Progressives can be just as irrational in their quest for ideological purity as the Tea Partiers


Fellow blogger Bob Lord published a post a couple of weeks ago that generated quite a few comments among the readership of Blog for Arizona. Will Sanders Supporters Stay Home in November? Yes. Will it Be Sour Grapes? No.:

Screenshot from 2016-02-11 12:39:46There are two subgroups of Sanders supporters who likely will stay home or vote Green in November: the “wasn’t ready for Hillary anyhow” crowd and the “Democratic establishment needs to pay a price” crowd. I’m a member of the first group, but, if I weren’t, I might well be a member of the second.

I enjoy Bob, he’s bright and funny and a wonderful person.  Bob has introduced a point of view for discussion that I personally disagree with but that deserves further discussion from another point of view.

I am a liberal Democrat. I have never shied away from using that political label even when the conservative media entertainment complex turned “liberal” into a pejorative smear for their own hateful amusement. I am not  as enamored with the use of “progressive” as a political label as others are (the Progressive Era ended in the 1920s).

My role model was the late great Hubert H. Humphrey, senator and Vice President and liberal giant from the state of Minnesota. “Humphrey described himself as ‘a born optimist.’ He may have been willing to accept half a loaf instead of holding out for a full loaf because he genuinely believed he would be able to get a full loaf in the future.” Excerpt from Where Did the Party Go?: William Jennings Bryan, Hubert Humphrey, and the Jeffersonian Legacy (2006). Or put another way, never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

What I am seeing from self-described “progressives” in social media and comments on this blog, admittedly a small universe of progressives, is an ideological purity test that differs only in kind and degree from the conservative ideological purity test imposed on the right by their conservative media entertainment complex propagandists and the Tea Party. When the media makes the false equivalency narrative of “extremists” on both the left and the right, these are the individuals to whom they can point for an example.

TrumpFascismI have posted at length about the historical development and rise of authoritarianism in the moder-day Republican Party. This is a threat to governance and constitutional  democracy that is very real and not to be taken lightly, or dismissed glibly. Staying at home and not voting in November is morally reprehensible and indefensible, and an abdication of one’s civic duty as a citizen of this country.

I do not say that you must cast your vote for president, but your disappointment with the candidates for president this year are no excuse for you to not turn out to vote in November for the rest of the ballot: Senate, Congress, state legislature, corporation commission, judicial retention, ballot measures, county elected officers, etc.

These are critical election contests that bear a direct impact on your quality of life here in Arizona. My advice: stop all this whining about the presidential race and focus on working for these candidates and ballot measures in critical contests. You do not get a pass to disengage from the political process simply because you are disappointed with the choice of candidates for president this year. There are much more important contests with which to concern yourselves that bear directly on your lives.

That’s my view. Now here’s another point of view from D.R. Tucker at the Political Animal blog, commenting on a recent op-ed, ‘Bernie or Bust’ Is Bonkers, by Charles Blow of the New York Times. Stop Global Whining:

New York Times columnist Charles Blow didn’t go far enough: frankly, anybody who subscribes to the “Bernie or Bust” mentality needs to have his or her head examined. I’m sure such scans are covered by Obamacare (i.e., the shameful corporate compromise by that closet Republican in the White House!).

It is unfathomable that so-called committed progressives would selfishly sit out the 2016 general election because they can’t get over the fact that their preferred candidate did not win the Democratic nomination. It is unconscionable that those who claim to want to move America forward would allow the country to race backward over the next four to eight years. It is unbelievable that anyone with a halfway-rational mind thinks “Bernie or Bust” is a good idea.

The hatred that the “Bernie or Bust” camp holds for Hillary Clinton defies logic: how can one love Sanders and loathe Clinton? Both candidates are among the most accomplished public servants of the past half-century: despite their differences, they are united in their compassion for America’s shunned, stigmatized and suffering.

Sanders clearly respects Clinton, but for some reason, a critical mass of his supporters have nothing but disrespect for the former Secretary of State. These supporters have fallen for the false narrative that Clinton worships the wealthy and pleases the powerful—and that Sanders is the only morally sound candidate in the race. The Hillary-as-corporate-sellout meme is just as jaw-droppingly dopey as the argument that there was no substantive difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush sixteen years ago. What did Santayana say about those who don’t learn from history?

* * *

What will these holier-than-Hillary folks say if Donald Trump is elected President—and his hate-filled rhetoric leads to more Mexicans being mauled by the malevolent? “Oops”? “My bad”? “I wasn’t thinking”?

