If you agree with this, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.
But! If Hillary lost because progressives abstained from voting, it’s possible that Republican incompetence would be laid bare, and that they’d run the country into the ground over the next four years. If that’s what it takes to show the people that a leftist political revolution is the only viable way forward, it will have been worth watching Hillary bite the political dust. Come 2020, we could be looking at a landscape where progressive politics can finally gather enough momentum to sweep the country, and usher in a new era of FDR-esque reforms.
And unicorns and puppies! And flowers! And candy! Somebody please help me stop banging my head against this brick wall, please? My head really hurts.
Several things. First, this is morally offensive. Losing is never good. But the only thing worse than losing is doing it on purpose and being morally superior about it. Which ignores the real imoacts to real people that a Republican presidency will necessarily entail. Explaining to poor people, to women, to children, how you did it for the long term good of all is obscene.
Second, politics is not static. A GOP win - on a laydown, no less - would embolden conservatives and move the goal posts even further to the right. In many respects, we’re nearing a tipping point, where many people are close to giving up on the entire process of voting because of discouragement and roadblocks from new laws designed to impede voting. What kind of example does it set for progressive leaders to proclaim that it’s actuslly strategically good not to vote? That way lies disaster.
Third, you may not be, but I’m old enough to remember 2000. I still won’t watch the movie about the recount - I lived it, in agony and horror, watching Democratic politicos and lawyers make mistake after mistake in the process. The argument was that it doesn’t make a difference. It was proved horribly and fatally wrong then - what makes today any different? In fact, today it’s even more stupid to claim “there’s no difference” between Democrats and Republicans. The GOP has moved enormously and distinctly to the right, while Democrats have moved decisively in the opposite direction. For the first time, we’ve moved on health care. Democrats. We acted to stave off a depression. Democrats. We’ve acted to regulate the worst of the financial sector’s abuses. Democrats. We’re at least talking about racial discrimination, police abuse, economic inequality. Real things. All of that will be off the table with a GOP win. How does that help?
You can say it wasn’t enough or we need more and better. Fine. So your solution is to walk off the field? How would you feel if your sports team did that? “Hey, we’ll be back next year and with better players and then you’ll see how good we are.” You’d be horrified, and there is no human or moral component to that decision.
Fourth, the author looks at conservatives with envy. How does he think hard core conservatives got power? It only happened when they began to take over the GOP from the inside, little by little, over many years. We don’t do that. Progressives want results now, they don’t want to wait, and they look for magic bullets. Here’s one: hard, sustained work to move the politics of the Democratic Party where we want them to be.
People who espouse this kind of screwed up thinking are pie in the sky purists. They don’t want to get their hands dirty with compromise, with reality, with having to settle for half or a quarter or even a tiny piece of a loaf. News flash: politics is a constant struggle to move the ball forward (it’s Sunday during football season, sue me) an inch at a time, little by little, bit by bit. And its protecting your accomplishments from being rolled back, even as you try to move forward. It’s agonizing and painful and draining work sometimes, and it can be a decade or a generation before you look up and realize just how much you’ve accomplished. It’s not going to happen overnight, and heightening the contradictions or throwing bombs is not going to change the reality of the process.
A confession: I’ve never (really, never) voted for a presidential primary winner in my entire life. Here’s my tale of woe: Fritz Hollings (don’t ask, I can’t or won’t remember), Gary Hart, Paul Tsongas (he won the Maryland primary in ’92), Bill Bradley, a pre-shithead John Edwards, and Hillary Clinton. That’s a long time that I’ve been sucking it up and supporting a candidate who at least initially wasn’t mine. It’s not that hard. Do the right thing. Work your ass off. You won’t become infected with any disease other than the one that most people reading this hopefully already have: a burning, itching compulsion to make the world a better place. Moral superiority has no place in the treatment of this condition.
I’ve never considered taking the actions this article espouses. Never. Support your party, snd if you don’t like the candidate, work harder next time to get a better one. But if you walk out in 2016, as far as I’m concerned, don’t bother coming back. And if you intend to run for office someday, you might as well slit your political throat and save yourself the trouble. Loyalty matters - not to me, or some other individual person, but to the ideals and the people we claim to stand for, those who need our help and need someone to fight for them.
Rant over. Almost time for football.