If You Think Both Parties Are the Same, You’re Nuts

Those of you who have read this blog for a while know that it’s not a typical progressive blog at all. For example, instead of constantly complaining that Democrats aren’t perfect enough, I take the current Republican Party. I will continue to do exactly that until such time as we progressives manage to vanquish them politically.

Unfortunately, there is a group of self-described progressives that make that task extremely difficult. I have taken to calling them the Progressive Unicorn Brigade, or PUBs, because their quest for perfection can easily be likened to a child who has been given a pony but cries because it’s not a unicorn. We elected the most progressive president we’ve had in a generation – the first one not sanctioned by the Democratic Leadership Council, and which effectively should have killed the DLC, if we had played it better – and the PUB started whining pretty much as soon as he was inaugurated, because the stimulus wasn’t big enough. This small but very loud segment of the progressive movement has a tendency to be just as bad as the right wingers when it comes to flinging their rhetorical feces. They can be loud and obnoxious, and they like to portray themselves as the only “real progressives,” despite the fact that they constitute a small minority within the progressive movement, and often, their rhetoric actually hurts the cause and further entrenches the current Republican Party.

These “progressives” tend to be white,usually have college degrees, and often have above-average bank accounts, yet they seem to think they know more about what it’s like to be poor, working class and being a minority than those who actually belong to one or more of those groups.

I could live with that, except for the fact that, like I said, they’re loud, and they’re always inserting themselves into the public discourse, even when they don’t know what they’re talking about. For all of their alleged education, they think they can short-circuit the process, and get things done without a popular electoral mandate. For some reason, they believe the goodness of their cause is enough to bring about social change, and they can’t be bothered with electoral politics. They want the result, but they won’t do the work needed to get the result. This is why it’s been damn near a half century since progressives have had a loud voice.

What irks me most, however, is their tendency to propagate this notion that bot parties are the same. At a time when it’s essential that we beat back the ominous threat that is a radicalized right wing Republican Party, these PUBs constantly try to propagate the asinine notion that both parties are essentially the same.

Republicans don’t win elections, we lose them. They don’t keep running the government because of their “message,” which is unintelligible to anyone with an IQ registering in double digits. They don’t win because of money, because they really don’t have as much s you think. The reason they keep getting elected is because there’s no alternate message to their drivel. The electorate wants a positive reason to turn out to vote, yet these PUBs usually add to the cacophony of negativity, help the GOP drive down turnout. One way they do this is to create the notion that the two parties are no different, and there is no advantage of voting for Democrats over Republicans. Since most Americans think right wingers are idiots, if they’re told Democrats are idiots, too, which is what you’re saying when you say both parties are the same, where’s the incentive to go out on a cold November day and cast a vote? Where’s the incentive to head home between jobs and lose an hour or two of meager pay to vote for an idiot?

I mean, it would be different if it was true. But come on; what sane human being can compare a Boehner-ed House with a Pelosi-led House and see any similarities? And if you see any similarities between the Obama and Bush Administrations, put down the narcotics.

I keep getting this spiel on Twitter, and they always cite the same things, like TPP/free trade, military spending, NSA surveillance and “income inequality/corporatism.” I kid you not. Forget that none of these are even major issues now. But let’s look at how the two parties see those issues one at a time, and see if there is any truth in that statement.

TPP/Free Trade: The TPP refers to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is a trade agreement that hasn’t been hashed out yet, let alone been ratified. An alleged version of a few pages of the draft agreement leaked a few months ago, and now PUBs think they know everything that’s in it, and that it will be an absolute disaster. To a person, they actually claim (I am not making this up) that it would create massive job losses to Asia. Seriously. It makes you wonder if they’ve ever been inside a store. We’ve already lost millions of jobs to Asia. And when I mention that it might actually open up a lot of now-closed markets to our goods, and that I intend to wait until there’s an agreement before I judge it, I’m called a “centrist” or worse.

Bu when it comes to free trade, the two parties don’t even use the same definition. To today’s GOP, “free trade” means everyone should be able to sell anything they want without the “burden” of government regulation.

If it was up to Republicans, we would have a series of worldwide trade agreements, free of any labor or environmental regulations whatsoever. It’s Democrats who insert those codicils into the agreements. NAFTA, for example, has a lot of regulation regarding the environment and labor, which was largely enforced under Clinton, ignored under Dubya and enforced again under Obama.

Put simply, free trade agreements under Republicans would have no restrictions, whereas there are plenty of restrictions in those negotiated and ratified by Democrats. And by the way trade agreements are not inherently bad. Most of them work extremely well.

