Okay… So for the last week, I have been ranting about the PUBs (Progressive Unicorn Brigade) and professional left, and their rank stupidity with regard to politics. They don’t understand how politics actually works, they don’t understand that you don’t just make demands of politicians and they do your bidding, and they don’t understand that you do not form a tiny little cabal, vote for third parties and independents and call everyone who isn’t like you stupid or sell-outs or something similar and win in a democratic system.
A lot of ranting, wasn’t it? And I wasn’t done. My God, I could go on with these people, but there is just too much. I just finished listening to a PUB tell me how horrible it is that James Comey and the FBI didn’t indict Hillary, primarily because he envisioned Bernie being the one who would step in and take the nomination if it happened. Can we say, “clueless”?
First of all, in the history of our system, no one has ever been indicted and convicted for mishandling information or for including classified information in a few emails. Ever. In history. It’s frowned upon, certainly, but unless it’s possible to prove bad intent, it’s no more than technically “illegal.” Most people who do something wrong are never arrested or charged; it largely depends on the harm that’s done. It’s the same reason the California Highway Patrol doesn’t issue tickets to every car that goes over the speed limit on the San Diego Freeway; there are times of day when they’d have to ticket thousands at a time. What I’m trying to say is, while we are technically a “nation of laws,” not everyone is frog-marched and prosecuted. Get over it. She really did nothing that could be proven illegal. If it was illegal to do stupid shit, everyone in the world would have a record.
Also, there is no default in place that would automatically send the nomination to Bernie, anyway. He received 42% of the Democratic vote, even though his acolytes think of him as something resembling a god. While he would probably do well against Trump, he wouldn’t necessarily do all that well pulling other Democrats into office, and we have to all agree that President isn’t the only office Democrats need to win. There is a very good chance that the Party would choose someone like Joe Biden, not Bernie Sanders.
Like I said, there is so much wrong with our far left flank, I could have spent all summer rehashing this shit. But that’s now that this blog is about. It’s about solutions. So, how do we move the country in a progressive direction, in spite of PUBs? It’s actually surprisingly easy. Here are some things we can do.
- Ignore them when possible. I admonish every liberal anywhere to ignore the far right and to not repeat what they have to say in order to refute it. Don’t give them the time of day. If you feel like something they say is really outrageous, replace it. What I mean is, take a position that addresses an actual issue and develop an alternate message that addresses that issue in a more rational way. Do the same with PUBs.
- Develop an overall progressive message. We have to always remember that there are more rational progressives than PUBs, by far. I wrote a short book with some serious suggestions for doing this, and I only charge a buck for it, so try that. (Go here to get it – it’s only a buck!) We have to be positive because that is what works. Barack Obama was brilliant because he understood and continues to understand that most voters want to vote for something and they want to feel like their vote makes a difference. We’re PROgressive; we should be the happy, rose-colored glasses types.
- Drown them out. Just because you “only” have a couple hundred followers on social media does not mean that you have no influence. If there are 5 million of us and we each reach 10 people, that’s 50 million people. We all have a voice in this. This blog is relatively small in stature, but even this tiny little thing has reached millions over the years.
- Don’t be emotional. Remember that politics and issues are two different things. It’s understandable that you take issues personally, but politics can’t be. Politics is cold hard strategy. Whether they come from the right or the left, if they are preventing us from making progress, they are not our friends. That said, your goal has to be to develop strategies to get the most votes, not to get back at them.
- Listen more, talk less. There is nothing more irritating to anyone than someone who is sure they are right and won’t stop talking, except someone who doesn’t hear anything you have to say. If you don’t understand that liberals in the Deep South think differently about issues than liberals in the Northeast, it’s because you spend too much time talking and you’re not paying attention. If you think a sudden increase in the minimum wage to $15 would play the same in Alabama and Mississippi as it would in New York and California, it’s because you’re not listening. If all you can do is tell people that California used to have “free college,” it’s because you’re not listening to those who will tell you that taxes at the time were too high and that the colleges weren’t quite as good. If you think “Universal Health Care” and “Single Payer” are synonymous, it’s because you have not paid attention to the facts.
- Reject gullibility and your personal ego. It’s a fact that someone who is running for office and knows they have no chance to win can say absolutely anything you want to hear because they will never have to do any of it. If you are so enamored with the ideas someone expresses, great, but if there is no chance of their winning, take some salt with that, won’t you? Voting for a third party candidate with no chance of winning is a wasted vote. It’s an ego-driven exercise.
- Stop dealing with personalities. It is fun to make fun of some of the dimmer bulbs on the right and left extremes, but what we really should be focusing on is not them, but what they believe. If you really think about it, we have gotten rid of hundreds of prominent right wing idiots, and yet, the GOP continues to get regressively worse. That’s because, even if we get rid of a John Boehner, he’s replaced with a Paul Ryan, which is just as bad. We have to stop targeting the GOP and start targeting what they believe. And that goes back to #2, where we develop a progressive message. On guns, it feels good to blame everything on the NRA, but the fact of the matter is, they’re not the problem. The problem is the ideology that caters to them with an absolutist (and wrong) view of the Second Amendment. Whack-a-Mole is fun to play at a carnival, not in politics.
- Stop deferring to the professional left. There are so many people out there with “progressive” websites that do more to assist Republicans than to assist us. Call them out by just correcting the record without mentioning them. I don’t care whether a pro lefty is a reliable “progressive,” if they are constantly against the Democratic Party, they are doing progressives no favors. Stop thinking they are somehow superior to you, just because they have a louder megaphone.
- Be proud to be pragmatic. Look, we all want the same things. The only difference between us and the PUBs/emos is that we have a viable strategy for actually getting things done. We all want peace on earth. We are against war and torture and we all believe in basic human rights for all people. We all want everyone to have whatever they need to have a decent life. We all think healthcare IS a right. We all think some things should not be subject to market forces. We all have a bit of a socialist streak on some things, and we believe that basic food and shelter is a right for all people. The only thing that makes us different is that we understand the difference between rhetoric and reality and we understand that a democratic process never works instantaneously.
- Be patient. Progress takes time. Slavery lasted almost 250 years on this continent and it took another century for Black people to get something resembling equal rights on paper. It took 150 years to some up with Social Security, almost 200 to come up with Medicare and another 50 to get the ACA. It took until the 1940s for us to make public education universal and we didn’t reach 98% literacy until the 1960s. We are way behind other countries in education, health care, science and many other areas, primarily because we keep electing idiots who think the best path to prosperity is austerity, which is ludicrous, but also because democracy is deliberative. This notion of “revolution” in a nation that cares more about Kardashians than the Supreme Court is insane, but that is actually a good thing, in a way. This country is the closest we have ever been to the “equal rights” promised by our founding and we built the most prosperous nation in history at the same time we learned how to actually make people equal under the law. We can do that again, but we have to be realistic. And patient.
- Stop reacting. This is the most important, because it applies to all of the others. We have to start thinking more and reacting less. Most of the time, when we react to things others say, including PUBs, it is exactly what they want. Hell, folks; the professional left makes a living from your outrage. One of the reasons their blogs and websites are chock full of outrage is because they know you’ll visit more often. Stop it. Fixing problems requires political strategy, not outrage and anger.
That’s it. This is how we solve our problem. It’s time to get rid of the PUB element of the movement. They’re dragging us down and taking the country with them. Reaching for perfection is a waste of everyone’s time. Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good; just make progress.