Not long after I posted yesterday’s column, I received an admonition from someone I can only call a “Unicorn Progressive,’ taking me to task because I “blamed” Republicans for the current state of government we are facing in this election. They took some time to write me, which I suppose I appreciate, but then they fell back into a common pattern I have seen all too often in the 13 years since I started this tiny blog, “reminding” me that both political parties are essentially the same.
To believe such nonsense at this point in time takes a lot more than ignorance. The willfulness of such a level of ignorance means something more is going on. It would be like me telling someone I can fix their car, which would be unfortunate for them, to say the least.
Unfortunately, this person is in no way alone with these types of thoughts. Unicorn progressives are too common these days, and many of them seem to have difficulty seeing the trees for the forest. They are always going after their concept of “perfection,” and they seem to have no idea that such a thing is impossible. Our Constitution and form of government was established by very wise men for the time, but even they used the term “more perfect” in the Constitution because they realized that a “perfect union” was impossible. By making the mission of the Constitution “a more perfect union, they were asking us to constantly deal with problems with the government, while also realizing that absolute perfection was impossible because we are humans, not gods and goddesses.
Unicorn Progressives are much like children who have been given a pony for their birthday, then cry and complain because the pony isn’t a unicorn. In 2008, voters elected the most progressive president in the past century or more, and all the Unicorn Progressives did was complain that he wasn’t “progressive enough.” They started whining about Obama before his inauguration, and they never really stopped. Then, the two mid-term elections during the Obama years, they trashed him – and Democrats in general – incessantly. As a result of the 2010 and 2014 elections, Republicans held the largest majority they’d had since the 1920s. While the Unicorn Progressives like to remind us of their status as “real progressives,” the results of their political “activism” has essentially entrenched the GOP in the majority, even though they are a minority party responsible for most of the worst governmental excesses we have experienced in the last half century.
These “progressives” tend to be white, they usually have college degrees, and they place their education in much higher esteem than is usually warranted. Many of them have larger-than-average bank accounts, yet they operate under the delusion that they know more about what it’s like to be poor, working class and being a minority than the poor, the working class, and minorities do. That is inexcusable, but what is worse is their inability to shut up and listen.
It is perhaps their basic education that makes them dangerous. It makes them believe that the goodness of whatever their cause may be this week is enough to bring about social change, and they rarely participate in electoral politics. They want the result, but they won’t do the work needed to get the result. This is why it’s been damn near a half century since progressives have had a loud voice.
Unfortunately for the American people, however, is their tendency to propagate this notion that both major political parties are largely identical, despite the obvious fallacy inherent in that idea. Even if we manage to beat Trump and make sure the Senate has a Democratic majority, we still have too much work to do, to fall into that nonsense.
Republicans and Right Wingers don’t win elections, we liberals lose them. They haven’t had an inordinate level of control over government because of their “message.” In fact, most of their positions on “issues” are insane, and they don’t appeal to the mainstream. Republicans also don’t win because of money, because they really don’t have as much s you think. The reason they keep getting elected is because there’s no alternate message to their drivel.
Republicans have been holding too many offices for too long because too many voters stay home and never cast a vote. The electorate wants a positive reason to turn out to vote, but unicorn progressives usually add to the cacophony of negativity, which is designed by the GOP to drive down turnout. That’s one reason they try to perpetuate the absurd notion that both parties are largely the same. That means they are able to perpetuate the idea that there is no advantage of voting for Democrats over Republicans. Most Americans consider right wingers to be idiots, so, if they’re told Democrats are idiots, too, where’s the incentive to go out on a cold November day to cast a vote? Where’s the incentive to head home between jobs and lose an hour or two of meager pay to vote for an idiot?
I mean, it would be different if it was true. But come on; what sane human being can compare a House led by Paul Ryan with a Pelosi-led House and see any similarities? And if you see any similarities between the Obama and Trump Administrations, you need to put down the narcotics.
I have written articles like this for years, and they always cite the same “issues” to “prove” there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans. They cite NAFTA and free trade, military spending, NSA surveillance, and they really like to cite problems with “income inequality/corporatism.” Forget that none of the above are usually major issues, but let’s take a look at how each party approaches these problems when they happen.
