Don't forget! My blasphemous new novel, "Not Another Savior!" is out and on sale... religion will never be the same. I hope.
First off, I am a PROGRESSIVE. A real progressive, not one who merely talks a great game. I have been a progressive since I was a young kid.
I want social justice for everyone. I think all people are basically the same at their heart, regardless of skin color, hair color, sexual orientation or religion. I don’t believe that respect is earned; but that disrespect is. I believe in complete freedom, up to the point that it starts affecting others negatively. To that end, I believe that all people and businesses should have the right to make products and sell them, with as little interference as possible from the government, but with as much regulation as is necessary. I think the “drug war” is a complete joke, and an affront to the Constitution I hold dear. I also think reproductive choice should be guaranteed, for the simple reason that free people can’t allow the government to make medical decisions for them, and the government has no right to force a woman to stay pregnant against her will. Everyone should have the same rights, regardless of sexual preference, as long as what they’re doing is completely consensual. I respect all religious beliefs, but I also believe that religion and politics must remain separate for the protection of both. I believe that everyone within our borders should be able to see a doctor and receive treatment when they’re sick, and that no one should lose everything they have worked for all their life, because they happen to develop a health problem.
I am a true-blue, died in the wool, hard core liberal/progressive. I have spent my life trying to do my little part to move this country in that direction. That’s last part is what makes me an actual progressive. Having all sorts of high ideals doesn’t make one a progressive; the desire to move the system in that direction – THAT is what makes me progressive. Got it? Good.
But here’s the thing.
This country has NEVER been all that progressive. This country has NEVER fulfilled the promise of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Yet, I remain hopeful that it will. It’s moving in the right direction overall, but in recent years – about the last 40, give or take a few – there have been forces that are attempting to move it in the opposite direction, and they need to stop it.
This may surprise you, but I am not talking about the right wing. I’m talking about the extreme left wing of the political spectrum. They suck at politics and, ironically, the very people they claim to be trying to advance in society are suffering as a result.
We live in a democracy. If you want to make policy, you have to win elections. Winning elections requires a majority. It’s depressing that I feel like I have to point that out to some on the far left, but I apparently do. If you want to be an ACTUAL progressive, then you have to take this equation into account. If you’re not prepared to do whatever is necessary to move in the right (as in correct) direction, which is to get a majority of the populace behind you, then you’re not really a progressive. You may agree with me on every issue above, but if you’re not doing what you can to make shit happen, you’re a phony. God, I hate to be that blunt, but it’s true.
There’s a certain stripe of “progressive” that is completely screwing things up for the rest of us. And they’re doing it in several ways.
Once again, you can’t get policy done without winning elections. Elected officials make policy. Elected officials make judicial appointments. Elected officials put policies into effect and enforce laws. And you can’t get elected with high ideals but no support. It literally does not matter how “passionately” you feel about an issue; if you don’t give politicians the tools they need to turn your “passion” into policy, you’re basically masturbating, politically speaking. When you vote for a “third party,” you’re a political jackoff. When you vote for a candidate with no chance of winning, you’re a political jackoff. If you plan to “stay away from the polls to send a message,” you’re a political jackoff and a joke. Seriously, how delusional does someone have to be to think that not voting sends a message to anyone? For shit’s sake, folks; half the population stays away from the polls in most elections; that’s like saying NOT going to a Lady Gaga concert sends a message that you don’t like her music. Here’s a clue, folks; she doesn’t give a shit about non-fans, and the political system doesn’t give a shit if you stay away from the polls.
But what really angers me about this certain stripe of phony “progressives” is that they’re so loud and obnoxious about it, they end up handing elections to the right wing pretty much by default.
You see, believe it or not, the vast majority of voters are moderates, or “centrists,” if you will. What most “centrists” want to vote for is someone who seems competent, and who seems like he’ll do what they want. Of course, since a large swath of “progressives” don’t speak to “centrists,” and in fact treat “centrists” with disdain, they tend to not like liberals very much. Right wingers didn’t make “liberal” a dirty word, far left phony “progressives” did. You’ll see why in a bit, when I show you a few conversations I had with a far leftist.
