I call them the indignant left.
These are the progressives who seem to believe that our supported policies should just magically come to pass and the “establishment” needs to get out of the way.
I am as progressive as the next person – hell, I could be put on the socialist spectrum. But I am not so naive as to think that my views are the only ones that matter. That my views are even a majority viewpoint. I can advocate for them, and I do, but I know that actual legislation is always going to be a blend of what is possible. It is an ongoing struggle – but I am realistic enough to understand that this is how representative government works.
The Indignant Left has a different agenda. They have developed this war on “corporatist democrats”. A made up term that tends to be a critique of Democrats who have big money donors or take money from PACs. It is as if they want to ensure that we lose because purity requires Dems to be underfunded. It is defeatist and means nothing unless we can get “big money” out of campaigns altogether – but the Catch 22 is that we have to have money to get Democrats, who believe in getting rid of Citizens United, elected. The Indignant Left shunned Hillary Clinton for bringing in enough money to compete and so we got Donald Trump. A similar rebellion is happening with Nancy Pelosi who has to oversee a wide range of Democrats in their caucus. It is a defeatist attitude. The good is not acceptable if not perfect.
The Indignant Left makes every issue a litmus test. You can have a Democrat who believes in reproductive choice but is personally pro-life….that’s not good enough. You can have a promoter of green energy jobs but who still campaigns on an “all of the above” energy policy temporarily – put them in the trash heap. Absolute single payer – anything less and I’m gone. Issue after issue gets judged on this all or nothing approach. And then to take it a step further, a candidate can be 90% acceptable on most issues, but is bad on 10% – well, the indignant left says, no way in hell.
The tribal Republicans don’t bother with such “foolish” details. If an R appears next to their name on the ballot – they get the vote. The tribe gravitates into a homogeneous amalgam of extremism that has little to do with governing and a lot to do with dictating to everyone, how to live their lives. They find those things that they can sew division with and then push their base to be afraid that those divisive needs are the only thing that matters for voting.
Democrats believe in governance. But we get trapped into thinking that our candidates have to perfectly match up with our own ideas. We don’t seem to take into account the variations in geographic and local emphasis that each candidate must deal with. Candidates are products of where they come from and expecting them to conform to our own beliefs is just not feasible or even desirable.
The Indignant Left has the same uncompromising attitude that evangelicals have incorporated into the Republican right. But with our side, it is more punishing. Too many of the Indignant Left think that withholding their vote is the proper punishment. Or finding a third political party that they can “feel good about”. As I said above, this is defeatist and we pay a price.
Democrats had a strong showing in the mid-terms – mostly because the Indignant Left finally let their anger at Trump allow them to overlook imperfections. They came out in huge numbers, the way they should always be voting….in every election. But not willing to be satisfied with success, the nitpicking and litmus tests are working their way back in.
Let’s leave being indignant behind for awhile. Right now, saving democracy is more important. And to do that, we need to elect Democrats…all types of Democrats….from everywhere. We don’t have to be tribal, but we need to be more strategic and open.
The midterms were a start, but only a start. We have plenty more work to do and we desperately need to do it together.