What I did on my late-summer “vacation”…

Let me explain what I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks, because you need to hear it, my fellow progressives…

I’ve been working with a select group of Democratic candidates on messaging that will help them win their elections six weeks from today. The six candidates running in various parts of the country, mostly at the state level. All six needed help, not because they were threatened with annihilation because of the GOP BS machine, but because they were being attacked incessantly by liberals, who are constantly on them for not being “progressive enough.”

That’s right. Six weeks before an election, and liberals who should know better are attacking Democrats incessantly. How is that possible? In what way does that make sense? Five of the six candidates are in districts that are actually majority Republican districts, and they have a good chance of winning, because the Republican Party is not very popular at the moment. The other one is in the district that is almost exactly 50-50. They’re not in districts that are 65-70% Democratic, where a candidate can say far left things and still be elected. These people aren’t Maxine Waters, who represents a district that will elect her almost no matter what. These candidates are running in districts where winning is actually something of a minor miracle.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been once again reminded that a great number of “progressives” really have no idea how politics actually works. I was listening to a progressive radio show late last week, and was astounded by the parade of “progressives” who called in to tell us what “the Democrats” message should be, as if there could be one message that would apply to the thousands of races occurring throughout the entire country. one guy was actually bravely positing that “the Democrats” should not have allowed the right wing to adopt the term “pro-life,” as if no one else has ever thought of that. In what way is that relevant to thousands of campaigns throughout the country? The answer is, of course, it’s not. And this is why we lose. this is why progressive citizen on the sidelines for 40 years. many progressives don’t understand politics in yet in their own minds, their brilliant.

Midterm elections are not pretty. They are difficult, and it is difficult to engage the public in the debate. One reason for that is, there are no presidential elections to galvanize the entire country around a few issues, and there is no single theme that will get them out to the polls. midterm elections are the embodiment of the phrase, “all politics is local.” If you think the Democratic Party should be “messaging” using a single theme or series of themes for the entire country, then learn about politics, because you don’t know anything. if you expect Debbie Wasserman Schultz to fashion a “midterm theme” that would make you ecstatic, then you don’t understand how midterms work, and you should probably sit down and shut up.

First of all, Democratic Party messaging is a local affair, especially in a midterm election. Other than jobs, which is a given in every election where unemployment is above 2%, there is no messaging that applies to the entire country. Second of all, messaging doesn’t come from a party that exists way out there in the ether; it comes from us. Why do so many “progressives” always expect someone else to do their dirty work for them? Those of us who are politically active — meaning those of us who actually discuss this as a matter of course, or who write about it on a regular basis — are responsible for general “messaging.” It’s not up to the national Democratic Party to point out that the Republican Party sucks and why; that’s our job.

It always cracks me up when I see “progressives” on Twitter or Facebook or one of the millions of political fora that are out there claiming that liberals are the “Democratic base,” at the same time they talk about “the Democrats” as if there’s some sort of disembodied entity out there in space. We progressives have two choices, because there are two viable parties in this country; Republicans and Democrats. that’s it. Those are the only two parties that have a chance to win in just about every election. There is no smorgasbord of choices. Once every thousand races are so, one “independent” will pop up, but when they take their seat, they will caucus with either Republicans or Democrats, because it’s the only way to get things done.

If you’d like a new political party to come up, then build one. But you’ll have to build it into a second party, because simple mathematics makes a viable third party impossible. By the way, the last time that was done was 150 years ago, when the Republican Party took over as the second party. When I listen to these people wish for a third party, as if someone “out there” will simply create one for them, it makes me laugh. However, it makes me scream when they start attacking Democrats because they think they have to attack Democrats in order to create an atmosphere that will lead to a “third party.” Really? you’d rather replace the Democrats than Republicans? Is that really that progressive? The Republican Party, as it exists right now, wants to tear the country apart. Shouldn’t that be the party that we replace as a second party?

Someone else isn’t going to build you a new political party.You have to build it yourself, and do so from the ground up. Political parties don’t just exist, people have to make them, and many before you have tried and failed. There are currently 134 political parties registered in the United States, and few have ever gotten more than 1-2% of the vote nationally, and few have held more than 1-2 seats in any state or federal governmental body in the country. The overwhelming majority of Americans will always vote for either a Democrat or a Republican. And while you may think all such people are “brainwashed,” the fact of the matter is, they’re smarter than “progressives” who wish for a new political party, and seem to expect it to magically pop up out of nowhere. They understand that you can’t do anything politically without a majority. And the major political parties, while far from perfect, help to give our positions a majority in whichever governmental body is relevant to a particular election.

