Progressives, Don’t Cut Off Your Nose To Spite Your Face

By Peter Rosenstein - April 11, 2017 12:00 am

The time has come for those who consider themselves progressives, especially those who keep looking for that “perfect” candidate who shares all their views, to accept there is no such candidate. If you don’t accept that in the next two years you will continue to put the nation and all you believe in jeopardy.

In the last election, many self-identified progressives either stayed home or voted for a third party candidate. In doing so they helped elect Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton lost three states that made the difference in the Electoral College by a total of less than one hundred thousand votes despite winning the popular vote by nearly three million.

In two of those states, Michigan and Wisconsin, the number of votes Stein and the Green Party received were more than Hillary lost those states by. In Pennsylvania Hillary lost by only a few more votes than Stein got. So if you stayed home or voted for Stein, a candidate everyone understood had ZERO chance to win, you helped elect Trump. Nut cases like Susan Sarandon, who notoriously said “Clinton is more dangerous than Trump” must accept their share of responsibility for what is happening now in America to African Americans, Muslims, immigrants, women, children and the LGBT community.

And the craziness continues. The moment Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced he would vote to confirm Gorsuch to the Supreme Court my Facebook page lit up with a slew of progressives calling for someone to primary him. Let there be no mistake; I don’t like Manchin and personally would have voted against Gorsuch; but if any person believes a more progressive Democrat could win in West Virginia I have a bridge in New York to sell them.

There is a saying “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face”. Elections are won by people who connect with voters. A prime example occurred recently in California. Just look at the vote in a District Bernie Sanders won in the primary. When two of his ardent supporters ran they lost badly. The issue wasn’t who was more progressive but rather who connected with the voters and in this case the local Democratic Party.

Many progressives with stellar bona fides are still being attacked for supporting Hillary. Union members who walked picket lines; got tear-gassed protesting the Vietnam War; those continuing to fight for civil rights, immigrant rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights; and against Wall Street and for economic justice.

The time is now to end the internecine fighting. There must be one goal in 2017 and 2018; Democrats winning elections. In 2017 we need to ensure the winners of the Governors’ races in Virginia and New Jersey are Democrats. When the roll is called on January 3, 2019 for the 116th Congress the votes must be there to elect a Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives and a Democratic Majority Leader in the Senate. Senators like Joe Manchin, however despicable in many ways, will cast their vote to do that.

Clearly in some Districts progressives of every stripe might have to hold their nose as they pull the lever for the Democrat they find less than perfect. We do so because we must remember we are not a far-left or far-right nation. The majority are moderates and like that or not it’s a fact we must work with.

In Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan while we work for a bigger vote in urban centers we must also appeal to those voters once called Reagan Democrats who cast their ballot for Trump. In Wisconsin those same voters helped elect Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Barack Obama in 2012. They aren’t progressives and pushing Democratic candidates to the far left won’t get their votes.

These voters are scared and feel left behind in this new world. They were mad at Barack Obama because no matter how much better he told them the national economy was their lives still weren’t better. Either they had no job or the jobs they had paid much less than the ones they lost.

While Hillary couldn’t lie to them about what could happen Trump didn’t have that problem. He could and did lie to those voters telling them what they wanted to hear no matter how irrational. They believed the lies because they desperately wanted to believe them. They closed their eyes to the impossibility of reopening coal mines and bringing back the same manufacturing jobs. They willingly disregarded facts showing with new technology even if you open a factory the same old jobs won’t be there.

These same voters are slowly realizing they were conned about that, healthcare and many other things. I believe in Wisconsin they will again support Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) in 2018. Democrats need to be honest with them and speak to them. We need to convince them we are truly the Party of working people, the middle class and fairness.

Every Democrat; moderates, progressives and far-left progressives, as well as Democratic leaning Independents, must focus everything on electing Democrats in every state and every Congressional District. The margins for victory are too thin to waste time and money giving a primary to Democrats now in office who can win even if they aren’t ‘perfect’.

There are no ‘perfect’ candidates and the stakes are much too high in the next two years to indulge ourselves in pretending there are.

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