A (neoliberal?) Lemming

Neoliberalism, My Ass

Continuing my rant…

In this section, let’s talk about ideology for a bit.

Imagine, if you will, that you come back from your Caribbean vacation to find that your house is flooded. You have $20,000 available to fix whatever needs fixing, but instead of fixing the gaping hole in the roof, you decide to replace all of the floors and the carpet instead. That makes no rational sense, of course, which is what makes the liberal elites (who, quite ironically, call pragmatic progressives “liberal elites”) so frustrating. Much of what you read in the professional left is complete bullshit and has no basis in reality, but it is the rest of us who are crazy and “lack vision.” One thing I learned when I  earned by political science degree is that political theory is just that, and bears little to no relationship to reality. Sorry if that’s hard to take, but it’s true.

Just this morning, I awoke to a new comment on my list of Obama accomplishments, taking me to task because I opened the list with a statement that we elected the most progressive president in history in 2008. The commenter said I was being inaccurate when I called Obama progressive, which is absurd on its own. However, he then proceeded to prove that he didn’t understand what I said, by citing President Obama’s support for the TPP as proof that he isn’t progressive.

Think about that a second. Not only did he not understand what I said, but he was commenting on a list of 358 improvements Obama has made to benefit society. In other words, in the minds of people like this, someone who says all the right things IS progressive, while those who make actual “progress” don’t qualify. You can feed tens of millions of poor people and disarm the police in black neighborhoods and you can cure cancer, but if you don’t think the TPP is evil AND you don’t believe that income inequality is the key issue for most people, you can’t be progressive in any way. That is completely irrational and it explains why progressives are often the least progressive demographic anywhere. The loudest, most obnoxious group of white liberal elitists (note the lack of quotation marks) have decided that they alone have the authority to decide who is and isn’t “progressive” based on the other person’s position on a pet issue. Ideologically speaking, such irrationality makes the left look stupid and causes voters who don’t have the time to watch 10 hours of cable “news” every day to want to stay home on Election Day. Hence, the anti-progress GOP has far too much power.

Yes, I am pragmatic, but anyone with a brain will take pragmatic any day over profoundly stupid.

The view of ideology many of these people have is rooted in pure fantasy. PUBs and professional lefties have convinced themselves that the Democratic Party has become anti-ideological in recent years. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that and it’s ridiculous. They claim that we Democrats have chosen to reject liberalism and progressive politics in favor of  pragmatism, which they will happily say or write with sarcasm dripping from their fangs. You know, because to BE a progressive requires that we always say “progressive things.” Doing is always secondary to saying all the right things to them. Why can’t they see how moronic this sounds? I can be in favor of all of the ideals of the progressive movement AND be pragmatic about achieving progress because that’s how it’s done. That’s just how democracy works, folks.

Objectively speaking, who’s really more progressive, keeping in mind the root word, “progress”; those who are pragmatic and eventually get what they’re going after, or those who scream and make demands, but never see progress of any kind. These are the morons who actually demanded that we kill the ACA because it didn’t have a public option. These are the morons who insist that advocating for “single payer’ is exactly the same thing as advocating for universal health care. They call themselves “progressive” because they WANT everyone to have “free healthcare,” but they were willing to let 50 million go without healthcare in the name of purity. At the same time they claim the people who created a system that added 20 million people to the healthcare system in less than three years are not progressive because they don’t believe in “single payer.” Why would anyone accept what they say?

These same people are living in a dream world. They actually insist that the Democratic Party has abandoned New Deal principles in favor of the mythical “Third Way,” and that Democrats have abandoned labor in favor of business. They live in a fantasy world, and they demand that we join them. No thanks, I live in the real world, as do most actual progressives. I mean, how smart are you, really? Democrats elected a progressive president, Barack Obama, and we put Democrats within 2-3 votes of having a 1960s-style Democratic supermajority in Congress, and you decided to sabotage that by targeting Blue Dogs, whom you accused of all sorts of delusional “crimes” and replacing them with Tea Party members? But we’re supposed to follow your lead? I know you like to call the rest of us sheep, but for fuck’s sakes PUBs and pro lefties, who are the real followers? You people take yourselves over the cliff every election, but we’re supposed to follow? Why would we do that?

