On Politics and Ponies: How the Far Left’s Petulance Stems From its Figureheads
“I want a pony.”
This past Christmas, numerous American parents received this or a similar request from their children. As has become an annual tradition, American parents often have to choose how to best discuss with their children the meaning of Christmas and what it means to receive gifts, even when it may not be the exact gift they wanted. These discussions are often earnest and heartfelt in a way where parents often have to reveal the idea that the world is complicated and that there are times when children may not always get what they want. What is important is generosity and the positive feeling one gets when he or she is able to give a meaningful gift to someone they care about.
The children learn quickly. They learn that they may not be getting the pony they asked for but that there are other gifts that are equally, if not, more meaningful. They also learn that there are viable substitutes to what they may seem as their dream gift. Perhaps they don’t receive a pony but maybe they receive a goldfish or hamster to learn about what kind of responsibility is required to care for another animal. Some may even be fortunate as to receive a puppy, and with close supervision they learn what is needed to sustain an animal that size. In the end, the children grow up realizing that just because you don’t get exactly what you want, it doesn’t mean you can’t do good with what you have. It is a lesson they take with them in all aspects of their life.
And it is a simple lesson that is often lost in the political world.
Because politics is often seen as a zero-sum game. There is the belief that one side must win and that victory must be absolute and definitive. That there can be no compromise as compromise is a sign of weakness. This belief comes from a faulty line of thinking that unless one gets everything he or she wants then it is a deal not pursuing. It is a way of thinking that causes a rigidity among those in power who refuse compromise and thus refuse to negotiate in good faith. We’ve seen this among congressional Republicans over the Obama presidency and for the past two years we’ve seen a Republican administration refuse to negotiate with congressional Democrats. The ensuing stagnation over the past ten years has caused unprecedented gridlock in Washington and an increasing public perception that the American system of government is fundamentally broken.
But as prevalent as this line of thinking has become on the Republican side, there also has been a growing trend of the far left to be equally obstinate. Most noticeably, a wing of the Democratic Party has emerged that has insisted upon a sense of ideological purity in the face of the growing abuses of the Trump Administration. At a time when all hands on deck are needed to defeat the rising fascism of the Republican Party, this wing of the Democratic Party has insisted upon undermining and attacking its own candidates. Chief among these perpetrators is self-described “not a liberal Democrat” Bernie Sanders, who has continued to parrot his 2016 talking points while ignoring the growing racism, misogyny, and xenophobia in this country, but Sanders is in no way alone. Joining him are a growing number of “Democrats” who insist upon an arbitrary litmus test for candidates such as Cenk Uygur, David Sirota, and Walker Bragman among others. Our Revolution will only endorse candidates who sign a form saying they are in complete agreement with their platform. The Justice Democrats have a form that must be completed to nominate a candidate and that candidate must be in agreement with their platform. Despite all this, these Democratic groups and voices somehow missed progressive rock stars such as Sharice Davids, Lucy McBath, and Jahana Hayes among others.
The problem now is that this ideological purity is now filtering down to local and state elections. As someone whose organization is part of a statewide economic justice coalition, I saw this infiltration firsthand at our last monthly meeting in December. Under consideration was a single, statewide campaign to raise $1.6 billion to then be used to fund education and transportation. Offering an alternate proposal for a statewide campaign was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). This proposal was an omnibus bill that would have had 10 separate ways to raise revenue to the tune of nearly $16 billion, as the DSA member felt our proposal was not progressive enough. However, when questioned for the specifics, this DSA member could not provide any nor could he cite any research about how these separate items poll, who might be interested in co-sponsoring the legislation, and what a throughout and comprehensive legislative campaign would look like. His proposal was soundly defeated and he was later heard sulking that our coalition wasn’t willing to truly fight for working people.
The issue is that groups like Our Revolution, Justice Democrats, and DSA are using their platforms to intentionally misrepresent what the Democratic Party is and what it stands for. The Democratic Party is the party of the New Deal, Medicare and Medicaid, civil rights, and marriage equality. For the last century, they have been the only political party to fight for those who aren’t White, Christian, heterosexual men. While the Republican Party has zoomed in on its xenophobic, racist, misogynistic base, the Democratic Party has expanded its platform to now fight for healthcare, immigrant justice, and criminal justice reform among other things. These fights have been long and tedious, many of them decades in the making. Progress has been slow but there has been a strategy in place. The country is shifting center-left, a shift accelerated by nearly 70% of millennials who do not identify as Republican. The Democratic Party is at the heart of any and all progress at local, state, and national politics in the year 2018.
And yet, this still isn’t enough for those are the far left who insist that we aren’t moving fast enough. They not only want a pony, they want it Fed Ex’ed overnight, to be at their doorsteps first thing in the morning. Rather than working with and engaging long-standing coalitions and Democratic Party leaders, the far left simply wants revolutionary change overnight, without putting in the work to do so. They want their chosen gift and refuse to accept any substitute in its place. Because of this and their utter lack of understanding about how government works, they refuse to believe that we’re on the same team and that we are somehow “sellouts” for telling them that their grandiose ideas aren’t feasible in one fell swoop. Rather than working to understand the political process and how to build relationships to advance their legislation, the far left finds it much easier to bitch and moan when they don’t get their way. These individuals simply refuse to believe they are unworthy of being given something simply because they asked nicely for it.
When it comes to the far left, it’s up to all of us to be vigilant. This is a dangerous group, willing to burn down the Democratic Party for the sake of promoting their own agenda. As we’ve seen, this agenda has nefarious intentions. After all, Cenk Uygur is funded by GOP money, David Sirota wrote for The Young Turks and worked for Bernie Sanders’ campaign, Walker Bragman is a trust fund child who previous worked for The Intercept and wrote about a liberal case for Donald Trump, and we all know how Bernie Sanders himself was willingly aided by Russia and continues to undermine the Democratic Party to this day. These are not individuals who represent the Democratic Party and their organizations seek to bring a mythical purity to a party that represents different local interests in different regions of the country. They would much rather run a candidate whom they deem to be “pure” rather than someone who much better speaks to the voters of a more conservative district or region. It’s why none of them supported candidates like Ralph Northan, Doug Jones, or Connor Lamb, despite each one of them being perfectly representative of the region in which they were running.
Whereas the rest of us understand we’re never getting our magical Democratic pony at one time in one place, these individuals continue to peddle the myth that without a pony we can never be happy and that we should reject all gifts until we get our magical pony. It is an underhanded way of saying the Democratic Party doesn’t care about what they deem to be important, as if they themselves are the gatekeepers of progressivism. It’s why they all consistently criticized Barack Obama and why they refused to endorse Hillary Clinton, even in the face of a wannabe dictator in Donald Trump. They are the epitome of the spoiled child, who throws a tantrum even after his mom or dad gracefully explains why they’re not getting a pony this year. But rather than heed their parents’ words of wisdom, these individuals would throw out the rest of their gifts simply to hold out on a present they know they will never receive. They’ll do it because they firmly believe that they are somehow more deserving of others and that their perfect gift should take precedence over all others. While the rest of us are out there grinding out true, pragmatic, progressive legislation and supporting revolutionary, diverse candidates, they will continue to pout in the corner, whining that we aren’t giving them our undivided attention.
It is up to us to ignore them for the spoiled children that they are.
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