Unlike most people, apparently, I am usually really good at keeping New Year’s resolutions. It’s probably because I don’t make any that won’t improve my quality of life, and also because I really don’t have any major vices. I occasionally eat too much red meat, but I usually keep everything in balance to the extent possible, so that it’s not quite as bad as it could be. It’s not Iike I eat nothing but fast food and fry everything I make. But I don’t smoke anything, I don’t do any kinds of drugs (I haven’t even had a prescription since I was about 15 and I haven’t smoked pot since I was 14) and while my weight has been a slight problem lately, the problem is about 30 pounds; I’m not completely unhealthy.
Actually, I have one vice and my resolution for 2016 is to give that up for good. I have a tendency to post far too often in fora in which the average IQ seems to be at or below 80. I don’t do it a lot, mind you; I’m too busy to do it too often, but even an hour every few days makes it seem as if the brain cells are melting away and I don’t need that going into one of the most important elections in modern history.
I know; you’ve heard that before, right? A lot, in fact. You hear that every election, don’t you? Yeah, me, too. But there’s actually a reason for that. You see, every time progressives need to win and, you know, make progress, we find some way to screw things up. We’ve been screwing it up for 40 years, so I suppose the logical question is, when are some progressives going to notice? I know many “progressives” believe they know the perfect way to turn the country into a progressive powerhouse, but I have a record of futility since at least 1980 that says they don’t. I could actually go back farther. For example, why the hell did progressive Jimmy Carter win in a squeaker against a GOP candidate who had pardoned Nixon? Progressives can’t get out of our own way most of the time. We lived in a democratic system, which means the first step to doing anything progressive is to WIN ELECTIONS.
And when I say “win elections,” I am realistic. we make up about 10-15% of the population; we’re not exactly in a position of taking over the country without a lot of help. That means aligning with the Democratic Party instead of working against it. Yeah, I know, you might get “centrist” cooties on you, but 15% doesn’t win elections in a democracy, sorry.
With all of this in mind, here are my suggestions for New Year’s resolutions that all progressives should adopt to make 2016 the first year of a progressive future.
- Give up the attempts at “purity.” — For one thing, your definition of who is progressive and who isn’t is probably not accurate. I only say that because the root word is “progress” and it’s been a long time since we’ve made any. There are no unicorns, folks, so stop wishing for one and take the pony Democrats want to give you; at the very least, it sure beats the bottomless bowl of horseshit the Republican Party wants to feed you.
- Make the GOP the enemy — Understand that, at this moment in time, making sure the current Republican Party loses, and loses badly, has to be our number one goal. It’s far more important to remove the evil from our system than to pockmark the evil with an occasional decent propgressive. It’s not enough to keep the White House; we have to wipe the GOP out of government at all levels.
- Stop trying to reform the Democratic Party by screaming at it. — At no time in the history of democracy has any political movement made headway by screaming their lungs out at a majority of voters. It doesn’t work. Ask yourself this question; when someone is screaming at you about how wrong you are, are you more or less likely to change your mind to their way of thinking? In most cases, if we’re being honest, we’re more likely to walk away muttering, “What a dick!” That’s what progressives look like far too often; dicks. Seriously.
- Stop discouraging people from showing up at the polls — The #1 strategy the Republican Party employs to win is to discourage voters from showing up on Election Day. You see, while you probably think voting is a civic duty that everyone should partake in (and you’re not wrong, in an ideal world), the fact of the matter is, many people don’t feel that way and, since this is a free country, they do have a choice as to whether or not to show up. Since most voters do not like the Republicans, whether or not they show up is often dependent upon how they feel about Democrats who are running. That leads to another resolution:
- Stop falsely equating Democrats and Republicans — There is nothing happening that warrants such a lie. Yes, I said “lie.” And it is a lie; if you are thinking there is any equivalence between current Democrats and current Republicans, you’re at least as clueless as the average right winger. Look at the primary debates for a clue; Democrats actually discuss policy and how to solve problems, while the GOP pushes nonsense like “carpet-bombing ISIS.” You’d have to go back at least 40 years to find equivalence between the two parties. Right now, the GOP is evil and the Democratic Party is not. You can’t even say “the lesser of two evils” at this point in time, unless you’re blind, deaf and dumb because the current GOP is purely evil; nothing else comes close.
- Listen more, talk less and find out what voters care about. — For example, please stop talking about “corporatists” and “Wall Street.” Those concepts have no meaning to the average voter, and if you’re looking for them to hear what you say and have a light-bulb moment, you’re not dealing with the real world. You need to stop treating the average voter as if they’re stupid. Progressives are not smarter, politically, than the average voter. I mean, for Chrissakes, how many times must the right kick our ass before we figure out that what we’re doing isn’t working, and it’s precisely our attitude that kills us?
That’s just a start. One of my resolutions is to make the progressive movement smarter than ever and create a progressive nation we can all be proud of. Democrats have to win in 2016, to be sure, but it has to be the start of a long winning streak. It has to happen in 2018, 2020, 2022, 2024 and for decades after. I think everyone would agree, we need to return our country to the momentum we had in the 1960s. Well, back then, we worked with Democrats. Learn from that.
Happy New Era!