I can’t tell you how many times a day I’m told that the United States is whatever sort of “-ocracy;” small-but-loud groups of progressives have decided we are that week. I’m then told that we’ve been taken over by corporations, and that all is lost forever, unless we have some sort of undefined “revolution”. These “armchair revolutionaries” (see my article about Russell Brand and his “vision” here.) are right to say there is a problem with our politics right now, but they fail to look inward for the source. It’s not the system that’s the problem. It’s the same system that was created with the country, and it’s the same system we had in those rip-roaring 1930s and 1960s. The problem is, some liberals seem to think it was the protests and marches that created change in those eras, without taking into account that Democrats had a large supermajority both times.
Yes, folks, we still have a democracy. Ironically, in order to lose our democracy, a majority would vote for it. Unfortunately, a small-but-loud group of progressives thins they can just avoid all of that messy “democracy” crap, and they muck up the works.
Our system is a democratic republic. Every 2-6 years, we, the people, choose who we want to represent us in various local, state and federal governmental bodies. The people who win those elections get to make laws and policy in their respective bodies, and they get to choose the various bureaucrats whom we rely on to provide us with government services. No one else does. Of course, only some of them get to do all of that – the majority caucus. See, government itself is also democratic, and the majority gets to do what it wants, while the minority gets to do what the majority will allow.
Know what’s missing in that formula? Protest, marching, and occupying.
I’m not saying progressives shouldn’t do any of that, of course. But too many progressives seem content with calling themselves “activists” because they march and occupy, and leaving it at that, and that’s just half-assed. Doing all of those things without an electoral strategy is just nuts. It’s not “activism,” any more than jogging by the US Capitol is “activism.” I know you imagine politicians looking out of their windows and cowering in fear at the masses of people marching, but, well, progressives have a reputation for not swaying voters. Worse, we nw have a reputation for not voting ourselves, or voting for candidates with no chance of winning.
If you want to strike fear in a politician, you have to show him a million VOTERS at your protest, not a million pissed off people who may or may not show up. You know why Republican politicians are afraid of right wingers? Because Republicans will almost always vote for them. Every election, 85% or more of Republicans will show up to vote. As long as the current GOP is populated with right wing whackos who would vote for a Stalin/Mussolini ticket if they were running as Republicans, there is no way they won’t win, as long as we think “finessing” the system is the best approach. You want the Democrats to do more progressive things, you’ll have to show support first. The only way “withholding support” can work is if you offer it in the first place. The vote can only be a powerful tool if there are a lot of them, and they make a difference in an election. Right now, this small, loud group of progressives and professional lefties are basically helping the right wing continue winning.
If you want to be a part of the system, progressives, then be a part of the system, and stop standing outside the system, making demands that you’re not in a position to back it up. Often, these petulant progressive groups look like kidnappers without a victim who demand ransom, anyway.
To paraphrase Steve Martin, democracy is not pretty, but it is the heart of our system, and avoiding it is not an option. If you don’t like what’s happening, then change it! Right now, the people have all of the power. If you don’t like Voter ID laws (ironically?), with the democratic system, we can get rid of them by getting people to vote for those who want to change them. Want electric vehicles, solar and wind power, policies that fight global warming? Would you like to strengthen programs for the poor and stop being threatened with massive cuts to Medicare and Social Security? Well, the first step will be to encourage the electorate to vote for Democrats and reject the right wing Republican Party. Really, it’s been 33 years since the right wing gained way too much power; what will it take some to figure out that the problem is the left’s rejection and the right’s embrace of the democracy?
If you want a progressive country, you’ll have to get a majority to accept and vote for progressive ideas. That will take time, of course. But in the meantime, why is it so hard to get professional lefties and loud progressive groups to understand that having Republicans makes that job even harder.
I don’t care if you don’t like Blue Dogs. They’re better than teabaggers, and getting the most votes against the Republican Party has to be a priority right now. The Progressive Caucus has no power right now, as a minority of a minority. Being the minority of a majority makes them far more powerful. If you doubt that, consider; the Tea Party Caucus only has 46 members.
Yes, I said 46. NOW do you understand how important elections and gaining the majority for Democrats is?