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.