One problem everyone on the left must deal with is the fact that the vast majority of voters really don’t like us very much. Now, i know a lot of white “unicorn progressives” put great stock in being nondescript – in fact, many of them believe that becoming popular is anathema to being politically effective – but the fact is, we are operating in a democratic republic, which means either we or our ideas and messages have to catch on with a majority. Therefore, if you’re one of those who believes the unpopularity of liberals is some sort of badge of honor, you’re really not very Bright; certainly not as bright as you have deluded yourself into believing.
We have a lot of problems on the left, but none is perhaps greater than our feelings of self-righteousness when it comes to what we refer to as “politics.” One of my favorite example is the fervor with which so many white “progressives” push the idea of “single payer.” They don’t just advocate for it because they think it’s a great way to provide people with universal access to health care and save money, they act as if every other way to accomplish that goal is nothing less than short-sighted or stupid. The self-righteousness from these people is breathtaking, and completely unwarranted.
First of all, the goal is universal healthcare access. Everyone in this country should be able to go to a doctor when they want or need one and they should be able to do so without having to put everything they have ever worked for at risk by running up huge bills few can pay. There are many ways to do this. Virtually every other developed country in the world does this, except ours, and the vast majority of them manage to do so without resorting to “single-payer.” In fact, in the last WHO list of healthcare outcomes before Obamacare, when the United States came in 37th, of the 36 countries ahead of us, only TWO of them were single-payer systems; the UK and Canada, and they were 30th and 18th, respectively. If we are going to revolutionize our health insurance system, shouldn’t we shoot to emulate numbers one through 10, rather than #18 or #30? Call me crazy, but if we are going to revolutionize health insurance, I would rather emulate Germany or France, who are in the top two, than Canada or the UK, who aren’t even in the top ten. I mean, why shouldn’t a “revolution” emulate the best out there?
There are built-in problems with “single-payer,” not the least of which is, the government provides funding for the entire system. They control the purse strings. Now, with the Republican Party in charge of governments at all levels right now and for most of the last 40 years, why would anyone with a functioning cerebral cortex think putting all health insurance funding in the hands of the (possibly Republican-led) government would be the sole solution to a problem that vexes everyone at one time or another? Who really imagines that an ideology that continually runs huge deficits because they love to cut taxes for people who don’t need the money would always fund the heath care system in good faith?
In other words, one of the progressive movement’s biggest problems is and always has been our ability to declare ourselves smarter than everyone else and them insist that everyone who doesn’t believe as we do it profoundly stupid. If you want to know why we are now facing the worst administration in history, and why we have faced two of the worst presidents in history just since this century started. It’s because very few people like us, and no one likes us as much as our professional left love themselves.
Of course, the irony of all this is, most of what real liberals and progressives have to say is very much in line with what a majority of voters actually believe. So why don’t more white liberals see it as a major failure that we haven’t exerted control over the government for about 50 years now? Why were unicorn progressives not so distraught by the 2000 election that they had no choice but to hand control back to the Democratic Party?
Yes, there will probably be enough of a reaction to the Trump awfulness to carry Democrats to victory this year, and there should be enough left over to prevent Trump from getting a second term. However, we can’t possibly be successful until we lose our tendency to court more resentment than recognition for standing for something positive, The fact of the matter is, liberals are not seen in a positive light very often and, if you want to have long term success in politics, you have to be seen in a positive light. Most voters resent us, and many of the most powerful liberals in our branch of media are seen as arrogant assholes. And it’s not just stifling the progressive movement, either. When we suffer, the entire country suffers because the right wing can’t govern.
We are better at everything than the right wing Republican Party. The problem is, unless we are in a position to actually do something in government, it doesn’t matter how great we think we are. We can have all the greatest intention, but unless we are prepared to WIN every election on behalf of Democrats, all we’re doing is empty bragging. Over the next week or two, let’s discuss some strategies for getting us there…
Also published on Medium.