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Progressives give in again and again because they don’t want to hold up aid, they don’t want to prevent at least some token effort at solving a problem, they don’t want people to think they’re mean and selfish. They definitely don’t want to be hated. But this constant fear makes them powerless. You can never be the alpha if you’re always lying on your back exposing your stomach to show submission. Progressives need to accept that if they hope to accomplish anything meaningful, they must be willing to be hated.

Okay to Be Hated

“But we’re the good guys!” I hear progressives say. “We’re trying to make the world a better place! How can we do that if people hate us?”

First of all, we need to accept the reality that people already hate us. Those on the right do, without a doubt. But a great many moderate Democrats do as well. Don’t you hear it in the disdain with which they dismiss our reluctance to support Biden as the Democratic nominee? “You say there’s not much difference between Republicans and Democrats? Well, I say there’s not much difference between a progressive who won’t vote for Biden and an idiot who votes for Trump.” I was told that by one of my longtime “friends.” She has no trouble being hated, takes it as a badge of honor.

If we cede all our power by placating bullies, either those on the right or those in the middle, we end up pleasing no one.

While I wonder about her strategy of bringing progressives to her side by calling them idiots, I do think she’s onto something by not being “nice” all the time. Krystal Ball, ">on her show “Rising,” finally helped me understand the power we can wield if we are willing to be hated. If we cede all our power by placating bullies, either those on the right or those in the middle, we end up pleasing no one. The right still hates us. The corporate centrists see us as their “bitches,” and progressives are disappointed we’ve failed them yet again.

Most of us on the far left are nice people. When we make people mad, when we upset them, we are usually humble enough to question our behavior. Are we in fact doing something wrong? We don’t want to be bullies ourselves. But this constant second-guessing and waffling robs us of the power to accomplish anything meaningful. Those times we are wrong, we need to adjust our ideas. But that shouldn’t be 99% of the time.

I was the only Mormon in my Baptist High School. As a senior, I came in second place for Most Popular. Frankly, I was surprised even to do that well. I was more disappointed to come in second for Best Christian Example. I really wanted to be first in that.

I did, though, end up as Most Courteous on the senior superlatives page of our yearbook.

Sally Field’s Oscar acceptance speech—“You like me! You really, really like me!”—resonated with the audience because we understand how desperately we all want to be liked.

But did the Tea Party worry about being liked or did they worry about getting legislation passed that they wanted? Do Republicans worry about not offending Democrats? Does Trump worry about looking “mean”?

We certainly don’t need to be cruel just for the sake of cruelty. We don’t need to be cruel at all. But we do need to stand firm on what is right, even if other political leaders on “our” side hate us for it.

Even if we alienate a family member or lose a friend.

As a Mormon, I was always taught that family was the highest good in life. David O. McKay, one of our prophets, claimed that “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”

Several of my closest family members haven’t spoken to me in years because I won’t back down on gay rights. That was painful. But I got the fuck over it and moved on.

We must be willing to be abandoned even by the people we love if we expect to champion the rights of the poor, the sick, the oppressed, and anyone else crushed by right-wing Republicans and corporate Democrats.

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Every day on the news, I watch anchors and pundits wail about how awful Trump is. They always ask some form of the question, “Can we finally now agree that Trump is bad?” Hey, guys, you proved that three years ago and every day since then. Can we please shift the conversation to solutions?

And stop telling me the solution is to give in to moderate Democrats who don’t get us what we need. “Trump won’t get it for us, so you have to vote for us!” But they won’t get it for us, either. How do we know? Because we see the evidence every day. Moderate candidates won’t even put Medicare for All on their platform. Or tuition-free college. Or a Green New Deal.

To be nice to their corporate donors. They certainly aren’t being nice to their prospective constituents.

And those already in office aren’t failing to pass good pandemic aid packages because more people on the other side are voting against their wishes. They’re voting against anything good in those bills, too.

To be nice. To placate. To not look like bullies. To not be the bad guys holding up aid.

And the result?

They hold up aid and any meaningful legislation to improve our lives.

I imagine my moderate political friends singing the Mormon hymn, “There is beauty all around when there’s love at home.”

With love like this, who needs hate?

Just like my Mormon family, moderate Democrats tell us every day, “If you just repent and come back into the fold, we’ll like you again.”

Yeah, don’t do me any favors.

You want my financial contribution to your campaign? You want my vote? You want my power? Then don’t tell me to roll over and offer you my throat. Give me something worth my money, my vote, my power.

Johnny Townsend

Because if you don’t, you’ve proven you already hate me anyway.

Johnny Townsend

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