I’ve devoted a number of posts here to “Politics 101.” Those are the basics of politics, the rules, which aren’t rocket science. Regardless, some people on the Left don’t understand them, which is why I devoted a couple of posts explaining them, along with a remedial class. The motto of one of the blog sites used to be “more and better Democrats.” They’ve recently gone to the “purity” side, with just “better.” Of course, the problem is that it ignores a few key things, like there aren’t 218 districts in this country, let alone enough states, that will elect a “better” – as they define the term – Democrat in the first place. Even when it does happen, it doesn’t mean that they’ll keep it.
Which is what people espousing a definition of purity forget. What you’re looking for in a representative in your area, is not necessarily what another area will look for.
For example, when people talk about the “solid Blue” state of New York, they’re not talking about the state, they’re talking about the city. As I pointed out in my earlier article here, the county I live in is completely different from New York City. Let’s compare my county to New York County (Manhattan). Manhattan is densely populated, urban, fairly wealthy, ethnically diverse, and strongly Democratic. My county is rural, sparsely populated, lower middle class, ethnically homogeneous (97.6% white), and strongly Republican. The county I live in now has far more in common with the county where I lived in Colorado, than it does with Manhattan.
It’s easy to push a candidate to be “more liberal” in Manhattan. It’s not in my area. In another article, I pointed out:
The areas that Republicans are strong in, the areas where they defeated Democrats in this election, are almost all rural or suburban areas. Democratic “strongholds” tend to be urban areas, and with that, the place where most progressives seem to be. Which is fine, except that it has unwittingly led to a set of blinders when it comes politics.
What does that all mean? It means that that it’s all well and good to be “extremely liberal” when you live in a Democratic stronghold, and where that “fits” the district. District, because we don’t elect members of Congress by national voting. Each district’s priorities may fall in a different order, or even be wildly different from each other. Failure to consider that point is often a recipe for failure.
What I’ve noted about many purists is a really bad habit politically: They tell people, they don’t ask or listen. The end result is something like this:
One of the frequent complaints I’ve heard from progressives is wondering why various areas “vote against their own interests.” There are two reasons why this happens. First, they may be voting for their own interests, and second, they may be voting against you
What may seem to be “common interests” from one area’s perspective may not from another’s perspective. If you haven’t taken that into account, you’re wasting effort trying to persuade people of something that doesn’t resonate with them. If you come in and start telling people what’s “good for them,” along with saying things which grate on their sensibilities, you haven’t converted them, you’ve antagonized them.
There is no better example of that than Alan Grayson. Remember him? The self-styled “Congressman with guts?” He caused major swoons at various progressive sites with his rhetoric. At times it was almost like watching teen girls at a Justin Bieber concert. Not only were they holding him up as a “model” for what Democrats should act like, they also handed him a ton of money for his re-election campaign. The little problem? His district didn’t agree with them, which is why he’s now former Congressman Alan Grayson. The very rhetoric and actions that were making him a “hero” to the Left everywhere else were hurting him with the people who actually vote in his district.
Which is not surprising when you look at his district. It was never a “progressive” district, it did not have a strong tradition of voting Democratic, and it didn’t have an overwhelming percentage of Democratic voters. His election in the first place was more of a “one off,” than a sudden shift to the Left. Which is why I said there were “blinders” when it came to politics. He could have won again, had he recognized the actual character of his district, listened to his constituents, and made his case in light of what they wanted. In other words, he didn’t persuade his constituents about the benefits of electing progressives, and show them how it benefited them.
The take-away from this is that just because you won one election, it does not mean you’ve changed the actual political complexion of an area. That takes time, and even more work. How much? 218 districts worth of work. That’s the number of Representatives you need to have a majority in the House. Right now, the “true progressives” – if one uses membership in the Progressive Caucus as an measure – amount to a little over a third that number. A little over 40% of the current Democrats are in that category. What does that mean? That means that there are a lot of districts out there who aren’t voting for “pure progressives.” Here’s another figure for you: 26. That’s the number you’re short of 218. That’s 26 seats that are currently held by Republicans. Think you’re going to get “purer” from those districts? Better think again.
That’s the harsh reality for all those calling for “better” – meaning “purity progressives” -Democrats. All you have to do is look at a map of districts, and you see that their “strength” is mostly in urban enclaves, consisting of a small percentage of the nation. They aren’t “representative” of the country as a whole, or even districts that have been traditionally Democratic. But that’s the problem with “purity.” It’s a narrow definition. If you want to run a country, “progressive” is a broad term, and you have to recognize that one area’s priorities may be different than yours. Otherwise, you might win once, but that’s it. That doesn’t get you very far. If you want progress, once is not enough