Fellow blogger and friend Bob Lord posted a thoughtful dissertation on the disappointment many Arizona Progressive Democrats feel towards a pair of our Democratic members of Congress, whom I am convinced are listening to political operatives rather than their own conscience and beliefs. In Defense of Stay st Home Progressives.
I admire the fact that Bob has retained his idealism. Idealists are a necessary moral compass. I agree with much of Bob’s analysis and I have made many of the same arguments to Democratic politicians over the years. But I must dissent from Bob’s conclusion.
The title of his post is most unfortunate: “stay at home Progressives” (Bob clarifies in the comments to his post that “The term ‘stay at home’ is technically not accurate, because it’s referring to progressives who simply abstain in one or more races based on principle, but otherwise vote.” This is strategic voting, not “stay at home.”)
I firmly believe that every U.S. Citizen has a civic duty to vote. I have voted in every election since I turned 18 (for younger readers, this was back in the age of dinosaurs when there were still Liberal Republicans who were pro-choice and marched for the Equal Rights Amendment, and conservative Southern “boll weevil” Democrats not far removed from the Tea Party today).
I have been posting about The Democratic ‘mid-term falloff’ problem because I want you to vote. Anything that remotely suggests you should not vote is not helpful nor welcome, especially with respect to the all-important statewide races for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, corporation commission, and your legislative races. I know that this was not Bob’s intention.
Some of my best friends have on occasion said that I am a “cynic;” I prefer “pragmatist.” I simply have been at this for far too long, and have seen too much. My idealism, like brass, has tarnished and lost its luster over time.
Politics is about math. When discussing Congress, the only question that matters is “Can you get to 51 in the Senate, and get to 218 in the House?”
This simple mathematical formula is what a political party needs to control the leadership of the legislative chambers. It is also the mathematical formula to pass a bill by simple majority vote.
Democrats cannot do either by not electing more Democrats to Congress. Love ’em or hate ’em, every Democrat you elect to Congress will caucus with the Democrats, which means control of the leadership of the legislative chambers. This is critical. Leadership decides which bills come to the floor, and which do not.
For example, there has been much reporting since the Senate passed its comprehensive immigration reform bill last summer that there are enough Republican votes in the House along with Democratic votes to pass the bill, but the “Worst. Speaker. Ever.” will not bring the bill up for a vote because he fears losing his speakership in a revolt by the nativist and racist Tea Party wing of his own party. If Democrats controlled the House, the immigration reform bill would have been enacted last year and already in effect. “Mission accomplished.”
A Democratic majority also means that the occasional deviation from leadership supported bills by “blue dog” Democrats is largely inconsequential; this is what is sometimes referred to as “safety votes.” (What our two Arizona “blue dog” Democrats did with their recent votes to hold Lois Lerner of the IRS in contempt, and to authorized a witch hunt select committee on #Benghazi! were not “safety votes” by definition. The votes are indefensible.)
Electing more Republicans, or enabling more Republicans to be elected by not voting for a Democrat, is simply an act of political suicide. For examples of what radical Tea-Publican majority control of government looks like, see the state legislatures of Kansas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Georgia — and our own Arizona. Do you really want to see “the meth lab of democracy” replicated in Congress? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Remember, this is not your father’s GOP. These are radical extremists who are anti-government, anti-democracy, indeed anti-America: they want a theocratic corporatocracy of wealthy elite Plutocrats, and feudal servitude for everyone else. Democracy must be defended, or it will die. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”
Surrender not voting is not an option — as an American, you owe a duty to fight these radical extremists.
Whatever differences Democrats may have among themselves, the place to have these ideological battles is in party primaries. Progressives may whine that party leadership did not allow for a primary, but this is just a cop out. If a Progressive Democrat really wanted to run in a Democratic primary, they would have. Who was this mythical Progressive champion in this hypothetical? No one stepped up to run. Are Progressive Democrats so easily intimidated and dissuaded from running? Then “the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves.” Think about it.
Suck it up and vote, and start working on finding your mythical Progressive Democrat champion for 2016.