Over the last few weeks, some PUBs and professional lefties have been bringing up the fact that Hillary Clinton was a “Goldwater Girl” back in 1964, thereby implying that she’s not a “true Democrat.” Likewise, a great many people have been complaining for months because Bernie Sanders isn’t a “real Democrat” because he had run as an independent for so many years, despite the fact that he’s always caucused with Democrats and was a key vote on hundreds of Democratic-sponsored bills.
You want to know why progressives are always on the outside, screaming at the system? It’s because the loudest portion of the movement is always demanding a level of purity from all candidates that is absolutely impossible to aspire to. For all of their caterwauling about who’s “pure enough” to be a “real progressive,” the fact of the matter is, none of them could ever pass the kind of test they demand everyone else pass. They complain that a candidate is “dishonest” because they’re promising something they don’t agree with, at the same time their candidate is promising something they can’t deliver. They talk about “principle” constantly, but really, what “principle” is fulfilled when your rhetoric makes it more likely that Republicans will win elections? If you think I’m speaking from my anus, I have all but about three election cycles in 40 years to prove me right.
The fact of the matter is, no politician is “pure” by everyone’s standards. I mean, I would hope you would agree that the standards of the average Trump voter are different than the standards of the average Bernie or Hillary voter. Clinton and Sanders aren’t all that different stylistically or politically; it takes serious digging and nitpicking to come up with huge differences between the two and complaining about one or the other does no one any good. IN fact, it gives the GOP their only chance to win. Everyone can complain about everyone, if they want to dig deeply enough; that’s why we rational people assess the overall record and not obsess over every single Congressional vote.
Think Bernie’s perfect? Well, I would agree he’s really good, but, like all politicians with a constituency that doesn’t agree with them 100% on everything, he has done things that make a purity progressive scratch their head, like voting to allow gun makers to avoid liability for their product, voting against comprehensive immigration reform.
Think Hillary’s perfect? Again, I think she’s really good, but she did vote for the Iraq War and the Patriot Act and she missed a lot of votes in the Senate while she was running for president, even before Obama posed a significant threat.
In other words, neither one is pure. And neither one is pure for a very basic reason; no one is pure. Even politicians and liberal pundits who PUBs and professional lefties have decided to practically worship couldn’t pass the purity test they require of Hillary Clinton and every Blue Dog who used to be in Congress. No one is pure, and I mean no one. When President Obama was trying to shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, progressive icon Russ Feingold, along with Ed Schultz’s bestest buddy Byron Dorgan and Chuck Schumer voted against it. I know a lot of the professional left whines about Schumer these days, but he has one of the most liberal voting records in Congress.
As for the complaint that Hillary is a (gasp!) former Republican, well, she was a Goldwater Girl when she was 16. How would you like to be judged for the rest of your life for what you did when you were 16? Besides, you might be surprised at how many “iconic” liberals used to be Republican.
- Thom Hartmann – yes, that’s right, the guy who brought Bernie Sanders to all of us on his radio show is basically in the same boat at Hillary Clinton. If you’re going to claim Hillary Clinton may as well be a Republican because of her activities for Goldwater, then you’ll have to do the same with Thom. When he was 13, he campaigned for Goldwater with his father, who was a hardcore Republican at the time. Yes, I know, he was only 13, but that’s the point, isn’t it?
- Ed Schultz – Eddie is considered a hardcore liberal now, but when he started his talk radio career in 1992, he was pretty much a Rush Limbaugh “conservative.” He didn’t actually become a liberal, according to him, until 1998, when he was in his mid-40s, when he toured North Dakota and realized he was on the wrong track.
- Markos Moulitsas – The founder of the Daily Kos, which is worshipped by PUBs as a professional left beacon, was once a Republican. In fact, this staunch liberal, who many PUBs look to for a definition of “progressive” was so staunchly Republican that he worked for Henry Hyde in 1988, when he was 17. And if you think Goldwater was reprehensible, consider that Henry Hyde is the man for whom “The Hyde Amendment” was named and that he was a key member of the Judiciary Committee that voted to impeach Bill Clinton.
- David Brock – The founder of Media Matters for America, the go-to for corrections of all things right wing media, although they’re fair and also note when left media gets it wrong. He was not only a right winger, but he was a right wing hit man of sorts for the Scaife cartel, which made the Koch Brothers look like pikers. It was his orders to write a hit piece on Hillary Clinton, in fact, that brought him to the light, when he discovered she wasn’t as bad as they said.
- John Yarmuth – Rightly praised as a progressive congressperson from Kentucky, Yarmuth, which is the same age as Hillary Clinton, was a Republican until 1985. Although something of a liberal Republican, his Republican roots are deeper than Clinton’s.
- Carolyn McCarthy – One of the most liberal members of Congress for many years, especially when it came to guns, she was a Republican until 1995, when she was spurred to change when her husband was one of the six killed and 19 injured while riding a commuter train on the Long Island Railroad in 1993 and the GOP lined up with the NRA against her.
- Elizabeth Warren – Yes, THAT Elizabeth Warren. The professional left icon and darling, like Hillary Clinton, was once a Republican. Well, kind of like Hillary Clinton, anyway. See, while Clinton abandoned the GOP for the Democrats in 1968, Warren took her time and waited to join the Democrats in 1995.
Someone on Twitter just this morning told me “Your past determines your future and if we forget the past we are doomed to repeat it.” As I told her, that’s absurd. My past helps mold me, it doesn’t define me. I did some stupid shit when I was 16 and I would hate for that to define who I am. And if you think you can predict what someone else will do in the future by looking 52 years in the past, especially when the interim 52 years defies that contention, you’re not dealing with the real world.
No one is perfect. No one is pure. If you are going to dismiss candidates for office because your candidate is better, that’s perfectly fine. But if you’re preparing to judge them based on their lack of perfection and purity, well, you should know your attitude is the reason progressives don’t gain ground.