The vast majority of voters also are not news junkies. In case you haven’t heard, phony “progressives,” the number of poor has skyrocketed in the last 30 years or so, and a large number of families have to have two more-than-full-time workers in them to make ends meet. A lot of them have to work 2-3 jobs to pay the rent, utilities and a bus or train pass, and the only Internet access many have is at their local library. They also don’t have lots of spare time to watch 3-4 news programs at a time, search news sites and read all of your favorite lefty blogs, although they do probably read headlines and they might be familiar with some. The way they decide who to vote for is based on the overall vibe out there. They don’t know every candidate’s stance on every single issue, and they don’t micro-manage the news like some of the more psychotic “progressives” seem to. In short, they want life to get better; they don’t give a rat’s ass about how we get there. While these “progressives” obsess over policy, most “centrists” just want results. It’s called struggling along in a neocon world.
Because of all that, messaging is incredibly important. What you say and how you say it contributes to the overall din, and THAT is what influences the people in the middle. And let me reiterate; the center ALWAYS decide elections, and ALWAYS WILL. The right wing will ALWAYS put a message out resembling “Democrats suck,” and “(name of president or other Democratic leader here) sucks.” When the left uses the SAME MESSAGE, guess what the majority of voters are going to take away from that? They don’t have the time, energy or inclination to examine all the details; we’ve been immersed in a sound-bite culture for about 25 years now; why would anyone expect otherwise?
And calling them stupid or putting them down doesn’t gain any traction, either, strangely enough. Humans are funny, aren’t they?
Just for the hell of it, I want you to go to a few of the most popular lefty blogs, and pretend you’re not liberal, if you’re not. Look at the overall tone. If the overall tone negative, and it probably will be, THAT is the problem.
I want to show you highlights of a discussion I had with a hard-left liberal on a Usenet newsgroup this past weekend. This will prove my point. I was in a decent discussion with a more pragmatic progressive nicknamed “Gary:”
Gary: I know one thing for a fact... young people are much more gay and minority friendly than my generation. I now have more gay and minority friends through hanging with people in their late 20s to early thirties just in the last 5 years than I have in 45 previous years.
If righties think they can keep winning elections by discriminating against gays and throwing minorities under the bus, they better try and get their agenda changed now... I guess I don't blame them. I mean what else do they have? Most of the Pub party is over 60... how long can they squeeze juice out of that demographic??
And I replied:
Me: That's what's so frustrating to me about many on the far left. We should have taken (the right wing) out by now. The problem is, progressives suck at politics. The vast majority of voters want hope. They want to elect people they think will do the right thing. But all they're getting from one side is right wing bullshit, and all they're getting from much of the left is the same thing, but from a different side.
We have the tools to build a progressive society, but a smallish but loud portion of the left is killing that by muddying the waters. As long as (the right wing) get their message out, and we essentially repeat it, we're pushing regular people away from the polls, and they win by default. If I hear "the lesser of two evils is still evil" one more time, I'll scream, because it's complete crap. No one who's actually evil has ever won a major party nomination for president, and the few, like David Duke, who occasionally squeak through at the state level, rarely make it past that. I even see Bush as more incompetent than evil. Yet, I rarely go a week without a far lefty saying something along those lines to me.
The GOP and RW should have been dead and buried a while ago, but the far left is keeping them alive, against all odds. The right wing LOVES the negative shit, and they will always vote, and vote Republican. We will NEVER change their minds and get them to vote our way, no matter how hard the far left tries. But the vast majority of voters are NOT right wing; they simply want to vote for someone competent who can make their lives better. They want good people, not perfect people. But when they're confronted with a right wing screaming "Democrats suck!" and a left wing saying "Democrats suck!" even if they think Republicans suck even worse, they'll just stay away from the polls.
