REPOSTED IN FULL FROM PCTC (Please Cut The Crap) – written by Milt Shook
When all is said and done, if you want to know why the politics in what should be a liberal country such as the United States has been dominated for 30 years by people who should be situated on the fringe, if you’re on the far left, look in the mirror. If not, look at the far left.
A quick perusal of the leftist “blogosphere” shows people who like to spout facts and figures, and who obsess over everything that happens, as if they’re doing play-by-play for a baseball game. But they seem to neither know nor care about the average person, and they definitely lack understanding of basic politics. It’s amazing how little they know, yet they act like experts, despite the fact that the only people who actually buy their bullshit are like-minded people who are gullible.
Yes, folks; a lot of the far left is JUST LIKE the far right in that way.
Most actual liberals are very cool, and not very dumb, politically speaking. The liberal side of the aisle encompasses a wide array of different types of people, with different types of experiences. The denizens of the far left are almost all white, they’re almost never poor and they have college educations. They have very little contact with any of the people they claim to be advocating for, yet to listen to them, they know more about being poor or being a minority than the poor and minorities do.
The liberal side of the political debate has been sitting on the sidelines for the better part of 40 years, primarily because a very noisy segment of our ideology is ruining it for the rest of us. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m sick of it. It’s time we taught basic politics to the far left.
Consider this is politics 101, folks.
Lesson #1: We live in a democratic republic, in which the person who gets the most votes wins and gets to make policy.
I know that sounds a little too basic, but let’s face it; for a bunch of political “experts,” many on the far left seems to be constantly shocked and surprised when assholes get elected and do pretty much what they said they would do. Every government in this country runs by majority rule; he or she who gets the majority of votes gets to make the rules. If you want the government to enact laws, regulations and policies that help working people, the poor and downtrodden, or if you want a universal health care plan that covers everyone 100%, you absolutely have to see to it that the person elected in each race is one who is oriented to listen to what the people want, and do as much as they can. Of course, there is a second part to that equation:
Lesson #2: In order to get a progressive government, you need a progressive populace.
Again, this should have been part of the Civics curriculum in everyone’s fourth grade class. Majority rules, so if you want progressive laws passed, you need a progressive majority. That means changing the hearts and minds of the people out there. That doesn’t mean screaming at them and telling them what they should believe and writing them off as “stupid” when they don’t think exactly the way you do. It means listening to them, then framing the issues in such a way that makes them want to be on our side. “Climate change” is an abstract concept to most people, and the fact that it is does not make everyone who thinks of it that way “stupid.” And the fact that they take an abstract view of “climate change” doesn’t mean they wouldn’t like to drive a vehicle that is safe for them and their children and gets 200 miles per gallon, or one that doesn’t use gas at all. Most people would willingly switch their electricity provider to a clean energy company, as long as it didn’t mean the cost would double. On other issues, even if they’re against abortion in principle, most folks aren’t in favor of the government forcing a woman to stay pregnant against her will. And let’s clear up one thing; most swing voters don’t care about anyone’s stance on most individual issues.
It’s this simple, folks. If you want the politics in this country to move left, you have to move the electorate left. Which leads us to:
Lesson #3: Until there are at least 218 progressive districts in this country, ousting “Blue Dogs” is not a source of pride; it’s just plain stupid.
Many on the far left seem to be enormously immature, in that they want their political change to happen immediately. they’re like the rich kids who “only” got a Mercedes for graduation, when they wanted the Jaguar. Real people have to earn their reward, folks; no one gets anything without tons of blood and sweat.
After more than 30 years of neocon-driven politics, why would anyone be surprised that there are a large number of conservative-leaning districts out there? Yet, a large number of far-left “progressives” were actually crowing at the “silver lining” in the 2010 election results; that about half of all “Blue Dog” Democrats lost. Yes, that’s right; they were HAPPY. Nancy Pelosi was replaced by an orange Boner, the committee chairs all went from being progressive Democrats to being right wing Republicans. We went from having a House of Representatives that passed hundreds of relatively progressive bills to one that has repeatedly tried to kill Medicare and damage Social Security.
