Progressives, Let’s Be Wise For the Next Two Years

Democrats have to be flexible, intelligent, tough -- and unwilling to give in to infantile tantrums.

Yes, we know, we know. But we have to be patient, wise and smart.

After Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s triumphant victory over the President regarding the wall and the partial government shutdown, I saw a lot of progressives dancing upon what they thought was the grave of the Trump wall and the Trump shutdown as we all hailed the new Yas Queen as our head of government. There is some glee to be had in a stubborn old narcissist getting his ass handed to him, legislatively, by a seasoned pro who is not only female and of a certain age, but diametrically opposed to him politically and giving zero fucks about whether she’s popular or not. Pelosi is one foe that POTUS doesn’t know how to mock, demean or dismiss. Trump was handed a very real realization that he’s not the Speaker’s boss, she’s his equal — I mean, on paper and according to the Constitution, not by the merits of their experience and personality, of course.

Shortly after this story publishes, we’ll witness the State of the dis-Union speech that Trump is scheduled to give. Rumors that he will announce a national emergency is a standard Trumpist approach, as will be Trump trying to entice the American people with a “bipartisan” appeal. Uh-huh.

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I’m about as liberal as they come and I admit to a schadenfreude-fueled enjoyment of certain aspects of the past couple of weeks. But as a patriotic American (and yes, I still pride myself on being able to utter that phrase without rolling my eyes or fearing anyone’s entitled reaction), I have to look at the path ahead. So I offer a few words to all of my progressive brethren:

  • Democrats are not going to get anything done legislatively for the next two years. Maybe an infrastructure bill or something for veterans, but let’s be honest: any bill passed by the House Democrats will probably be defeated in the Republican Senate, and, if it’s not, it will be vetoed by Trump. Very few issues in the zeitgeist will survive a veto override.
  • Democrats can and should, however, put forth a legislative agenda as an example to the country — especially independents and moderates — of what America looks like with a progressive agenda. These bills will fail and be mocked and hyperbolically demonized, but many people on both sides of the aisle (and I do mean both sides of the aisle) will see their potential if the bills are measured and well put together.
  • It’s OK that Democratic candidates for President are beginning to declare. It’s OK that there are a lot of them. It’s OK that they reflect the gamut of the party. Yes, you’re going to disagree with some of them on some issues. Some of them won’t be centrist enough for you. Some of them won’t be liberal enough for you. Some of them will have made bad calls in their past. Some of them may have said or done things to piss you off. As I said to a friend recently, if the Democratic nominee is a mask-wearing Times Square knockoff Muppet hooked on meth, I will vote for a mask-wearing Times Square knockoff Muppet hooked on meth. Patience. Show we can govern. The campaign is coming: vet those stepping forward and listen to what they have to say. They can all wait, too.
  • If we pursue impeachment or the 25th Amendment against Trump, tread carefully. If we go that route, pending Robert Mueller’s report, we’ll only get one shot.

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And now a few words for the loyal opposition:

  • Give long, meaningful, sincere thought as to why you got into public service. Laugh if you want, but seriously, take a minute. Is this what it looked like in your head?
  • No matter what you think of Trump’s policies or the supposed strength of his base, no one with more than a handful of points on an IQ test can remotely deny his well-documented hypocrisies, flip-flops, ego (even in the face of dismissing veterans and generals alike), and his out-and-out lies — his provable, easily identified, impossible-to-refute lies.
  • Is this Republican Party your party? The party of Lincoln and Grant and Teddy Roosevelt? Is this President the voice of your party? Are your judges and your policy initiatives (when they’re occasionally successful, and they won’t be now) worth the damage being done to the Republican Party?
  • America is changing. It’s growing. It’s “evolving” — to quote a certain former president when trying to justify some bad past positions. The arc of history is long, and yes, it bends towards justice. The arc of history is also increasingly less forgiving of those who try to claim “Well, it was different then.” On which side would you like to be?

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Here’s what’s certain: it’s going to be a long couple of years. If the President is brought up on charges by Mueller, it will absolutely be bad for the country. I used to think either impeachment or the 25th Amendment would be far-fetched but lately I’ve been reading about Richard Nixon and I’m beginning to shift a bit. In 1974, Republicans in Congress were with him until just before the end was inevitable; the base still approved of him highly the day before he resigned. And while no one would describe Tricky Dick as cuddly or charismatic, he certainly didn’t inspire the disparate loathing and adulation in which the current President basks. Things are moving very quickly and I highly doubt we have anything near the full picture that Mueller has. Democrats, therefore, have to be flexible, intelligent, tough — and unwilling to give in to infantile tantrums. I challenge both parties to be the grown-ups in the room.

Will anyone heed any of this? Probably not. It’ll probably be two years of obfuscation, shutdowns, more shutdowns, assigning blame, Twitter meltdowns, outright denials, and certain leaders capitulating in order to remain popular.

But scratch a cynic and you’ll find a romantic. Scratch a snarky liberal commentator and you’ll find a guy with a glimmer of hope and some patriotism still left in him. I don’t think I’m alone. I hope someday you’ll join us.