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The Left is fiddling while Rome burns. It's our thing. It's what we do. It is also one of the reasons Rome is burning. Though polling reveals that most of "our" values resonate with the majority of Americans, we remain the opposition party. Hell, even when we've got a guy in the White House, we behave as though we're the opposition party, always playing defense, spending most of our energies trying to knock down the latest right wing atrocity, some bill or some offensive onslaught of offenses against equity, fairness, common decency, justice, or common sense.

loser democrats

Spiro Agnew's speech writer, Pat Buchanan, labeled us as "effete" a long time ago, when we couldn't manage to elect a deeply decent and intelligent human being—George McGovern—against a deeply rotten son of a bitch—Richard Nixon. In fact, Nixon won that one in a landslide despite the fact the fact that news of Watergate had been airing in public for months. Republicans, let's face it, are better at selling shit than Democrats are at selling shoe polish.

It's how we roll, ya know. In fact, one of our special gifts for losing elections can be traced to the fact that lots of people who cluster under or near our banner can't tell the difference between shit and shoe polish. If we don't get precisely the candidate who makes us swoon, we'll stay home, or vote third party rather than sully ourselves by voting for the lesser of two evils. In fact, lots of us insist that there really is no difference at all in the quantity of evil in either party.

So, for instance, we abandoned the decent but hapless Hubert Humphrey back in '68, turning the country over to Nixon when so many of us staged a major pout and sat it out, or like this writer, cast a "protest vote" for Eldredge Cleaver, if memory serves, or whomever the Peace and Freedom Party put up.

There were lots of reasons for those of us who opposed the war that year to be fed up and to hate the Hump, but in what universe could the slimy Tricky Dick have been preferable? That was before California was so predictably blue, back before liberal or progressive votes could be squandered without too much damage in states that were going to the Democrats, anyway.

So, in that year, California went for Nixon, more young men and women died in Viet Nam, Nixon's attorney general floated the idea of "preventive detention" to round up anti-war protesters suspected ("suspected," mind you) of planning to commit crimes, fear and hate were promulgated and paranoia ran deep in the land, rather like now.

But, by god, we were "progressive" and we were "radicals" and we abjured the label of "Liberal" more and more, so we did our bit, many of us, to keep our skirts free of so much as a particle of evil, denied Hubert, the Happy Warrior, the presidency, and helped install Nixon, Agnew, and Kissinger's regime of greater evil because, by god, we'd show them that we were in no way complicit with this war-and-profit machine.

That, of course, is the nihilist feather in the left wing, one that often keeps this bird flapping, flailing, or ever getting off the ground. The idea, at base, is that if we let things get bad enough, the masses will finally rise up in revolt, the long-awaited day of jubilation will come at last, a slate of dream candidates will emerge, the Democratic Party will be forced to write a platform outlawing capitalism, racism, misogyny, red meat diets, and war. On that bright day, we can devote our individual attention to claiming credit for those among us who contributed the most to our deliverance from evil.

Much more effective, when it comes to losing, is our timidity about hawking our agenda, about standing tall and speaking loud about the things we believe in most fervently.

That fantasy--and the constantly renewed consortium of "progressives" that buys into it—ain't the only reason we lose, of course. Much more effective, when it comes to losing, is our timidity about hawking our agenda, about standing tall and speaking loud about the things we believe in most fervently.

Instead, we get mealy-mouthed, try to sound like slightly more decent Republicans, more compassionate and less belligerent Americans. As a result, we get candidates, especially in down ballot races, who resemble Tim Kaine or a host of others, amiable fellows who downplay damn near anything they think might be objectionable to any voter anywhere, thus creating the image of Democrats as mostly spineless wimps.

Meanwhile, the guiding principle of the party brass writes off vast swaths of the country as unwinnable, a self-fulfilling prophecy that comes true over and over as hapless candidates emerge in out-of-the-loop places only to crash and burn without support from the state or national Democratic Party central committees.

Nor does there seem to be any general attempt to spread the message to areas written off by the leadership, to tout the values and objectives the party claims as its raison d'etre. When a guy like Berne Sanders comes along, saying all kinds of things that can be heard at damn near any gathering of left-leaning people, he sounded revolutionary, not for the ideas he espoused, but for the fact that he was saying them right out loud for all to hear. And lots of people heard him, many of them young people who really hadn't heard such talk from Democrats all that often, if ever.

Remember Al Gore's rather pathetic run against the easily beatable George W. Bush? Al Gore, the guy who would later emerge as the valiant movie voice against man-made climate change? Yes, that Al Gore, who chose the slimy Joe Leiberman as his running mate, one of the lousier excuses for a Democrat to come down the pike since the Southern Dems bailed out back in the '60s?

