I cannot believe it’s already time to talk about the primaries for the 2020 election! I’m relieved by this, but also nervous because I predict lots of in-fighting among the Democratic side, and we remember how that went for the Republicans last time. They looked like crap, and they elected crap, so obviously I don’t want us to do that. We have a lot of qualified people in our party, so I’m not concerned about the availability of a good candidate (Julian Castro, I’m looking at you). I’m worried about the electorate.
People, have you seen social media lately? Have you seen the things people are saying? I’m a more progressive Democrat myself, but some of the things I’m hearing from people I substantially agree with politically are not making me feel good about the election. People are already talking about how they refuse to vote for a white man or a mainstream Democrat. I understand the need for diversity, and actually, none of my top three choices are white men, but ultimately, I’ll vote for a Democrat no matter what demographic they fall into, because they’ll be able to move us in a more favorable direction than a Republican will.
That’s what it comes down to, folks. If the Republicans give you Donald Trump or Mike Pence, and the Democrats give you Beto O’Rourke or Joe Biden, are you really about to tell me that the latter two are not vastly superior to the former?
Let’s talk about that for a minute. I see a lot of toxic dialog about how mainstream Democrats are just as bad as Republicans. I’m sorry, but no, they’re not. That’s simply incorrect. While neither party is perfect, and I can certainly find Democrat policies I disagree with, there’s only one party that’s trying to cut funding for climate research, is gutting the EPA, would love to overturn Roe vs Wade, tries to make stupid laws restricting what transgender people can do, and thinks people with preexisting conditions shouldn’t get healthcare. Spoiler alert: It isn’t the Democrats.
Can we focus on the big picture instead of engaging in the same nasty in-fighting we all laughed at the Republicans for in 2016? A lot of us want progressives in office, and that is happening. Look at the midterm election results. More women, more people of color, more progressive candidates, were elected to positions all over the country, including state legislatures, judgeships, and even Congress. The wave is happening.
Diversity is taking hold, and that’s a good thing because casting a wider net results in finding the best people for the job. We have over 100 women in the House of Representatives for the first time in history. Houston’s judgeships overwhelmingly were shifted to black women in districts that have a history of unfairly punishing black and Hispanic juvenile offenders. Every day, we hear of a district that elected their first Native American woman representative, a transgender person to their state house, or someone under the age of 30 to a city council. Can we take a minute to appreciate that for the real progress that it is?
Now, let’s look at reality. The presidential election is going to be really difficult, and it’s going to be a lot harder to elect a true progressive when that person will have to win over farmers in Iowa, factory workers in Pennsylvania, rednecks in Florida, and tech workers in California alike. We’re not going to do that by nominating someone who swings hard to one subset of our base. I’m part of that subset and I’d like it theoretically as much as anyone, but I also know it’s not going to work.
What we can do is nominate someone who’s going to be able to work with everyone, including the progressives who have been elected to other offices, and not lose the progress we made in the midterms. Electing another Republican at this point would be a grave mistake, and refusing to vote for a mainstream Democrat is effectively electing another Republican.
I thought about this a lot last night, wondering if our country was just so bad off economically that the average person really doesn’t see the difference between life in an administration run by mainstream Democrats and that in an administration run by Republicans. There’s no denying that economic inequality is on the rise, but people are more intelligent than this, and I don’t buy it. Everyone I know, from the richest to the poorest, knows climate change is real and manmade. They all know that reproductive freedoms are important, support LGBT+ rights, and think poor shaming measures like drug testing for public assistance, are ridiculous and uneconomical. Everyone knows who’s on the other side of those things, and that it’s not the Democrats. Yet, many claim they’ll never vote for another mainstream Democrat.
I call bullshit on that mentality, because that’s exactly what it is. Bullshit.
I’m a progressive Democrat. If you gave me a magic wand tomorrow, and told me I could be president for a day, I would do the most socialist stuff you ever saw. I would implement Medicare For All, automatic SNAP to everyone 200% or less of the federal poverty level, Universal Basic Income for all citizens, broad sweeping housing assistance, and heavily subsidized university tuition, just to start. That’s what I like. That’s where my mind is. But come November, when I walk into that voting booth, I’m going to vote for the Democrat, whoever they are, because shooting ourselves in the foot by refusing to vote for a candidate that isn’t progressive enough to fulfill our wildest dreams is going to have extremely undesirable results, and a loss of the midterm gains we all fought so hard for.