Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know; that this blog is a bit different from other lefty blogs. Yes, I take on the Right Wing Fart Machine and will continue to do so. But frankly. a small but loud portion the progressive movement has a tendency to be just as bad as the right wingers when it comes to flinging rhetorical bullshit. These people are loud, obnoxious, and they like to portray themselves as the “only true progressives." This, despite the fact that they constitute a small minority within the progressive movement, and often, they;re rhetoric actually hurts our cause.
These “progressives,” who tend to be referred to as "professional left" or "emo left" are usually white, they tend to have college degrees, and they tend to have above-average-sized bank accounts, and they seem to think they know more about what it’s like to be poor and working class than those who actually are poor and working class. I saw an exchange recently on a lefty blog, in which a white "emo lefty" actually attempted to imply that his sociology degree had equipped him with the knowledge to understand what a black man in America faced. I wish I was kidding.
As bad as their arrogance is, however, the worst part is, they really suck at politics. They seem to have no concept that we live in a democracy, and for all of their supposed education, they continually think they can short-circuit the process, and do things without a popular electoral mandate. People like this somehow believe that the goodness of their cause is sufficient to bring about social change, and electoral politics is just a bother. They want the result, but they don't want to do the work required to get the result. Because of this attitude by the loudest segment of the progressive movement, it's been 45 years (at least) since we've had a strong voice.
Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same things over and over, and expecting different results.” It's time for progressives to stop being insane.
Part of their attempt to keep this insanity going has forced "emo progressives" to perpetrate one of the biggest lies in the history of our politics; that both major political parties is the same. I'm not sure what they hope to accomplish by perpetrating this insanity, but anyone who thinks both political parties are the same is certainly not occupying this portion of the universe.
One of the common ways they do this is to invoke images of a Republican Party that no longer exists. The Republican Party has largely been taken over by far right extremists these days.To refer to them as "conservative" is an insult to real conservatives. They are more radical than they have ever been. Even such classic Republican stalwarts as Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon would find no place in today's GOP.
They are also a minority party. There are more Democrats and more independents who lean Democratic than there are Republicans, which means Democrats have a natural advantage in the electorate. Because of this, a major Republicans strategy over the years has been to cultivate a following among the most cynical elements in this society, which in turn depresses turnout among all elements. That's right; being radical has two purposes; it gets their "base excited, because cynical idiots love red meat. Also, such negativity actually drives down turnout at the polls. Which is GOOD for Republicans, because they're a minority party.
The reason Republicans keep winning elections is not because of money. It’s not because their level of commitment is greater. It’s certainly not because of their “message,” which is unintelligible to any sentient human being with an IQ registering in double digits. They only win elections if there is no alternate message. To an electorate looking for a positive reason to turn out to vote, a small but vocal portion of our side of the debate is actually adding to cacophony of negativity, and feeding the right wing’s main strategy, which is to drive down turnout.
Basically, the average American thinks right wingers are basically idiots. Therefore, when some very loud progressives push the ridiculous meme that both major political parties are two sides of the same coin, not only was that concept absolutely ridiculous, it's also potentially dangerous, precisely a large number of voters will believe it, and stay away from the polls. After all, if you think Republicans are morons, but both parties are the same, then doesn't that imply that Democrats are morons, too?
What makes things worse is, it's not even close to true. If you can look at John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi and think they're anything alike, you must be crazy. If you truly believe Barack Obama and George W. Bush are anything alike, put down the drugs.
Not long ago, some "progressive" gave me the "both parties are the same" crap on Twitter. When I replied that the concept was silly, he responded with the following:
They agree on three things which are bleeding our economy dry. Free Trade, military spending, and support of CEOS.
Forget the fact that none of the above are major reasons why our economy is in bad shape. But let’s look at how the two parties see those issues one at a time, and see if there is any truth in that statement.
Free Trade: The two major parties don’t even have the same definition of free trade. In fact, the commenter couldn't have chosen a much better example of how the two parties DIFFER.
To the current incarnation of the Republican Party, “free trade” means everyone should be able to sell anything they want in the marketplace with no government regulation whatsoever. They want to get rid of the FTC, FDA, EPA and any other agency that tries to keep anyone honest. If you think otherwise, consider who Bush appointed and the GOP Congress approved to head these agencies and others and compare them with those Obama chose and the Democratic Congress approved. Obama tried to appoint Elizabeth Warren to head a commission Democrats in Congress created to protect consumers, and Republicans refused to hold hearings about her appointment and are trying to kill the commission altogether.