Yeah, that Al Gore, the one who spoke little about global warming during that campaign, distanced himself from a still popular Bill Clinton, and gave his wife, Tipper, that cringe-worthy kiss when he won the nomination. (They would divorce not too long after that. And, by the way, what the hell kind of name was "Tipper" for a Democrat, anyway?) Yeah, that Al Gore, the guy who couldn't even beat that Texas doofus convincingly enough to avoid a shady vote count in Jeb Bush's state that culminated in a Supreme Court selection of our POTUS by justices installed by Gore's opponent's daddy.

And remember John Kerry, four years later, losing to the same doofus Gore had lost to, only this time more convincingly? Remember John Kerry had fought in the war Bush and Cheney had both dodged? Remember how, when asked, Cheney simply said he had "other priorities," something I guess none of those 58,000 young people who died there couldn't claim?

Remember Kerry's scuzzy blow-dried running mate, John Edwards, the best the Dems could come up with, I guess, in their wise parsing of how to touch all the bases in the Democratic base? Remember Kerry's ridiculous attempts to look like a reg'lar guy, donning that hunter's jacket, posing with a shotgun slung over his shoulder, attempting to out-do Dubya in pandering to non-Yale and non-Harvard types in the most condescending possible way? And remember how damn dull Kerry was, a guy who could depress the most ebullient people with just a droning sentence or two? Yeah, that John Kerry.

So, we lost that one, too, though it was clear even as we went to the polls, clear even to people who weren't Democrats, that Bush and the neo-cons had played into Osama bin Laden's hands, had blundered into a costly war, had run up deficit spending alarmingly, and had put a whole lot of incompetent people in vital positions, many of them merely to placate the religious right. Oh, and if that wasn't bad enough, Bush looked like a bumbler and a boob daily, garbling the language and acting the fool on the national and world stage regularly, giving a shoulder massage to a startled Angela Merkel, for instance, or extolling the virtues of his incompetent and hapless FEMA chief who had so badly bungled relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina("Heckuva a job, Brownie").

Democrats know how to lose so skillfully and so consistently there now seems to be no Republican ding-a-ling or doofus, no crook or cretin we could imagine beating. There was a time when some of the more naïve among us thought losing to a washed-up second rate Hollywood actor was inconceivable. Surely, Americans would never elect the co-star of Bedtime for Bonzo to be the leader of the "free" world.

Once we lost to that guy twice, however, many of us assumed we couldn't possibly do worse than that. Hell, we had once found it unimaginable that we could lose to the likes of Nixon/Agnew. Surely we could aspire no higher to greater or more ignominious losing than the losses that turned Ronald F'in' Reagan into an emblem of American greatness? But among the array of stuff Donald J. Trump has taught us is that Republicans simply can't go too low, can't find a candidate dumb enough, can't choose a standard bearer compromised enough or crooked enough that Democrats can beat. How bad are Democrats at selling their goods?

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Well, Americans still believe--by a 35 pt margin--that Republicans are better at handling the economy than Democrats. This after Bush and Company damn near brought down the whole global economy, and this after a steady rate of economic growth under Obama despite Republican attempts on every front to block every single thing Obama proposed, favored, or liked.

There's no doubt, however, that when it comes to losing, we aren't doing it all on our own. Republicans have long known that with benighted policies like theirs, they can't take winning for granted, even against the loser libtards. For decades now, polls have shown that the majority of Americans share a range of center left views, all of which are anathema to Republicans.

Americans favor more gun control, better health care, pay equity for women, living wages, clean air and water, no privatizing of Social Security, and an array of other stuff that Democrats favor and include in the party's always-evolving platforms. So, since what the Republicans are selling ain't popular, they have figured out that they'd better spare no efforts to lie, cheat, and steal as a means of helping the Democrats maintain their record as non pareil losers.

We're so good at losing that even when we win, we lose. Unlike Republicans, who stand by their man even when he brags about grabbing women by the pussy or when he lies about making our southern neighbors pay for a wall on our border. They stand by their woman, too, unbothered when the Republican candidate's wife plagiarizes a speech from a woman many of their supporters referred to as a "unclassy" and an "ape."

We did manage to win the White House twice in recent memory with a gracious, sophisticated, and intelligent candidate who managed to oversee the tracking down and killing of Osama bin Laden (a guy his Republican predecessor had vowed to get, but then lost interest in getting once he'd bogged us down in a war in a nation that posed no threat to us). But despite all that, Democrats and "progressives" began knocking Obama almost from Day One. He wasn't tough enough, he didn't go after the right wingers aggressively enough. He was too nice.