And do you know WHY this happened? In part, it’s because about 25 “Blue Dogs,” almost all of whom voted with Democrats at least 80% of the time, were replaced by right wing Republicans and teabaggers.
Does that sound like “progress” to you? Really? If you do, then you must be one of those geniuses who thinks both major parties are the same. And that leads to:
Lesson #4: No matter how many times you tell yourself this, there is NO SIMILARITY between the two political parties at this point in time.
Many on the far left love to quote Harry Truman, who once said, “Given a choice between a Democrat who acts like a Republican or a Republican, the people will always choose the Republican.”
Gosh, that’s catchy. The problem is, he said it nearly 65 years ago, and the Republican party has changed a lot since then. Back then, the two parties saw each other as “the loyal opposition.” Nowadays, the current incarnation of the Republican Party sees Democrats as “the enemy.” They have declared war on the poor, and will do everything they can to help the rich get richer. the current GOP happily puts party politics ahead of country, which is something most Republicans in Truman’s day rarely did.
if you can’t see a difference between how Republicans and Democrats run things right now, then sit down and shut up, because you’re not paying attention. if you can even imagine Democrats proposing gutting Medicare, trying to kill unions, repealing health insurance reform, and cutting programs for the poor to pay for tax cuts for the rich, then you belong under a doctor’s care. If you can imagine Republicans restoring regulations on Wall Street financial activities, demanding that executives limit their pay as long as they were under obligation to the federal government for bailout money, or even demanding that Wall Street even pay back the funds, then have the doctor up your meds.
The two parties couldn’t be more stark in their differences these days, and the constant attempts by many on the far left to characterize them as the same are absolutely killing us, politically speaking. Swing voters HATE teabaggers as much as the rest of us. They can’t stand right wing Republican policies, for the most part. They don’t care that much about tax cuts. They like most social programs, although they’d like to see more done to combat waste, fraud and abuse. And frankly, they do care about the environment and ending wars, even if they do so more in the abstract. In other words, they’re our natural friends, politically speaking. So, the more the far left screams at the top of their lungs that “both parties are the same,” the more they poison that well, and allow the far right to keep winning elections. Which brings us to:
Lesson #5: Politics is a game of strategy, but some strategies simply don’t work, like “fighting.”
It’s important to get the right people elected, but it’s just as important to get the wrong people out of government. While governing affects the average person’s life in profound ways, politics itself is a game, and requires a very distinct, and very long-term strategy.
A lot of left wingers think political strategy is really complicated, and involves something really elaborate, but it’s really not. In fact, if it’s too complicated, it’s destined for failure. Personally, I think some lefties like to think of it as complicated because they think it makes them seem smarter. They would be mistaken. If you’re running a campaign, politics is complicated. If you’re not doing that, then my advice for you is to relax. The issues many far lefties consider to be important issues are only a minor consideration to the majority of voters who will decide any election. The vast majority of swing voters are struggling to get by every day, and they want to know the people in charge won’t make things worse; that’s pretty much it. Therefore, the number one strategy of any political endeavor begins with the classic “KISS,” or “Keep It Simple Stupid.”
And while you’re at it, stop itching for a “fight.”
I know many far lefties LOVE the idea of a “fight,” but the fact of the matter is, most “fighting,” at least as the left wing envisions it, is really bad strategy. Much of the far left thinks the definition of a politician “fighting for them” means shouting, grandstanding and making pointed speeches and calling the opposition “poopy-heads.”
The problem is, that’s not how real politicians “fight” in a democracy. The purpose of electing politicians is to pass laws designed to make our lives better. That means writing a bill, then getting a majority to vote for that bill. Now, seriously; how far do you think they’d get in doing that if they were running around making fools of themselves by grandstanding and making the opposition party look bad? You may imagine that most voters sit around staring at C-SPAN all day, waiting for something great to cheer about, but trust me on this; YOU lefties are the only one doing that.
