Progressives: Leave the Purity Tests for the Right!

Too often, I look at the self-described “progressive blogosphere,” as Arianna Huffington once called it, and I wonder if they realize that “progressive” isn’t the name of an exclusive club. Apparently, according to some liberals, in order to be a “true progressive,” the rest of us have to know a secret handshake and wear a secret decoder ring or something.

I don’t know where they get this crap. The fact of the matter is, we are all living and functioning in a democratic system. What that means, in reality, is that success means getting the most votes. That means it makes absolutely no sense to restrict the number of people allowed to proffer a progressive message. It’s somewhat anti-democratic to demand that everyone agree with you on every damn thing in order to be seen as reputable.

This attitude, of course, is why most voters don’t like liberals very much. They would probably agree with us on most issues, IF we actually spoke to them without a condescending, know-it-all tone. This is why we incurred enormous losses in 2010 and 2014, and it’s why Obama was ultimately not as progressive as we wanted. I mean, we elected him by a wide margin in 2008, and immediately, the “liberal blogosphere” turned on him. It’s both tiresome and a self-fulfilling prophecy to repeat garbage like, “Obama’s no progressive,” or the obnoxious “Obama’s really just a moderate Republican.” Both of these refrains suffer from an obtuseness that demonstrates a significant lack f understanding of the political process, or even that there exists a political process. Electing Barack Obama was an excellent move, but constantly undermining him to the point that Democrats suffered a historic loss in 2010 is certainly not that.

It is this attitude that explains why liberals have been losing ground since the 1960s, and why the far-right has taken over the Republican Party and made them worse than the version that started the Great Depression and couldn’t even begin to fix it. After they lost a historical election in 1964, their strategy was to take on ALL of the evil scum who thought White people were superior to all other races by virtue of their being white, which culminated in their rise from the banishment they had suffered since 1932 and they have since held an inordinate level of power for 40 years. This, despite the fact that they’re a distinct minority among the electorate. One reason they have been able to buck all odds is because there is a small-but-significant group of liberals who think they’re geniuses politically and that everyone else who doesn’t think as they do is just “stupid.” It may as well be the far-left version of the Tea Party.

Obama was as progressive as he could get away with, given the make-up of Congress liberals left him with after the 2010 and 2014 elections, which were routs for Democrats. Unfortunately, many of the loudest, highest-profile liberals have chosen to define “progressive” in such narrow terms that no one but them could ever meet the standard. They seem to have little idea what the words “liberal” and “progressive” mean. Being “progressive” does not mean agreeing with a static set of “beliefs” based on issues that few people actually care about.

Being obsessed with things like climate change and drones at a time when most people are worried about jobs and the economy makes YOU out of touch, not everyone else. In fact, if you remove the right-wing from the government, and start creating jobs the way Clinton did, then you’ll remove a lot of the distractions and more people will be more receptive to climate change and drone discussions. And let’s be clear; the fact that others have different views on issues that you, personally, have decided are defining issues for liberals doesn’t make you more “progressive” and it doesn’t disqualify them from the ranks of “progressive.”  There is no static and immovable definition of liberal or progressive.

The very concept that there is basically a liberal version of “Tea Party-think” should have absolutely no place in progressive politics. The definition of “progressive” differs widely, and it necessarily has to be different in New York or Los Angeles than it is in Butte, Montana or BFE, Alabama. Politicians represent their constituents.

Face it; Maxine Waters can be who she is because she represents a very blue district in L.A. On the other hand, the most you can hope for from Arkansas is going to be Blanche Lincoln. I don’t care if you like that, but the fact of the matter is, Alan Grayson literally CAN NOT win in Montana with the same rhetoric he uses to win urban Orlando. That’s just a fact, at least at this moment of time. If you want to change those circumstances, then go for it. But it’ll take a lot of time and effort, and a lot of persuasion of the populace. Not needling and cajoling and calling everyone “stupid” who doesn’t see things your way, but persuasion. That means talking to people, not screaming at them. It’s about offering palatable solutions that fit into their mindset, not trying to pigeonhole them into what we think they should be.

One problem with many of these “progressives” is that they don’t seem to understand politics very well. Claiming that Obama, or now, Biden, are “Republican-lite” takes a monumental level of ignorance. Today’s GOP bears no relation to the GOP of old. They also seem to imagine that the Democratic Party was once 100% liberal, which has never been the case; in fact, it’s closer to that now than during the 1960s. Back in the 1960s, the last time Democrats held a supermajority in Congress, Democrats had most of the liberals in government, but they also had people like Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, Trent Lott and Lester Maddox, who were Democrats largely because the GOP was “the Party of Lincoln.” There were also some in the GOP who were socially liberal and fiscally conservative, which is one reason many progressive bills passed. The fact us, the Civil and Voting Rights Acts, the OSH Act, etc. would never have passed without the votes of “liberal Republicans,” a concept that is akin to the Dodo these days.

Their “loyalty” to Democrats is also suspect, to put it kindly. When the Dixiecrats made a mass exodus from the Democratic Party, so did many liberals/progressives. The far left had a golden opportunity to turn this country into a progressive paradise, and they blew it. If you want to know why the Democratic Party moved to the right, well, first of all, it didn’t. In any case, political parties are organic and represent the majority of members. If you want a party to move to the left, you join it. This strategy of whining about how “conservative” they are and “enticing” them to move left by threatening not to vote for them is ass backward, which is why it never works. Consider this; as the Republican Party became batshit crazy to the point of nominating and supporting Donald Trump, even after he proved his incompetence, a number of moderate Republicans moved to the Democratic Party, so there is that. If you want to move the Party left, then join it. Standing outside and claiming a status as an “independent” and shouting at it won’t work. It never has. Liberals have spent 40 years in the political wilderness; why does that not serve as a clue that a number of us are doing something wrong?

These same people also routinely demonstrates ignorance of what a president does, and what he can accomplish on his own. The simple answer is, he can do next to nothing on his own. If you want a president to push laws that move us away from the right wing crap we’ve been seeing for the last 40 years, you need more than a progressive president; you need a Democratic Congress. The very notion that either Obama or Biden is a “Republican-lite” is just wrong-headed. The comparison of Obama with Republicans hopelessly dated and irrelevant. 

As soon as Obama took office in 2009, this group of “progressives” started whining. The economy was tanking, and millions of the people “progressives” claim to care about so deeply were losing their jobs. The banks were about to collapse, and we were heading for the first economic depression in 80 years. However, these “progressives” complained continually. For two solid years, even though Obama set records when it came to improving the economy, and Senate Republicans blocked 375 bills passed by the Democratic House in one session of Congress, the unicorn progressives whined and complained about Democrats, calling them “spineless” and “ineffective.”

The result was pathetic. Whereas the solution to the gridlock was 2-3 fewer Republican Senators, in order to prevent the use of the filibuster to block bills, these “progressives” targeted Blue Dog Democrats. They seem to have forgotten that, if Blue Dogs lost, they would be replaced with hardcore right-wing Republicans. And almost all of them were replaced by members of the rising Tea Party. Yet, these same “progressives” actually gave themselves a high-five for getting rid of a bunch of Blue Dog Democrats, all of whom voted with Democrats 80-90% of the time and replacing them with Tea Party “Patriots,” who have since voted with Democrats less than one percent of the time. Now think; is that “progress”?

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