For the last couple weeks, Bill Maher has ranted about so-called purists not voting for Hillary Clinton. It’s as if we had a checklist of a hundred progressive policies that every candidate must score a hundred percent on in order to secure our vote. That’s simply not true. If it were, Bernie, who has his share of faults, would not have been competitive in the primary.
Contrary to what Bill might think, most progressives did vote for Hillary, mostly out of fear of Trump. But those who didn’t, did not cost her the election. Her platform did. Clinton’s running as a centrist meant progressives were forced to vote against their own interests. This is something we give low-income conservatives hell for every two years.
Now that Trump is in office, neoliberals and centrists are going to have to face a new reality. They can no longer win without the progressive vote. We don’t require a purity test, we just have a few basic progressive policies that our politicians must support. These are policies that have broad support among Americans and should be no-brainers.
A Non-Interventionist Foreign Policy
Can you remember the last President of the United States not to have a soldier die in combat on his watch? It was Jimmy Carter. And it was forty years ago. Reagan, the Bushes, Clinton, Obama all have American blood on their hands, not to mention the blood of millions of foreigners.
The American military industrial complex has been hard at work providing us with perpetual war. In addition, we sell our arms to the rest of the world so that other countries can bomb their neighbors under the guise of security. It’s hard to find a conflict with or without American involvement that does not have a “made in the USA” stamp on it. And yet, we continue to wonder why they hate us.
Progressives understand that war begets war, and peace begets peace. Invading other countries, launching drone strikes, dropping bombs wherever we can, because we can, does nothing but create more enemies. If you are a politician with a hand in the military industrial complex, you will find it quite difficult to secure progressive support.
Healthcare for all
One would think, in this day and age, fifty years after most modern countries adopted universal healthcare, this little demand would be a no-brainer. In a progressive’s mind, there are no excuses. A politician who does not support a single payer health system suggests they care more about corporate profits than people.
Voters, whether Democrat or Republican, who don’t support universal healthcare are essentially saying they don’t care if certain people die. The people who suffer the most from this indifference are low-income folks. It doesn’t matter what party affiliation you subscribe to, if you believe healthcare is not a human right, you will not find much progressive backing.
Placing corporate profits from fossil fuel companies over the environment is another effective way to lose progressive support. These oil and gas companies have had their time in the sun and are on the way toward irrelevance. At least they should be.
While we fight global warming, coal digging and oil drilling should not be still in practice, let alone subsidized. Support for pipeline building should be seen as counter-productive, while fracking is nothing less than destructive and poisonous.
Progressives understand that green energy, clean energy, is the wave of the future. We have no choice. It has the potential to change our planet for the better, economically and environmentally. Global Warming is the biggest challenge of our time. Half measures will not save us.
When progressives speak of equality, we are referring to an awfully wide spectrum that touches on human rights and human dignity. We speak of the age-old idea that we are all ideally created equal, with the same choices, the same opportunities, and the same rewards. Therefore, it is crucial that we are all able to have these choices and opportunities without having to live with the systemic oppression many of us still face.
It is important to live among each other as brothers and sisters regardless of religion, gender, race, sexual orientation and even wealth. These are the types of things our two political parties usually have us fight over. But there is another part of equality that many people seem to forget that is ingrained in the progressive mind.
Income and wealth equality are more important than people may realize. They polarize our politics for starters. Just look at the differences between the Tea Party Movement and the Occupy Movement. Both originally cited income inequality as a problem, but the former was hijacked by right-wing extremists and the latter was crushed by neoliberal politicians.
No matter your ideology, if you support equality, it needs to be supported in all its forms or it becomes disingenuous. Supporting equal rights for the LGBT community is great, but if you also support taxing the wealthy less than the poor, or don’t support a livable wage, you’ll find it hard to secure progressive votes.
Money out of Politics
Money in politics is the linchpin that has been keeping the Washington establishment in place for the last forty years. When you pull it out, everything will fall apart. For the better. Changes to foreign policy, healthcare, environmental policy, equal rights, everything previously mentioned above is not possible until we take money out of the equation.
Getting money out of politics is the most important policy every progressive supports. It is also the one policy most progressives refuse to waiver on. We’ve seen for decades the corrupting influence money has on Washington and we aren’t taking it anymore.
Why should we continue to vote for politicians who legislate for their own personal gain? We shouldn’t be turning a blind eye to the revolving door of lobbyists and politicians switching teams every four or six years. Nor should we be tolerant of our elected officials who do favors for Wall Street while in office only to get compensated with expensive speaking fees.
Our politicians, the people we elect to represent us in our floundering democracy, have not been listening to us for decades now. They are slaves to the people who really run this country: the wealthy and the corporations.
We understand our voices won’t be heard and things won’t change until we take the big donor equation out of our elections. From what I’ve seen, progressives are the only ones trying to fight this overwhelmingly powerful force.
No Purity Test, Just Decency
Now, I can understand that there are people, neoliberals especially, that don’t support everything I’ve mentioned. That’s fine. You have all made it quite clear in response to recent articles I’ve written. Like I said, there is no purity test here. But surely you support 4 out of 5 or even 3 out of 5?
The point I’m making is, Hillary Clinton didn’t support any of the policies I just laid out. There were elements to each section (if not the whole section) that she did not support. Barack Obama wasn’t much better and neither is many within the Democratic Party.
It isn’t that Clinton and company aren’t pure. I let a lot of things slide. But if you can’t fully support one of these things, let alone a majority of them, then I’d go so far as to say you don’t even pass as a decent human being. That’s why she lost.
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