The fact is, the GOP is the party of old white males and racists and has been for a while. But as long as they can rely on us to help them depress turnout, they'll keep squeaking through.
Now, I have been saying the above for years. Can what I say be argued? Of course it can. I’m not God; I can be wrong. But the evidence for what I say is overwhelming. Liberals have been standing on the sidelines for 40 years now, and the country is being run by the least popular bunch of assholes in the political arena. They are NOT being elected because a majority of Americans likes what they have to say. A MAJOR STRATEGY for Republicans in election years for many, many years. Whatever the left has been doing for the last 40 years has NOT WORKED. Einstein defined such behavior as “insanity.” A large portion of the white, puffy, suburban far left thinks they’re politically smart.
Anyway, what I said was read by a left winger I have known for years, and he felt the need to respond:
Left Winger: That's the most amazing pile of crap I've heard from a Blue Dog yet.
You weak centrists have done NOTHING but surrender on point after point after point ever since 1980. Thanks (to) you, the country is far to the right of any other developed nation in the first world.
You're easily frightened, and all the right has to do to utterly castrate you is call you a liberal--or a socialist. And your knees buckle and you do whatever they say.
First of all, I am not a Blue Dog. In order to be a Blue Dog, I would have to be a Democratic politician representing a majority Republican district, who needs to toe a line to keep his job. Later this week, I’ll discuss this, because reality is, we need Blue Dogs to win elections and get things done.
Second of all, check out the dripping sarcasm in his use of the word “centrist.” See what I mean when I say these people lack any political sense whatsoever? Again; “centrists” represent the overwhelming majority of voters. Since we live in a democracy, it seems unwise to treat most voters with contempt. The disdain most voters feel toward liberals isn’t due to right wing assaults; centrists don’t listen to them, either. It’s because many of the loudest lefties out there refer to them as “spineless” or as a bunch of pussies. Is it really so difficult to understand why they don’t like us?
I had to laugh at the “easily frightened” line. That was hilarious. I LOVE being called a liberal; I call myself that all the time. I don’t care for “socialist” for the same reason I don’t like being called a frog; I am not one. I am a capitalist. I would like to see some markets “socialized,” such as medicine and energy, because they should always be oriented toward the public good and away from profit only. But for the most part, I am not a fan of socialism. I also don’t think it’s possible to be completely socialist or communist, because there will always be someone who lusts for power over others.
The funniest part is, this guy has known me for 15 years. He knows I take everyone on without fear. I once had one of the most popular liberal blogs in the country, but I had to work too much and I eventually had to abandon it. In it, I took on everyone who ever tried to demagogue an issue, left or right. I don’t worry at all about right wing radio and Fox News, because they’re simply not that powerful. I do not fear Citizens United. I don’t like it, and it goes against our Constitutional principles, but whining and worrying about it won’t change it anytime soon. II don’t fear anything political, because we have the power to change all of it. We just need two things; the will to change it, and the fortitude to get it done. That, frankly, is what people like this guy lack; fortitude. They have all sorts of grand ideas, but not enough balls to actually wade through the mud to get there.
Anyway, I took him head on; you know, because I’m so fearful. Now, the following response looks like I’m pissed off, and I guess I am, in a way, but I was laughing as I wrote it. The name-calling and the language I use have a purpose. (if you don’t like bad language, sorry in advance. I do use it sometimes.) You’ll see his crap re-quoted below. The rest is all me. Keep in mind; this is a guy whose known me for 15 years. That’s why the familiarity in the tone.
> That's the most amazing pile of crap I've heard from a Blue Dog yet.
> You weak centrists have done NOTHING but surrender on point after point after point ever since 1980. Thanks (to) you, the country is far to the right of any other developed nation in the first world.
I'm not a centrist, you idiotic fucking prick, and you know that. But I know how to win fucking elections and I am sick to death of you intransigent sophists fucking the entire electorate under the guise of "saving them."
