As of tomorrow, we will have seven weeks before the next election. That’s seven weeks, folks.
That’s 49 days to change our fortunes and make sure that Democrats win as many seats as possible. So why am I still seeing liberal bloggers and other liberal pundits constantly complaining about Democrats? Why am I still seeing PUBs (progressive unicorn brigade) constantly whining because “some” Democrats are less than perfect, progressively speaking?
We have 49 days, not 49 months. This is the time when voters actually start paying attention, at least a little bit. This is the time when progressive fortunes are made or broken, and let’s face it, progressives; our fortunes are tied to Democrats, whether you like it or not. You can harbor all the fantasies you want about third parties and fourth parties and fifth parties and having a smorgasbord of candidates, but they are fantasies. We have two parties; Republicans and Democrats. And we know Republicans won’t do anything progressive, no matter what. So what does that leave us with? It leaves us with Democrats.
And that does not mean a smattering of Democrats, one here and one there. It means that we have to develop a majority of Democrats in every governmental body we possibly can. We have Republicans in charge — or effectively in charge, since all they really want to do is block everything Democrats do, anyway — for 30 of the last 34 years. That’s right, PUBs; Democrats have been in charge of the federal government for two two-year periods since 1981. Therefore, when you complain that Democrats haven’t been effective, you really don’t know what you’re talking about. When you complain that President Obama has been ineffective, or “disappointing,” you display a galling lack of knowledge about how the political system works in this country. It’s not possible for any president to do anything without Congress helping him. If you have an image of President Obama as someone who can simply do something, then you don’t know how this works. Four years ago, in 2010, PUBs stupidly (and yes, I said stupidly) expended an enormous amount of effort at getting rid of his many Blue Dogs, or conservative leaning Democrats, as possible. The result of that effort removed half of the Blue Dog caucus, and installed Tea Party candidates as their replacements.
Over the last few weeks, I have been confronted by a great number of PUBs. I even had one who was offended because I dared to suggest that progressives have been losing for 40 years now. She couldn’t believe it. I was apparently a bad progressive because I noted that some progressives have been their own worst enemy for 40 years and we’ve been losing as a result. The level of delusion necessary to deny that progressives have been losing in the political arena for 40 years is truly mind-boggling, and it’s symptomatic of the PUB mentality. They’re no more interested in politics than a Fox news viewer is interested in the truth. they go to the “liberal blogosphere,” as the extremely rich Arianna Huffington coined it, to have their views validated. The professional left knows this, and they are more than happy to oblige, in order to make tons of money from many thousands of clicks per day.
Put simply, the constant complaining attracts attention. Many liberal “political junkies” can recite chapter and verse about the outrage of the day, but have no concept of how politics itself works. T ishe result is, a Republican Party that should be on the ropes based on its actual record, still has a chance to totally keep a majority in the House but to potentially take over a majority in the Senate. And it’s all because of this asinine concept that so many PUBs push, that both parties are the same. The underlying subtext, whether intended or not, is that when you vote for a Democrat, you’re getting basically the same thing you would get if you voted for a Republican.
That concept, of course, is absurd. But in a country wherein the vast majority of people think Republicans and right-wingers in general, are ridiculous, every time progressives proffer the idea that both parties are the same, it keeps people home on Election Day. For most of the past 40 years, politicians on the right have not been winning because they attract more votes. They win — or rather, we lose — because such comments discourage voters from showing up in the first place. People who stay home are now the deciding factor in most elections.
Frankly, one reason this is a problem is because PUBs simply do not understand politics. Keep in mind, PUBs makeup a small subset of progressives. Most actual progressives are cool, and not very dumb, politically. PUBs are rarely poor, and they tend to have a college education, so shouldn’t be uneducated boobs. However, they seem to think they know more about being poor or a minority than those who actually are poor and/or minorities do. This small-but noisy minority within our movement is ruining it for the rest of us with their lack of knowledge of how politics actually works, and their inability to understand what actually moves the country forward.
That’s why I’ve taken it upon myself to teach PUBs a little basic civics. Here are five lessons that all PUBs need to know moving forward.
Lesson #1: We live in a democratic republic. That means those who gets the most votes win and get to make policy.
I can’t believe I even have to write this out loud. Our government runs on majority rule; those in the majority get to make the rules. If you want the government to do what progressives think should be done to help working people, the poor and downtrodden, we need to elect a majority of the party closest to us ideologically. The elected candidate should be the one most capable of listening to the people and giving them what they want. In some districts, that will mean something very progressive. In other districts — for example, those with around 55% Republicans in them — that will most certainly not be progressive. Put simply, it depends on the district.
