Prior to Barack Obama’s election in 2008, I typically called myself an “independent.” I always believed (and still do, honestly) that political parties and irrational devotion to a labeled set of beliefs warps a subject (politics) that’s meant to be based on facts, math, reality, history, science, and rational thinking — not knee-jerk emotion and cult-like devotion to a political ideology.
That all changed as I saw the Republican Party shift so far right that I couldn’t even reason with people who, not too many years prior, were actually very reasonable people. It was maddening to see my Republican friends go from fairly sensible people who I simply disagreed with on a few key things, to folks who began buying into conspiracy theories and absurd propaganda that wasn’t based on a shred of truth.
This was also around the same time when social media began to explode, creating echo chambers in which people locked themselves. They began to inundate themselves with “news” that was often taken directly from outrageous conspiracy sites or memes that contained little or no factual information all because these sources told them what they wanted to hear.
Now we’re living in a world where legitimate “fake news” helped a man win an election; one of his closest advisors uses the term “alternative facts” to defend lies; the current administration is literally pushing unfounded conspiracy theories without a shred of factual information to support them; and the man who succeeded Barack Obama calls any news source that reports on anything he doesn’t want people to know about “fake.”
We’re no longer living in a world where we can afford such luxuries as “voting for the best person.” I wish we were — but we’re not. This is why I had such a big issue with the “Bernie or bust” crowd during the 2016 election.
Unfortunately, we’re no longer dealing with a situation where one of the parties in this country will govern itself ethically if there are some within who aren’t behaving in a manner fit of an elected representative. Sure, there are a few Republicans who’ll kind of, sort of call Trump out — but not many.
Just take a look at Trump’s Muslim ban.
Last year House Speaker Paul Ryan literally said Trump’s call to ban Muslims was “not what this party (the GOP) stands for.” Current Vice President Mike Pence sent out this tweet:
Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.
— Governor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) December 8, 2015
In case anybody forgot, those are the next two men in line for the presidency. One of whom who said the ban doesn’t represent the party’s values, while the other called it “offensive” and “unconstitutional” — who both now defend the very thing they clearly condemned.
People need to face facts: We’re in the middle of a political “civil war” for the soul of this nation.
Many people who spoke out against Trump in extremely personal ways — such as Rick Perry, Sen. Ted Cruz, and even Kellyanne Conway — have now chosen to bow down to our nation’s first dictator. Hell, Trump insulted Cruz’s wife and family — then the Texas senator worked call banks to help him during the last few weeks of his campaign.
Even many of the few Republicans who have dared to stand up to the more radical aspects of their party over the last few years have been “primaried” for daring to act sensibly and rationally.
Whether many folks want to believe it or not, our Constitution only allows for two viable parties (sorry third party folks, it’s true), which means there are only two options here: Either you’re voting for one side, or you’re helping the other side win.
This is a “war” between two sides, Democrats and Republicans. Even a one seat advantage in either the House or the Senate can give a party nearly complete control over that particular chamber.
The truth is, the structure of our government is just as much of a problem as anything, but that’s unlikely to ever change. Because of the way our Founding Fathers set things up, we will always have a two-party system. The only way multiple parties work is if we’d switch to a parliamentary system, which isn’t going to happen.
Are Democrats perfect? No.
But as we’re seeing right now, even Hillary Clinton at her worst wasn’t going to ban Muslims; strip away any language on climate change from the White House website; place gag orders on the EPA; defend an enemy who attacked us; cry “fake news” anytime the media criticized her; or appoint people to run key government departments who have a history of opposing those departments.
In today’s political world, a flawed Democrat is always better than a Republican. Every. Single. Time.
Do I want to fix the Democratic Party? Hell yes I do. But you know what? I can’t even begin to do that the way I would like because we haven’t even given Democrats the power they need to prove what they can do without Republican obstruction. We complain because they’re not “liberal enough,” when both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama spent the majority of their time in office dealing with a Republican-controlled Congress.
And, I’m sorry folks, presidents don’t create and pass legislation — that’s up to Congress.
We’re at a point in this country right now to where you’re either “with us, or against us.” I know that’s not what the ideological purists want to hear, and I wish I didn’t have to say that, but it’s just the God’s honest truth.
Right now we don’t have the luxury to waste votes to “prove a point” or “protest our frustration.” As we saw in 2016, “protest” votes did nothing more than help elect the most mentally unhinged and unfit human being to ever call the White House home.
Now the United States is being led by a man who banned a religion, attacks U.S. intelligence officials, and pushes outlandish conspiracies about non-existent voter fraud because he can’t handle the fact that Hillary Clinton received more votes than he did.
On November 8, 2016, this country “elected” one of the biggest national security threats we’ve ever seen.
We can make a flawed Democratic party better, but it takes less pride and more “big-picture” thinking. It takes the understanding that “voting blue, no matter who,” while not always something we want to hear, is still a hell of a lot better than the alternative.
But make no mistake about it — this is a political “war.”
On one side, we have Donald Trump, Republicans, and the people trying to turn this country into some sort of whites-only Christian dictatorship that rejects science, basic humanity, and even indisputable facts.
Then on the other side, we have Democrats (many of whom are flawed) who, even on their worst day, are still individuals who support most of what we support and will at least listen to what we have to say.
Though right now, our number one priority above anything else must be doing everything we can to take power back from Republicans. If that’s not our top priority — if pride and ideological purity reigns supreme over defeating Republicans — they’re going to win.
And I don’t know about everybody else, but I’d much rather work with people I may disagree with who are at least in line with about 60-70% of what I believe, than deal with people who oppose nearly everything for which I stand like we’re seeing now.
This can’t be about ego, pride, what we want, or any other sort of self-absorbed or selfish desire leading to voting apathy. This fight must be about taking power back from Republicans, keeping power away from them, then holding Democrats’ feet to the fire to make damn sure they make this country the type of progressive nation we want it to be.
Until everyone on the left gets that, none of these protests are going to matter. We’re going to keep bickering amongst ourselves, dividing the party, while Republicans keep winning elections and destroying all the progress people have died fighting for.
Please, I’m begging everyone, we can’t let this happen. Stand up, fight back, work with each other, vote, and let’s scare the hell out of the GOP with our collective progressive voice. Donald Trump might have “won” the election, but we’ve got to be more motivated and pissed off than ever before.
I can guarantee you if we rally around each other and reject bullshit, we’ll win — damn near every single time.