(…)Have you ever tried to get a far left whiner like yourself to a local Dem caucus to participate? No. It's because you assholes sit on the sidelines, waiting for a magical occurrence to happen. You actually expect a political party -- an apparatus that is purely a democratic beast -- to morph into something that YOU will find acceptable.
You assholes have been throwing a monkey wrench into the system for 40 years. You march and you march and do NOTHING to further the politics in this country. For 40 years, i have been trying to get people like you to participate and move the fucking system left, but you keep expecting the impossible.
It's this simple, you political ignoramus:
If you want the system to move to the left, you have to move the electorate to the left. Instead, you sit there and whine about EVERYTHING, and call people stupid because they hear one side bitching about liberals, and the other side bitching about liberals, and the only thing they can figure out is that everyone hates liberals.
I am sick to fucking DEATH of people like you thinking you know everything about politics, when you don't know shit. If it's not politically expedient to do something, the political system won't get it done, get it, fucktard? You claim to know a lot about issues, and you are fair to middling on those. But you know NOTHING about politics.
Hate to break it to you ASSHOLE, but CENTRISTS run the show, they will ALWAYS run the show, and if you want liberal things done, you'd better fucking find a way to get them on your side.
Why haven't YOU noticed that the numbers of liberals in government has been dropping for a generation? Haven't you stopped to wonder why? You keep waiting for some fucking heroes to swoop in and save us, when such a thing has never happened in the history of the world. Politicians get to be what they are based on support, not goading, you idiot. If you're sitting there waiting for THEM to attract YOU, while you simultaneously piss on "centrists" as "pussies," you're going to be waiting there a long fucking time.
> You're easily frightened, and all the right has to do to utterly
> castrate you is call you a liberal--or a socialist. And your knees
> buckle and you do whatever they say.
And with that statement above, you prove yourself to be a complete fucking idiot. I don't give a fuck about the right. I make fun of them. They are humorous to me. YOU are the one who is completely and absolutely intimidated by them.
In 2008, we FINALLY had a candidate that the far left were positive about. Of course, they also imbued him with traits he didn't have. And while you laugh at the righties who claim the left saw him as a messiah of sorts, I cringe, because they're actually correct. he didn't run as a far left progressive; far left "progressives" thought he did. Personally, I think a lot of far lefties did that because he was black. Honestly, the patronizing attitude many on the far left have toward Obama is almost as racist as the right wing's coded language based on his blackness. He's a centrist.
What makes it worse is, you people lie so much. The Dems in Congress weren't "spineless." The House passed 375 bills last session that were blocked by 40-41 Republicans. Dems never really had 60 seats in the Senate, although every lefty I know keeps repeating that bullshit. They had 58 seats, plus Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman, at their peak. But I'd remind you that Franken didn't take his seat until April and Kennedy died in August. Plus Kennedy and Byrd were in the hospital for most of 2009, except for an occasional vote.
The LEFT almost killed health insurance reform. They kept pushing a "public option," but they did it in a haphazard way. Some "public options" were fine to you guys, while others weren't "robust" enough. And by the way, Obama was smart as shit not to champion any single part of any HCR, because to do so would have allowed the opposition to gel around it and kill the entire bill. That's called politics. But you know nothing about politics.
Like I said, the tone of the above has a purpose. I was using the same tone with him that he used with me, only exaggerated. The difference was, I used examples, and he just whined and called “bullshit.”
He responded again, with much the same bleating as before, just whinier. But contained therein, he said something interesting. Pay close attention.
Me: You assholes have been throwing a monkey wrench into the system for 40 years. You march and you march and do NOTHING to further the politics in this country. For 40 years, i have been trying to get people like you to participate and move the fucking system left, but you keep expecting the impossible.
Left Winger: "Impossible" like single-payer? Been waiting over 40 years for that one. Decent worker conditions? The Dems signed on to globalization, and have meekly gone along with GOP efforts to smash unions and lower working conditions. Was a SINGLE national Democrat other than Kucinich (who you hate) at hand for the Wisconsin protests?