Right now, the most important thing progressives need to do is to make sure Republicans are never in the majority. After that, we have to work on moving the populace to the left. That leads us to:
Lesson #2: To get a progressive government, you need a progressive populace.
Again, majority rules. Therefore, getting progressive laws and programs through requires a progressive majority. that will require us to change the hearts and minds of as many people as possible. That is not done by screaming at them and calling them “stupid” because they don’t think the way you do.
The most important step is to listen first, and then learn to frame issues in a way that makes sense to them, and makes them want to be on our side. A great example is climate change. “Climate change” is an abstract concept to most, and because people can see it and touch it, it will never be seen as a “crisis” by most people. The vast majority of PUBs spend all of their time trying to make them “believe” in climate change, and that’s just a waste of time. On the other hand, we can convince them that driving a safe vehicle that also gets 200 miles per gallon is a great thing. We can convince them that driving an electric vehicle, for which all they have to do is plug into an electrical outlet overnight would be so much better than driving a gas powered car. We’ve convinced millions to switch over to energy-efficient light bulbs, and recycling has become commonplace these days, not because we scared people, but because we explained it to them calmly and rationally. Most people are actually in favor of solar, wind, geothermal and other types of power, as long as their energy bills don’t triple. Everyone loves living in a clean place, breathing clean air and making a cleaner world for their kids.
We just have to discuss issues in a way that makes the average voter feel good about them, so stop trying to scare them. Most voters are not motivated by fear, and making them more stressed out does not exactly make them receptive to our side. And always keep in mind, you have to have patience. The Republican neocon era is 34 years old; it’ll take a while to move the goalposts to where we want.
Lesson #3: Until there are 218 or more progressive districts in this country, ousting “Blue Dogs” should not be a source of pride; it’s actually idiotic.
I mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth mentioning again. If you’re one of those idiots who cause yourself “progressive,” and you were actually gleeful at the “silver lining” in the 2010 election results, in which about half of the “Blue Dog” Democrats lost, not really that progressive. and you’re actually kind of clueless. And there were two reasons why. One I mentioned; the rise of the Tea Party is directly attributable to you. If you spent all of 2009-2010 complaining about Democrats and complaining about Obama because he didn’t give you a unicorn, you’re the reason the Tea Party has as much power as it does.
Nancy Pelosi was replaced by John Boehner, and the progressive Democrats who chaired committees all went from being able to move progressive legislation through the House, to being part of minority, with an obstructionist Republican majority. As I said, Republicans don’t care about getting anything done. Their only goal is to stop Democrats from doing anything. That should’ve been abundantly clear in 2009 and 2010, when they filibustered 375 bills that were passed by the Democratic House. And thanks to the 2010 elections they had an even greater chance of doing just that.
This country does not have 218 progressive districts. The House Progressive Caucus has 78 members; when it was created 22 years ago, it had 76. If progressives want Congress to do progressive things, the Progressive Caucus needs 140 partners, at least. They don’t have that, and until PUBs get their heads out of their asses, and start realizing that we can’t do anything without Blue Dogs, and that voters don’t hear “Blue Dog,” they hear “Democrat,” we’ll never get anywhere. don’t take pride in removing a couple dozen Blue Dogs; you actually screwed every progressive who is actually in Congress by doing that. And if, four years later, you still don’t understand that basic concept, take up another hobby, because politics is not your thing, and you’re screwing those of us who are actually trying to get Democrats to win so that progressives can do more things. you’re not progressive anyway; it simply not progressive to get rid of Blue Dogs and replace them with teabaggers.
Lesson #4: There is NO SIMILARITY between the two political parties at this point in time. To claim there is demonstrates an enormous political ignorance.
I stopped counting the number of “progressives” (PUBs) who claim the “both parties are the same” tripe, and then demand that I defer to their intelligence. Many love to quote Harry Truman, who once said, “Given a choice between a Democrat who acts like a Republican or a Republican, the people will always choose the Republican.”
That is catchy, I admit. Of course, he said it in 1946. That quote is older than most baby boomers. It should be collecting Social Security by now. I hate to break it to PUBs, but the Republican party has changed a lot since then. Back then, a majority within the two parties saw each other as “the loyal opposition.” Nowadays, the current incarnation of the Republican Party sees all Democrats and any reasonable Republican as “the enemy.” They’ve declared war on the poor, and will do everything they can to help the rich get richer. The current GOP happily puts party politics ahead of country, which is something most Republicans in Truman’s day rarely did.