NSA Surveillance – Republicans and Bush started the surveillance program in 2001, under the auspics of the AUMF, and did so without oversight and in complete secret. It was revealed in 2005, and as soon as Democrats took over Congress in 2007, they made Bush’s Republican-endorsed program illegal, and set up a new program that limited data collection to metadata, and created oversight on the part of the FISA court and Congress. That’s a pretty big difference.

Military spending – If you think both parties are the same on this, you have to be nuts. When the cold war ended, Democrats pushed to cut defense spending, whereas Republicans wanted increases. To his credit, Bush 41 went along with the idea, and Clinton expanded the idea. But the first thing Bush and Republicans did starting in 2001 was to increase funding to the Pentagon.

Republicans use defense spending as a jobs program of sorts, to make the economy look better when they’re in office. Democrats, however, generally try to refocus defense money to other areas of the economy. Since 1973, the only presidents to cut defense spending were Carter, Bush 41, Clinton and Obama. Reagan and Bush 43, on the other hand, threw money at the Pentagon as if it was nothing at all. Bush also put two wars on the national credit card, while Obama actually at least put the spending on the books and ended bith.

Income inequality/corporatism – To be honest, I think this is a losing issue, and we need to change it a bit. No one really cares if CEOs make 331 times as much as the average worker. They don’t even care that the rich are so rich. The issue is whether they make a living wage. And since almost everyone who works for a business that’s a corporation, and most entrepreneurs incorporate, the “corporatism” claim is more than a bit silly.

For anyone to claim that both parties are the same either of these issues requires a kind of delusion that is hard to comprehend. The tax system is completely screwed up because the Republicans kept giving tax breaks to rich folks, and they differentiate between “earned” and “unearned” income, and give tax breaks for the “unearned ” kind. The old Democratic tax code had a top tax rate of 70-91%, and to lower that, you had to create wealth for those at the bottom of the scale. When some rich folks were caught paying no taxes, Democrats fixed it. The Republican tax code is unfair; in 2011, Mitt Romney paid a lower percentage of his income in taxes than the average McDonald’s fry guy. Republicans hate the minimum wage, they hate welfare, they hate food stamps, while Democrats will usually go to the mat for all of them, when they’re in charge.

As for corporatism, I did the math. Corporations hate the Democratic Party, while they love the GOP. You can see it in their campaign contributions, if you’d bother to look. I did. Read it here: Source

There is almost NO issue in which the current Republican Party and the Democratic Party agree. In fact, there has never been a time when they’ve been more polar opposite. We have to win this year, but we can’t win unless we always tell the truth and offer positive solutions. It’s a lie to claim both parties are the same, and it also helps the right wing win.

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One comment

  1. Thank you. I’m starting to read S. 1900, the senate bill on TPP, and though I’ve looked at very little of it, what I have read undermines the idea it’s ‘free trade’. The final declaration on national sovereignty is solidly in favor of protecting local initiatives by asserting each nation’s authority over its own policies – contrary to what the screeching insists. Since, per income equality, I am very engaged in creating union cooperatives with local worker and community control, that matters. I find it odd that ‘progressives’ are not only NOT interested in worker ownership if it’s about blue collar jobs, they resist engaging with unions calling them (to my face) “union thugs”. Wow. That’s creepy. So we want to change income inequality how? Raising the minimum wage is excellent – but that’s all it will do. Raise the MINIMUM. It would not remotely change the capacity of corporations to dump workers and move, to cheat all workers out of sharing in the wealth they create, and would shove the dirty jobs overseas – with the progressives’ blessing. Instead union coops would have the potential to reclaim solid domestic manufacturing AND ‘green’ it since workers are the first and best to know what’s wrong and how to fix it – they LIVE with it. As for controlling rapacious capital, the new meme is “Bring back Glass-Steagall” which they knew nothing about when it was overturned in 1999. They also have no clue what it did – put up a firewall between our deposits and the money banks use for their own investments – and think it regulated derivatives, etc. that did not even EXIST when G-S was written. They also think the Volcker Rule, put into force in December 2013, is nothing not again understanding it replaces the G-S regulation. Do we need more? Of course – but they think we have to ‘bring back’ a law written by two men long dead and have no clue how government works and therefore what is operating now to improve things.

    I have well and truly had it with PUBs. They show me that ignorance and fantasy thinking are not confined to the right. Saying so doesn’t make it so, and all their declarations against that nervy Black man in the White House are no less racist than the Right. But unless and until PUBs learn how democracy works, it will be left entirely to those of us on the progressive POLICY side of democracy to work around both the GOP/TP and our supposed allies, the brainless, witless Left.

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