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Sending Messages and Holding “Them” Accountable

I’ve been around a long time. I’m not old, yet, but I’ve been around a while. No matter how long I’m around, however, I will never understand why PUBs (Progressive Unicorn Brigade, sometimes called “emo progs,” but I’m not a fan of that term.) and pundits on the professional left believe that pointing out every Democrat’s faults is magically a political winner. It’s puzzling, really, especially given the fact that the far left has been losing at elections since at least 1968. If you don’t know why I use that date as a tipping point, go read about the Democratic Convention in Chicago that year. The actions of the far left basically handed the election to Richard Nixon and, as the old saying goes, the rest is history.

For some reason, PUBs and professional lefties have gotten it into their heads that being righteous in defeat somehow either “sends a message” or “holds them accountable.” After nearly a half-century of Republicans, who were all but dead in 1968 and needed Dixiecrats to stay alive, holding an out-sized role in the body politic and basically dismantling the social safety net and rendering it useless, one has to wonder why they don’t understand that both of these concepts are actually hurting the progressive cause and killing the progressive movement in the long run.

It’s actually very simple: You don’t send anyone a message unless you win elections. Likewise, you don’t hold anyone accountable if they get away with everything they do with impunity because you’re focused on the wrong target. And if you haven’t figured out that the Democrats are the wrong target by now, I have to wonder which planet you inhabit. The rest of the world now understands just how completely scary the Republican Party is, why do these so-called “progressives” give them a pass, in favor of going after Democrats?

We live in a democratic republic. What that means is, we elect representatives to act as our proxy in the government. Because of the way  our government is designed, no individual politician has very much power at all, and can’t do much of anything, and that includes the president. The government works as a body, not as 536 individuals. There are a series of checks and balances in place that have been designed to prevent really bad things from happening. It was never possible for Harry Reid to just unilaterally change the filibuster rules so that Democratic bills could pass. He needed 51 votes to do so. The problem was, Democrats felt a lack of support from the left and they felt like they would lose control of the Senate at some point and they didn’t want to be in a GOP-led Senate without a filibuster. And gee, look what happened. Likewise, in 2010, it was not possible for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to insert the “public option” into a bill and pass it because you demand it and President Obama cannot simply close the prison at Guantanamo Bay because he promised to do so. Believe me, he wants to, but he’s trying to get through two terms without breaking any laws or dealing with any scandals, so there’s that.

All liberals and progressives should understand that a politician’s list of “campaign promises” are little more than a wish list of things he or she would like to get done, if they can persuade a majority to go along with them. As they govern, they make deals and they cajole and they twist arms, in order to get as many things as possible for their district or state.

The extent of our ability to make any politician “accountable” comes at the ballot box, and the only ones we get to “hold accountable” at the federal level are one Congressperson every two years, one Senator two out of every three election cycles and presidential electors every other election cycle. That’s it. If they have not done well for your state or district, you get to oust them.  That’s all the “accountable” you get to hold. It’s a myth to believe that complaining about every little thing a politician does holds anyone “accountable.”

The concept of holding politicians “accountable” is a myth. It’s a mechanism used by some elements of the left (and the right) to fleece you. Look at the number of petitions that show up in your email every day; how many PUBs realize that 99+ percent of those petitions will see the trash can before any politician will see them. Unless every signature is from their state or district, their staffers are instructed to get rid of them. The only purpose most petitions serve is to attract eyes to a website and to raise revenue. This may sound cynical, but in this case, it’s true.

That doesn’t mean you should do nothing. If there’s an important law you want passed, you should definitely call your Congressperson and/or Senators or the White House and advocate for it. But only yours. You also have to understand that it’s a democratic process, and the other side is doing the same thing, and you might not get your way. That doesn’t mean you quit.

One concept that everyone should understand is that the government works as a body. As such, it is politically pointless to hold individuals “accountable” for anything, including the president. And yes, that means Bush, too. Bush was the worst president in history, true, but he had a lot of help.

Currently, our government is less efficient and effective than ever because the Republican Party has been radicalized. Their ideology is based on a premise that government does everything wrong, and they’re out to prove it. We will not have an effective government until the Republican Party’s ideology is fully repudiated. Yes, I said we have to repudiate their ideology, not individual Republican politicians. How many Republicans have we gotten rid of over the years? Plenty of them. And yet, they continue to get worse. Ronald Reagan and even George W. Bush are “too liberal” to be in the Republican politician these days. which means the problem is systemic. Holding individual Republicans “accountable” won’t do the trick; we have to get rid of all of them.

Going after ANY Democrats right now, to “hold them accountable” doesn’t make you a “good progressive,” it makes you a fool. Next year, another Democrat is likely to take over the White House, but she won’t be able to do much of anything without a compliant Congress. If you expect her to do progressive things in the face of a solid bloc of Republican opposition, you’re living in a dream world.

This disconnect between fantasy and reality is what killed us in 2010 and in 2014. In the 111th Congress, a Democratic House passed 375 bills — including many that were very progressive — that 41-42 Republicans blocked in the Senate. The very loud, but very clueless, professional left held Democrats “accountable.” They targeted Blue Dog Democrats and that’s what gave rise to the Tea Party Caucus. All we had to do was gain 3-4 seats in the Senate to eliminate the filibuster’s effects, but PUBs and the professional left gave away the House and some of our lead in the Senate. How does that hold Democrats “accountable”? And accountable for what? Passing 375 bills that Republicans blocked?

If you’re going to advocate for “accountability,” you have to look in the mirror first. Obama can’t do much of anything without a Congress to help him, and only the majority in Congress is “accountable” for passing good bills to him for his signature. In the Senate, that means a majority of at least 61. That makes us “accountable” for making sure the President has those in place.

The concept of “accountability” on the part of individual politicians and individual lines in individual bills displays a galling gullibility on the part of progressives. If you’re falling for it, stop now. It’s killing the movement. Every bad thing that has happened since 1980 has come at the hands of Republicans, NOT Democrats. Get rid of them, and you solve the problem. Yes, it’s that simple.

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  1. Absolutely right, on both counts! After six years of tea party nonsense, I wonder if this will finally get through to some of these wishy-washy dems?

  2. I was offended when W. said, and I paraphrase, “You’re either with us or with the terrorists.” I have since come to agree, though not in the sense he meant it. But, “You’re either with the Democratic Party or you are against it” ain’t a bad slogan. There is almost never a time to fuck around with Jill Steins and Gary Johnsons, or with “Bernie or Bust!” nonsense. For better or ill, it is a two-party game, and you have no right to fuck with the lives of your fellow citizens because you regard your vote like your virginity, to be given away only to that special someone.

    I would pick one rather large nit, though. Republicans do not believe that government doesn’t do anything right. Republicans are extremely enthusiastic about government when it is doing what they want, be it bombing the crap out of some country because we can (and because it reinforces America’s preeminence in the world), or rewarding the super rich with tax cuts and loopholes, or establishing a theocracy. Then they’re just wild about government.

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