People For Themselves

Okay, now that Bernie Sanders has endorsed Hillary Clinton and there is unity in the Democratic Party, it’s time to talk about the state of “Revolution” in the progressive movement. Well, um, it’s well under way. In fact, it has been since 2008, when we elected the most progressive president we ever elected going in.

What, you say? President Obama isn’t a “real” progressive?

Bite me. He’s more progressive than any of those who are all fired up about “revolution” right now. Root word of progressive: “progress.” Look it up. Being progressive does not mean having specific stances on issues. It’s about getting shit done.

You know what will doom your revolution quicker than anything? It will be your tendency to lock out anyone who doesn’t fit the purity mold that you set up. If you want an actual revolution, you’ll have to make it inclusive. Face it; in a democracy, five percent of the population isn’t effecting any sort of revolution. This isn’t 1775 and we’re not subjects of a monarchy operating from across the ocean. You need 50.1% of the vote to do anything and you need a majority of all legislative bodies to make laws that create a progressive revolution.

Funny thing is, most actual progressives have been moving in that direction for a long time. That’s right; Black people, Latinos, immigrants and women have been moving in that direction for a while. While you PUBs and the professional left whine and cry about Bill Clinton and his administration, the fact of the matter is, after 12 years of Saint Reagan and Bush the Elder, Clinton was a breath of fresh air. Your revolution should embrace him, not defame him, for Crissakes. How do you imagine it looks to outsiders when you blame Hillary for “everything” Bill did in his eight years, and then only cite the 5-6 things you don’t like? The answer is, you look ridiculous. And you really do need the outsiders to help you. Sorry if you think that makes you a “sell-out” or some other nonsense; if you want progressive things to happen, we have to win elections, which means we have to become popular.

Let me clarify a few things. This is from “People for Bernie,” who petulantly refuse to endorse Hillary. (There’s your first clue that this will not be pretty) (Reference)

  1. Bernie’s candidacy was welcome, but it did NOT “change the political landscape for the 2016 election.” Hillary Clinton was always ahead, and she had already moved left before she started running this time. You THINK Bernie was close, but he really wasn’t. It is the “revolutionaries” who were stuck in an alternate version of the 1990s, in which we were apparently living in a hellscape with 25 million new jobs, a growing middle class, inner cities that were being revitalized and the first real wage increases since the early 1970s. What a horrible time that was, right? (By the way, if you’re going to whine about NAFTA, you’ll have to explain why 23 million jobs were created and unemployment dropped below 4% in the six years after. Just saying…)
  2. If you’re going to sell the “We not Us” trope, you will have to start with dropping the bullshit about everyone not thinking the way you do being part of a “status quo” that is apparently a pejorative. There have been numerous movements for change in this country and it is the very people who envision this “revolution” who have repeatedly thrown a monkey wrench in the works. In 2000 and 2004, you undermined the Gore and Kerry campaigns, giving us eight years of the worst president in history. You can cry “WE” and then trash people who don’t see things your way. I mean, for Chrissakes, you trashed Hillary Clinton mercilessly for more than a year and then trashed any major progressive figure who endorsed her. Does that seem like “We not Us” to you? You “revolutionaries” trashed John Lewis when he endorsed Hillary. A man who knows exactly what the civil rights movement is about, and he was beaten up, rhetorically speaking, by the same people who have chosen “We not Us”? Actually, the more I think about it, what the hell does “We not Us” even mean?
  3. You have to understand which issues WE the people think are the most important and stop trying to make everyone accept your stances on the issues you have decided are most important. You say, “We will work every day to fight systemic racism. We will fight for tuition free college. We will work to end the stranglehold of money in politics. We will never give up on single payer healthcare, defeating bad trade deals, banning fracking, securing living wage for all, and enforcing our rights to join a union.” How can white liberals fight “systemic racism” when they are attacking John Lewis, dismissing Hillary Clinton’s primary wins in “confederate states” and routinely denying the reality of white privilege? I can’t tell you how many times I have had to explain to a “revolutionary” what white privilege is and why yes, they did benefit from it. And I’m a white guy! I shouldn’t have to explain to any white liberal why their very whiteness provides them with advantages in this society. As for the others, well, ask yourself why “tuition-free college” is better than “debt-free college.” The only way to break the stranglehold on money in politics is to put liberals on the Supreme Court, which means a vote for Jill Stein is just stupid. “Single-Payer healthcare” is not the goal, universal healthcare is. “Bad trade deals” are in the eye of the beholder. Start by learning what’s in them, because most of the complaints I see about TPP are ignorant, as are the claims that NAFTA sent millions of jobs overseas. You’ll never ban fracking everywhere, so you’ll need to work on something more limited, at least until we wean ourselves from our oil addiction, which is far more important. Agreed with the right to join a union, but that will require getting rid of Republicans as a first step, so the constant attacks on Democrats actually undermines that goal. If you don’t believe that, look at the outsized influence of the GOP over 40 years.
  4. Using terms like “status quo” and “establishment” shows your “revolution” to be horribly out of touch. These are terms used in the 1960s, when there actually were such things and they were horrible. White males ruled the country at the time and they were authoritarian in nature. That is no longer the case. I know this because that’s why we’re seeing the racism we see now. It’s older white people trying to make one last rave stand. If you want this country to move in a progressive direction, at some point, you’ll have to understand that Hillary Clinton was nominated because the democratic process chose her. You can’t work against democracy, you have to work with it. Black people, Latinos, women, recent immigrants – most of these people are very progressive and they occupy the Democratic base. The reason white liberals don’t occupy the base is because they willingly abandoned it nearly a half-century ago. If you’d like to be part of the base, you’ll have to join with it, not work against it.

