The Far Left Fails Politics 101: Apparently Politics IS Rocket Science To Them

Milt Shook over at Please Cut The Crap posted a great primer for “the far  Left,” titled “Politics 101 for the Far Left:  Lessons #1 through #9.” It’s a revision of an earlier posting, but I strongly recommend reading it. It’s  common sense, pragmatic, and straightforward.  Reading through the comments, it’s rapidly apparent that the purity brigade didn’t get it.  In fact, they ran over and promptly posted a set of diatribes right out of any purist/firebagger/emoprog/frustrati talking points.   Then came Jonathan Chait’s “When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable?” where he said:

liberals, on the whole, are incapable of feeling satisfied with a Democratic president. They can be happy with the idea of a Democratic president—indeed, dancing-in-the-streets delirious—but not with the real thing.

Which led to “rebuttal columns” mainly discussing how disappointed liberals were with the current President, and complaining that Chait hadn’t spent his entire article on that instead.  Thus proving Chait’s point.

It’s something I’ve seen here as well, in recent posts.   It’s not just that they don’t “get it,” it’s that they don’t want to get it.  Purity of cause, and nursing of perceived grudges, is more important to them than actually getting the progress towards their goals.     When it comes to understanding politics 101, they’ve gotten a failing grade.  So here’s some remedial lessons.

#1 – The only time you’re going to agree 100% with a politician is if you are that politician.   Otherwise, there’s at least one issue, and probably more, where you’ll have disagreements.   If you look back at the past three years, at various times the “leftier than thou” blogs have erupted in screaming fury about something that Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich, or Barney Frank has done.  They’re usually considered “progressive heroes.”   Except when they’ve cast a vote or introduced a bill or amendment which tramples on whatever is the perceived “true” ideal, and they’ve done that several times.

#2 – If you don’t vote, you don’t count.   The whole notion that you’re “sending a message” by not voting?  That the party has to give you what you want, in order to get you to the polls? It’s garbage.   The only thing you do by that is to show that you are an unreliable voter at best, and politicians discount you in a hurry.  Nice if you show up, but they don’t count on it.  You can whine and bitch all you want about “corporatist control,”  etc., but at the end of it all, politicians count bodies in the voting booth.   Parties care about what their voters think.  If you’re not one of those voters, then politicians don’t care what you think.

#3 – Threats are meaningless.  Promises aren’t.   Over the past few years, I’ve heard a lot of talk about primarying some “offending” politician.  Various  members of the House,  Senators, or even the President.   Yes, my goodness, all sorts of dire threats have been made about it.   Nothing came of them, either.    I live in a district next to two “offending” House members, who were by deity going to get a primary, according to the far left.  They didn’t get one.  That was repeated across the country.  Oh, I know some jumped on various bandwagons when there was a primary, but they weren’t initiated by the people making the threats.   What did you show?  Your threats are meaningless noise.   A threat is not a promise.  A promise is when you actually deliver on your threat.  That means something.

#4 – RTFM!   That’s a tech term, meaning read the fucking manual!  In this case, do some basic research.   The Constitution, the rules of the House and the Senate, and some actual history, not the mythology.  If you’re going to be a “political activist”  or claim to be “politically aware,” you damn well need to know the basic operating procedures of the government you’re claiming you want to change or influence.   When you scream your head off about something the President didn’t do,  and it was Congress’s fault,  all you’ve done is prove your ignorance.  If you want to be taken seriously, RTFM.

#5 – You have to do it yourself.   You want a “progressive” candidate?  Go find one.  You want the party to listen to your concerns?  Then get involved with your local party.   Don’t expect someone else to do it for you.   You ever wonder why various groups are considered “a base” within the Democratic Party?  It’s pretty simple.  They got involved.  They recruited candidates, provided warm bodies for campaign staffs, voter contacts, door-to-door work, money, and made sure they got their people into the voting booth.  They did it over and over again, until the Democratic Party “got the message.”   The current “extreme Left” or frustrati?  Nope.  You continually gripe about the President “not doing something,” or saying that the “Party should.”  You’re expecting someone else to do that for you.  You want it, you’re going to have to work for it, because no one is going to do it for you.  Blogging and commenting on blogs isn’t “activism.”

