Will Rank-And-File Democrats Ever Grow Up And Learn To Be Transactional?

Given the reaction to one line in a recent Sen. Sanders speech (during the Q&A no less), I’m guessing not. While the reaction to Sanders’ comments about Obama is overblown (while also foolish for Sanders to make at that time), it gives me an opportunity to implore my fellow rank-and-file Democrats to grow up and be far more transactional about Democratic politicians. What I mean by this is that Barack and Michelle, Bernie and Jane, or Hillary and Bill aren’t coming over for dinner (though they’re welcome any time! Just give me a some time to clean up…). They are (probably) not your friends, nor are they possible dinner companions. They are political figures. They are means to an end–and Democrats can disagree about the best means and the best ends. But to a considerable extent, they are using you and, if you are doing it correctly, you are using them back.

The fundamentalist right seems to have learned this with Il Trumpe. While I’m sure many Christian conservatives have convinced themselves that Trump did no wrong, I’m sure there are some who think he’s personally loathsome. But if you view Trump as a means to an end–in their case, preventing the godless liberal agenda, with rampant abortion and TEH GAY SEXYTIME!–then aligning with him is the obvious thing to do.

But Democrats, sometimes in the service of performative pseudo-wokeness, love to turn intra-party politics into TV drama: Bernie insulted Obama, Hillary said something stupid, and so on. Instead, we need to learn to ask who will (and retrospectively, who did) move things as far forward as possible?* Does getting worked up over the latest supposed scandal do anything to get us closer to universal healthcare, reversing the annihilation of black family wealth, or a higher–a much higher–minimum wage? Also, fewer guns and fewer dead people at the hands of the police would be good too (and limiting global warming, and…). It doesn’t really help rebuild the crumbling Democratic Party infrastructure either.

I can’t help but think that at least some of those who get worked up online about the latest faux pas couldn’t list a set of policies worth fighting for if their lives depended on it (even in modest detail). Because if they could then they would shrug the latest nontroversy off (regardless whatever it is and whomever committed it).

Yell at each other about policies and strategy all you want, but stop with the ‘I’m on Team [Insert Politician Name Here]’ crap. It doesn’t do anything, or mean anything. Holding politicians accountable for what they’ve done and what they propose to do, on the other hand, does do something. So do that. Politics as personality contest is one reason we got into this mess in the first place.

*It sure won’t be Tim Fucking Kaine, Mark Warner, or Claire McCaskill.

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