There has been a paradigm shift within the two parties, to be sure. Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but the Southern Dixiecrats, who used to throw a monkey wrench into the progressive machinery, have all gone over to the Republican Party. All of the crazies are in the same party now; isn’t that convenient? That means we should be able to get more done. We should be able to get more progressives in government now and we can make sure the far right never runs government again. Yet, led by the PUBs and the pro left, here we are. For six years of the most progressive president in history, the rhetoric coming from these liberal elitists (PUBs/emos) has largely been anti-Democrat and has given us the largest Republican majority in more than 80 years. In other words, as smart as PUBs and the pro left think they are, we keep losing. In politics, that means you’re profoundly stupid.

It’s those fantasies that prevent us from having nice things.

Getting back to ideology, I keep reading about how Democrats have abandoned the New Deal, despite the fact that there is no evidence of that. They point to Bill Clinton’s signing of the bill that basically repealed Glass-Steagall, but they fail to mention several things. First, they forget that the bill he signed was Gramm-Leach-Bliley and it was a Republican concoction. They also fail to mention that Dodd and Frank were Democrats and they got that bill past a filibuster-happy Republican Party. All five Democrats who ran for president this year talked about strengthening the protections in Dodd-Frank and improving protection against the securities fraud that led to the Republican-caused Great Recession. Meanwhile, all 17 Republicans running for president promised to not only kill Dodd-Frank, but to repeal healthcare reform.

Let’s see… We have the Democrats, who all want to restore the New Deal and who want to move us closer to universal healthcare and you have Republicans, whose entire being is about killing the entire New Deal and returning us to the old healthcare paradigm. Yet, these idiots will happily tell us how both parties are basically the same. When they claim Democrats have abandoned the New Deal, they also claim that Democrats have abandoned labor, which is complete fantasy. The unions themselves still view the Democratic Party as their friends; unions represent their largest contributors. In fact, do you know why the Citizens United case even happened? Citizens United wanted to find a way  for Republicans could counter the tremendous amount of influence the labor movement gave to Democrats.

When was the last time a Democrat championed right to work? Every increase in the minimum wage has come courtesy of the Democrats. I mean, you can’t name a single major advance made in the last century that wasn’t championed by Democrats and you can’t name one time when Democrats as a whole championed backing away from a major societal shift.

Like I said, these liberal elitists are living in a fantasy. They create words and catchphrases that they use as if they have been afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome. Besides “Third Way,” another of my favorites is “neoliberalism.” Did you know that all of us liberals who don’t spout the same fantasies as the worst Bernie Stans are now “neoliberal”? We’re even ANTI-liberal, did you know that? They assert that, because we’re pragmatic politically, we have abandoned liberalism altogether. I shit you not; I have been told this at least a dozen times in recent weeks by the professional left. It’s all over the Bernie Stans’ rhetoric.

Just this past weekend, I read several articles telling me that I am against the working class, that I don’t care about rising income inequality and I am somehow not a populist because I don’t reject every free trade agreement reflexively. I am not a “good progressive” because I have actually READ the TPP and understand it and actually don’t see the end of the world coming if it passes. I am also not a “good progressive” because I don’t demand that NAFTA be done away with altogether. Never mind that the agreement is more than 22 years old, is entrenched and it isn’t practical to just erase it from existence. Never mind that the rationale for rejecting a 22-year-old treaty is that it cost us millions of jobs, despite the lack of evidence of that. Never mind that several sections of the TPP actually repair some of the more glaring flaws in NAFTA. I’m just supposed to be against it because a bunch of self-described progressives have decided I have to be if I want to be a member of their little “club”?

Wait a second! Isn’t that actually “neoliberalism”? I mean, we call people the far right “neocons” because they call themselves “conservative” when they’re actually just phonies. In the same vein, aren’t PUBs and the pro left technically “neoliberal”?

I will be continuing this rant, but in the meantime, I want everyone to think about something.

The PUBs and professional left insinuate that the progressives in the Democratic Party aren’t really “progressive.” However, PUBs are predominately white males with college educations. The progressives inside the Democratic Party are largely people of color, working class people, union members, immigrants, gays and women. So…

More on that in the next installment.