Do you notice something strange in that? I mean, besides the obvious thing; that he’s still waiting for something to happen after 40 years. There’s patience and there’s mental illness. Here’s my response, which highlights what I’m talking about. These people are DENSE, and they stick to their BS, even when it’s not true.
Me: I thought about this for a bit yesterday because, unlike you, I'm self-reflective and actually reconsider and re-evaluate, and that first line jumped out at me a few times.
Why would "single-payer" be the GOAL? Isn't the goal "universal health care"??
And hence the problem with the far left, and why you guys FUCK UP the entire process. The goal for health insurance reform was universal health care, NOT "a public option." You guys are "news junkies" and you're absolutely convinced that PROCESS is more important than anything else. Seriously, the far left's obsession with a "robust public option" damn near killed the fucking health insurance reform bill, which would have cost 30 million people health insurance. Why would the goal be ANYTHING but universal health care access that's affordable, dependable and can't be canceled just because it's used. THAT is the goal. Why the obsession over who provides it? As long as they're not scraping half the money off the top before they pay for health care, who gives a flying fuck who provides it? Like I said, of the European systems, only a handful are actually single-payer systems, anyway.
This is the disconnect. The average voter doesn't actually give a fuck HOW his family gets health insurance coverage, as long as they get it.
You guys think you know a lot about policy because you read constantly, but you don't understand politics one little bit. Politics is all about compromise, and the result will ALWAYS be somewhere in the middle. If you think we were EVER going to scrap an entire system in which 85% of people had coverage paid by someone else, in favor of a single-payer option coupled with a significantly large new "tax" and the average voter was just going to say "YAY!" then you absolutely know nothing about politics in this country.
The reason we're the "most conservative" country in the industrialized world is largely because the far left has abandoned the body politic. You people keep expecting the entire system to change for you, but that's not how democracy works. If you want the country to move left, you have to move it left. If (you) want the Democratic Party to move left, (you’ll) have to join it. If you think standing outside and demanding that it become more liberal will work, then you're dumber than a stump. Political parties are organic; (they) reflect the views of the people in them; the people who participate. It's called democracy.
(Someone else) made a great analogy yesterday. Imagine that Tom Brady threw nothing but long bombs on every play. How often do you think he'd win over the other teams, who eke out yardage 4-5 at a time? My guess is, he's almost never win. And hence the problem with the far left. You've been "waiting" for "single payer" for 40 fucking years -- at what point do you get your head out of your ass and figure out that what you're doing isn't working, and try something else?
I'm far closer to my realistic goal of universal health care than you are to "single payer." And I'm closer because of compromise. Think a little.
Sadly, he responded. I say sadly because – well, read it, and I responded. You’ll see what I mean.
Me: Why would "single-payer" be the GOAL? Isn't the goal "universal health care"??
Left winger: Single payer is universal health care.
Me: That's like saying "A Ford is a car." There are many countries with universal health care, and only a handful use a single-payer model. MOST of them use a heavily-regulated private insurance model.
Left winger: Britain has National Health, and Canada has single payer, and I've lived in both countries. I believe the Canadian system is better.
Me: In the WHO stats we both like to cite, the UK is 18th and Canada is 30th. MOST of the countries ahead of them are NOT single-payer systems.
The goal is and always has been universal health care. As long as most people can afford coverage, almost no one dies or goes bankrupt for lack of available insurance, why does it matter who runs it?
Left Winger: "Public option" was what we felt we should try and settle for after you Centrists, including Obama, gave away the store. He took it off the table before negotiations even began, and so what we have is a totally fucked up system in which insurance companies still skim big amounts off the top, and which will in all likelihood fail.
Me: If you believe any of the above, you're an idiot. Obama purposely did NOT endorse a "public option," because to do so would have probably killed it. What killed the Clinton Health Care Initiative were two things; too much certitude on the part of the Administration, thus allowing the right to target specific provisions easily, and a complete apathy on the part of the left, because it "didn't go far enough." Same thing almost happened this time. It was OBAMA, Reid and Pelosi who saved it. It was fucking Kucinich who goddamned near killed it.
