Principle vs Ego

To all of you people who are STILL always on about “Blue Dogs,” I just have one thing to say:

Get a life.

You already got rid of most Blue Dogs, to the point that Republicans control everything. And might I say, the results of your campaign haven’t been very progressive, have they? As I have pointed out repeatedly since the 2010 election, losing so many Blue Dogs was not a net positive for anyone, especially progressives. Blue Dogs voted with other Democrats about 93% of the time, on average. And they were replaced by teabaggers, who have thus far voted with Democrats about 1% of the time. Surely, you can’t consider replacing a 93% Democratic vote with a 1% Democratic vote.

You may be sick of me saying this because I am a little sick of having to say it. And yet, it continues. Republicans pass a bill with every one of their majority voting for it, but if five Democrats from reddish districts vote for it, the entire professional left goes into full-blown conniptions over the five Democrats, despite the fact that more than 230 Republicans voted for the bill and the five Democrats didn’t make a difference.

When they do that, they undermine Democrats. You know, the same Democratic Party they envision being the “base” of, even though they haven’t voted Democratic reliably for decades. On the other hand, I have voted for and worked on behalf of Democrats for about 45 years and I have played a key role in getting some elected. Yet, some of these professional lefties and other unicorn progressives, who have never done anything, politically speaking, except whine and cry and complain, always lecture me about “principle.”

Take the recent discussions about ACA repeal, for example. While I was calling both of my Senators (the staff of one knows my voice and says, “Oh, hi, Mr. Shook!” before I have a chance to say my piece…) to let them know there would be hell to pay if they voted for this monstrosity, the professional left was pushing “single-payer” and “Medicare-for-all.” If you don’t realize how stupid you sounded, let me explain…

We were trying to prevent the Republican Party, who have been working against the Affordable Care Act for seven years, from finally getting their wish and pushing us back to the previous system, which was no good for anyone. We managed to win the battle, but it was a squeaker. If you’ll recall, it was one of my Senators, John McCain who cast the life saving vote. I’m not taking credit, but I could take a hell of a lot more credit, if I wanted to, than someone who was “demanding” that we implement a “single-payer” system.

Let me clue you in…

As long as Republicans keep winning elections, we will never get nice things from out government. And as long as you place your personal definition of “principle” over common sense, Republicans will keep on winning. In any case, boasting that you have the only “correct” position on issues is not an example of “principle,” it is an example of your ego writing checks you’re not prepared to cash. In the case of progressive politics, actual principle is about doing whatever is necessary to get as much progress as we can get. You don’t demonstrate “principle” when you prattle on about your fantasy of “Medicare-for-All” at a time when most of us with a working cerebellum are just trying to play defense and keep what we have.

Don’t get me wrong. In the abstract, expanding Medicare availability to everyone would be a great idea. However, there are two things that unicorn progressives don’t seem to understand. First, we don’t live in the abstract. We live in the real world, and in the real world, the current GOP wants to kill Obamacare because they find it too liberal. They have now voted to kill the ACA more than 60 times and this last time, they came within one vote of sending a repeal bill on to the House, which would have happily passed it and sent it on to the Clown in the White House for a signature. So who the FUCK do you imagine you were selling this plan to scrap everything for “single payer”? “The people,” perhaps? Okay, that’s great, but the time to do that was when “the people” were voting on who to put into Congress and the White House. You know, when your “principle” told you to trash Hillary and call Democrats “cheaters” every chance you got?

These people need to understand the difference between “principle” and “ego.” Too many unicorn progressives don’t seem to know the difference. They often claim I’m “unprincipled” and a “sell-out” because I am happy whenever we make progress on any issue. I know that’s just sappy, but I’m an actual progressive, not just someone who says all the right things. We live in a democracy, however, so we don’t get to do anything without recruiting many other voters to help us get where we want to go. That means compromise. If you can’t compromise on anything, you’re not “principled,” you’re a narcissist.

I think that every time I talk to a Bernie Stan. And by that, I don’t mean everyone who supported Bernie Sanders. I’m talking about the die-hards who think Sanders is the savior who will somehow take “progressives” to the promised land. They’re the idiots who imagine that Bernie is the “Democratic front runner” for 2020, despite the fact that he’ll turn 80 during his first year in office and many Americans still think he’s Larry David. They are dealing from pure ego. Not quite as bad as Trumpies, but not comfortably different from them, either.

The fact of the matter is, progressives should own the debate in this country. We stand for what is best for the country, and makes good common sense. However, we have a couple of problems. First of all, the most vocal side of our movement insists on perfection from Democrats. Nothing is ever perfect, including the people demanding that all Democrats be perfect. The issue on healthcare is UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE and NOT “single payer.” Also, be careful what you wish for. No program is ever perfect. Social Security was created in 1934 and was racist at first. It’s also had to be “saved” several times. Medicare passed in 1965, and still needs constant tweaking. Put simply, getting a good bill and good programs takes a lot more than wanting them. You have to have your eyes wide open and you have to be aware of the possibilities.

Put it this way…

Imagine you got your fantasy and Republicans “wised up” and passed a “single payer” healthcare plan. Better yet, what if they just expanded Medicare to everyone. What would prevent them from legislatively sabotaging it and making sure it failed, just to prove it could never work? If you think they would never do that, recall that this particular GOP has already tried to kill Medicare, and they tried to privatize Social Security just before the economy crashed because of their legislation.

Our goal must be to create a country with progressive ideals, and we simply cannot do that without a lot of compromise with moderates. Moderates swing elections; the left and right wings simply provide ballast. We have to get smarter.


Think differently. We need that.

Also published on Medium.


Principle vs Ego — 1 Comment

  1. Mr. Shook what makes very good sense to many Democrats and Liberals falls on deaf ears to others who should really know better. States like AZ might just be winable but a Sanders style candidate might get some excitement from college students but overall a Moderate Democrat would have a better chance especially if they appeal to non-Trump supporting Independents and Democrats. Perhaps I am not being realistic but I just do not see us replacing states like Wisconsin by running far Left candidates in Red to Purple states. I am not suggesting putting our core values to the side and becoming Republican lite as some on the Left like to dismiss more Moderate Democrats as being. But we have to think more big tent as you suggest, not narrow our options. I know nothing about your situation in life but just curious if you have ever considered running or have run for a State House seat or some other office? You are not afraid of taking on both the Right and the more strident and unreachable of those on the Left. Your political outlook is pragmatic which I feel we need now more than ever. Sick of the lies and emotional attack method of politics these days. Run on the issues, not arguments and manipulation.