Hearts and Minds

I spend far too much of my time talking to “progressives” who speak as if they’re political experts, even though they seem to have no clue as to how politics works. They blame Democratic committees for Democrats’ losses in recent years, as if the DNC and the DCCC do more than just raise and distribute money. Even now, many of them talk about Debbie Wasserman Schultz as if she’s some sort of magician, who waved a magic wand and made Hillary Clinton the nominee. These people blame “the Democrats,” “Obama,” “the media” and everyone else for the fact that we can’t get a progressive foothold in the politics, despite the fact that we have been losing for about 40 years. Given that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was in junior high (it’s what our generation called “middle school,” millennials) when we started losing, and most of the membership of the DNC was in grade school 40 years ago, it seems unfathomable that she or they could be responsible for such a long losing streak, right?

It is likely that Hillary Clinton will become president after the November election. However, it should be certain. In 2000, Al Gore was the only logical choice for president, once the nomination was made and in 2004, John Kerry was the only choice that made sense. White liberals were bailed out in 2008 and 2012 by People of Color and it will probably happen again, thank goodness. However, we should be wiping up the floor with the entire Republican Party in every race and at every level. The GOP has been all but dead since 1932, and it is white “progressives” who keep it alive with their nonsense rhetoric. There are TWO major political parties in this country. On the one hand, you have the Democrats who, while imperfect, largely try to do things to make our lives better. On the other hand, the Republican Party has always been crap and became even crappier when they started actively recruiting racists and “deplorables” into their little pageant. They are a walking corpse, nationally, and only those on the far right and the far left take them seriously at all.

White “progressives” need to stop blaming everyone else for their political ineptitude. They need to wake the hell up and realize that they absolutely suck at politics and they need to realize that, as with white people in general, we’re not dominant in the progressive movement any longer and white liberals no longer dominate the progressive movement. And that’s a good thing.

Put simply, it’s time all liberals and progressives woke the hell up and realized that we have been losing elections because of things we do, not because of some outside force that’s making us lose. Claiming that it’s everyone else’s fault that progressives keep losing is much like trying to drive to New York from Los Angeles and ending up in Miami. I suppose you can blame the GPS, if you’d like, but really, at what point does ignoring the signposts factor in? At some point, white “progressives” have to look up and realize you’re doing something wrong. Unicorn progressives? That means you.

The Republican Party’s deplorable base is dying off, which means, sooner or later, moderates will eventually take that party back. It’s sad to think that Democrats have the same problem; we have to wait until the moronic “Hippie” generation dies off before the party gets back to the point where we dominate the politics again, much like we did before they gained the right to vote. Seriously, look at the Bernie Stan die hards who are promising to vote for Jill Stein because they hate Hillary and what she stands for. Yes, there are a few Millennials in there, but they’re being led by old ex-Hippies who think they know more about politics than anyone. I mean, where the hell do you think the constant use of phrases like “status quo” and “establishment” come from? It’s straight out of the “Hippie” playbook. The simplistic jingoism is a dead giveaway. How long before they start using the word “groovy” again?

Their lack of introspection is enormously frustrating for the vast majority of progressives, who work within the Democratic Party to try to make things better for the American people. These white “progressives” are the main reason the progressive movement has been spinning its wheels. It’s also why the Republicans, who are a minority party, gets to make new policies, block good policy or dismantle existing policies that were good for society as a whole. For example, the white “progressive” Hippie types have latched onto “Glass-Steagall” as one of their chew toys and will never let it go, despite the fact that its repeal had NOTHING to do with the mortgage meltdown and the near-depression that President Obama reversed in record time. They also blame Bill Clinton for the meltdown because he signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed Glass-Steagall, among other things. Many other things. You know, like creating another mortgage after-market that would compete with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, without the pesky regulations. In fact, Gramm forbade the government from regulating the market. Might that be the reason why the mortgage market might have brought down the economy, ya think? Blaming Bill Clinton for that bill is extra stupid, since the bill was created by prominent Republicans, who were a majority in the House and the Senate, and the majority was veto-proof, anyway. The Senate bill got 90 votes! Yet, white progressives always blame Clinton for it. If Democrats had a majority in the House and Senate, that bill wouldn’t even have existed, let alone pass with a veto-proof majority. But hey, it makes you look “politically savvy” to blame it all on Clinton, right? Since 1981, Democrats have controlled the federal government twice, in 1993-1994 and in 2009-2010, which means blaming them for anything in that time is clueless.

The saddest part of all of this is that the solution to our dilemma is incredibly simple, and it’s in front of every progressive’s face every single day.

We just have to win elections. All elections, not just for president.

