It boggles the mind how many “political junkies” seem to think that obsessing over a single vote by a Democrat on something that ultimately doesn’t matter is the hill upon which they wish to sacrifice the progressive movement. It really needs to stop. First of all, you people look stupid, but also, it’s killing the movement.
So far this term, the GOP Congress hasn’t done shit. That should be an issue, but too many professional lefties, “political junkies” and unicorn progressives haven’t made it one because they seem to be obsessed with some of the votes made by relatively conservative Democrats. Some of them are already calling for some of them, particularly Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp, to be “primaried.” In one case, they have already chosen a primary opponent, who is apparently a Bernie diehard. You know, because a deeply red state that rejected both Bernie and Hillary in landslides is going to choose a hardcore progressive to replace someone who is a pro-labor moderate. Yeah, that’s going to happen. Why don’t people like this feel stupid? I mean, how does someone who spends all of their time talking about politics not realize that a “Democratic Socialist” has zero chance in West Virginia, circa 2018?
And like I said, Republicans have done exactly jack since they took office on January 3. So, what exactly have Manchin and Heitkamp voted on that makes them worthy of this fantasizes ignominious defeat? Votes on Lord Donny’s cabinet picks, of course. You know, because that is a hill that the progressive movement should die on, according to these assholes. In one case, one of them even voted against cloture on a filibuster. OMG! WTF! Whatever will we do?
I’m sorry, but that shit is just pain stupid. For one thing, if Democrats could defeat Donny’s Cabinet nominees, who thinks the replacement will suddenly be a tried-and-true progressive? And why do so many “political junkies” believe that voting against all of Donny’s picks sends some sort of message that is more meaningful than petulant? If it gives them something to make their red district residents happy next election and their vote doesn’t actually make a difference, what is the point of voting against a nominee just to do it?
And it is that stupidity that has been killing the progressive movement for about a half century. The progressional left and unicorn progressives get behind losers because they say what they want to hear and they target those whom they have decided are “too conservative.” That wouldn’t be so bad, but they also lie their asses off in doing so. They tell voters that these Democrats “might as well be Republicans,” which is a lie because the Republican Party has changed. You could make a case that they may as well be Republicans if this was 1967, instead of 2017, but compared to today’s GOP, Joe Manchin isn’t even close. he is well to the left of all of the Republicans in the Senate. There is also something else to think about; Blue Dog Democrats represent conservative districts, which means they have to be able to toss a bone to the relatively conservative groups in their district.
And that’s the key. While unicorn progressives and the professional left lionize people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the fact of the matter is, Elizabeth Warren represents Massachusetts, which tends to lean to the left and Bernie Sanders’ Vermont is also pretty liberal, except on guns. And lets be real; Bernie Sanders comes down on the NRA side on some gun issues. That’s okay. You do what you have to do to win. And that’s the point. In a state like West Virginia, Joe Manchin is a dream come true; a true pro-labor Democrat who sometimes throws a bone to his increasingly red state. If you primary him with anyone from the left, he will win in a walk, but that could also damage him for the general election, which means he will be replaced by the Republican, whom I guarantee will be of the Tea Party variety. In other words, we would be trading a Senator who votes with Democrats more than 85% of the time for someone who votes with them zero percent of the time. I’m sorry, but in what way is that progressive? (Hint: in no way at all. It’s actually ridiculous.)
The funny thing is, when I confront them about such a thing, they start screaming at me. The other day, on Twitter, I was making this very point and I noted that Manchin votes with Democrats about 85% of the time, and the insane response was, “it is that 15% that worries me!” So, basically, the 15% of the time that Manchin doesn’t vote with Democrats worries this person more than the 100% fealty to the Tea Party that would come from his Tea Party replacement.
I see this a lot, actually. I have friends who still crow about the “Great Blue Dog Purge” of 2010 and 2014, as if it’s a good thing. It wasn’t a good thing at all. How is replacing dozens of “Blue Dogs” who voted with Democrats more than 80% of the time (most were above 90%) with teabaggers who now vote reflexively with anything the GOP puts in front of their faces and who vote against Democrats about 100% of the time a good thing? (See hint above.)
