I am getting so tired of people who proclaim themselves as “real progressives” who demonstrate nothing but cynicism at every turn. If you think Democrats are as bad as Republicans, or look at everyone on both sides with equal degrees of scorn, you may call yourself “a progressive,” since it’s free country; and you can call yourself anything you want), but you’re not really progressive. I’ve always believed that words mean things. The word “progressive” contains the word “progress.” In fact, that is its “root word.” To obtain progress on anything, you first have to believe that progress is possible.
Only cynics believe that nothing in government works, or that everyone in government is somehow suspect. When you push forth the idea that “the entire Democratic Party is “corrupt,” or “beholden to Wall Street” or some other syndicalism nonsense, you’re not being progressive at all because the only chance we have for progress is to make sure the Democratic Party wins every election by a wide margin. Progress is impossible if the loudest voices on our side are cynical about everything. Besides, almost all progressives in the electorate are Democrats. Go ahead and name a progressive in government who isn’t a Democrat. I’ll wait. Yes, even Bernie Sanders caucuses with Democrats.
If you think Republicans and Democrats are basically the same, or have much the same views on issues, or are roughly politically identical, than not only are you wrong, but you can’t possibly be progressive. Really? There is no difference between Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi? I have 375 bills that were passed by the House during the 111th Congress and were killed by the Republican minority that proves you wrong. And no, you cynical morons, you can’t point to a couple dozen “Blue Dogs” as proof. Recently, a bill came through Congress that every Republican voted for but one, and which 24 Democrats voted for. I perused the professional left media and a majority of articles decried the bill and blamed it on the 24 Democrats who voted for it and suggested that they all be defeated.
It’s hard to express just how stupid that sentiment is. Democrats are in a minority in the House. If they were in the majority, the bill wouldn’t have existed in the first place. Enough Repubicans voted for it that it would have passed without the Democratic votes. And President Obama had already promised to veto the bill, so there was no danger of it becoming law, anyway. So, what is the point to focusing on 24 Democrats who made no difference, and who were just trying to hold their seats in a majority conservative district? Why would you not focus on the Republicans who wrote the bill, or the Republicans who co-sponsored the bill, or the Republicans who represent Blue districts who voted for this shitty bill? (Yes, I know what the bill is about, but it doesn’t matter because the issue is the entire Republican ideology, not one bill.
What the pro lefties did was the rough equivalent of finding a gaping hole in the roof of your home and deciding to complain about all of the cat hair on your carpet. Complaining about the cat hair is no way to fix the roof.
Progressives are supposed to be the good guys. We’re the ones who care about the poor, the sick, the elderly, those with disabilities, and those who are discriminated against. How can we accomplish anything if cynicism pushes us into a position where we’re ignoring the gains Democrats make and insinuating that Democrats are the same as Republicans? It’s an obvious lie, so why should the electorate accept our lies as more palatable than those from the far right? All cynicism accomplishes is to convince people to stay home on Election Day. Given that low turnout favors Republicans, how is that progressives.
Just today, I saw a Tweet from a prominent pro lefty claiming that both Bush and Hillary Clinton were essentially equally responsible for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which is both cynical and absurd. If Trump ends up winning, take a bow because you helped. Another insinuated that Obama’s Drone War was just as deadly as Bush’s wars, which is, again, a lie and destined to encourage reasonable people to stay home. Good job. Cynicism is usually a lie, and it also works against the progressive movement. Cynicism is not a sign of intelligence. In fact, it’s a sign of ignorance. Trump is cynical, if that helps explain why. It’s simply not true that everything is broken. “The system” is not broken; it’s the same system that ended slavery, won World War II, guided the greatest and broadest economic expansion in world history, brought civil rights and started down the road to universal health care. The only thing “broken” is progressives’ ability to encourage people to show up at the polls to vote for candidates who actually care about them.
If you want a progressive government and a progressive nation, we have to get more people out to vote. That is the only way for progressives to gain a foothold in the political system. We have to populate the government with people who will at least listen to what we have to say. I know; you imaging that not every Democrat is a progressive, but aren’t they? What does being a progressive mean, anyway? In my book, if you’re encouraging people to not vote, you’re not all that progressive. And when the loudest elements of the progressive movement talks down to voters, screams at and makes demands of voters and insinuate that most voters are “stupid,” who is really “stupid” in that scenario? For that matter, who’s really “progressive” at that point?
It’s easy to be cynical; it’s much harder to understand reality. The right wing is cynical about almost everything. Being just like them is killing us.
It is not possible to be cynical and progressive at the same time. You may call yourself a progressive, but you are not progressive. Note the difference.