The liberal end of the pool has as many problems, if not more than the conservative end. I say this, as a progressive. My last boss once described me as further left than anyone she knew, and she was a former lobbyist, card carrying feminist. I miss her, and her bright support.
This last election cycle opened my eyes even further to the problems that the left is suffering from. Much of the things we point the finger at the right for are simply swept under the rug over here. A half-hearted effort to address many of the hot button issues are made by our representatives. They really make a great show of it, and that’s why it has been so hard to see up until recently. It’s heartbreaking, frustrating even, once you do see it. You might be asking me, what do you even mean, these people bust their asses, and they’ve done so much? Next time you see a piece of legislation that means a lot to the people of this nation go up for a shot at becoming law, watch how it’s handled: 1. the hype; 2. your excitement at a pitch; 3. a round of near silence; 4. the vote; 5. the apology and explanation that it was just too hard. You’ll see this formula played out far more than you like, and on the things that matter most. That’s why women, LGBTQ, and people of color are still fighting for equality. There issues are used to gain support, and abandoned once it’s gained.
What I mentioned above is why there is a fissure in the Democratic Party. There are those, progressives, who have been woke to this for years, and they’ve reached out to others waking to it, until we became a large portion of that party’s base. When the candidates announced, beginning in May of 2015, we were aware of who was your average apologist and who was likely to take action on our behalf. The record simply does not lie about that. It doesn’t matter what you want to believe because fact should always be above your emotions (like when a person of color is talking about their experience, and white folks check their privilege to allow them that time).
Unfortunately, neither the Democratic Party nor their conservative members care to realize this absolute fact. Progressives are unimportant to them. And that is the first and foremost problem that we have. We must become imperative to the left. Fortunately, there is a push via Justice Democrats, even if it’s not perfect. Does perfect matter, considering we’ve never had it? I can empathize with that feeling. It’s about damn time we get perfect, or at least a group that is loyal to the movement and not politicking and money. Purity is a myth, and the other problems that Progressives suffer enumerate that in blisteringly, humbling ways.
Hanging out in groups on Facebook gives you a real, grassroots view of the men and women claiming to be progressive. I’ve made some great connections there. Conversely, I’ve met some cringe-worthy connections as well. Those are the ones I wish to talk about, especially when these persons are posing as information hubs and leaders. They should not be. I’ll be the bad guy and say it. They should not be.
Set aside for a moment that we are aware that both DNC operatives and those from the right wing infiltrated the groups and some still remain to work discord through the ranks. (Discord included convincing people to write in a name, use their vote as retaliation by helping to elect Trump, anti-feminist or racist ranting, sharing of misinformation, reporting and shutting down groups, etc.) Obviously there are those who realize that progressives are quite a force when they come together and organize, despite minimal differences we may have. So, those people aside, let’s look at the members who are progressives and spread discord. This happened in a number of ways. Fake news gained strength in 2016 during the run up to the election. It’s big business and those who stand to profit don’t care if they dupe the public. It’s about making money and wielding control over the minds of the general population. It became such an issue that Facebook has implemented a reporting function for posts. It should be used. Do Not just scroll past these stories. When your gut tells you something is wrong, click the arrow in the top corner, select report the post, and then select report as fake news, etc. The post (article) will be investigated and if found to be fake, it will be labeled so. This is truly important to maintaining a movement, because these stories can do a hell of a lot of fuckery to the minds of the average citizen. They use partial truth to spin their webs, and a lot of people are taken in by it.
Another issue I saw, which is related to the above, was a lack of understanding on how to do research and vet information one comes across. This should not ignore the upset that people react with when a piece they share is called out for being erroneous. It is rather upsetting to find out something you’ve bought into is wrong. Flashback to 2008 when I had realized what a terrible candidate Hillary Clinton was, and I had supported her in the primary. The last straw was her lying about being shot at, but there were so many other things, not least of all my gut feeling that she was bad for the country. Obama didn’t do all the important things he promised. The economy didn’t recover before he was out of office (it was still recovering before the Cheeto took over). Yes, Bill Clinton was able to boost our economy and create a boon, but it was artificial, so I am not entirely sure Obama really did a bad job on that front. It takes a few years for these things to really manifest, and that is why it appears that someone else is to blame (although, Republicans really know how to mess up the economy, as exhibited by evidence—google it, kids. Austerity doesn’t work.).