Their answer is always, “they’re too conservative,” which is absurd on its face. If Joe Manchin wanted to, he could switch parties and not even worry about winning in 2018. Instead, he caucuses with Democrats and works with them on most causes and merely throws out a few votes as bait for the right-leaning constituents in West Virginia. That’s it. he carefully works with the party leadership in the Senate to coordinate what he votes on, so that he doesn’t actually make a difference when it comes to a bill or a particularly odious nomination. That’s really what matters, you know; casting a deciding vote. If a nomination in the Senate has 50 or more Republican votes, it doesn’t matter one bit how the Blue Dog votes on it. But it could easily make a difference when he comes up for reelection next year. And if you are a progressive, you want him to win. Democrats need to gain three seats for a majority and only eight Republicans are up for election in 2018. That three vote gain is already a tall order and it would be better if Democrats gained all eight seats. However, if unicorn progressives and pro lefties target Manchin and Heitkamp in West Virginia and South Dakota, both increasingly red states, that means Democrats would have to gain more than half the available seats and it would make the odds longer in 2020, as well.
Here’s the thing…
At no point has a Blue Dog vote made a difference on a Trump Cabinet appointment, which means any complaints are pure whining. The Republicans have fallen in line with the asshole and they have enough votes to make sure they all pass. If you want to lay blame on anyone, at this point in time, then blame both the far left and the far right. If the ACA falls, it won’t be because of any Democrat’s vote; the repeal will be written and passed by Republicans. if Medicare is damaged or repealed, it will be because Republicans wrote and passed a bill in unison. Every bad thing that has happened over the last few decades has largely been due to the Republican Party, not Democrats. Seriously, if you look at any progressive program or bill in the past 85 years, it has come courtesy of Democrats. By the way, stop saying that the Great Recession was caused by Bill Clinton. Sure, he signed Gramm-Leach-Bliley, which was the bill that repealed Glass-Steagall and (more importantly) created the unregulated mortgage aftermarket that actually brought down the world economy. However, it was written and passed by Republicans and actually passed with a veto-proof majority, anyway. And you can’t name a single important Democratic-sponsored bill that Blue Dogs ever killed with a deciding vote. None has ever cast a deciding cloture vote. And really, when 230 Republicans vote for or against a bill that you feel passionately about, what sense does it make to focus on the 3-5 Democrats who may have voted for or against it? It makes no sense and actually makes you look stupid and clueless.
And one more thing; stop insulting those liberals and progressives who just happen to live in red states and red districts. Unicorn progressives do it all of the time. Every time you trash a “conservative Democrat” as being “just like a Republican,” that is exactly what you are doing. They know how people in their state or district think and they see the Blue Dog you insult constantly as a godsend. In most cases these days, the choice for them was between that Blue Dog and a teabagger, which means getting to vote for someone like Manchin or Heitkamp is the epitome of luck. The Bernie Stans did this during the primaries last year, too, when they dismissed Democrats in Southern States as “the old confederacy,” thus branding the People of Color in those states as “too stupid” to vote for Bernie and implying that they didn’t count because it was assumed that Democrats wouldn’t have won those states, anyway. The problem is, Democrats CAN win those states, and they would, if not for the constant attacks and judgment coming from progressives in safely liberal states and districts. Applying the standards of a liberal living in the hills above Los Angeles or Greenwich Village, or in a state like Maryland or Massachusetts to a district or state where the parties are 50-50 or leaning GOP is purely ignorant and it needs to stop.
We have a mission, folks. Progressives and liberals have to focus on making a difference, which means we have to concentrate all of our energy on the real problem, which is certainly not anyone in the Democratic Party. By the time 2018 rolls around, Democrats will have been in not just a functional minority, but an actual minority in Congress for eight years. If you want them to do progressive things, it will be necessary to place them into the majority. If you want your progressive heroes, like Warren and Sanders, to have any power whatsoever, it will be necessary to make sure they’re in a majority. All of the progressive things we want to do are purely impossible with the Republicans in charge.
However, right now, we have to focus on getting at least three Republican Senators to feel fear at voting for Republican-sponsored bills that do horrible things. However, we can’t do that if the loudest voices on the left side of the debate are always on about how bad Democrats are. Again; if 52 Republican Senators vote for something you don’t like, your vitriol against the 2 Democrats who may have joined them is not only misguided, but it’s killing the progressive movement.
Progressives have been losing ground for 50 years now. Isn’t that enough?