Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The conservaDem effort to co-opt 'progressive'

For some reason I have seen just too much of this lately.  It started some time ago, with my friend Ted, who has simply gone off the rails at this point with his "Hillary is a progressive if you liberals would only see it" posts.

Since Hillary Clinton's declaration that she is a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, a small segment of Democrats (and other leftists) seem to be going out of their way to find some reason to dislike her. That is their right, but I disagree with them.

It seems that most liberals in the party (including me) just don't buy the argument that Clinton is not liberal enough and someone else is needed. They know that Clinton is more liberal than either of the last two Democratic presidents (Barack Obama and Bill Clinton), and they know she is the best chance Democrats have to keep an extremist Republican out of the White House.

I think some on the left thought Hillary Clinton would refuse to debate since she is so far ahead, or that she might be afraid to debate a progressive like Bernie Sanders. Her quick agreement to the six debates shows that neither of those things is true.   [...] and I think many on the left will be surprised at just how progressive Hillary Clinton really is.

Nope.  Not going out of our way, not thinking those things.  Nobody is going to 'be surprised at just how progressive Hillary Clinton is', either.  A couple dozen more sad shills like this curated here, if you like.  Nobody, and I mean nobody, has worked harder on this angle than Ted.  But then local activist Kris Banks posted about "progressive champion" Sylvester Turner, and the Houston-area state representatives -- Armando Walle, Hubert Vo, Ana Hernandez Luna -- supporting him.  (Kris also had a "deal with it" FB post about Hillary's inevitability.  Trust us; we're dealing.)

And then this past week, after Ted paused from trying to sell a used car that won't start pimping Hillary as progressive, he started attacking Bernie Sanders.  With toons even.  This is a guy who's been all in on Bernie until recently.

I like both Ted and Kris a lot, and I hope they don't unfriend me on Facebook or anything... but it's time to call bullshit on all this.

Sylvester Turner gets to go first.  All four of those people named above voted to overturn the municipalities' bans on fracking in the Lege a few weeks ago (Turner, to his credit, switched his vote at the third reading, after our loud complaining).  It wasn't that long ago when he was being castigated as a Craddick D.  Remember that?  In his long legislative career, he has always played footsie with the GOP.  It's also accurate to say that this has enabled him to get a lot done.  I am repeatedly awed by his parliamentary prowess.  If elected mayor, he'll wield even more power than Annise Parker or Bob Lanier or any of the other solidly pro-business conservaDems that have run the show at 901 Bagby in recent years.

But a progressive he ain't.  He'll kowtow to the developers and the oil companies and the Mostyns and every other one-tenth of one-percenter in this town.

As for Secretary Clinton: if you are a Democrat supporting her, I say good on ya.  It's about as difficult a proposition as picking American Pharoah to win the Kentucky Derby last week or the New England Patriots as Super Bowl champs last January, but hey, everybody loves a winner.  Jump on the bandwagon!  Furthermore, I have no problem whatsoever if people want to say she's the most experienced or best qualified for the job.  I'll even accept that, as a woman or as having been first runner-up eight years ago, it's her turn.  Ted's repetitive "best chance for keeping a Republican extremist out of the White House" rationale, stated perhaps a dozen times in different posts at his blog and on FB, is still a suitable enough reason for someone to vote for Hillary Clinton.  I sincerely have no objection to anyone who uses one of those rationalizations for supporting her for president.

(Update:  Ted's just scared.  Almost to death.  I get it, buddy, and I feel for ya.  We already know that fear is a powerful motivator of human behavior.)

I believe those reasons are all much better than parroting "Supreme Court", for example.  I've heard that one since Barbra Streisand said it in 2000 endorsing Al Gore, and I feel certain it's been used frequently long before that by both major parties.  It is bullshit, for the record.  One: the threat didn't work on the 300,000+ registered Democrats in Florida who voted in 2000 for George W. Bush.  That's strong enough evidence to me that it's a hollow threat.  The electorate, never deep thinkers, doesn't seem to actually respond to it.  Two: it doesn't take into account that sometimes one thinks -- like John Sununu did -- that you're getting a slam dunk when you're really getting a David Souter.  Or an Anthony Kennedy (Reagan).  Or even a John Roberts, who's been a bit of a swinger in the important cases (and likely will be again in the pending marriage equality decision).

This is weak tea and lousy justification for voting Republican, just as it is for voting Democratic.  And it's certainly no reason to vote for the "most inevitable" candidate in the primary.  Inevitability is itself conjecture, because the future is uncertain.

But with regard to who is a progressive and who isn't: let's not redefine the terms, and let's especially not co-opt any more words you just like the sound of (such as 'green', for another example) to try to persuade me of something that simply isn't true.  That's not spin or even Shinola.