Our guy, Barack Obama, also got lots of legislation passed, including a massive health care reform, despite implacable right wing obstruction. He also kept the economy from collapsing and constantly tried to define America as being probably better than it is and Americans as probably better than we are. But Democrats and "progressives" bitched and moaned incessantly, offering more energy to bash Obama than to push back against the Republicans. Obama was a war monger, a drone lover. He didn't do enough for the working man, didn't stand up for the black community, shouldn't have done this, should have done that.

But Republicans don't do self-criticism. Once they'd made their pick, their guy could do anything that he wanted to do, up to and including stepping on their blue suede shoes, and they were cool with that. Collude with Russians? No problem. Lie to them consistently? That's just fake news. Undermine American intelligence services? What, me worry?

Democrats and "progressives," however, not only don't stand by their man, but they don't stand by their woman, either. Anyone checking social media last year would have had a hard time deciding if people commenting there were fascists or socialists because both Hannity clones and readers of The Nation were alike in calling Hillary Clinton "untrustworthy" and "crooked."

Obama graced the White House, but he was also a black guy, and man, if there is a loser paradigm in American history, it wears a black face. Obama was no loser, let's be clear about that. But as branding, a black face on the Democratic Party awakened that appallingly large nest of racists. Those snake slither out from under their rocks, joined forces in rage over their perceived loss of privilege and of their country, and allied with a reptilian bunch of Wall Streeters and oil men to elect a cartoon plutocrat as their glorious leader, a literally fuzzy-headed con man who was, nonetheless, certifiably white and a "winner." He promised the yahoos and the rich pricks alike that he was going to give them more winning than they could bear.

And he won, of course, especially because now the reactionaries had another foe that also represented a category of American loser; i.e., Women. ("Women," as we learned damn near a half century ago from Janis Joplin, "is losers." Dumb as Republicans can seem, they know sleight of hand, know how to work the angles, play on the worst of our culturally-implanted stereotypes. Women, among whom Hillary Clinton could be counted, were weak. They were indecisive, ineffective, yadayadayada.

And so we lost, sort of, the way we've become habituated to doing: close, but no cigar.

We are the reactionaries now, always reacting to the latest con job the right wing runs up the flag pole, playing whack-a-mole as one after another bad idea gets proposed, one after another nefarious agenda gets fostered.

And we're currently getting our ducks in a row to ensure that we lose again in the mid-term elections, and in the next presidential election in 2020. Losing in an environment like the one we've lived in since Trump took office is, we know, a real challenge. Republicans have shown themselves to be ugly, unprincipled, and incompetent, unable to govern, but good at lowering the tone of damn near everything.

They've shown their hypocrisies so plainly that they're going to have a hard time going back and claiming the high ground as champions of "family values," "Christian values," or "fiscally-conservative values." They are linked to one of the cheesiest Cheeto-looking sons of bitches imaginable, a guy who gave us Anthony Scaramucci for sleaze, Sean Spicer for bumbling incompetence, Rick Perry for unimaginable ignorance and cluelessness about the purpose of the agency he was chosen by Trump to head.

As for Trump, his poll numbers continue to slide, like monkey shit down a tiled wall. Meanwhile, his base continues to challenge the darkest imaginings anyone ever had of American Yahoodom, a cheering throng of mouth breathers whose gullibility and deplorability seems to have no bottom.

You'd think it would be impossible to lose to such people, wouldn't you? But the "progressives" are already running down Kamala Harris, for instance, a young, dynamic, and emerging "star" who could be a formidable presidential contender in 2020. So, of course, here come those dependably deplorable people in our own ranks who always show up to piss in the punch bowl, kill the buzz, weaken the enthusiasm, and get us to squabbling among ourselves as they jockey for position at the head of the line of the most ideologically pure, progressive, and evil-averse.

Losers R Us. That's our franchise, that's our style, that's our brand. We're the people who lost to Trump, after all, and we had one of the most qualified candidates who ever sought the presidency. But we were damned if we were going to endorse evil. So damned we were. We lost to Dubya and Cheney, too, and when we had a visionary and decent guy like Jimmy Carter as an incumbent, we even lost to Ronald Reagan, and lost to him again when a stolid Midwestern Democrat like Mondale couldn't make headway against a guy who didn't dye his hair; it was just "prematurely orange," a union-busting tool of the wealthy who set the template for Republicans ever since.

But we're liberals, we're Democrats, we're "progressives," and by God, if those establishment flunkies at the DNC don't give us a dream candidate, if they try to saddle us with some corrupt bitch like Kamala Harris, we'll not only take our marbles and go home, but we'll throw bricks through every Democratic campaign headquarters and storefront bumper sticker dispensary in the country.

Because we're Democrats, damnit, and when it comes to losing, there's no challenge we can't handle. Hell, if Trump wants a third term, we can probably even help make that happen.

jaime oneill

Jaime O'Neill