There are a number of ways to “fight” in politics, and most Democratic politicians do exactly that on a daily basis, especially President Obama. This guy is a master at outmaneuvering the opposition. For example, the far left screams bloody murder every time Obama reaches out to the Republicans. This is because they are so obsessed with everything he does, but can’t see the result. The political center – again, those who actually decide elections – HATE infighting in the government. They want to see politicians working toward solutions. When he does that, what those voters see is someone who is trying to do the right thing, and an opposition that wants to bite his hand off for doing so. He’s actually courting voters to his side by doing that. he’s not “kowtowing” or “caving,” he’s actually working for the progressive cause.
I’m sick of hearing the words “bully pulpit” used as an example of how the President could “fight” for the people. That phrase is even older than the irrelevant Truman quote. It was coined by Teddy Roosevelt more than a century ago, and if you haven’t noticed, our political discourse is dominated, in part, by the far right wing, who use bribery and intimidation against those in their own party to keep them in line. We need to develop strategies to keep them from doing that.
Watch President Obama’s RESULTS, not his methods. As long as he’s not sacrificing animals or children in the process, there’s no reason to examine the details of every step of the methods he uses to get results; look at the results themselves. The far left is nearly psychotic in its obsession with every single detail of everything Obama does, and it’s getting a little tiresome.
For example, if you want to know why we lost the “public option” (and a few other, more important features that lefties barely notice), look in the mirror. Because of the nature of his opposition, Obama actually kept the “public option” alive longer by NOT advocating for it. For Chrissakes, folks; he single-handedly revived health care reform, after the far left had declared it dead and buried.
Overall, his strategy on health care was nothing short of perfect, which is why it passed for the first time ever. I know a large portion of the left was devoted to the notion of a “public option,” but reality is, if the Republicans had Obama on record as saying “The public option is a must” for a health insurance reform bill in the current climate, the GOP would have gathered the troops together and used that statement to launch a billion-dollar campaign against Obama’s attempt to force “socialized medicine” down our throats. It would have made it even more difficult to pass than it was, and it might have killed any sort of reform for at least another 10-15 years.
Another example is the consternation over Obama’s refusal to come out absolutely in favor of “gay marriage” last week. If you don’t see him as “sly,” you don’t really know all that much about politics. He HAS declared repeatedly his belief that gay couples should have the same rights as everyone else; he’s just not going to go on record but that wasn’t enough for many on the far left. But let me tell you what would happen if the current president of the United States would come out in favor of gay marriage. You know the split that’s happening between the nuts and the extreme nuts in the Republican Party? Kiss that goodbye. That would crystallize the opposition, and they would have a common theme to run against in the next election.
And here’s the important thing to remember about all of this. The president has no say with regard to marriage. Marriages are state devices, not federal. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if he is in favor of it or not, one way or the other. While some of you have a fantasy that the president says something and tens of millions of people will suddenly throw their hands up and say, “Oh YES! He’s right! I have to give up everything I have ever been taught by my religion and accept gays as equals!” But in the real world we live in, presidents don’t have that influence. Bush said the Iraq war was a war for freedom; did his statement to that effect make it so? if things Bush said didn’t move the populace, even when his job approval was 80%, why would you imagine Obama’s would be?
President Obama realizes that he has to pick and choose his battles, and that HOW he fights the battles matters. He’s getting more stuff done than anyone in the last 40 years or more, and the far left in this country is sitting around with their thumbs up their asses, waiting for someone else to “lead them” to where they need to go. Which is how we get to:
Lesson #6: “We are the ones we have been waiting for” is not just a cute slogan; it’s how the system works, and how we win at politics.
If you’re waiting for a savior to come along and bring the left out of the desert into the political system, then you’re part of the problem.
The fact of the matter is, politicians do not lead us, WE lead THEM. I understand why people on the right don’t get that, because they’re politically brain-dead. But a lot of far lefties seem to miss out on that concept, too.
