environment from unbridled capitalism. Insisting on protection of individuals in our multi cultural world and criminal justice reform is harder in a country inflamed by Trump with fear and hate is harder but necessary.

    Hearing Democrats attack Hillary with years of lying right wing propaganda made me sick. What surprised me more were the attacks on Bill’s record knowing what went wrong but without the context of the discussion of the time. Where did all of that come from?

    What seem to me to be hard is organizing democrats into something comparable to the team party that stays active through mid terms. And that can scare some Republicans into worrying about their seats. But mostly getting Democratic candidates, getting out Democrats to vote. Working against the Republican schemes for voter suppression is a big problem.

    I think most agree that we need the bettler massaging to go with our policies. We need the elevator talk, the slide, the twitter, and the bumper sticker. But they need to be true though catchy abstractions for Democrats to be comfortable.

    I think what I and perhaps many Democrats didn’t understand is why hypocrisy arguments don’t work on core Republicans. Campaign messages are just tactics. Trump is just more open about it. So I don’t see the core Republicans being upset about his actions not matching his words.

  2. You asked for it Milton. I was hoping the Clintons would become invisible after the Lewinski Deal.Hilary decided that moving to New York state and running for President in a few years would fulfill her ambitious nature. In 2008 she ran against Obama for the nomination and got trounced. She really should have taken the clue then. She got beat from an unknown charismatic black guy from Chicago. Obama decides to make her his secretary of state. She decides to keep the server in her home and the whole thing blows up. Again it is her judgement that is to blame. She really thinks she can ClintonSplain every stupid decision makes and all will be forgiven. She feels she is loved by Democrats. Her husband was. But. Take NAFTA, and the utter gutting of the middle class. Neo Liberalism is dead. You moved away from the working class to your own demise. The only energy left in the Democratic Party comes from Bernies people and not Neo Liberals. Move on. Nothing left to see here.

    • That is 100% bullshit. You actually encompass the reason the left is toothless. I don’t give a flying fuck if you like the Clintons. It was a choice between her and Trump. If that was hard for you, you’re an imbecile. Shove your “energy.” Republicans are winning because assholes like you have handed the democracy to them because you believe liberals have the luxury of being picky.

    • The “only energy left in the Democratic Party comes from Bernie’s people”? Bernie Sanders– that guy who only became a Democrat to run for President, who raised ZERO dollars for the Democratic Party to support those running for Congressional seats, and who spent the entire primary convincing a whole new generation of Liberal voters that the Democratic Party is the same as the Republican Party. He and many of his supporters used old RWTP to smear Hillary Clinton which was unforgivable. And those energy filled Bernie people who voted for Jill Stein, stayed home, or wrote in Bernie’s name, which was just another way of voting for Trump. Now this monster is who we have as our President in less than a month. Americans are going to suffer economically and physically (from loss of Medicare or Medicaid), the environment will suffer, the gains we have made against racism will be turned back 50 years, the SCOTUS is going to be ruined for possibly the next half century, immigrants are in peril, and Donald Trump’s connections with Putin combined with Trump’s general stupidity and ignorance about international affairs may disrupt our relationships and agreements with other countries in very negative ways. And you think Bernie and his people are going to save us. No thanks. You have done enough damage for the next 50 years.

      • The Bernie People have their own special meanings for a lot of words.

        For instance, “energy” here obviously means “screaming at some rally like a fourteen year old girl at a Beatles concert in 1964” because that’s what the Bernie People do. “Energy” does not, can not refer to “patiently, carefully, intelligently building an electoral coalition that integrates the disparate elements of the Democratic Party” – despite this essential work requiring energy by the crate – because that’s what those nasty women in Team Clinton do.

        Easy as cake, once you know how to read the Bernietard Gibberjabber.

        • Or you know, energy means engaging and exciting people who don’t normally vote; about 48% of the american electorate, and giving them representation that the standard two party system doesn’t usually give them. But you know, Toemato, Tamato, to each their own i guess.

        • Then explain why the worst Bernie Stans were actually making MORE people not want to vote? The unicorn left doesn’t add energy, they suck it out of the system. Look at the difference between turnout when progressives worked WITH Democrats and the period since 1968, when they decided they were smarter than Democrats and tried to “energize” everything. Whatever the Bernie Stans have been doing obviously doesn’t work.

        • Because Bernie didn’t.

          That is just the plain, simple, unadulterated truth and all of your foolishly self congratulatory wishful thinking is not going to change that fact.

          Going on fifty years now I have been hearing this same dumb story: if we just mouth the proper slogans then a Great Leftie Savior will rise up and an army of dedicated progressive activists will flock to his standard and deliver us unto Victory.


          And it’s never going to happen. You can stage all the rallies you like and whip your audience into ecstasies of enrapturment, but if you can’t turn that into effective action then it all melts back into mush.

          Which is exactly what happened when Bernie lost the primaries. As a reminder, he lost clearly and he lost decisively and he lost by such a great margin that Candidate Clinton never once had to exert herself to beat him.

          To restate the original point, as you clearly failed to grasp it the first time, there is more to “energy” than just throwing one-off parties and getting drunk on your own fantasies. But, because that is all the Bernie people are good at, no other aspect of “energy” is recognized and they turn on the sneering condescension machine to drown out any discussion that people might attempt.