Last Tuesday, Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives. While Republicans immediately jumped to the wrong conclusion – that they had a mandate to return to the “good old days” of Bush, just more so – there was an element of the “progressive blogosphere” which also jumped off the deep end. Over on Blue Wave News, we call them “the frustrati.” They’ve also been called “poutrage artists,” and “purity trolls.” You see, they are the “true believers” in the “progressive movement.” They are “real progressives,” unlike the rest of us. I know that because they keep telling everyone they are, and attacking anyone who doesn’t get in their line.
Hence, they saw the results as “validation” of their purity. You see, the reason the Democrats lost is that they weren’t progressive enough. Which blithely ignores that several of their “heroes” – the ones they were holding up as models of progressive behavior – also went down to defeat. Badly. Others barely scraped out a win in a district they used to carry pretty handily. But most of the ire is directed at the President. Yes, you see, he “didn’t do what he said he was going to,” and he “sold out” to the “corporatists,” which are their current villains.
There’s more than a large element of self-delusion going on. Just after the 2008 elections, one of the things that set of some alarms for me were the overwhelming assertions that things were now going to be moved drastically to the left – as they defined left. Which was blatantly ignoring that the President hadn’t run on (or promised) a “left” platform, it was very much a left of center platform. It definitely wasn’t “pure progressive” by any stretch of the imagination. They were also assuming that, all evidence to the contrary, Congressional Democrats would lock-step with the President, while ignoring Congressional procedures and precedents. Having convinced themselves of that, then they screamed their heads off when what they believed would happen didn’t – or as fast – as they wanted, or exactly as they thought it should. What they believed would happen was not what actually was happening. Reality-based community, my ass! They’re like the little kids who have convinced themselves they’re getting a pony, when what they were promised was a pony ride, and are now pitching a fit because they got a pony ride but didn’t get to take the pony home.
However, their collective tantrums fit nicely into some plans. Yes, the broadcast media loved it. So did the Republicans, who were quite happy to showcase it. The people running the “progressive sites” – Huffington, Markos, Hamsher, and Greenwald among others – loved it as as well. They pushed it up, because it drove visitors to their web sites. They got invited on talk shows and news show appearances as “commentators,” where they could “inform” everyone how badly disappointed they were. Oh, and while they were at it, shill their newest book on the subject. For them, it was a bonanza, a major cash influx. Let the good times roll!
Now, rather than waking up from the cold dash of reality that’s hit them, they’ve decided to double down. Flailing about, coming up with ever more fantastical scenarios and “heroes.” Yes, “Hillary should run.” Never mind that Hillary was just as center-left as Obama, and wasn’t that good a candidate when she did run. Oh, well, then Feingold! Yes, the guy who just got booted out of the Senate in his own state is a perfect candidate to run. Yes, you see the country really wants true progressives, current evidence to the contrary. Their divorce from reality is pretty much finalized.
Let’s do some reality. A good portion of the blame is that rather than sending the message of what was being accomplished, of highlighting the successes, the idiot left was helping the right by screaming their fool heads off. Here’s some reality checks. First, at no time in history has losing like this shifted the Democratic Party to the left. It’s always shifted it to the center. So one of those fantasies – that this will cause the party to become more “pure” isn’t likely. Second, in case you missed it, it wasn’t just the national offices being fought over. There were a lot of state offices and legislatures up for grabs. Congratulations, you assholes, you just helped make sure that redistricting will be controlled by Republicans. Think you had troubles in some places before? You haven’t seen anything. Third, what the fuck makes you think that every area in the country is just like your little corner of the world? Newsflash for you – they aren’t. They aren’t all redneck ultra-conservative if they’re not progressive, either. Most of them turn out to be pretty middle of the road, with a slight lean one way or another. You want to win there? The person who can isn’t going to be a pure progressive. That’s the way it goes in reality. Finally, remember all those things that were started and supposed to get finished in the next two years? DADT, improving the Health Care legislation, climate change legislation, and immigration reform? Kiss all that good-bye. Maybe if you’re lucky, and I won’t bet on it, you might get something in the lame duck session. Otherwise, forget it for the next two years, and probably longer. If you’re really lucky, you won’t have to start over from scratch on them.
So, just how’s that purity thing working out? Looks to me like it you just blew up your entire agenda to make a point. Look on the bright side though. All the people running the sites that you’re screaming on are going to make a mint. Maybe they might even hire you.