They’re called “representatives” for a reason. THEY stand in for US, not the other way around. it’s OUR job to tell them what we want and give them the tools to do that. It’s not THEIR job to read our minds. And our number one job is to get a majority people behind our efforts; it’s not the politician’s job. Political success involves a couple of steps, and both of them are OUR responsibility as voters. First, we have to honor the democratic process and try to make sure the choice of candidate most likely to result in the policies we want. That doesn’t mean we always have a clear progressive choice; in fact, it rarely means that. But there is often one candidate who will absolutely NOT vote for our side EVER, and we absolutely must promote the best candidate to the best of our ability. Then, once the best of the two candidates is elected, we then SUPPORT them. Yes, I said SUPPORT! For some unknown reason, many on the far left seem to think the constant complaining about politicians constitutes “holding them accountable,” but if you’re on the job and your boss was complaining about every little thing you did, without even evaluating the results, would you dismiss it was your boss “holding you accountable,” or would it just irritate the crap out of you?
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Now you know why politicians don’t take the far left seriously at all. They’re constantly whining, they don’t vote reliably, and their support is based on what politicians say, not what they do. Politicians are looking for support, not a constant shrill whine. Which brings us to:
Lesson #7: The far left’s concept of “principle” is downright bizarre and often detrimental to progressive politics.
This will be a short one.
It’s really simple; it’s been 32 years, and the neocons are still in office, and still dismantling the mechanisms we built back in the first quarter-century after the war. Despite the fact that we know how to fix the economy, because we did it before, the wingnuts are still pushing the same tired crap they’ve been pushing for 30 years. And they get away with it because a large portion of the left side of the political debate likes to SAY they have principle, but they really don’t. The fact of the matter is, supporting someone who says everything you want to here, when that person has neither the intention nor the ability to actually get into office and do what he or she is saying makes you gullible, not principled.
If you want to claim to be a principled progressive, then you will do anything to move us in the direction of achieving social justice. That doesn’t mean backing Dennis Kucinich, who apparently has to move to Washington to continue in Congress because of redistricting, and who has less than a snowball’s chance in hell of ever sitting in the Oval Office. It means doing whatever you can to see to it that as many politicians as possible are amenable to working toward making this country better, and then working to make sure they have the support they need to do that. if you have actual principles, stop screaming at the politicians, and start educating (without screaming) their constituents. If you’re not doing everything you can to make sure progressive policies are put in place, you’re not principled. Which brings us to:
Lesson #8: The overall meme if the debate is far more important than playing micro-politics.
Imagine you’re about the leave work, and you’re wondering whether or not you should take your umbrella. So you ask a co-worker if they think it might rain. Which answer are you likely to consider most helpful?
“According to the weather service, it’s not supposed to rain until Friday.”
“I don’t know, but I do know the air is dirtier now than it was 20 years ago, the sun is much harsher than it used to be, and the world will probably become uninhabitable in 10 years.”
The first one is how the left SHOULD answer. Unfortunately, the answers to political questions coming from our side usually sound like the second answer. Many on the far left tend to be news junkies, which is a stupid idea in and of itself. You don’t become smarter by watching nothing but news all of the time. But worse, they seem to think everyone else is, or should be, a news junkie as well. So they neither answer political questions nor give political answers that actually matter to people.
The average voter doesn’t have time to sit and watch news all day, because he or she is working for a living. They are struggling to get by. They don’t sit and watch every single bloody thing the government does, because they trust the government to do what it needs to do. You aren’t smarter because you don’t trust the government, and you watch and analyze every move they make. If you were smarter, you would know that the majority of the voters who matter only pay attention to the overall meme in any election. they responded by voting for Barack Obama because of his positive message and his promise to reverse the incompetence of the Bush years. And they stayed away from the polls in droves in 2010, because the overall message of that election was “Democrats suck.” They don’t vote for the right wing, for the most part, because they see them as dipshits. But when both sides are screaming “Democrats suck!” what message do you imagine these folks take away from the “debate,” such as it is?
Let me put this another way. If you’re sitting in the park at lunch, and two people are screaming at the top of their lungs, which one do you listen to? If you’re honest, then you know you put on your iPod really loud and drown them out. If you don’t have an iPod, then you look for another place to sit. You don’t listen to either of them.
