You know the difference between a “neoliberal” and every other liberal out there? The people who use the term are doing so because they believe it makes them look smarter and more politically astute to… well… others who think the same way they do? And that is the key problem with the progressive movement, if we’re being honest. The loudest elements speak to each other, while insulting everyone who doesn’t think exactly as they do. And they use asinine terms like “neoliberal” because they’re children and they think insulting everyone else makes them better people.
Does that sound like anyone we know? Think “Orange Toddler.”
If you follow this blog or you follow me on Twitter, you know that I don’t really insult very many people, and I only insult “up” when I do. There is no point to it. Yes, I think about half the people who voted for Trump are “deplorable,” but they’ve always been deplorable, so who cares? They were deplorable when they were “only” members of the KKK and they were deplorable when they were “only” members of the John Birch Society. It’s not an insult, it’s a description. If they think it’s an insult, then they need to denounce those groups. You’ll also not see me adopting the #RWNJ hashtag on Twitter because “NJ” refers to “Nut Job” and I don’t like to insult people with mental illness by comparing them to narcissistic boobs.
But I want to address the constant insults coming from the far left and directed at most other liberals, especially among the professional left. You know, the ones who describe themselves as “journalists,” even though they rarely tell the truth. I mean, they have an opinion about everything, but most of what comes out of their mouth is drivel. They also have this habit of calling Democrats who don’t toe the “progressive” line, as defined by them (and no one else) “Republican Lite,” which infers that these people are practically Republicans. There is just one problem with that way of thinking and that is, there is not one single Democrat who is “practically a Republican,” based on an accurate definition of Republican in 2017.
Over the last couple weeks, I have been called “neoliberal” by numerous Bernie diehards because I don’t share their “enthusiasm” for Bernie Sanders. I mean, I always liked what he had to say. I used to listen to him on Thom Hartmann every Friday and he made a lot of sense. If I was a wholly idealistic liberal, I may worship him, too. But I am fully ensconced in the real world, which means, while my liberalism is as idealistic as anyone else’s when I lie awake and imagine the world I would like to have, I am fully awake enough to realize that progress is a struggle.
Look, I am as liberal as anyone out there. I think every human being in the world should be guaranteed a minimum standard of living, including shelter, food, education and healthcare, from birth to death. I believe everyone who works should make at least enough to live on. I believe that human necessity should take a back seat to profit. I believe we should be well into the transition away from fossil fuels by now. I also believe Black Lives Matter and that the drug war is nothing more than a resource suck that does more to take away liberties than to keep people safe. I believe in actual social justice and I won’t rest until People of Color, LGBT people, women and immigrants all feel as safe and secure in this country as I do as a white man.
See? I’m as liberal as anyone. The difference is, I am a progressive, in the strictest sense. I know the word has been appropriated by people who really aren’t progressive, but I already let them sully the word liberal, and I won’t let them take that, too. And when I say “them,” I do not mean the right wing. The right didn’t sully those two terms, white far left liberals did that. You see, most of the people on the left who think they’re so “progressive” that their shit smells of roses do nothing but talk. They seem to believe that being “progressive” means having the right position on an issue, meaning having THEIR position on an issue.
For example, just this weekend, I was called “neoliberal” by several of these pro lefties because I said their position on healthcare is untenable because “single payer” is not practical in the United States right now. I don’t say that because I don’t believe “single payer” is a bad system. Thinking so would make me a “neoliberal,” I suppose. But the people who mistakenly think we can just jump straight into a “single payer” system apparently haven’t lived in the United States long because that’s not how things happen here. You are talking about taking health insurance away from everyone under the age of 65 and dumping them into a government-run insurance system. Have you met Americans? That is not going to be an easy sell. Also, you are talking about a government-run healthcare system that will be subject to budgetary oversight by the United States Congress.
How do I put this in a way that the professional left gets it?
The issue is NOT “single payer.” The issue is “universal healthcare.” The first thing we need to do is get everyone covered, so that everyone inside this country can see a doctor when they need on and be able to pay their medical bill without having to lose their home. The issue is, right now, too many people have to put up GoFundMe pages and hold bake sales to pay for their medical care. We have created an insurance system that is fully dependent on employers providing health insurance as a benefit and we didn’t require employers to provide insurance. That has improved somewhat, but there is still a problem. We have to address that problem. The Affordable Care Act began to address these problems, but there is still a lot more to do. And that’s the point; while the loudest on our side are advocating for the wrong thing, no one is actually trying to fix the deficiencies in the system. Instead, they are once again calling for a “revolution” on something that doesn’t need a “revolution.” We had the “revolution” in 2010, but the professional left apparently wasn’t paying attention.