We live in a democratic republic. That means those who get elected get to make policy and spend our tax money for the next 2-6 years on our behalf. The people we elect will have a say in appointing those judges and other officials who interpret the laws and put them into effect. The choice is simple; get the most votes and do all of that ourselves or lose and let our opposition do all of that. It’s obvious that Democrats are a better choice than the current GOP to run the government, but many of the loudest and most visible progressives seem to go out of their way to make us unpopular. It’s as if they want to be just like right wingers. Here’s a hint; gloom and doom appeals to the GOP’s ever-shrinking base, but to almost no one else. When unicorn progressives do what they do, it actually works against the progressive movement. If you don’t understand that, again; it’s been 40 years since progressives have run anything.

The next several elections are crucial. That means white “progressives” must stop equivocating between the two parties and pick the side that is most likely to help us get where we need to go. If you call yourself “progressive” and you don’t understand that the only people to vote for in 2016, (and 2018, 2020, 2022 and 2024, at least) are DEMOCRATS, then you don’t really understand politics very well. It’s time to put aside the whining and complaining about Democratic imperfection and realize that we have to build a new “house.” That requires a specific strategy; you start with a foundation, then add a frame, then add the roof at the end. You can’t pretend gravity isn’t a factor and start with the roof and work your way down.

Anyone who self-describes as “progressive” and can look at ANY Democrat and see them as even similar to ANY Republican right now simply hasn’t been paying attention. It is that type of ignorance is undermining the progressive movement.

The key to building a progressive nation requires electoral success. You can conduct all the marches and sign all the petitions you want, but if the politicians elected don’t care about you, nothing good will be done. And let’s get real; while you can claim that there are a few Democrats who don’t care about us enough, the fact of the matter is, the entire ideology of the current Republican Party demonstrates that they don’t care about you at all. While white “progressives” whine about Blue Dogs, every Blue Dog who lost in 2010 and 2014 was replaced by a teabagger. If you can’t see that such a thing was a net negative for the progressive movement, you’re hopeless.

We will never get a purely progressive legislative body, at either the federal or state level, until we change hearts and minds. If you want to win in a democracy (and why wouldn’t you?), you have to get a majority of people behind you. That means championing ideas in a way that makes us popular. In Canada and Europe, their brand of “right wing” is a lot more tolerable than ours. We should be working toward that. For example, Canadian PM Harper leaned right, but at no time did he talk about tearing apart their Canadian healthcare system and you never heard him overtly attack labor unions. Of course, they don’t have the “basket of deplorables” that the current GOP has. Ironically, they’re uneducated dipshits who blame everyone else for their own ineptitude. Actually, except for the “uneducated” part, they’re only different in degree from our very own unicorn progressives. And the only reason the GOP wins elections and gets to run the show is because their central political strategy is to depress turnout. That only works well because they get an able assist from progressives.

What we say matters. It also matters how we say things. We don’t operate in a “Cone of Silence;” what we say and how we say it becomes part of the overall meme. We can’t play dumb and pretend no one reads our little blogs, Facebook posts, Tweets, Reddit posts and the like. We all have a voice, and we all influence someone; we owe it to ourselves to more careful about the messages we send. Swing voters want a job. They want to make a decent living and they want to be able to take care of their family and friends. They want good, affordable healthcare, and they want their kids to have a good education. But they are not interested in micromanaging the government and scrutinizing every little thing it does. They want to elect people who are competent to represent them and do whatever is necessary to address issues as they come up.

That’s all positive. That’s what they want to vote for. Lacking that choice, they stay home.

We have to stop making them want to stay home.

About Milt Shook

A writer with more than 45 years in the political game (and let's face it, it is a game). I am a liberal because facts have a liberal bias, and I really like facts. If you like facts, you'll like this blog. If not, you'll have a hard time.


Hearts and Minds — 2 Comments

  1. Milt, I’d be willing to bet that a large majority of the unicorn “progressives” are not only what I call post-reconstruction hippies, they’re also from comfortable middle-class backgrounds (whether they are in the middle class now or not). Not really in touch with the kind of reality — political, economic, social — that’s required to be a solid foundation for true progressivism.

  2. Thank You! I got sent to PCTC by my childhood friend, Neal Umphred. You speak a truth that I have been trying to live. That’s hard to live openly when one has moved to Tennessee. Fortunately, we live near a university, so there’s some thinking, and open minded folks with whom to converse.
    I share your thoughts when I can. I’ve found that encouraging folks to research the facts, and then to vote is almost as hard as getting a horse to drink after one has led it to water!

    My mantra is: Think, Research, Vote

    Thanks again!