Though regulation of commerce is spelled out and required by the Constitution, Republicans do everything they can to remove all regulation from the commercial market. They've spent the last 75 years trying to undo the New Deal! That alone makes the concept of "both parties are the same" out to be a lie. If Republicans could get away with it, there would be no minimum wage, no OSHA, Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) would all be history. Hell, if it was up to the current GOP, we'd all have to work at below-minimum wage until we keeled over and died. What, exactly, do Republicans have to do to you before you figure out that the two parties are at polar opposites when it comes to commerce and trade?
I’m sure the Tweet-twit was referring to NAFTA, which to some progressives is shorthand for everything that’s wrong with our economy over the last 20 years, even though most of the jobs that were shipped overseas were shipped to Asia. Our manufacturing base was coming back in force by the late 1990s, because Clinton made deals with a number of countries to open up their markets to more of our goods. Of course, when Bush and the GOP came in, those deals went by the wayside, and our manufacturing base started to shrink once again. Since Obama’s been president, our manufacturing base is showing signs of a comeback; in fact, it’s the only sector of the economy that has shown significant job growth. Obama has invested more cash into the alternative energy industry – a huge job creation engine – than has been invested in that sector in nearly 20 years.
Free trade is not a bad thing, by the way. Free regulated trade is how this country became a superpower. But the two parties see “free trade” very differently. It’s obvious, if you take a moment to think about it.
Military spending – If you think the two parties are the same on this, then you must have been in a coma the past 30 years, because Democrats have been cutting defense spending every time they’ve been in a position to do so, and Republicans have been restoring it. In the last 40 years, only four presidents have overseen a reduction in military spending; Carter, Bush 41, Clinton and Obama. Yes; I said Obama. Three of the four of those were Democrats. Of course, as soon as the Republicans took over in 1994, they immediately started to restore “defense” funding.
Republicans have been using “defense” spending as a jobs program of sorts for most of the last 30 years, whereas Democrats have largely tried to redirect defense spending to other areas of the economy, especially since the end of the Cold War. Eisenhower couldn’t get funding for the Interstate Highway system through Congress until the Democrats took over, and he couldn’t get Republcians on board until they labeled it a “defense” program.
I know many progressives think cutting defense should be easy, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. Yes, it’s stupid to be spending so much to build weapons that are essentially pointless, but the fact of the matter is, those weapons systems represent jobs. So, if you lop off a couple of hundred billion dollars, you have to reinvest it in something else that will create jobs. My recommendation would be to invest in retrofitting weapons-building facilities into alternative energy facilities. But such a thing is impossible while Republicans are in charge, because Democrats and Republicans see “military spending” in damn near opposite ways.
Support of CEOs – I’ll be honest; I don’t even know what this means. I know CEOs are the whipping boys of the far left, and some compensation schemes are obscene. But in the end, they're private entities, answerable only to stockholders and others within their corporations. If they're breaking the law, they should be prosecuted, and of course they should be taxed on all compensation. Strangely, Democrats are all for prosecuting them for crimes and charging them more in taxes, but Republicans are absolutely against it. Not only that, but one of the biggest problems with the 2008 economic meltdown was that Republicans had removed regulations on so many activities, much of what these assholes -- the banksters and the corporate pirates -- were doing was no longer illegal.
There is almost NO issue in which the current incarnation of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are the same. In fact, if they have ever been more polar opposite than they are now, I can’t recall such a time. And the overall message is very important. It’s never been more essential that we remain positive and hopey-changey if we intend to get rid of the far right. And make no mistake; until you beat back the far right, politically speaking, there is no possible way we can do anything about creating a progressive country. I’m way past the point of being nice about this shit. If we’re going to have a progressive country, we have to do two things; we have to get rid of obstacles, and we have to project a hopeful message that a majority will take with them to the voting booth. Otherwise, we’re looking at countless more years being run over by right wing cranks.
And if you’re not sick of that, most of the rest of us are. MOST liberals are positive and hopeful and see the possibilities in creating a just country in which everyone is truly equal. And we’re getting a little tired of the small minority of progressives that thinks they know every little thing about every single issue (they’re wrong about that, too), but who are always whining and complaining and creating an obstacle to political success. This blog is my opinion, and nothing more. But there is one underlying fact that cannot be denied; no one likes progressives very much.
We have to win in 2012, and we can’t win unless we always tell the truth and offer positive solutions. It’s really that simple. And if you keep on lying, and claiming both parties are the same, you're helping to move progressive politics backwards.
And it is a lie to claim both parties are the same. They're not even close.