Hillary Clinton is not from the Howard Dean/Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.  On her best day she is a centrist.  I know -- not think, know -- she's a war-hawking, Wall Street-SuperPAC-ing, warrantless-wiretapping conservative kinda gal.  It depends on what the meaning of the word 'trustworthy' is.  Your mileage may vary, of course.  (Notice I didn't mention her e-mail server lies -- about which Ted is correct; they made no impact at all.)

Don't piss on my shoes and tell me it's raining.  Hillary Clinton is not, will not, cannot, and won't ever be a progressive.  She's really not all that liberal.  What she is, is a Democrat.  And that, all by itself, may be good enough for an Electoral College majority in 2016.  So stop trying to sell her as something she isn't to people who know better.

She is what she is.  Sell that.  Don't spend your time and effort trying to tear down the old dude pulling 5% in the polls who's the only one brave enough to stand against her.  That also makes you look like an ass, and won't help with any fence-mending once she claims the nomination.  The corporate media is going to do its own number on Sanders, so you don't have to.  Build up your choice with arguments in favor, and don't steal or invent ones that don't fit and aren't true.  And for the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, stop calling yourself a progressive if you're supporting Clinton.  Now or later.

You're not.  You're only lying to yourself if you think you are, because actual progressives are smart enough to see right through that act.  If you want to support a progressive woman for president in 2016 -- one who is actually running, that is -- then your choice is also clear.  Don't be fooled by knock-offs, imitations, or the disingenuous claims of snake oil salesmen.  You won't be damaging Hillary's electoral prospects even slightly by voting for Jill Stein, either, because we live in Texas and not a swing state.  But 'I live in a swing state' is also a crappy rationale for voting for Clinton.  If you're a progressive, then vote for one.  And do so despite the whining of Democrats who lost an election 15 years ago and still would rather blame Ralph Nader for their candidate's own miserable shortcomings.

This isn't a purity test.  It's voting your principles and your conscience over some perceived pragmatic winnowing-down of what might be most palatable to voters who won't be paying attention until October of 2016.  And perhaps not even then.

I'm not willing to let the picking of the President of the United States fall to a group of detached morons who will be "undecided" all the way to the very end.


Katy Anders said...

I'm with you on Clinton.

On the issues I care about - corporate power, trade, labor, war and peace, energy, etc. - I have no reason to believe I agree with Hillary Clinton.

Theoretically, she could run such a fantastic campaign that I vote for her over a third party candidate. But I am under no delusions that she has a populist bone in her body.

Gadfly said...

John Roberts is a swinger? Perry, what will you tell me next? :)

On Ted, the biggest problem he faces is that, before the new incarnation of Candidate Clinton, we had eight years of Senator Clinton. With an actual voting record. And, before that, we had eight years of First Lady Clinton, and a decade before that of Arkansas First Lady Clinton.

On things from Ricky Rector to "welfare reform," I've never had a doubt which Clinton was really wearing the pants in that family, too.

PDiddie said...

He's plenty conservative. But he's not Scalia, or Thomas, or Alito. That's all I'm saying. Like Kennedy, he seems to understand the force of the law and his decisions beyond the extremist partisan ideology of those other three. He didn't have to be the sixth vote to uphold Obamacare, and I see him going down that path again w/r/t marriage equality.

I could be wrong...

Gadfly said...

Roberts is also "political," for better and for worse, in ways that the three curmudgeons aren't. He knows this is the sensible vote in general.

Gadfly said...

Besides, as I Juuusssstttt Tweeted, a Prez with real balls would do recess judicial appointments, for the district and appellate courts, as well as SCOTUS if needed.

PDiddie said...

Explain what you mean by 'political in ways the the other three are not'. I might be able to agree, but on the face of that statement, I wouldn't.

Gadfly said...

I mean that, with something like his Obamacare vote, he's got more of an eye than the other three to not "overextend" the court politically. I think after Citizens United, he thought that would be a bridge too far.

PDiddie said...

Yes, I agree with that, and it's exactly what I meant by 'swinger'. He understands that a 5-4 vote on O-care would have made it more likely that additional lawsuits would be filed, and a 6-3 decision casts more implied force against that.

He may not be regretting CU as much as you suggest, however. That was purely partisan. I doubt that this court as constituted revisits that decision. (If anyone wanted to make an argument for a Democrat appointing a liberal justice or three, that would be it.) But CU is going to have to be fixed by constitutional amendment, if anything at all happens in the next 4-8 years. A President Clinton will do nothing in that regard, despite what she may be say.