If you are unable to see a difference between how Republicans and Democrats run things, you’re not paying attention. There isn’t a single Republican who isn’t worse than the worst Blue Dog Democrat. Blue Dogs vote with Democrats more than 80% of the time. I challenge you to find any Republican who has voted with Democrats even 10% of the time. It’s not possible to even imagine Democrats proposing the elimination of Medicare and/or Obamacare, and yet Republicans do it every day. No Democrat has ever proposed killing a highway bill that would create a million jobs and beef up our infrastructure, but Republicans do it routinely. Democrats have never proposed severe cuts in programs for the poor in order to pay for oil company subsidies, but Republicans passed all of this. Republicans want to return us to the same policies that led to the great recession, and they want to privatize Social Security. Democrats, including Blue Dogs voted to support these programs and reforms.
And yes, I know; occasionally, a stray Democrat might mention privatizing Social Security, or something equally as stupid, and the professional left will go crazy for weeks and demand that such a Democrat lose. There’s just one problem; no single Democrat can do anything on his or her own, so it doesn’t matter. On the other hand, when you take what that single Democrat, or even a handful of Democrats say as indicative of what the entire party stands for, you discourage people from voting for anyone and help the Republicans win. And that, my friends, is not progressive.
The differences between the two parties couldn’t be more stark these days, and to characterize them as the same is not only stupid, but it is killing the progressive movement, politically speaking. First off, it hurts our credibility, because it’s demonstrably not true. When people hear us say stupid crap like that, many of them investigate and find out we lied to them. That type of thing kills our credibility.
Lesson #5: Politics is a game of strategy. Issues are not “politics.”
While it’s important to get all of the right people elected, it can often be just as important to get the wrong people un-elected. You know, like a Republican Party that wants nothing more than to take away everything we have right now. Politics is a game, and it’s not emotional. It’s the method we use to get the right kind of governance, and it’s the method we use to get a majority behind a great idea for policy. Politics is the tool we use to get to our goal, it’s not the goal itself. Being in favor of reproductive choice is not politics. Politics is how you get politicians in place who can work to protect your reproductive choice. Note the difference; it’s not really all that subtle, and it is incredibly important.
It doesn’t matter what your position is on an issue. What matters is whether or not you do everything possible to get where you need to go. That is the “politics.” This a distinction that PUBs seem unable to grasp, which is why they vote for third party candidates with no chance of winning, and crow about their progressive chops for having done so. If you vote for someone who can’t be elected and, therefore, will never be in a position to actually make policy or law, your politics is not progressive. The root word of “progressive” is “progress,” and you can’t fix the welfare system or cut off subsidies to oil companies, or increase the minimum wage, or do anything else that would represent “progress” if the candidate you voted for can’t win. in fact, even if you vote for a good progressive candidate who does win, if he or she is not part of the majority, they will also be ineffective. That’s why choosing a political party and supporting it all of the time, even when you sometimes have to hold your nose, is actually a progressive thing to do.
Having the “right position” on an issue doesn’t make you politically “progressive.” Voting for someone who says all the “right things,” but who can’t win doesn’t make you politically “progressive.” As the word implies, what makes you politically “progressive” is reflective in the “progress” you’re willing to work to get and maintain. Getting 10% of what we want every election cycle is progress. Getting 0% of what we want because we are demanding 100% is not progress. Worse, what we’re experiencing right now is essentially -10% every election cycle, because we’re demanding 100%. There is no way anyone can consider that progress .Obviously, something needs to change.
Politics in this particular democracy is about winning elections. That’s the central focus. Signing petitions and protesting and making demands only makes a difference if the government we’ve installed is amenable to it. If you had a petition with 200 million signatures demanding an assault weapons ban, it still won’t get through Congress, because the personnel in the current GOP House membership won’t allow it to happen. Again; it’s important, politically, to get the best people POSSIBLE into the government. In some cases, that means getting rid of bad people, and it means imperfection is likely. Imagine that. But it can’t be emphasized enough that replacing Blue Dogs with teabaggers was not progressive, it was regressive.
in seven weeks, we have an election to win, but we can’t win that election if we’re encouraging people to not vote because we don’t understand how politics actually works. It’s time for PUBs and the professional left to sit down and shut up, or to become cheerleaders for Democrats exclusively, at least for a while. Every time you put down a Democrat — any Democrat — at this point in time you are putting another nail in the proverbial coffin of the progressive movement. It’s been 40 years; how much longer before you get it?