Now, almost everyone has access to affordable health insurance; we just need to fill in the few gaps that remain. “Single payer” is one way to address that, but it’s most certainly not the only way, and it may not even be the best way. The fact that you have been sold a bill of goods does not make the rest of us stupid. What the professional left doesn’t like to tell us is that we are currently 34th on the List of countries with the best healthcare outcomes in the world, but only TWO of the 33 countries ahead of us are actual single-payer systems. Only Canada and the United Kingdom are actual single-payer systems, and they are 17th and 23rd, respectively. (Source) In other words, if we are actually progressive, which is more important: making sure everyone gets care or saving a few bucks as a country? Well, if you believe that the care comes first (and what self-respecting “progressive” doesn’t believe that?), then why are you discounting the other types of universal health plans out there? The best systems are actually hybrids, in which private companies provide the insurance services and the health care delivery and a “public option” picks up the slack. Do we want a single payer system, or do we want a system that provides the best results? Does wanting the healthiest people in the world make me a “neoliberal”? Apparently
And by the way, the one thing that makes me most nervous about a “single-payer” plan comes with giving the federal government control over the purse strings. How many years of watching Republicans try to tear down Medicare and watching them attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act do you have to watch before you realize that putting the entire health insurance system in the hands of the federal government is a precarious proposition? And don’t claim the solution is to base it in the states. In all, 21 states refused to take Medicaid money to implement the full ACA; do you imaging they’ll change their mind on a “socialist health insurance system”?
This is a common problem with the far left, especially the professional part. When they talk about campaign finance reform, they often talk about “public financing.” In other words, they are convinced the “solution” to our campaign finance problem is to prevent Americans from supporting candidates and to make sure all financing comes from the federal government. yeah, what could go wrong there, right? With Republicans and Democrats alternating power, what chance does the political independent have? Right now, if you want to support a Bernie Sanders or a Jill Stein or a Gary Johnson, you can. However, with what the professional left proposes, you can’t necessarily do that. Congress and state legislatures will get to decide who gets what and they will be able to make and adjust the laws pretty much at will.
So, here’s the question;
If I believe that everyone should have access to healthcare when they need it without having to hold a fundraiser, and you believe in creating a single payer system that will be impossible to pass and implement in any less than a decade or two, what makes you a “real progressive” and what makes me a “neoliberal”? We’re both trying to get to the same place; the only difference is, while you are attached to one way of doing so that may or may not work, I am open to any method for making that work. How is that “neoliberal”?
Likewise, I have proposed a system of campaign finance that addresses every excess that we have right now. My system would make it so that everyone could give to the candidate of their choice, but imposes a limit of $5,000 for any entity whatsoever, including an individual or organization, company, PAC or whatever. I would also ban bundling and I would run all donations through a clearinghouse, so that no one in any campaign knows where the money came from. Why is that “neoliberal,” while trusting the government with fairness on the number one thing that keeps them employed is considered “progressive”?
And one more thing; if the professional left are all in favor of “single payer” healthcare and “public financing” of elections, they should probably be more careful than they are. Put simply, we could probably trust Democrats with healthcare financing, but we certainly can’t trust Republicans with it. So, why are these same people always punishing Democrats for not being perfect, when they claim to want these things so badly? Do you really want everyone to make $15 per hour? If so, then you’d better make sure Democrats win everything, dontcha think? Do you want to make sure the poor have enough food to eat? Then you’d better make sure Democrats win every election because we know the GOP will cut SNAP money every chance they get.
I’m no “neoliberal.” I am a progressive. I want this country to move forward in every possible way. But we can’t do that if we have the loudest portion of the liberal side of the equation constantly insulting like-minded people who just want things to happen.
There are no unicorns. There are politicians and there is politics. Being uncompromising and making incessant demands without doing what is politically necessary to make it happen isn’t “progressive,” it’s flat stupid.
Stop being stupid.
Also published on Medium.