And that leads to another thing all progressives need to know. Trying to get five or six full on progressives elected in local elections is admirable on its face. However, if you are trying to elect five or six full-on progressives, at the same time you are trashing dozens of other Democrats for not being “progressive enough,” you are politically daft. Electing five or six full-on Progressives to a governmental body in which they are the minority is little more than political masturbation. Even the most progressive politicians can do nothing if they’re not part of the majority caucus in whichever body they’re serving. For example, progressives love to hold up Elizabeth Warren is a paragon of virtue; the greatest progressive ever created. However, as long as she is in the Senate, and the Senate has more than 40 Republicans, and as long as Republicans run the House of Representatives, Elizabeth Warren can do absolutely nothing. in other words, If you’re taking pride in both electing Elizabeth Warren and also making sure that enough Democrats lose so that Warren is part of the minority, you don’t understand how politics works.

The same is true of President Obama, the most progressive president we’ve had in many years. the reason he doesn’t seem so progressive is because he can’t pass progressive legislation without a compliant Congress. he had a compliant Congress in 2009-2010, but these same “progressives” blamed Democrats for not being up to overcome the filibuster during that period, and handed Congress to the GOP in 2010.

So here we are in 2014, and I’m  seeing the same damn thing again. It is political stupidity on the part of progressives that we Democrats have to fight so hard against these people. Our greatest threat isn’t the Republican Party, it’s the circular firing squad that is present on the left side of the political spectrum. Seriously, how the hell do these “progressives” expect ever to get a progressive country, if we can’t even move the country even slightly to the right because they oppose everyone who isn’t 100% full-on lefty? Moving the country left takes a lot of effort and time, and it will be a gradual progression, especially after 34 years of domination by the current incarnation of the GOP. I know some of these “progressives” dream of some sort of “revolution,” but that’s not realistic. We live in a democracy. Ultimately, that means that we the people get to make political decisions, so what the hell do they imagine people will revolt against? People don’t revolt against democracy, they revolt against oppression. The people of this country already have the power to remove any oppression they see, and we have the power to change the government every two years. Again, what do you imagine they’re going to revolt against?

To get anything done in this country, you have two choices. The first choice is to make sure you have a majority in whichever governmental body needs to do something. The second choice — and the choice the Republicans prefer — is to encourage people who oppose you to not show up at the polls on election day. Since the Republicans dominate the second choice, we have one choice left as progressives. We have to make sure the closest major party to us, ideologically speaking, which is the Democratic Party, always has a majority in every governmental body possible. We have to make sure we have a majority in the Senate (at this point that means 60 or more votes) and we need to have a solid majority in the House of Representatives. We have to elect as many Democratic governors as possible, and we have to elect Democratic majorities in every state legislature in the country.

No, Democrats are not perfect, but only a complete idiot would expect them to be. We live in a democracy, folks. By definition, that means we have to settle for something close to the middle of political spectrum. Success for progressives is moving the country a little bit left of the center; if you expect to ever move the entire country all the way to the left, you are a dreamer and have no place in politics.

I, for one, am tired of Democrats having to fight harder against so-called “progressives” than against Republicans. Republicans should be the greatest enemies of the progressive movement, and yet they’re not treated as such. Democrats rarely have to fight against Republicans; most voters understand that Republicans are nuts, and they have no intention of voting for them. But along comes some really nice, seemingly caring and knowledgeable “progressive” bloggers and “journalists,” who are more than happy to tell them that Democrats are just as bad as Republicans. Voters are told that Democrats are just as beholden to corporations; just as ignorant on climate change; and just as racist, sexist and everything else as Republicans. Then, we end up spending far too much time fighting against the absolutely false impression that these “progressives” provide. Because of these “progressives,” Democratic candidates too often have to swim against the tide, and prove to voters that it’s worthwhile for them to show up and vote.

This has to stop. Now. We have six weeks.

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One comment

  1. I always want to tell faux progressives – it’s the HOUSE, stupid, NOT the candidate.

    We cannot “reform” what we do not control.

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