It’s amazing when I look at the things that are going on on many of the “progressive” blogs, with the purists who have taken them over and the hyperventilating from the Professional Left that so little has changed in them. At the beginning of the year, January 20’th to be precise, they’d “hit my last nerve.” That’s when I decided to do something that was intended as a “good-bye cruel world” diary, only to find it on the Recommended List. On my way out the door a week later, I decided to delete most of my diaries, but I saved a few – and one of them was that one. Why am I mentioning it? Because it’s amazing at how little has changed in that year. It’s exactly the same. So, in a “blast from the past” I’m reposting it here. Enjoy!
It wasn’t so long ago that there were “liberals” and “progressives.” Liberals were the idealists, the ones with the wonderful ideas that sometimes were better as theoretical constructs than as realistic plans. Then there were the pragmatic ones – the Progressives. The ones who took the liberal ideas that could be made into reality, and worked to put them into practice. After watching the past year, I realized something. Many of the people who call themselves “progressives” are not people I want to “go to war” with.
I’m a pragmatic liberal. I’m going to use that term for myself from now on, because “progressives” have made it clear that they’re not interested in progress.
There’s a couple of diaries sitting on the Rec List here, talking about the failure of the Democratic leadership in messaging. How “out of touch” they are. Even how the lack of accomplishments “depressed the base” when it came to turnout. Yes, they bear a part of the blame. But you know what? Take a look in the mirror. What was the messaging from the “progressive” blogs? What were prominent voices in the “progressive movement” saying in print, television, and other media?
I expected to hear a litany about how bad the Democrats were, how President Obama and his administration were terrible, how bad Congress was from Republicans. That the “progressives” would chime in, and in the most negative way, feeding the right wing drumbeat with the chants of failure? I didn’t expect it, but lo and behold, there you were. If conservatives wanted to knife the Democrats in the back, you were there sharpening the blade for them, and giving them advice on the best place to insert it.
Out of touch? The divorce from reality was remarkable. We had a candidate who ran on a slightly left of center platform. No mistaking it. Somehow, you convinced yourself that he was running on a far left program. You spent years complaining about the Blue Dogs and “ConservaDem” Senators. You spent two years whining about how things weren’t happening in Congress, even with Democrats in the majority. I didn’t notice that the people you’d been complaining about had left office, or had made a sudden shift in their positions to the left. Yet, right around this time last year, many of you somehow managed to convince yourselves all that magically changed.
I never expected liberalism to suddenly break out. There’s a lot of entrenched interests, with too many legislators who are either in their pocket or set in their ways. I knew that. I expected that it was going to be a long hard effort to shift things. I knew that we’d have to identify the worst of the bunch so they could be primaried. That we’d have to work hard to primary them this year. We’d have to advocate hard, and smart. The problem? A lot of people thought liberalism would suddenly break out, that the entrenched interests would disappear, that legislators would “see the light.”
They haven’t done much to recruit strong primary challengers for many races. Even worse, while they advocated strongly, they advocated dumb. You want to be taken seriously? You don’t attack the very people who are working the hardest to implement your agenda. You don’t waste your time trying to persuade the people who are already on your side. That was done. You persuade those who can be persuaded. Disagree with the President and various Congressional representatives? Fine. Expected, even. There’s a way to do it. You’re reasonable. You push saying “we can do better than this.” You state disagreements in terms that appeal to the “better angels.” That’s smart.
Instead we got tantrums. Long screeds about how Congress was inept, a failure. Heavy opinion-making editorials and television appearances feeding into the right-wing memes that Democrats were inept, incompetent failures. Even joining up with right wing groups to help “advocate.” Many blogs stating how “betrayed” they felt, and how they weren’t going to vote anymore. Depress the base? Sure thing. You did a hell of a job of it. “We’ll show them!” It was exactly the sort of thing that conservatives prayed for. Boneheaded. Outright fucking stupid. It’s amazing that in less than a year, “progressives” have managed to do such a great job of fragging.
That’s why I’m not a progressive anymore. Too many people claiming that label have torched its reputation as a label. I’m a pragmatic liberal. I hate losing. I hate being in the minority. I don’t like being the “victim.” I’m planning on the long term, a long hard slog through the trenches to get what I want. I recognize that it’s not going to happen in a year, or even a generation. That I may have to take an inch now to gain a yard down the line. It’s work, and I plan on keeping at it. “Progressives”? I don’t trust you. You’re going to jump ship the first time things don’t go your way. You’ll be trying to stick a knife in my back, or fuck up something that took a lot of work. With “friends” like you, one doesn’t need enemies. You want to blame everyone else – but you have just as much to share in it as anyone else. Me? I actually thought you people were dedicated and serious. That was my mistake. I won’t make it again.
Postscript: The same thing is true if you visit there today. Sad, but true. They’re still complaining, they’re still attacking, and they still don’t get the clue. There’s too much to be done to waste time trying to persuade them, because you can’t teach those who aren’t willing to learn. The rest of us will be out getting to work on accomplishing things, while they will still be in their little circle telling each other how important they are and how bitter they are about being betrayed.