How Progressives Can Make Actual Progress

Why do so many self-described “progressives” not seem to notice that we’ve been standing outside the political fence for about a half-century? The PUBs (Progressive Unicorn Brigade) and professional left seem to like standing outside and shouting at those inside. What’s stranger is, they seem to think the people inside are listening to them. If they would just stop screaming for a moment, sit back and evaluate for a while, they would realize that the country has been regressing since 1981, which means we as progressives are doing something seriously wrong.

We have a tendency to blame our bad fortune on the far right because it’s easy. They’re not very bright, it’s true, but how bright are we, that we can’t seem to beat them in the key element of our politics, which is elections. We’re ineffective as a movement not because the right sells itself extremely well, but because we don’t sell ourselves at all. The most visible portion of the progressive movement – the professional left – spends all of their time selling to other liberals, at the same time they put down anyone else who isn’t “progressive enough.” Then there’s this notion that we’re not supposed to sell ourselves at all; that it’s somehow unseemly or some such nonsense.

That’s no exaggeration. Look at how many professional left news and blog outlets seem to spend all of their time looking for “stories” that have no actual informational value, but which are solely designed to piss off like-minded liberals. They do this because they think such crap sells to other liberals, and that’s their only concern. Look at the liberal blogs leading up to the 2014 election. Most of them didn’t even mention the election, and those that did were usually complaining about some Democrat. There were a lot more “stories” about how horrible Tammy Grimes was for “dissing” President Obama in the pro left “press,” and almost nothing about how horrible Mitch McConnell is/was/always will be. He always had an advantage over her; the professional left certified his victory. How progressive of us, huh?

The problem is, if we’re to create a progressive country, we have to win elections and place less regressive officials in policy-making positions. That means making sure Democrats win elections. All elections, and all Democrats, not just those who pass the pro left “screening process.”

Since this is a democracy, and the professional left and their most fervent followers make up perhaps five percent of the electorate at the moment, that means liberals hahave to stop talking to each other and start talking to all of those people PUBs and professional lefties refer to as “them.” You know, the voters who could actually make the difference in most elections, if we bothered to speak to them. The people who probably agree with us on most issues, if we bothered to discuss things with them and stop screaming at them about how “stupid” they are, because for not seeing issues the same way “good progressives” do.  

This is the root of the problem. PUBs and professional lefties have an annoying tendency to think they’re smarter than everyone else, and that everyone who doesn’t think their way is “stupid.” They are so enamored with their own views, that they have adopted them as “common sense” to the point they’ve developed a tendency to dismiss everything that doesn’t match that. This is one reason the general public doesn’t like liberals much, even if they agree with us.

Who can blame them? We don’t like people who are strident like that, either, like Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity. Why would we expect the average person to like us more, just because we think we’re right about everything? Why would we expect people to like left wingnuts more than right wingnuts?

To those of you PUBs and professional lefties who routinely put down the Democratic Party because it’s not “progressive enough,” ask yourself this; why are about 90 percent of progressives Democrats? If you claim to care about minorities, why are so many of you working for third party candidates with a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, instead of working alongside minorities to elect the best possible candidates, which in this day and age, are going to be Democrats?

Whether intentional or not, the professional left too often makes the progressive movement look like we’re all typical white intellectuals who believe they know more about what it’s like to be black or poor than black or poor people do. And since we live in a democracy, wherein the candidate who gets more than half the votes gains power and creates change, how far do progressives think they’ll get when they condescend to the people they purport to be working to help?

We’re supposed to be about progress; about moving the country forward. Yet, it keeps moving backward. We are bombarded with Republicans demanding outrageous things, and yet the loudest segment of the progressive movement spends far more time screaming about Democrats, and trying to perfect them. Those professional lefties who take pride in the purge of Blue Dogs that’s occurred are absolutely clueless about how politics works, and you need to learn. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders can’t do a damn thing without a majority in both the House and Senate and the Presidency. Got it? You hold them out as paragons of progressive virtue, but removing all of those Blue Dogs didn’t improve anything.

The solution is simple.

First of all, stop with the negativity. The average swing voter wants to vote for someone who’ll solve any problems that come up. They’re not invested in “the issues” as much as many liberals are, mostly because they’re human, and they’re a product of their experience. Most swing voters already know right wing politicians suck, so when our side shouts, “Democrats suck!” they often decide to stay home, which is effectively a vote for a Republican. Always remember, the most important strategy for the Republican Party is NOT to attract the most voters, it’s to depress turnout so that the voters they have demonstrate more power.

Also, the whole “my way or the highway” meme pushed by many on the far left is killing us. It’s democracy, folks; you’re never going to get 100% of what you want, unless you can do the greatest sales job in history. Real progressives work their asses off for whatever they can get, take whatever they end up with, and continue working toward the goal.  Blacks and women didn’t get their full civil rights in one bill. Social Security and Medicare didn’t become what they are in one bill, either. The reason so many Americans don’t like Obamacare is because too many on our side has helped the right wing trash it.  It’s a repeat of wht happened in 1994, when we helped “Harry & Louise” trash the Clinton health care plan. Too many liberals complained because it wasn’t “good enough,” and refused to support it. Yet, if it had passed in 1994, we’d have been tweaking it for the last 18 years, and we might have saved most of those 45,000 lives a year who died for lack of insurance, and millions of people would have avoided bankruptcy.

An “all or nothing” attitude is not progressive. In fact, it’s a hallmark of the current GOP and it does no one any good. Being a progressive is not about whether or not you think Bradley Manning, Julian Assange or Edward Snowden are heroes, or whether drone strikes are bad, or any of that drivel. Being a progressive is about moving society forward as much as possible. Though PUBs and pro lefties haven’t noticed, while the progressive movement has been working toward perfection, almost every other industrialized country has passed us on the progressive curve. Even China has done more about climate change and to wean themselves from oil than we have. Why doesn’t that worry more progressives?

It’s time progressives were actually for progress, don’t you think?

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