Progressives should be the type of people who welcome a friend or member of the cohort letting them know that a bit of information they found is not correct. Would you rather go on being misinformed? I certainly don’t. If you find it’s difficult to accept, wait fifteen minutes to reply. Type up the response in Word, let it rest for awhile and then come back to it. You’ll likely find that your head has cooled and you’ll see the reasonableness of pointing out a falsehood. In the end, it’s not your fault, nor the fault of the person bringing it to your attention. The blame lies squarely with the person who published the misinformation. Be glad you were saved from being manipulated by them. Also, if it simply echoes your beliefs or understanding of a complicated situation (as all politics is complicated), question it. There’s nothing wrong with being skeptical like that, as it ensures you’re getting the right information, so long as you follow through with the research to vet that information.
While we’re discussing research, let’s remember that a progressive can be at any educational level, and to feel otherwise is elitist. As a group, we should have the most accurate information available for all of our members, so that those who are still developing their skills in this arena get what they need to be contributing and strong progressives. Doesn’t that make sense? Wouldn’t we be a stronger force, one that infiltrating operatives would fail to shake? How much more powerful would we be if we didn’t undercut members of our own group? Haven’t you noticed how tightly the right sticks together? Why can’t we achieve that solidarity? Because often progressives are just too busy being superior, exceedingly proud of themselves for believing they’re on the correct side of history.
That last question leads me to a couple of the most disturbing problems I’ve noted among progressives: racism and sexism. Absolutely this is true. I can’t even count the number of times progressives have lectured people of color and women about expressing their assessment of their own experience. One of the most popular progressives on Facebook has repeatedly commented that he despises feminism and has alluded to racial issues as equally cooked up, all to leverage power over others, to get some stuff. This person is, of course, a white male. For the most part, his hatred of the right wing is delivered in cathartic diatribes that make us feel good about him despite these problematic tendencies. The problem is, his bigotry is left unquestioned and therefore accepted by the larger group. The impressionable members see him for a role-model. Thus, these behaviors are normalized and repeated by the members of the group.
Question this individual, or those like him, and you’ll be faced with one angry response that seeks to silence and ridicule you as a snowflake. Likely, you will be dismissed from the group. Maintaining power and control over the group appears to be more important than progressive values. Still, this person is given a pass by the group, because he also says things that they like to hear.
This faux leader isn’t alone. He’s one of many supposedly progressive males who enjoy trolling women in the groups, and being downright abusive. Bitch and Cunt are thrown around freely. If you call it what it is, you’re once again called a snowflake and told you need to grow up. In addition, should a person of color highlight racial disparities, they’re told they’re being ridiculous. If they attempt to call out the privilege, then they are told they’re racists.
Are these behaviors consistent with progressive values? At one time, in the early days of progressivism, it was acceptable to think and speak in such a manner, because it was a widely held value of the American culture. Roles were clearly established. That’s just how things were done. However, in current times, progressives seek equality and to shut down privilege and institutionalized racism/sexism. If we say things like feminism no longer has a place and white privilege isn’t a real thing, then we are failing the wider group that has set a goal of eradicating inequality. It’s bad enough that Democrats, who are sliding further right day by day, make false ovations to fixing inequality. Progressives have long held that they fall left of the average Democrat. The above suggests they are lockstep, instead.
If the progressive movement wants to be taken more seriously it will need to address these issues. Had we not harbored bigots, the mantra of Bernie Bro would not have stuck to our lapels so easily. Had we done our due diligence with the information we share among ourselves, we would not have been so easily divided by outsiders. If we embraced our values and learning above our egos, we’d likely have been a much more powerful force the DNC would have been incapable of brushing aside. To accuse Senator Sanders of being a turncoat, to rage against The Young Turks for questioning matters instead of falling in line with self-destruction, doesn’t make us a more united force and it doesn’t improve our respectability in the political arena. Instead, it makes us look belligerent, if not nutty. I can’t be the only one tired of listening to it all, and rolling my eyes at the shit citations being shared as proof. My favorite is when someone cites blogs, which are not peer reviewed, as gospel. Even better when it is their own site!
Do I believe that Hillary Clinton would have been better than Trump? The fact is, if we hadn’t been so disparate across the board we wouldn’t have gotten to that choice in 2016. Believe it. So it doesn’t fucking matter, stop asking that question to thwart true progressiveness. The reality is, we didn’t help ourselves to overcome, and now we’re focusing on the past and eating our movement from the inside. Those actions will keep us hobbled as we move forward. Yet, despite us, the movement still has traction. By the way, that link, check that out knowing Bernie Sanders had a big hand in making it happen. Can we stop infighting and organize now with our values upheld? We’ve got a lot of work to do, and kitschy #resist tags and memes aren’t going to get anything done.