#6 – You don’t win by losing.   There’s an apocryphal story, attached to many politicians, which goes like this:  The bright-eyed, idealistic young candidate goes to a party elder to gain their support.  The candidate spends a great deal of time telling the party elder all the great plans they have, how they’re going to make things better once they’re in office.  The party elder listens patiently, and then says to the candidate:  “That’s a wonderful set of ideas.  But first, you have to win.”    The moral is that you can have all sorts of wonderful ideas – and ideals – but if you’re not in office, or your party isn’t, it doesn’t matter.   Think about that.  Remember all the  ideas that Ralph Nader had in 2000?   How about Alan Grayson  pushing a progressive agenda in this Congress?   What about them?   It doesn’t matter, because they lost.     The message you sent by losing?  That you lost.

Seriously, it’s not rocket science. It is hard work, and you’re not going to get it overnight.  That’s what the adults have been telling you.   We understand that we’re not going to be 100% happy with any politician, we need to vote every time, that we aren’t going to make meaningless threats, that there are rules we have to follow, we need to do a lot of work, and most importantly, if we don’t win, we don’t get what we want.   Until you do that, all you’re doing is throwing tantrums, and no, we’re not putting up with it.

33 Comments

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33 responses to “The Far Left Fails Politics 101: Apparently Politics IS Rocket Science To Them

  1. Thank you for this, Norbrook. It’s solid advice … and after reading it I put a macadamia back in the bowl. (For those who don’t know, my research of 21st Century Political Nuttitude often leaves me craving macadamias to calm my grumpies.) Mrs. Squirrel will be very grateful!

    Good day and good nuts.

  2. Thanks, Norbrook. This is a great blog, and great advice. As my son said in a speech to his local Occupy movement: if you don’t vote, you’re irrelevant.

    Whining may be easy, but politics is hard work.

    • Thanks for commenting! I keep hammering on that point to various people – if you don’t vote, you’re irrelevant to politicians. It feeds back into “first you have to win.” If politicians espousing your ideals keep losing, or you can’t field them in the first place, it means you don’t get to determine what gets enacted or what direction the party takes. The reason the Democratic Party veered into the center in the 1990’s was because the extreme liberal positions had been losing in elections. Politicians like to win, just like everybody else. “Protesting” by not voting simply says your position was a losing one right from the start.

  3. crazycanuck

    Great post, but I think you might as well talk to your hand lol. They will never get it. Never!

    They are quite happy whining, because you don’t have to do any actual work when you whine.

    • It’s the entitlement mentality. They’re “owed” this, they “deserve” that. They don’t want to hear “you’ve got to earn it.”

  4. It’s such common sense, isn’t it. I often wonder why the frustrati and the far left don’t get it. These are not stupid people so I question their motives.

    BTW, my mantra is if anyone tells you not to vote, shun them. They are trying to take away your citizenship.

    • For the “professional left,” such as they are, it’s a based on a sense of entitlement, and ego. They’ve convinced themselves that they’re “leaders” of the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” :roll: They exist inside of a bubble where they’re talking to other people just like them, with the same sense of entitlement, and therefore are angry that outside of that bubble, they’re not getting their way. The frustrati, emoprogs, and purists are “true believers,” who listen to the PL and tune out others simply because it fits with their belief that they know the right way, and they’re “the base.” Objective evidence to the contrary.

    • “I often wonder why the frustrati and the far left don’t get it. These are not stupid people so I question their motives.”