You don't understand basic politics. Never in history has ANYONE gotten everything they wanted in one try. Yet, you assholes were willing to throw away health insurance access for 30 million people, because of some undefined concept called "a robust public option." We needed a fucking BILL, and you assholes were trashing it because it wasn't perfect. Well, guess what, (); you can't cite to one bill in the history of ANY country that was perfect first time out. You remember when Obama was pleading with you assholes on the "professional left" to "not let the perfect be the enemy of the good"? No, you probably didn't realize he meant you.
Funny thing is, we have an imperfect law on the books, so your solution to it was apparently to facilitate a Republican majority in the Senate in order to fix it. Good job, you political stud.
Left Winger: The problem with weak centrists is they think they can split ever loaf of bread and gain ground, and can't discern when they are cutting a baby in half instead.
You're a complete idiot, (). I want you to cite ONE law creating a reform in this country or any other that was done and dusted in ONE BILL. Jesus, even the fucking Constitution had to be amended to allow people without land, blacks and women to vote. Title IX has been amended numerous times, and Medicare is incredibly imperfect, when my dad can't even get a fucking hearing aid through it. Yet, you actually imagined that we could, in one bill, hand the entire medical financing system over to the government and put all health insurance companies out of business, in a nation where 85% HAVE health insurance, most of it paid by someone else, and most never used it enough to find out it was shit.
Where did you learn politics; never never land? Come back to the real world. What Obama/Reid/Pelosi pulled off was a fucking miracle, and they would have created a public option and an insurance exchange, were it not for the naysaying on the left, who had decided that only a "certain type" of "public option" would ever do. You called it "robust," and no public option short of single payer was "robust" enough, apparently.
People were getting killed by the health care financing system, and here you assholes were, demanding a government insurance option, (to the point that) you were willing to risk 30 million people's health to get it. And you call yourself "progressive"? You're NOT progressive. A progressive would have cheered after that bill was passed, and given Democrats the tools to make it even better. You know, like reducing the number of Republicans to 38. to reduce the chance of mass filibuster.
People like this actually think the health reform bill will “fail”? How exactly? I laid out the major improvements that were made; at the very least, it takes us away from the previous system, which was nothing short of a train wreck. Insurance companies have to spend 80% of what they take in on health care, and rebate any money that is left over. But forget that, even if it didn’t change the system, except to add 30 million more people to the insurance rolls, it would have been an improvement. And these people were willing to sacrifice all of them for what, exactly? A “public option”? Here’s a question to consider; what if the public option passed, but a future Republican administration and/or a Republican Congress decided to de-emphasize it or render it moot? Presumably, to be consistent, the same far lefties would have to advocate for repeal of the entire health insurance reform apparatus.
Just to be clear, I do not thing the health insurance reform is perfect. But our chance to improve it went down the tubes when the far left joined the right wing in a chorus of “Democrats suck,” and depressed turnout in 2010 and handed the government over to the GOP.
I’ll be writing a lot about this sort of thing, because I think it’s important. Some on the far left is whining and crying and saying things that simply are not true and they are causing depressed turnout, which is allowing the far right to win elections almost by default.
And who are these people, anyway? MOST of them are white people, with a reasonable income, who live in the suburbs and have college experience. They claim to be advocating for the poor and working class, black and brown people, all of whom vote reliably Democratic and work their asses off for Democratic candidates, but they actually undermine those very people. Strangely, they all seem to think they know more about being one of those groups than the groups themselves.
And if you think I’m kidding, check the demographics of Nader voters in 2000. Almost all white and almost no poor.
I’m going to be writing a lot about this going forward, (although most posts won’t be so long), because it’s important. I think Obama’s pretty close to being a lock for a second term, but he needs the tools to make a difference, and I have a feeling the far left could derail the need for a Democratic Congress.
Later this week, I want to talk about Blue Dogs, and why anyone who thinks they’re lesser than other Democrats has NO understanding of politics.