Skip to main content

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”- George Bernard Shaw

Uncle Joe

"There's no success like failure, and failure's no success at all." - Bob Dylan

Lately, the messages from popular media, political movements, even personal relationships, have been encouraging preemptive resignation. "Oh don't ask her about that! She'd be offended and ignore you anyway."

It's settled science that fighting or arguing is far less effective than finding ways to partner with an adversary, in whatever realm you're opposing them. Yet ceasing opposition altogether means withdrawing from engagement, meaning that everyone loses.

In that vein, one of my environmentalist friends asked whether an Inslee-Gillibrand ticket would be a winner, or were "too progressive."

My answer: Gillibrand did make the list of the worst Democraps who want to be president…If that's your idea of "too progressive." Gosh, I wonder whether there's an alternative…?

What gets me is the "too progressive" meme. It's like the "too expensive" response to single-payer health care. Sure, the Koch-funded Heritage Foundation study of single payer demonstrated it's $2 trillion cheaper over the next decade than what we would pay with our current system, but single payer, that costs less, is "too expensive." One cannot make these things up.

Screen Shot 2019-04-25 at 2.20.28 PM

The way you get what you want is by being like Bernie, asking for the whole loaf, not hedging your bets by asking for half a loaf, and settling for a quarter loaf. Bernie and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have done more for the environment in their "extreme" positions than all this settling for less. When did you hear about the "Green New Deal" before they brought it up? And really? A craven opportunist like Gillibrand? (or Obama? or Clinton?) These are the people who legitimized criminality and sexual predation, making Trump look "authentic." Sure, he's a crook, but he's not pretending to be something else.

The way you get what you want is by being like Bernie, asking for the whole loaf, not hedging your bets by asking for half a loaf, and settling for a quarter loaf.

Anyway, the conventional Democratic party line has been predicated on the sentiment that they couldn't ask for too much, or be "too progressive" since they had to get their campaign funding from the plutocrats (thanks to California's Tony Coelho for that one!). Bernie even demonstrated that assertion was false with his campaign, funded by those $27 contributions.

But hey, Democrats never learn. Another unreasonable man, Ralph Nader, says "The Democrats could blow it again. They blew it in 2010, '12, '14, and '16, against the worst Republican Party that Kafka could ever imagine. Cruel, vicious, ignorant, Wall Street-indentured, warmongering, anti-labor, anti-woman, anti-consumer, anti-children—these are their votes in Congress. Why aren't the Democrats landsliding them? They've lost the state legislatures, the majority of state governors, the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court and the executive branch. Because they're still dialing for dollars and that's the most important thing."

Vote for who you like…In my experience, rational argument is less-than-persuasive…but I won't be joining you.

My environmentalist friend's response: "I think the key part of my agenda is to get someone decent elected." See, the genuine progressives are not really electable. Sure, they're passionate, they're committed, but they aren't the adults in the room.

I replied: Of course Bernie could never get elected against Trump! (The linked poll shows him winning by historic margins in 2016)…Bernie's un-electability is the conventional establishment Democratic party wisdom. But how seriously can we take that wisdom if it lost the presidency—even the popular vote if you don't count California—and more than a thousand down-ticket races?

And have you seen Nomiki Konst's characterization of the DNC establishment? Opening words: "This stinks!"

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

So…sorry, I'm not convinced that centrist or corporate-friendly Democrats are necessarily more "electable." If nothing else, Trump demonstrates that the party establishments' conventional thinking is due for a rude awakening. And centrists like Obama are really just Rockefeller Republicans, anyway. What's the point of electing Republican lite when you can get the real thing?

I'd invite you to change your mind about what constitutes electability based on the evidence cited…but doubt this plea will have much effect. After all, smarter people than you and I are already making plans to emphasize identity politics ("We're not racists like those bad, bad Trump supporters!") and RussiaRussiaRussia! in an attempt to divert attention from the corporate Democrats' many betrayals of their constituents.

For just one of many examples, did you know Bill Clinton had a deal with Newt Gingrich to privatize Social Security (before the market crash!), but had to focus instead on Monica Lewinsky? A betrayal of the New Deal and sexual predation all at once! Corporate Democrats…gosh, I wonder why they lost!

Meanwhile, from The Intercept: "Perhaps the most enduring lesson of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign—during which he earned votes of 43 percent of Democratic Party primary participants despite starting with name recognition in the teens, enduring a corporate media blackout, and declining to take corporate PAC money—is that the traditional rules around how much you have to sell out to get ahead were wrong. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and myriad candidates who won or over-performed in last year’s midterms understood this, as do the leaders of the 2020 field, who have largely sworn off corporate PAC money, and who have adopted the bulk of Sanders’s 2016 platform. As it turns out, doing the right thing is actually a winning proposition."

Holy mackerel! Not selling out works! What has the world come to? Hard to believe, eh?

Yet you still seem to counsel preemptive resignation to opponents of the conventional, "centrist" corporate Democrats. "Don't say you'll never compromise! Hedge your bets before you sit down to play poker!"…is what you say, in effect.

Suppose you were a labor lawyer advising a union. Would your advice be "Sure, we haven't started the negotiations yet, but I want you to commit to never striking"? That's not just weak tea, it's terrible advice. The union's leverage includes their ability to strike. Without it, management has all the cards.

It's the same with the lefties among Democrats. Without the power to take their votes and go, or stay home rather than vote, they have virtually no impact on the Democrats.

I'm betting you see my point. Nevertheless, you still counsel the Democrats on the left to forego saying they won't support some compromised nominee!

Never mind my personal sentiments: I doubt your plea to suck it up and back some corporate grifter even before the nomination process will carry much weight.

Nevertheless, we'll welcome your vote once Bernie, or maybe Elizabeth Warren, has won the nomination. You can count on massive defections, otherwise...again, my personal sentiments aside.

Meanwhile, we've been treated to nearly a half century financial backing for extreme right-wingers. What it does is move the "Overton Window" (the range of respectable policy options) steadily rightward. Any Republican who steps out of line can count on rich donors funding a primary opponent, too.

So it's time that the political left—really the people who understand systemic problems require collective solutions—counter with some far out stuff to re-center the Overton Window. Otherwise, we'll continue to hear that a Democrat who rules to the right of Richard Nixon, like Obama, is a "Kenyan Socialist." That's an absurd, completely off-center accusation, but it's been working for a while now.

defunding the police is a start

Mark Dempsey
It's Simpler Than It Looks