I read an opinion piece this past weekend in which it was claimed that the Democratic Party was moving “to the left.” The author then proceeded to give the credit to Bernie Sanders and “white liberals” for moving the party in that direction, and the real purpose of the piece was revealed.
This happens every time that certain contingent of white liberals I refer to as “unicorn progressives,” are reminded that they are no longer the base of the Democratic Party. For some reason, these folks have the same sort of need to place their ego ahead of common sense and try to worm their way into the leadership of the Democratic Party without even joining the party. It’s really quite remarkable.
Wait; you know this, right? Many, if not most, of the white liberals who are currently making demands of and barking orders at the Democratic Party are not even Democrats. They are “independent progressives” and they envision themselves as smarter than everyone else in the electorate, especially those of us who are liberal, but did NOT abandon the Democrats.
What makes people like this so frighteningly moronic is their delusion that they hold some sort of magic key to the politics. They act as if they know more about what everyone should care about than everyone else. They think their “free college” shtick plays with Black people, for example, at a time when black men are being gunned down by police with impunity. They believe their “$15 per hour minimum wage” is the solution to poverty, at a time when the poverty line is just below that and at a time when many states are so poor, $15 an hour would kill millions of small businesses. Perhaps you’ve heard, but service businesses all over are dying, and forcing many of them to pay $15 per hour would kill them right now.
They also want to scrap the current health insurance system and replace it with a single-payer system at a time when Republicans have dominated the politics for most of the last 40 years and have used that opportunity to “starve the beast,” which is a rhetorical device to say they want to cut spending, but they don’t have the guts to cut “defense.” Ask those who parrot the whole “Medicare for All” as a way to provide “free healthcare” to everyone how they plan to pay for it and what they plan to do about the 20 percent of healthcare that Medicare doesn’t pay for, and they’ll just sputter and blurt out something about getting private insurance out of healthcare and not answering either question. That’s right; about 20 percent of Medicare is covered by private insurance.
They want to do everything the hard way, in other words, and these unicorn progressives want to stop everyone who doesn’t think the way they do. This is their biggest political problem, really. They make up AT MOST 10 percent of the population, but they think their ideas are so strong and popular that they can get them done without anyone else.
That’s why they insult the 90 percent who don’t think like them. And that’s just stupid politics. You can’t win an election with 10 percent. You need at least 50 percent to win anything. So, what’s the purpose for the constant degradation of moderates and the use of the word, “centrist” as a pejorative? You may not like it, but liberals need moderates and “centrists” to get anything done. We can’t have progressive things if we don’t win elections, and we can’t possibly win elections with 10 percent.
We have no choice but to align with the Democratic Party if we actually want progressive policies to pass. And yet, those on the professional left and in the unicorn progressive wing of the progressive movement act as if it is a major order of business to purify the Democratic Party, so they are actually having us as members. It’s ludicrous.
There is a certain order to politics, folks. I know it doesn’t seem like it at times, but before you can do the things you want, you have to pave the way to get there. For example, there is a time when white “progressives” can try to put their hand in and create a “more perfect” Democratic Party. For instance, when Democrats have more than a two-thirds majority in the Senate and the House, you can target a few very specific Democrats to pick off and replace. That will serve to put a scare into others and perhaps get a few more votes on projects we care about, but it won’t put Congress into the hands of the Republican Party, which is a disaster right now.
When a bill you hate passes or one you love fails, and you focus on the handful of Democrats who voted for or against it, and you use that to prove the Democrats are “too far right,” you only do damage to the only one of the two viable parties whose main theme is NOT to “own libtards.” The more pissed off we seem, the more
Yes, that’s right. Despite the bleatings of the professional left and the Bernie Stans, Republicans did not nominate Trump and the Republican base doesn’t still support Trump because of a feeling of “economic anxiety.” They love and adore Trump because he makes us crazy, and that’s quite literally all they care about. They don’t care about abortion; they care that their overtures to end abortion bring liberals out of the woodwork to scream and yell about it. Therefore, when we are seen as yelling and screaming at our own, it makes the Republican base doubly happy.
Therefore, when those on the left are seen as attacking Democrats for not being in lockstep with the far left, you are making the right very happy. Every time we claim the Democrats aren’t far enough left, all the men on the right pop a chubby. Not only that, but it pisses off moderates and those who are dismissed as “centrists” because they don’t buy everything Bernie and the unicorns are selling.
This is one of a million reasons why Trump was able to sneak into the White House and it’s why Democrats have been losing more than they have to. You see, the far right sells one message; “Democrats suck.” They think all Democrats are liberal, so when they say “Democrats,” they mean “liberals.” Therefore, when our side says, “Democrats suck,” it makes everyone in the electorate think everyone sucks. They already know the Republicans suck, so when our side says “Democrats suck,” just who are they supposed to vote for?
That drives down turnout, which is why Republicans win. Republicans can’t win if turnout is high. Midterm turnout in 2018 was almost 50%, which is in line with turnout in the 1950s and 1960s when Democrats and liberals ruled the government at almost every level. We need to get back to that so that we can get some reforms and deal with the myriad problems we have as a country. But we progressives can’t do it alone; we need moderates and centrists.
Most moderates actually agree with us on the most important issues, so it should be easy to get them along with us. The problem is, many unicorn progressives and professional lefties don’t understand what’s important to the average person. The Democratic base is People of Color now, so unarmed Black men being shot and killed is generally of greater importance than, oh, I don’t know, “free college.” Minorities have a hard time getting into college and getting a good education and a good job, so college debt is an issue, but it doesn’t trump (pardon the expression) getting shot because you didn’t pull over far enough on the highway.
Likewise, Latinx people in the Democratic base are more worried about the thousands of children who have been effectively kidnapped by the Trump Administration (pardon the expression) and shuffled off to far away parts of the country, away from their parents. They are also worried about being deported, even if they were brought here as children and know no other place. Therefore, don’t expect them to be as incensed as you at the fact that the minimum wage is not $15 everywhere right now.
Unicorn progressives and professional lefties can also put away their obsession with making sure 100 percent of the population “believes in” climate change. Everyone who matters cares about climate change nowadays, so the emphasis should no longer be on changing the mind of the straggling deniers. It should be on making sure the governments at all levels are doing everything possible to make sure we stop using fossil fuels. To do that, we need to elect Democrats, but we can’t do that if you require every Democrat in existence to parrot Bernie talking points or be sent out to the proverbial cornfield.
Embrace left-center moderates as our best friends and centrist moderates as necessary partners. We are not in a position where we can pick and choose our political allies like we do our spouses. We don’t have to love everyone to work with them politically and if we demand that our political allies all be “pure,” we are always going to lose every battle.
Take a cue from Black women, my fellow white progressives. They tend to be very progressive in their politics, but very conservative in their personal lives. They believe in family and Jesus, but their politics is about making the future better for everyone, not just their family or their own personal feelings about Jesus. Their principles are very strong, but they are happy with incremental progress, like most humans. If we move forward every year, they are happy. Compare that with unicorn progressives, who actually urged that Democrats defeat the entire Affordable Care Act because it was “only” about 80 percent of what they wanted. it didn’t occur to the professional left that, if we’d increased the Democrats’ majority in 2010, we could have added the public option later, or even used the ACA as a method for phasing in Medicare for All. Ahem.
If you are a far left progressive, you must have noticed that the country has been moving backward under Republican rule. Therefore, the most progressive thing we can all do is to rid ourselves of Republicans in government. Therefore, if your actions have been helping to entrench the GOP, you are not at all progressive. You are actually less progressive than those you deride as “centrist.” Think about it for once.
Also published on Medium.