On the other hand, if one guy is screaming something at the top of his lungs, and someone else comes up and sits on the bench next to you and starts speaking to you pleasantly, you might actually converse with that person, won’t you? You may even turn off the iPod and listen to what he or she has to say. And depending on the person speaking, you may actually learn something.
That’s how politics works, folks. When both sides are screaming at each other, no one who matters is actually listening. The far right will always scream, because they’re incredibly stupid, and because they don’t understand how politics works, either. Their side has a simple-minded affinity for red meat over substance; they love the negative. They love anything that makes “the left” look bad. They have no desire to convince you they’re right, and you will never convince them you’re right. Therefore, when you and a right winger are screaming at each other, the people who matter are walking away from you, or drowning you out.
How many elections do we have to lose before we get this. The far left was negative about Carter in 1980, and we got Reagan. The far left was negative about Dukakis in 1988, we got Bush 41. We were positive about Clinton in 1992, he won. The far left bashed Gore mercilessly in 2000 and refused to get behind Kerry in 2004, leaving us with a double dose of the worst president in history. In 2008, the left finally seemed to shed its stupidity and got behind a moderate, and we elected Obama overwhelmingly. Since then, it’s been quite clear that many on the far left voted for “the black guy,” and attributed a level of far left politics to President Obama that was never actually apparent during the campaign. Because of these fantasy expectations, they’ve branded him as a “disappointment,” and that played a major part in depressed turnout that led to a right wing win. Again.
That leads to”:
Lesson #9: The people who are elected will (almost) always represent the political center.
It has always been the case, and it will always be the case, that the majority of voters anywhere will choose someone they perceive as between the extremes. The only exception to that rule comes when one side of the political spectrum trashes mercilessly the candidate to whom they are closest, ideologically speaking. We saw this exception in both 2000 and 2004, when the far left sabotaged the campaigns of Al Gore and John Kerry, and essentially handed the elections to Bush. (And please, don’t talk to me about Bush stealing the two elections, because they shouldn’t have been that close in the first place.)
But most of the time, the person elected will represent the political center, especially when it comes to president. FDR didn’t run or govern as a political liberal at all. In fact, with the exception of reforming banking and instituting a few jobs programs, he took a relatively conservative approach to getting out of the Depression. Even he admitted that later, when the massive deficit spending to pay for World War II finally brought us into recovery mode and sent unemployment down below 10% for the first time in more than a dozen years. Lincoln didn’t run for election promising to make the Emancipation Proclamation and amend the Constitution to be anti-slavery. Likewise, Kennedy didn’t run on promising the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts would pass. As is always the case, moderates are forced by circumstances to become progressives.
That’s why the constant demeaning of the “Blue Dogs” last year was without a doubt the most politically tone-deaf thing the far left has championed in many, many years. I’m still working on a post on this, but suffice it to say, if you’re one of those politically idiotic fools who praised the loss of about half of all Blue Dogs in 2010, then you are part of the problem. All of the Blue Dogs who lost last year voted with Democrats most of the time – the lowest percentage I found was 67%, and only two of them voted with Democrats less than 8o% of the time – and they were ALL replaced by Republicans who will NEVER vote with the Democrats. EVER.
In what way is that “progressive”?
I would also point out that even the most progressive politicians in our history lack ideological purity. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. FDR refused to even consider civil rights or abolishing Jim Crow. Even Dennis Kucinich was anti-choice for many years, based on his Catholicism. If not for Ted Kennedy’s ego, we probably would have had the beginnings of universal health care before 1980, instead of 30 years later because he killed a bill in order to get a leg up on Carter in the 1980 election.
The main complaint most left wingers have about Democrats has to do with their relative “impurity.” For some reason, they have gotten it into their little brains that all Democrats should represent the progressive side of things, and that any variation whatsoever is unacceptable. That’s a fantasy, folks. No one is always “left” or always “right” on every single issue, unless he or she is incapable of thought. Expecting everyone to adhere to your standard of what a “true progressive” should be is unrealistic and frankly, politically suicidal.
Those are my lessons for today. I will add more lessons as I think of them. And I will think of them.