      I’ve wondered the same thing. Even with the evidence stacked against them, they still cling to an invalid belief. As for voting…as a naturalized citizen, I know all too well about the value of casting a FREE vote, without fear of reprisal. Look at what is happening in Egypt. People are lining up to vote because they understand how important it is. And yet, over here, in a nation where your vote is guaranteed under law….the frustrati and Far Left tell people to cast it aside. How this is supposed to affect change is beyond me, because it seems that GOP understands very well how voting is important.

  5. Does it ever make you think it is just like talking to a Republican? Or that the wall in your living room pays more attention to you? ;)

    • I’d say that it’s more like talking to a birther, or some of the ultra-conservatives who hang out at places like FreeRepublic. :lol: They “know what they know, and don’t confuse us with facts!”

      • Dr. Squid

        And if you actually tell them that at DK, they hide your ass.

        • (snicker) I did, back in the days when I was there. This one made the Rec List, although the Tip Jar did attract a nice solid number of HR’s. :lol: Didn’t knock me out of my TU status in the least. ;-)

        • Or ban you and/or take away your ratings privileges….ohhhhh but they are the ones getting censored….uh huh, right.

          • Today, they’d probably do it, but back when I was an active member, they tended to let me go my way. Not just because I had massive amounts of mojo, but because I was a fund-raiser for one of MB’s favorite charities, and then the coordinator for the Haiti Relief diaries. They didn’t like me, but they figured I was needed. ;-)

  6. Mamawink

    While the left whines, frets, and throws in the towel, those on the right go about their business reinforcing their political infrastructure, like busy little worker ants. The Republicans have passed some of the most regressive laws in history, and some of us are going camping? The rest of us will have to do the grunt work, of getting this crap repealed in 2012, because the left can’t be bothered with getting their hands dirty with politics.

  7. MsKitty

    Great job of breaking this down in terms even a 1st grader can understand. Having said that I’ll now brace for the windburn from these points breezing over the heads of the inevitable purist rebuttals. They travel in packs, you know.

  8. I’m beginning to think they don’t want to hear anything but their own voices. Even if they were given everything they’ve ‘demanded’, they’d just find something more to make with the whining.

  9. Excellent! You always nail it! I am especially glad you brought up the issue of positive, personal involvement in local politics. You know how strongly I feel about that because I’ve said it more than once and I devote more of my time to that than to national elections. At least right now.

    I will work hard for PBO, Senate and Rep elections here in 2012 but I will still be very involved in the smaller local elections too.

    • One of the points that they keep missing is that if you want to influence the national party, you have to be able to do it on the local level. It’s a chain of influence. Milt’s lesson #3 is pretty clear: “Until there are 218 or more progressive districts in this country, ousting “Blue Dogs” is not a source of pride; it’s actually dumb. ”
      They want 218 progressive districts? They have to be in 218 districts. And win.

  10. Well stated. I do think that a voter can legitimately decide to protest what he or she sees as a stagnant two party system by voting for an independent or third party. I also think it’s OK for people to let off steam by complaining. But look at the Republicans — they have a potentially very strong candidate in Mitt Romney and they look set to choose a flawed Newt Gingrich because the extremists in the party worry that Romney won’t be true to “conservative” values. I wouldn’t vote for Romney and he has his flaws too, but Gingrich?

    I’m not sure why so many people left and right succumb to the appeal of ideological jihad over practical politics. Does it have something to do with the nature of media these days, or perhaps the ability of like minded people to bolster each other on blogs and social media, thereby becoming convinced their position is more popular than it is? I think it’s more emotion based than reason (as is much of what we do), some people on the left or right “feel” like compromises with the other side somehow gives the other side some kind of victory. It reminds me more of the emotion of a sports fan than someone thinking seriously about the future of the country.

    • When I lived in DC, I knew a few congressional staffers. One of the things I learned was that, while no politician knows how you voted, they do know if you voted. How much attention your letter/e-mail is going to get is directly related to that single factor. It’s one thing to cast a “protest vote,” but protesting by staying home is just showing that they don’t need to pay attention to you, which is why it’s dumb.

