People, let’s talk. We have a serious problem.
First of all, a lot of you who claim to be “political junkies” don’t seem to understand what politics is. As I have written before, politics is not the same as issues or ideology or any of that. The confusion regarding the difference between issues and politics has become very fevered in recent years and it needs to be cleared up.
You can be “passionate” about issues, although, if I’m being honest, an awful lot of people mistake petulance for passion. You cannot be passionate about politics. Passion and politics have to be separate because politics is nothing more than a strategy to get what you want. For example, you can be passionate about wanting everyone to have affordable access to health care whenever they need it. In fact, most of us are passionate about that, which is why it pisses us off when some scream “single payer!” like they have Tourette’s Syndrome AND pissing on people who don’t necessarily think that’s the best way to do that.
See, here’s the thing. If you have a favorite candidate, the goal of politics is to get them the most votes, so that they win. In the system we have under our Constitution, that means getting as many people behind your candidate as possible. It’s puzzling, then, that so many people think that the best possible tactic for getting your candidate elected is to beat up on other politicians, whose voters may be persuaded to vote for you. These same people constantly complain about always having to choose between “the lesser of two evils,” but they always frame their favorite candidate as a saint and the other as “evil,” even if they’re basically on the same side. What do you think happens to your candidate’s profile when you deride the other candidate as “evil” and they look it up later and find out both candidates have largely the same positions on most issues? What happens when, at the debate, your candidate basically agrees with the opposing candidate on something? Can you see the problem?
The purpose of an election, at least on our side, is to attract the most voters. If you are, say, running for the Democratic nomination and you want to win, you are trying to attract the votes of the Democratic base, which are largely blacks, Latinos and women. When a black civil rights icon endorses your opponent, what possible sense does it make to beat him up for it on social media? If a Latina civil rights and feminist icon offers to translate instructions into Spanish for the Latinos in attendance at a caucus, what sense does it make to treat her like an enemy and basically insult her, just because she supports the other candidate? Why would anyone think that attracts anyone to your side? And yet, that is the purpose of politics.
There are two candidates running for the Democratic nomination right now and it sure as hell doesn’t mean the political equivalent of war. If you think it does, you are part of the reason progressives are on the outside playing with themselves, while the right wing is in office trying to take apart what we once did. If you want a proper analogy, the primary is the people of our party choosing a leader to take our platform into battle against the Republican Party, which has morphed into the actual enemy in recent years. In other words, we’re not at war now, the war comes later. We are all on the same team. When the two of them are on stage at debates, they don’t treat each other like the enemy; why would their supporters do such a thing?
Both candidates are trying to score the most votes from the same pool of voters and both have like positions on most issues. Oh, I know, supporters of each one think theirs is remarkably different, but from an objective standpoint, the country would be safe with either one in the White House; far safer than if anyone on the Republican side got in there, and I don’t just mean Trump. There is nothing to be gained by treating fellow Democrats and even left-leaning independents as the “enemy.”
How often does disaster have to happen before a certain strain of “progressives” figures out that progressives and Democrats are basically on the same side? They’ve essentially been screwing Democrats since the 1970s and the damage has been massive.
Politics is about getting the most groups of people on your side. How many people do you imagine you are attracting to your side when you attack them for not thinking the same way you do? And when everyone you’re trying to attract to your candidate or cause is essentially somewhat like-minded, when you’re calling them names, what do you think that says about you?
Ask yourself this question; if someone were to trying to convince you to do something by telling you how stupid you would be if you didn’t, how positive would you be in your response? The right wing works like that; how many of you think supply-side economics and low taxes on the rich are actually good things? They’re not? Why not? They’ve been telling us how great they are and calling us stupid for telling them they’re full of shit; you mean, it’s not working?
Childishness and petulance are not traits that are amenable to good politics. Politics is about getting things done, not getting your way. Stridency is not “passion” and petulance isn’t more attractive just because you think your brand of liberalism is right.
Put this another way. The way to beat the right wing is not to be like them, but to be the opposite of them. Their main strategy is to drive down turnout so the votes from their crazy base count more, so being like them actually serves to defeat us and keep them in power. You want Black votes? Stop treating Black people like they owe you something. You want Hispanic votes? Stop treating them like you’re saving them. Want more women to vote for you? Stop touting 60’s-style feminism as the only possible way to see feminism. And please stop pretending that the “hippie way” of “activism” is the only way that works. Look at our record; we’ve been losing ground since about 1968; whatever you’ve done isn’t working. Millennials are no dumber than we were at that age, so stop acting so superior. In other words, stop patting our natural followers on the head and treating them as lesser and you might be surprised how many of them come around to our way of thinking.
Politics is about expanding your group of friends, not pissing them all off. People like this allowed two terms of George W. Bush, when Al Gore and John Kerry were perfectly good alternatives. Isn’t that enough damage for one lifetime? Grow up. Fix yourselves.