How to Build a Progressive Government

So many people are demanding that “Attorney General” Bill Barr resign, it’s actually cracking me up a little. It makes me wonder how many of them have been conscious over the past 25 years or so of Republican politics. Don’t get me wrong; Barr really should resign because it would be the right thing to do. However, since the “Republican Revolution” happened in 1994, it would be helpful if these folks could point to a time when the Republican Party did the right thing for the American people just because it was the right thing to do. Good luck with that.

Consider; we just held an impeachment “trial” where the “president of the United States” was caught dead to rights having broken FEC campaign finance law by asking the President of Ukraine to “do [him] a favor by asking him to help with the next election by announcing an investigation of Joe Biden. The investigation was then leveraged by withholding military aid for a few months, to a strategically vital country in the midst of a war with Russia, after the latter country essentially stole a significant portion of its territory.

And yet, the Republican Party was given the duty of holding the impeachment trial, since they have a majority in the Senate, and what did they do? They did was they felt was politically expedient and proceeded to screw the American people to the extent possible. They refused to hold a real trial. Instead, they refused to allow witnesses or evidence, and most of the leadership let their intention be known, to favor Trump and to vote for his acquittal, no matter what evidence was presented. They did this even before they took an oath to be impartial. They took this position even though 24 Republican Senators are up for reelection this year and polls showed that a majority of the American people were in favor of impeaching and removing Trump from the White House.

This is part of the problem. Republicans simply do not care about anything. They obviously don’t care about the American people, but their disregard goes well beyond simply being bad at government, which has been the case for more than a century. The looming threat of massive electoral losses this November 3 would traditionally strike fear in the hearts of the Senate majority, which makes sense, even if their only concern is retaining power. However, the current GOP seems immune to that sort of thing and that is a sign of just how horrible they have become. They quite literally don’t care what most voters think about anything, which is not a surprise, except that they don’t even care about their own voters, which they will need at some point.

The entire Republican Party leadership, such as it is, seems beholden only to the extreme right-wingers who make up their crazy-ass “base.” It doesn’t seem to matter that this “base” is shrinking with every election cycle. As of 2020, only 23% of the electorate identifies as Republican. Worse, the “base” of people they rely on to win is less than 80% of that now. That means, in an election where the majority of voters actually exercise the process and show up to cast a ballot, their “base” covers less than 18.5% of the electorate. The fact is, they haven’t a chance in hell of winning under those circumstances.

There is no way they should ever beat us. In numbers alone, all we have to do is just show up and vote every time there is an election. We don’t have to find the “perfect” Democrat or any other fantasy; we just have to show up and vote. In the meantime, we have to make sure we are all registered and that everyone we know is registered. Then, when we win, we have to encourage the Democrats we elected to shore up and strengthen the democracy and make sure everyone has the right and the power to vote.

In there words, if you want to create a progressive nation and give the poor and middle class the power to care for themselves and their loved ones, just like our parents did when we Boomers were little, the solution is to stop trashing Democrats and rid our government of Republicans. And it’s not even difficult.

It will take a “pragmatic progressive” approach, of course. As liberals, we have to stop tilting at windmills and start dealing with the real world.

Consider healthcare as an example. It is unrealistic, and probably quite stupid, to expect the 300 million people who have health insurance to give up what they have, in favor of a “single-payer” insurance that most people will see as “government insurance.” It makes no sense to ban private insurance altogether, and it makes even less sense to try to do it in one single step. Yes, it sucks that many people have lost their coverage under trump and the GOP, but keep in mind; around 90% of us are pretty much fully covered. And even though there are too many gaps in coverage, it’s not because of the affordable care act; it’s because Trump and the GOP have been screwing with it.

The GOP tried to kill it outright but were stopped by the now-deceased John McCain. Instead, they have done all they can to water it down, mostly by allowing people to opt for shitty plans that cost less but cover almost nothing. The ACA has worked like a charm for the most part, if you take out the part where the Republican Party has undermined it, so to place the entire problem on “private insurance” is inaccurate and not helpful. I mean, if it’s not the problem, then calling it “the problem” just makes us look bad.

How do I know that’s not the problem? That’s easy since MOST of the countries who treat healthcare as a right and cover absolutely everyone rely on a hybrid system, in which private insurance plays a critical role. Germany and France, for example, look very much like the Affordable Care Act, with a heavier emphasis on the regulation of costs and profits. And both systems are very efficient and effective and recognized as being among the best.

In other words, the mere existence of “private insurance” is not the problem, not has it been. The problem comes with the misconception that “private” means “for profit,” and “for-profit” means “billionaire.” And we all know how horrible anyone is when they earn a billion dollars. You know, those assholes, Ben and Jerry, have become pure evil since they became “billionaires,” haven’t they?

This is why we’re pragmatic, people. It’s not because we want the evil people to take over; it’s because we need to be rational if progressive politics is to become a thing again. We have to focus all of out attention on the GOP and we have to oust them for a while to make things better. And that means making sure what Republicans stand for is completely unacceptable. Because it is.

Also published on Medium.

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