      The media loves conflict. It’s what they understand, and they like putting things in terms of “winners and losers.” The large blogs like it too, since that’s what drives hits and ad revenue. David Frum put bluntly:

      The business model of the conservative media is built on two elements: provoking the audience into a fever of indignation (to keep them watching) and fomenting mistrust of all other information sources (so that they never change the channel). As a commercial proposition, this model has worked brilliantly in the Obama era. As journalism, not so much. As a tool of political mobilization, it backfires, by inciting followers to the point at which they force leaders into confrontations where everybody loses, like the summertime showdown over the debt ceiling.

      It’s true of the rest of the media as well.

  11. trs

    Once again you’ve nailed it, Norbrook. The frustrati will not listen, because they have to complain in order to feel important. No one will agree 100% with anybody. It’s not possible. The frustrati need to realize (and they won’t) that politics is a process of incremental steps. You can only do so much at one time, even in the best of circumstances.

  12. I’ve watched the PL hand over elections to the right for the past 40 years, Norbrook, and I can say without a doubt that they never change. They want what they want when they want it the way they want it, and they never think about the consequences of their actions. Electing candidates that promote progressive values is hard work and requires more than mouthing off and acting out. They’re like tantrum throwing two year olds who never grow up, and I’m sick of them. To save my sanity I’ve learned to ignore them and avoid blogs where they congregate because it’s all about whining, blaming, and tearing down their own politicians/political party and never about voter registration drives, educating others, and GOTV efforts–the things that really matter in winning elections. They’d rather tear down their own politicians and political party just so that they can feel they’ve accomplished something. They never, ever realize that all they do with this type of behavior is empower their political opponents. Excuse my language, Norbrook, but I’ve come to look upon them as some of the stupidest mofos on Planet Earth and essentially useless in contributing anything worthwhile to Progressivism.

  13. Love #6! In fact, I LOL’d because sometimes the truth is just so painfully obvious that it is hilarious!

    • Yup. “Moral victory” is usually another way of saying “we lost.”

      Politicians and political parties like to win. If you, as a politician or political party keep embracing a set of ideas that loses at the polls, then you drop them for something that doesn’t lose. It’s not hard to understand, unless you’re a purist.

  14. japa21

    Quite simply, whenever I hear soemone complain about what the adminsitration hasn’t done, I simply ask, “And how, excatly were they supposed to do that? If you have some secret way of convincing the most obstructionist party ever seen in this country and several Dems who, to burnish their independent credentials refuse to go along, I hope you have written to the president and explained them to them. Id you don’t have an actual plan that has even a snowball’s chance in Hell, then try to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.”

    • The usual responses I get on questions like that are either crickets; attempts to redirect to something else; personal attacks; or an assertion that if only the President had “done something.” :roll:

      Hence my points #4 and #5.

  15. After my second reading of this excellent post, I think another thing that people underestimate is how important having veto power is. We took a “shellacking” in the 2010 elections and states who lost their Democratic governors really got a taste of what it is like when the far right “governs” with no checks and balances. In New Hampshire, the Democratic governor vetoed that awful “Right to Work” law. In Minnesota, Democratic governor Mark Dayton held the line on the worst stuff that the Republican legislature could do. In Wisconsin and Ohio we have ways to undo some of it but in Florida and other places, the “couldn’t get any worse” did.

    President Obama has been winning legislative battles with his veto threats. The purity-wing of the Democratic party thinks it is better to lose big than to have a president who does not support every single one of their policy points.

    Stupid and shortsighted. Things we like to call the Republicans but which are clearly a characteristic of the ideological left as well.

  16. Nathan Katungi

    Well, Norbrook, you’ve done it gain with this excellent post that demonstrates your deep understanding of the reality of politics and governance in the United States. Your post, and Milt Shook’s post, should be required reading for any one who is seriously interested in bringing about political change and not just talking about it. It’s really a pity that most Americans are not exposed to your down-to-earth analysis of politics.