Over the past several weeks, I’ve been getting lectured to by various members of the purity left. According to them, I’m not really a progressive, I’m actually a Blue Dog, or some other worse name they’ve come up with. Why? Because I’m a pragmatic liberal, not a hardcore liberal like they are. Somehow, they’re under the assumption that they are the majority of the party (they’re not), and they are the base of the Democratic Party (they’re not). I’ve been chastised for explaining why “real progressives” don’t – and can’t – win in many areas, which according to them, is only because our candidates aren’t “exciting” enough. All of which falls under “the usual” stuff when dealing with them, but here’s the thing that’s truly infuriating: They’re also saying that if their preferred candidate doesn’t get the nomination, they’ll stay home or vote for the other party’s candidate, and encourage others to do the same. What that shows me? They either don’t care about the consequences, or they don’t think there will be any.
One would think that the past five years would have been object lessons for them in consequences. Through a good portion of 2009 and 2010, they spent their time attacking President Obama and the Democratic Party for “failing them,” while encouraging people to stay home instead of voting. Instead of going on the offensive against the Tea Party movement in the Republican Party, they stood aside and if anything, helped them. The result? Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives, and numerous states elected Republican governors and legislatures. Instead of moving a progressive agenda forward, or even just keeping the country running, there resulted numerous government freezes, cuts, attempts to rollback gains made the previous two years, and states being redistricted to insure a structural advantage for the Republican Party.
Over the next four years, terabytes of space on the Internet were devoted to screaming about the actions of those conservatives by the same purist liberals who had enabled them to take control. You couldn’t visit any progressive website (including this one) without seeing stories of what a Republican held state was doing in terms of passing a conservative agenda. Tax cuts, government services slashed, attempts to roll back LGBT and women’s rights, voter restrictions, idiotic gun laws, and loss of environmental protections. If there was a conservative agenda item that was anathema to the left, they were doing it. One would have thought that all of that would be a hard lesson to the purists, but as it turned out, it wasn’t.
The reason I say that is because of 2014. Instead of mobilizing themselves into pushing back against the Republicans, and getting the vote out to put Democrats in office, they continued to whine about the President and the Democratic Party, and sat at home. I know that, because I looked at the voter turnout data. All the complaining about governors like Rick Scott, Sam Brownback, Scott Walker, and Rick Snyder? They were reelected in their states. The Democratic Party lost more governorships and legislatures, seats in the House, and control of the Senate. For the past year and change, I’ve seen more terabytes spent complaining about them and documenting their scandals. But you know what? When there was a chance to remove them, the purity left stepped aside.
Now we’re in yet another presidential election cycle, and once again some of them are threatening to sit out or do their level best to torpedo Democratic chances, because they’re not getting their way. They don’t care about the consequences – they’ve made that clear – and they’re somehow under the assumption that it will eventually lead to a purification of the party, and that in the near future “the people will rise up” and sweep the purified party into power where they can do something. That it has never happened like that is not important to them.
There are consequences to any election, and in this one, obvious ones. Right now we have an open seat on the Supreme Court. Republicans are doing everything they can to block President Obama from doing his constitutional duty to appoint a new justice. You see, they don’t want a “liberal,” or heck, even a moderate, on the court. They want someone who will be to the right of Scalia. The next President may end up making that pick, and it’s highly likely that they will have at least two more vacancies during their first term. Complain about Citizens United, think that voting rights, abortion rights, and a host of other things are important? Those are all issues which are now or shortly will be before the Supreme Court. If the next President is a Republican, you’re looking at twenty to thirty years of a conservative court ruling on those. If you haven’t paid attention, most of the recent liberal advances that you’re taking for granted came because of Supreme Court decisions. Look around at all the Republican held states, and you’ll see numerous attempts to roll those back. Sure, you can tell me all you want about polls, but the reality is that in quite a number of states, those are under assault because Republicans control them, and they’re not interested in your polls.
That’s why anyone threatening to sit out this election is an idiot, and should not call themselves a progressive. The only message you’ll be sending is that you don’t really care about people, you only care about getting what you want. Think you’ll get a progressive Congress in 2018? You didn’t do that in 2010, and you most definitely didn’t do it in 2014. The only way to change that is not to march Washington, it’s to march into the voting booth on Election Day. No, you’re not going to get everything you want, and neither am I. But you know what? At least we’ll get to keep what we’ve gained, and that’s more than you can say if we let Republicans win this time.