The way this little diatribe ends is telling. Read this childish tripe:

When we face the reality of a new status quo — Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party’s nominee — there is a strong temptation to yield to the demands of the nominee. That is past practice. But this is no ordinary campaign. We are not a Bernie Sanders fan club. The timeline of a movement is far longer than an election cycle. We will engage in a diversity of tactics in which voting is just the bare minimum. We will take the streets, occupy the voting booth and de-center the Democratic Party establishment — forever.

As Bernie says, enough is enough. Together, our movement created a significant inflection point in American politics; but we have more to do. The political revolution doesn’t end today. It is merely entering a new phase.

We hope you’ll enter that new phase together, and preserve the strong bonds of love and unity that united so many for so long. The most important thing we can do is love each other and build strong local movements.

This shows a complete misunderstanding of how politics works and a completely childish attitude that completely undermines the whole concept of “WE.” This is a small group who know how to be very loud and obnoxious. They are primarily white people with means, with more education than brains and they have no concept of how most people think about much of anything. I predict this “revolution” will go the way of “Occupy” because they have no political sense. If you want to win in a democratic system, telling everyone else they’re stupid is probably not going to get you very far.

About Milt Shook

A writer with more than 45 years in the political game (and let's face it, it is a game). I am a liberal because facts have a liberal bias, and I really like facts. If you like facts, you'll like this blog. If not, you'll have a hard time.


People For Themselves — 3 Comments

  1. Thanks for this, Milt. I checked your Twitter feed and was….well, not stunned but more or less saddened by the idiotic comments left there by the more hardcore Sanders and Stein supporters.

    It’s easy to blare out about how we need a “revolution”, but as you said, the revolution’s already been underway. They’ve chosen to ignore it, though, because their unicorns were never delivered. Nothing was ever good enough.

    Well, they can keep looking for their “revolution”; I’m sure Godot will show up when they get it. Me, I’m going to vote for the person who will keep the Obama Revolution and the Obama Coalition going–and that person is Hillary Clinton.

  2. Thank you for this. Your words shine like good deeds in a naughty world. I cannot tell you how I appreciate your clarity and pragmatic good sense.

  3. I’ve seen this “revolution” before….it was led by Howard Dean..and Gary Hart…and Jerry Brown…and Ted Kennedy…and on and on. And it got nowhere. This version will fade…until the next new fad comes along.