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  1. I read this twice and verified by initial count of four glaring grammar errors … if this were FB or the comment section of YouTube, grammar would be a NON issue. But this is a stand alone article trying to convey a specific message that Bernie and his base are taking things too far, while Clinton and her bases pragmatic ways is just the thing to keep progress humming along. I got to tell ya, it fails miserably as a result of those grammar errors alone.

    All of us are progressive in our own ways. Some are more direct about it than others. But for example it is hilarious to me how anyone calling themselves “progressive” can look upon and accept the ACA as some kind of worthy progressive fix to build upon? Especially considering the language of the bill was nearly 100% written by industry insiders. And that is no right-wing conspiracy, that is cold hard fact.

    The fight for single payer or universal care of any kind has been going since before the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series. And as far as I’ve ever read anywhere, no one on the left is demanding the ACA be repealed UNLESS it is specifically replaced with a full expansion of Medicare for ALL. For the sake of asking, but why is HRC and the Democratic party so against the idea of fighting to add a “public option” buy in to Medicare today? I still think it could have been added back in 2009, but whatever. I didn’t so what’s the point of arguing that detail? Perhaps after November the Democratic party might grow a pair?

    One last thought … why the hell don’t Democrats shoot for the stars and then settle on the moon? Why start the fight 100 miles above the Earth and then compromise to 500 feet above the ground? Dodd/Frank is a watered down version of practical uselessness. Filled with more holes than Swiss cheese, and whatever one can say about Gramm/Leach/Bliley being signed into law, why is it so hard to imagine bringing back Glass/Steagal? Why or how is that so hard to take a principled stance on for the Democrats?

    I think what I’m reading here is an attempt to defend taking things easy and slow. So that you ‘pragmatists’ don’t have to get your hands too dirty? That you are willing to take the fight up to a certain level and back off for fear you can’t handle the fire? Seems to me every time Democrats run from the fight as soon as the dust gets too thick, they back off and then lose elections, and then win elections when they start to show backbone, only to lose elections again when they give up the fight before the fight is done. I get it … your finger nails are painted up just right and you don’t want to break any of them.

    1. Since you start your little diatribe with bad grammar, I’ll just blow off the complaint about bad grammar. As for the other crap…

      This has nothing to do with Bernie or his base. This bullshit has been going on for a long time, long before Bernie Sanders came along. As for “taking things too far,” as usual, you take away the tiny part of the message that you can understand without your brain exploding and you dismiss the rest. It’s not about you asking for anything. It’s about people who throw a monkey wrench into the works by demanding 100% all at once and not accepting anything less. Nothing in a democracy works that way. It’s impossible to work this way.

      YES, the ACA is a great foundation to move toward a universal healthcare system. And BTW, I note that you use the terms “universal healthcare” and “single-payer” interchangeably. They are not the same thing. We were 37th in the world in healthcare outcomes, as ranked by WHO at one point, and all 36 of the countries ahead of us have universal healthcare. However, only TWO are “single payer.” If we’re shooting to place the US into the top 10, you should know that NONE of the top ten are single-payer systems. They all use private insurance. Go figure, huh?

      And this is the problem with people like you. Pragmatists like me know what we can do within our system and we work to actually do that, while you people fantasize about changing everything into your version of utopia in one fell swoop, which is an impossibility, especially since you people don’t even understand the most important issues of the day.

      We pragmatists get our hands very dirty, genius. We’re there on the front lines trying to use the systems we have to make the country better, while you guys shout at the system and demand that it change, when it never has. YOU are the ones who never get down and dirty in the trenches. You stand on the outside and shout at the Democratic Party, demanding that it change for you. You’re all about ego.

      Here are some facts to chew on, since you seem to be devoid of same:

      The ACA was written and debated for almost two years before it was introduced. It was not “written by industry insiders.” In fact, all of your progressive heroes were in on the writing of the bill, including Bernie. Also, the bill had a strong public option, that was taken out of the bill because PROGRESSIVES LIKE YOU insisted it wasn’t good enough. The only problem with that was, no one could decide on what a “public option” even was, which is why it was dropped. That’s right; while people like ME were on the front lines fighting for this goddamn thing, people like you KILLED the public option.