Neither Clinton or Sanders are saints: Clinton is as imperfect on fracking as Sanders is on firearms. Yet I don’t see Clinton’s supporters threatening to stay home if the Vermonter is victorious in the Democratic primary.

The “Bernie or Bust” folks are just as irrational in their quest for ideological purity as the Tea Partiers who went after Dede Scozzafava, Bob Inglis, Mike Castle and Richard Lugar were. By choosing to stay home in the general election in the event Sanders loses the Democratic primary, these folks could effectively rig the game against the middle class for good.

Something to consider, “progressives.” Democrats only lose elections when Democrats do not turn out to vote. Republicans simply cannot win when Democrats turn out to vote. History will not be kind to those “progressives” who fail to vote because their preferred candidate is not at the top of the ballot. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”


  1. This 8 minute clip will explain to Hillary supporters why Bernie supporters are driven to consider drastic measures.

    This won’t change your mind, but take a moment to see our side and maybe we won’t seem like such women hating troglodytes.

    Cenk Uygur on the Young Turks show.

    AZ being a winner take all state, like 47 other states, there’s no harm in a write in vote for Sanders to send a message to people like DWS and the DNC that “fixing” an election is sending will not be tolerated.

  2. Here’s an idea for Democrats who will be unhappy if HRC wins and doesn’t do as promised. Reregister as an independent and scare the hell out of the DNC.

  3. Arizona is a winner take all state, so if the polls show the Republican well in the lead before the election, I’ll be writing in Bernie.

    As a ballot based middle finger to the corrupt DNC.

    If it’s close, I’ll vote for the Democrat.

    But I will vote no matter what, because the down-ticket contests matter.

    I don’t want Bernie on the ticket as VP, because we need him in the senate.

    And after the election I’ll start looking for the next Sanders, and hope that the stars align for Warren in 2020, and we’ll all need to keep pressure on HRC if she’s POTUS to shun her Wall Street patrons and do what is right for the country.

  4. I’m hoping for a Clinton-Warren ticket in November. I think that Elizabeth Warren is the one person on the ballot that brings together the entire Democratic party. She would also be a fantastic Vice President, keeping the pressure on to work on solutions to income inequality in America, one of our top problems.

  5. hillary clinton is the evil of two lessers. our system says you vote for hindenberg over hitler. I tried voting for ralph nader to cleanse the democratic party then obama over war monger clinton. perhaps soon the democratic party will run out of corporate dlc democrats to run us democrats into the ground. to hold your nose and vote for a clinton(so far I never have) is one thing to actually believe in her like some do here well that is another thing.

  6. Thank you for making this point. One must win even the smallest of battles before they can win the war. The nuclear option only lays waste and then we all lose.

  7. In an election between Hillary and anyone on the R side, anyone who doesn’t vote for the lesser evil is tacitly supporting greater evil.

    Anyone who approaches a national election with the Supreme Court on the line and thinks “Democratic establishment needs to pay a price” is a sociopath.

    The “Democratic” establishment isn’t going to pay the price. Women, minorities, the elderly and pretty much anyone who isn’t wealthy, white, male and christian is going to pay the price.

    I have no patience with such people.

    TBogg said it best, years and years ago:

  8. Well said AZBlueMeanie — I cast my primary ballot for Bernie but I have always said that Hillary is more Progressive/Liberal than people give her credit for. I will vote for her in November. I am desperately hoping that she and Bernie can bury the hatchet and he will join her on the ticket in November as VP. But even if he doesn’t I will still vote for her. There is a world of difference between her and even the most “moderate” of the Republicans!

  9. The down ballot candidates in Arizona need a HUGE turnout in November. The extreme danger of this one party, authoritarian, dictatorship State needs to change. At a minimum the State Senate needs to change parties, and hideous Constitution amendments need to be stopped. The ACC NEEDS CHANGING TOO. A 75% turnout changes this State, they know it and thus all the voter suppression efforts.

  10. I support Bernie. But if he does not win the nomination, a boycott of Hillary IS a vote for Trump. Hillary may be flawed vis a vis Bernie, but Trump is a complete disaster. Ideological purity votes is how we got Nixon in 1968. It is how we got Dubya in 2000. McGovern was too far left in 1972 and we got another Nixon disaster, and you can’t find ANYONE who vote for Nixon in 72, (my first election vote for President). Don’t throw it away over purity.

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