Let’s start with NAFTA and Free Trade in general. The complaints against NAFTA are usually made up out of whole cloth, for the most part, and they are based on the unicorn progressives’ irrational fear of “capitalism.” They will scream until they’re blue in the face that NAFTA cost “millions of jobs,” even though the largest economic expansion since the 1960s happened immediately after the free trade deal was passed. In any case, the approaches to NAFTA between Democrats and Republicans were completely different. Republicans have had a tendency to praise the aspects of NAFTA that liberals didn’t like, and they have used it as a way to undermine American workers, especially those who are members of unions.
When it comes to free trade, the two parties don’t even use the same definition. To today’s GOP, “free trade” means everyone should be able to sell anything they want without the “burden” of government regulation. Democrats, however, believe that regulations are essential to keeping everyone in the marketplace honest. If it was up to Republicans, trade agreements would be free of any labor or environmental regulations whatsoever. The reality is, free trade agreements under Republicans tend to have no restrictions, while there are plenty of restrictions in those negotiated and ratified by Democrats. Free trade agreements are not inherently bad. Most of them work extremely well.
Let’s take a look at the NSA Surveillance Program under Republicans, as opposed to the state of NSA surveillance under Democrats. The most notorious NSA program, which came to a head when Eddie Snowden stole secrets and apparently sold them to Putin and the Russians. Republicans, led by George W. Bush, started the surveillance program in 2001, under the auspices of the AUMF, and did so without oversight and in complete secret. It was revealed in 2005, and when Democrats took over Congress in January 2007, they made Bush’s Republican-endorsed program illegal, and set up a new program that limited data collection to metadata, and created oversight on the part of the FISA court and Congress. That’s a pretty significant difference.
Military spending – If you think both parties are the same on this, see a doctor. Ever since the Cold War ended, Democrats have pushed to cut defense spending, whereas Republicans wanted major increases, except when they’re starting a war, which they have been doing repeatedly during the last 30-40 years. Another difference comes when Republicans use defense spending as a jobs program of sorts. They seem to believe it makes the economy look better when they’re in office, regardless of the death toll. Democrats, on the other hand, generally try to refocus defense money to other areas of the economy. Since 1973, the only presidents to cut defense spending were Carter, Bush 41, Clinton and Obama. Reagan, Trump, and Bush 43, on the other hand, threw money at the Pentagon as if it was nothing at all. Bush also put two wars on the national credit card, while Obama actually at least put the spending on the books.
When you look at income inequality and corporatism, there are few similarities between the two parties, although this issue is a born loser that we need to change. Few American workers give a shit whether or not CEOs make nearly 350 times as much as their average worker. They don’t even care that the rich are so rich, and get richer every time we have an economic downturn. The issue that matters to a majority of voters is whether or not they are making enough to live on. And since almost everyone who works for a business that’s a corporation, and most entrepreneurs incorporate, the “corporatism” claim is more than a bit silly. Despite that, anyone who claims that both parties are the same regarding either of these issues is suffering the kind of delusion that is hard for sane people to comprehend.
The tax system is completely screwed up because the Republicans kept giving tax breaks to rich folks, and because the tax code differentiates between “earned” and “unearned” income, and give greater tax breaks for the “unearned” kind. The old Democratic tax code had a top tax rate of 70-91%, and to lower that, you had to create wealth for those at the bottom of the scale. When some rich folks were caught paying no taxes, Democrats fixed it.
The Republican-generated tax code is unfair; in 2011, Mitt Romney paid a lower percentage of his income in taxes than the average McDonald’s fry guy. The same is true of Trump, who claims to be a “billionaire,” yet only paid $750 in 2016 and 2017. People making fries at a national fast-food chain probably paid more than Trump. Republicans hate the minimum wage, they hate welfare, they hate food stamps, while Democrats will usually go to the mat for all of them, when they’re in charge.
As for corporatism, I did the math. Corporations hate the Democratic Party, while they love the GOP. You can see it in their campaign contributions, if you’d bother to look.
There is almost NO issue in which the current Republican Party and the Democratic Party agree. In fact, there has never been a time when they’ve been more polar opposite. We have to win this year, but we can’t win unless we always tell the truth and offer positive solutions. It’s a lie to claim both parties are the same, and it also helps the right-wing stay in power.