      “Shooting for the stars and settling on the moon” is not how politics work. That demonstrates a pretty hefty ignorance for someone so arrogant.

      Dodd-Frank is actually stronger law than it was before. It actually forced banks and other financial institutions to finance their own bailout and it forces them to undergo regular audits and evaluation, to make sure they’re sound. They can invest in junk bonds, but they have to have reserves sufficient to make depositors whole again. There is a lot more, but you don’t know what you’re talking about, so further explanation would be wasted. As for Glass-Steagall, I am quite sure you don’t know what it even did because Dodd-Frank pretty much restored about 90% of it, except for the part that would require putting the ketchup back in the bottle.

      Overall, you are delightfully ignorant. I am not “defending” taking things easy and slow. I am stating that such a thing is a fact of life and that demanding 100% is killing the progressive movement. Your version of “fighting” does not work. You haven’t noticed this, but your way is how it’s been done for 40 years, and we’ve been losing ground. Grow up. I’m in the trenches, as are most actual progressives. You getting online and having hissy fits about purity is not “progressive.” It’s petulance.

  2. Thank you! I can only hope that people actually READ what you’re saying and don’t start hollering that you’re no progressive, you’re a shill, etc, etc, etc. That gets so damn tiresome.

  3. One other comment – I am tired of hearing about how FDR was the ultimate progressive and everyone after him was not. FDR was indeed a progressive….but man was he pragmatic. The guy compromised all the time..with liberals, with conservatives, with everyone he could to get his stuff through. And guess what…he was a “war hawk” back then! The whole country was isolationist and he wanted to get into WW2 (in this case, correctly). Not saying I approve of being “war hawk”, but I venture to say HRC is way more like FDR than Bernie the ideologue and isolationist is…at least in terms of policy.

  4. The best complaint I here from the liberal elites is that “incrementalism” isn’t good enough. We need “real change”. Anybody who knows anything about the US Senate, the most deliberative democratically elected body in history (probably), has to know that incrementalism is the ONLY way to get anything done.

  5. I find many of his supporters have no idea of even recent history– they can cite things like TPP & their other ‘issues’– but fail to get the magnitude of the AIDs epidemic and its need for funding played a big part on why DOMA was okay. They fail to worry about the guys taxes, his ridiculous gun record and question why a pacifist votes for machines of war (his pet jet project) to me either you are a pacifist or you are not–the fact his years of work and yet no real support within the beltway– it did not make him an outsider it made him look like a horrible person to work with..
    He claims to have brought millions of millennials to the party– well the children that throw tantrums have clearly been mislead what it means to be involved. I really find his new plan of wanting a chair on a committee as a senior democrat revolting. Not only did he just decide he is the best fit– what makes him a senior democrat? Not even having the courtesy to discuss it with the true chair to be Sen. Patty Murray– he seems to disregard women as people.

  6. Thank you Thank you Thank you, Milt. I have been seething with rage over all of these baseless charges about we “pragmatic liberals” …all carefully hidden of course from my nearest and dearest. Why do are these people grabbing on to this crap? Why do 50-year old white males believe that the New Deal has somehow been tarnished or it’s ideals laid aside? Well, I don’t know why…but at least I have an articulate friend, who helps me let off steam about these nuts…many of whom are my relatives and close friends.

  7. Milt, I call them “Porno Proggies.” They just want someone to “talk ideology to me, baby!” and say all the right stuff that gets them excited. It feels good — but it’s fleeting. And I agree with you that political theory isn’t how political campaigns get won. I know a lot of people who vote every election, but if I started telling them about “the Overton window,” they’d think I was nuts.

  8. You got it Milt. You aren’t welcome in their little club unless you think exactly like they do on every issue. You will be issued your daily talking points via e-mail and blog posts.

  9. They drive me nuts. I remember from the early debates why I ruled Sanders out was because of trade. He basically said he was for trade but not in any way that any other country would actually trade with us. His requirement basically guaranteed that we would not only never trade with another country but likely would start a trade war with the EU & China. Crazy talk.

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