The 10 Commandments of Progressive Politics
We’ve gone astray, folks… it’s time we come back to what matters most and remember a few things.
Immediately after the election was called for Donald Trump, the infighting began. If only Bernie Sanders had been the nominee, this wouldn’t have happened! Which was followed immediately by a Oh Yeah? If only you Berners had showed up to the polls this wouldn’t have happened!
Everywhere on-line, we see the fracturing and dividing. Even among people who were together once before, one vote… one thing can set them off. A congressperson not supporting that one amendment and *poof*… they’re Persona Non Grata.
This isn’t sustainable. It’s not going to allow us to win in the future. It’s actually a big thing that keeps Progressives and Liberals from winning the day so often: we’re often so busy fighting among ourselves that we forget what we’re really doing. So, to that end, I present to you: The 10 Commandments of Progressive Politics. Take them, heed them, make them life.
I. THOU SHALT KEEP A CIVIL TONGUE WHEN AMONG FELLOW LEFTISTS
The Progressive you’re talking to at the bar or online who disagrees with you on that “one thing” isn’t your enemy, and when you disagree with a fellow Progressive remember they’re your ally. Keep a civil tongue at all times with your Brothers and Sisters.
II. THOU SHALT KNOW BEFORE THOU SPEAKITH
Do your homework before you start discussing a policy idea, a political concept, or whatever. For example, “Audit the Fed” sounds good, but if you really don’t have an accurate idea of what the Fed is or what it does, or that it’s already audited regularly, you look and sound silly. And that is the last thing a Progressive should ever want to do.
III. THOU SHALT NEVER SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FOOT
It’s important to remember that nothing in politics is ever perfect. Everything is one big trade off. You win some, you lose some. You should always take the road that leaves you at least where you are at currently if you can’t make progress. Staying home or protesting because you couldn’t have a specific outcome leaves everyone hurting and leads to some really awful outcomes. When we demand perfection, we lose.
IV. THOU SHALT NOT BE REACTIONARY
Reactionary attitudes are the political ideology of the over-grown toddler. If something isn’t perfect, you don’t burn it to the ground and insist you build a more perfect thing from scratch: you try to fix it, you understand why it’s broken, you think pragmatically and practically. Declaring something beyond repair without ever trying to actually fix it in the first place is childish and something we must be above.
V. THOU SHALT NOT ARGUE VIOLENCE TO ACHIEVE POLITICAL GOALS
Seriously, no. Take a look at history. Even in the rare instances where violence has achieved a political goal, there were circumstances beyond the violence that allowed it to succeed and so many, many people who ended up getting the shit end of the deal. Remember, taking up arms is admitting that your own side has failed as well.
VI. THOU SHALT MAINTAIN CRITICAL VIGILANCE; ACCEPTING NOT PROPAGANDA NOR DISPARAGING LEGITIMATE JOURNALISTS
For some reason, Progressives have gotten into this habit of agreeing with the Right-Wing when it comes to Journalism and The Media: that it’s biased, broken, lying, etc. Fact of the matter is that’s really not the case. Step back and think about it: to the right-wingers, those same journalists are “The evil Liberal Media”, while the left rails against “Corporatist Media Conglomerates”. They really can’t both be the same thing at the same time. As with most things, the Right-Wing take is complete fantasy (sorry guys, but facts tend to look like liberal thought) while the left is only partially right: the management is corporatist and conglomeration isn’t good for journalism. But, just because something is printed by The New York Times doesn’t make it false. They have a very long tradition of getting it right and doing good journalism. The blog that just went online weeks ago that’s poorly written but singing your favorite tune needs increased scrutiny. Each publication has a legacy that you can use as a litmus test. Most major newspapers in the US pass the litmus test fairly well, so do *most broadcast news*. Not all, but most. Some have a failed legacy or have not been around long enough to earn trust. Anything describing itself as news and not opinion (or infotainment) should be weighed carefully. Opinions can be taken at face value: the opinion of the writer. Nox for example is Opinion. This isn’t a news site. Anyone claiming it is news is being disingenuous.
VII. THOU SHALT BE STRONG IN BATTLE, GRACIOUS IN DEFEAT, AND SHALT ALWAYS LOOK FORWARD
Work to win. Work hard. If you lose, take your lumps and move on. If something made you lose, work to prevent it next time. Always look forward to tomorrow and next time, not to the past. This doesn’t mean we should not review the past to learn from it, to see what fixes or justice needs to occur, and not work for it. But we should do so without being bitter. Forward Liberal Soldiers, FORWARD!
IIX. THOU SHALT ACT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FACT, NEVER WITH JUST YOUR EMOTION
Always have your facts straight before you act. Always understand everything you can before making a leap. Learn to find the text of bills, learn to dig deeper. Learn to read more than just the headline and check your facts before making a decision. Failing to do this will result at some point with you railing against someone based on partial information.
IX. THOU SHALT HOLD YOUR OWN ACCOUNTABLE, SHALL BE THEIR MOST STRAIGHT-FORWARD CRITICS, BUT WILL ALWAYS BACK OVER THE RIGHT
We should strive to be the harshest critics of our own people, hold them accountable and swap them out when it’s time. But we should never cede ground to the Right. They’re the enemy. If one of ours turns out to be the enemy, they should be cast out and branded as such after thorough review.
X. THOU SHALT REFRAIN FROM IDEOLOGICAL PURITY TESTS
If someone is Progressive on most issues but disagrees on one, work to change their minds. Educate, but don’t hate. If at any time you find yourself loving someone and then a moment later hating them, that’s a sign you need to check yourself and re-read the commandments.
Take these commandments, and go forth and we shall win the day.