About once a month, something comes across my Facebook feed along the lines of, “I don’t know how the hell we children of the 1950s and 1960s survived. We were tough and we did all kinds of things that are considered really dangerous these days and, as a result, we have created some of the greatest inventions of our time.”
What that idealistic view fails to mention is that the child mortality rate is about 80% lower than it was back then. It also fails to mention that, for the last 40 years, those kids who grew up to create cell phones, the Internet and “hoverboards” also created a political framework that makes life far more difficult for most Americans. In other words, a lot of us did not actually survive and those who did survive are responsible for perpetuating racism, forcing our kids into a life of crushing debt just so they can go to college and increase their job prospects and have allowed wages to deflate to the point that it’s harder to make a living than at any other point in our history.
In other words, once again, we see the failing of pure idealism.
Idealism has its place, of course. It’s how we live and it’s the basis for all progressive thought. But idealism can’t be the end of things; it just can’t. In order to be effective a dose of idealism has to be tempered by realism and pragmatism. Pure idealism may make you feel good, but it does nothing for society; at some point, if you have ideals, you have to put them into motion and that requires getting things done. One reason the progressive movement has been stalled for decades is because we keep waiting for something to happen that is unlikely to ever happen.
The constant cries for “revolution” that come from so many on the left sound great, right? I mean, we all want the poor to make more money and have everything they need and we want everyone to have a job and health care and we want black and brown people to be able to walk down the street without being accosted or shot by police. We want corporations to have less power and the people to have more. And to many of you, that means “revolution.”
Or does it?
The first thing I would ask of all I of these lefty “revolutionaries” is, what do you want to happen that requires “revolution”?
Seriously, as things stand right now, we can raise wages for those in the working class, we can bring jobs back to the United States, we can build an amazing infrastructure, including a national system of mass transit. We can also build on the ACA to create a truly universal healthcare system, we can reduce tuition at public universities to levels that wouldn’t require six-figure debt to complete. We have the ability to fight climate change and stop burning fossil fuels for energy and we have the ability to create the strongest and most prosperous alternative energy infrastructure in the world. We have the means to do anything that needs to be done NOW. The only thing we’re missing right now is the political will to do that, mostly because we have a major political party who doesn’t want the United States to be successful and that doesn’t care about its people.
I’ve written about Bernie Sanders supporters before, but with less than a week to go before the primaries start, I need to do it again. Note that my complaint isn’t about Sanders, but many of his supporters. Their dream of a progressive utopia, wherein he heads into the White House and just breaks up banks, installs a single-payer healthcare system and makes most college free based on sheer force of will, has absolutely no basis in reality in a world in which the Republican Party exists in its current form. I don’t mean it’ll be difficult, I mean it will be impossible.
In fact, their idealistic purity-trashing of Hillary Clinton not only doesn’t help Bernie, it actually makes the idealists’ dreams a hell of a lot less possible because, like it or not, she is the front runner and the constant denigration actually hurts her chances in the general election, something we can’t afford. I mean, if I hear one more of these idealistic morons tell me Clinton is “practically a Republican,” I will just have to scream because the ignorance is too much to take.
If you really think this country is ripe for “revolution,” I have to wonder what you base that on, for chrissakes. Back when we made huge inroads in American society, between 1933 and about 1970, we were able to do it by aligning ourselves with Democrats and getting voter turnout above 60% in presidential years and 50% in midterm elections. Since then, midterm turnout has been in the high 30s. In 2010, turnout was 37% and in 2014, it was 36%.
Tell me; does a country in which two-thirds of voters can’t even be bothered to go to a polling place a few blocks from home once every other November sound like a country that is ripe for “revolution”? For that matter, in 2008, the highest-turnout election since 1968, in 2008, elected a black man, and his message was one of “hope and change.” Does that really sound like a country that is monumentally pissed off to the point of “revolution”? Does a nation that stands in line for a new smartphone when it comes out sound like a country that is aching for a revolution? When you walk down the street, for every person who’s handing out fliers calling for people to rise up against injustice, there are 100 who don’t see them because they’re staring at their smartphone and listening to Justin Bieber on their way home to turn on the TV to find out what happened to the Kardashians today.
Bernie people, especially the PUBs and pro lefties, who dream of “revolution” because they’ve talked themselves into being pissed off about things they don’t even understand, are doing far more to hold back the progressive movement than to move it forward. If you want things to change, wishing for it will never work. It never has worked and it can’t work. Moving this country to the left is amazingly easy, but you’re doing it wrong. Giving people hope and asking them to vote is how you move a society and a nation forward, not by trying to piss people off and hoping that more people will react. It’s been more than 40 years; how much longer will you continue to do this type of thing before you figure out that change doesn’t happen that way?
Create a political will and we can have anything we want. Keep demanding “revolution” and the GOP will keep winning, thus making “revolution” impossible.