by Justin Rosario
The hard left, in its pursuit of punishing the Democratic Party, has abandoned the concept of real world progress in favor of a nonexistent political purity. The belief is that crippling the party will force them to swing to the far left and bring about liberal utopia. It won't work.
Here's the theory: The Tea Party was highly successful in moving the entire Republican Party to the far right. In fact, they moved so far to the right, it enabled the fringe of white nationalism to become ascendant. The hard left saw this "success" and has decided they want in on that action.
To do this, the hard left has started to ape the Tea Party in several destructive ways including rejecting empirical reality (Bernie will flip the superdelegates!), embracing conspiracy theories (the emails prove the DNC cheated!**), demanding ideological purity but only on issues they deem important (identity politics can sit in the back of the bus), and, of course, flinging themselves fully into attacking the Democratic Party (both parties are the same!).
Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks has even put together the "Justice Democrats" in order to recruit ideologically pure candidates. This is their stated purpose:
It’s time to rebuild the Democratic party from scratch and make it represent the American people.
Of course, you have to tear the party apart before you can "rebuild it from scratch." That's why in the era of Trump when our democracy is teetering on the edge of collapsing into authoritarianism, one of the top priorities of the hard left is to convince voters that the Democratic Party is hopelessly corrupt and should be abandoned.
Curiously, they don't have much to say about the blue wave that gave us the House in 2006 and a super-majority (albeit a short one) in the Senate in 2008. That's where rejecting empirical reality comes in handy for maintaining an obviously false narrative.
The platform of the Justice Democrats is, in and of itself, great. You'd be hard pressed to find a Democrat that doesn't support women's rights, gun control (except maybe in Vermont but that's OK), green energy, etc. But the conceit behind the Justice Democrats is that they will never ever compromise on their platform. Ever. Compromising is what the wicked establishment does and that cannot be tolerated by the pure. Hilariously, Uygur had a ragegasm when it was pointed out that he was demanding Tea Party-like purity tests and immediately confirmed that he was, in fact, demanding purity tests.
The problem is that in the real world, demanding everything almost always ends up getting you nothing. This is doubly true in politics. Compromise is not a four letter word and it's how this country moved steadily forward for the last 241 years. Without it, women would still be property, marriage equality wouldn't exist, and there would be no Social Security or Medicare. Without compromise and the dreaded incrementalism of America politics, none of the liberal gains we take for granted (like safe cars and lead-free paint and rivers that don't explode into flames) would exist.
But it's worse than that. The fundamental misconception of the hard left is that disruption and obstruction will work for liberals the same way it works for conservatives. It's hard to overstate how ludicrous this notion is.
Tea Party sabotage works for the right because their fundamental goal is to break the government. Being the sand in the gears is perfect when you're ideologically opposed to those gears moving. The less the government does, the happier the right is. Does that sound in any way whatsoever like the left? You know, the group that passionately believes we can solve our problems together by enacting common sense laws?
Let's put it this way: Assume the Justice Democrats existed in 2009 and adopted an all or nothing stance to Democratic legislation. There would be no Obamacare right now because it did not have single payer. That means the tens of thousands of people that Obamacare prevented from dying wouldn't have survived. Millions would not have had insurance these past several years. Healthcare costs would have continued to spiral out of control and I can't even guess how many more lives would have been ruined by medical bankruptcies they avoided under the ACA. Wait, yes I can. The number of bankruptcies was cut in half.
The kneejerk answer is that the Democrats could have passed single payer if they'd really wanted to. Nice story, bro. Now explain how that could have realistically happened, in detail, and best of luck to you with that. Just saying something is true doesn't actually make it true (See pretty much everything H.A. Goodman wrote about Bernie winning the primary for an example of this).
We also wouldn't have Dodd-Frank financial reform or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Wall Street would have almost certainly pushed us into another economic collapse by now and the banks would have gotten away with stealing billions from ordinary Americans. Instead, the financial sector is far more stable than it was ten years ago and millions of Americans have been protected from the depredations of greedy banks and credit card companies.
But in the eyes of the zealot, Dodd-Frank didn't go far enough so it would never have been passed. That surely would have benefited the average citizen and not the 1% at all.
There's a lesson here for the Democratic Party as well as they resist everything Trump tries to do: Obstruction will only get you so far on the left. They need to articulate a clear and simple message of a better way, not just stand against. Republicans did that for 8 years and now they can't fix any of America's problems because they don't stand for anything other than destruction.
Ironically, the hard left complains about maintaining the status quo but the kind of Tea Party obstruction they long for is the ultimate tool of the status quo. The right rewards Republicans for keeping things from getting better or even making them worse because white conservatives are generally the beneficiaries of the system being kept intact. It's why they squeal like stuck pigs at even the slightest hint of progress.
Is there any scenario where the bulk of the left rewards the Justice Democrats for blocking the passage of Obamacare or Dodd-Frank? How about blocking the passage of imperfect police reform? Do you think minority voters would be grateful that nothing was changed? How about the LGBT community? Do you think they would congratulate the Justice Democrats for blocking the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" because marriage equality wasn't part of the deal?
Of course not. This kind of obstruction would, however, embolden conservative voters while depressing the liberal vote. We don't like it when Washington is gridlocked, but they certainly do. Again, that works for the right because they are fundamentally opposed to progress. How does stalling the liberal agenda move it forward, exactly?
1. Stall the progressive agenda with obstruction.2. ????3. Progressive Utopia.
This is not a well thought out game plan.
The bottom line is that there's nothing wrong with criticizing the party and pushing it to the left. 40 years of concerted Republican propaganda has dragged the Overton Window well to the right of the political spectrum and it's paramount that we pull it back to at least the center. That being said, there's a rather broad line between honest constructive criticism and rabidly dishonest destructive sabotage. The hard left made a choice to launch themselves over that line during the primaries with unhinged attacks on Hillary and it continues today.
Between the continuing claims that Russia was not involved in the election in any way and that Hillary had Seth Rich murdered, the hard left has turned away from the most central tenets of progressivism in order to mindlessly rage against the Democratic Party. Not only will they not make the world a better place, they'll leave it worse off than before. Some of them, like Susan Sarandon and Glenn Greenwald, actually want things to get worse under the delusion a societal collapse (that they would be safe from) will be a good thing. The rest seem to be just consumed with rage at not being handed control of the Democratic Party when they demanded it. The solution, of course, is to throw a temper tantrum and burn it to the ground.
And after that, maybe they can spend a little time and energy into fighting the fascism that took over the country while they were busy destroying the only thing that stood in the way.
**The DNC Email Challenge - Explain in your own words what the DNC did to "cheat" Bernie and show the specific emails that prove real world actions (as opposed to simple bitching and complaining) took place. It's been almost a year and not one person can seem to do this simple task. Maybe you can be the first!