The Democratic Tea Party
Liberals across the country have popular, powerful beliefs which appeal to a wide range of people. What we believe in usually has majority support. What we believe in is supporting the citizens, the soldiers, the workers, the fighters. We believe in fairness, compassion, reason, and progress. We have a winning cause.
There’s just one thing in our way: Democrats.
Not “Democrats” as in people who are registered to vote Democratic. But rather, the politicians themselves. The Democrats in Congress. The Democrats running the party.
Those guys suck.
After 9/11, too many of them were too scared of their own shadows to do much of anything. Not all of them, to be sure, but most were cowering in the corner, too afraid of being called any names to put up any fight at all.
In 2006, they won back the Congress, and in 2008, Democrats won the White House and both houses of Congress, even with a supermajority in the Senate. They still were unable to do much. Republicans acted in lockstep, but Democrats broke—some greedy, some fearful.
And now what are they doing?
Trump’s nominees are filibuster-proof, his executive orders have to be fought in the courts, and Republican moves in Congress so far have been immune from opposition action.
No, where it matter is Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. He’s the first real test for Democrats this term, and this one is a doozy. Aside from being a radical, toxic choice for the court, he’s nominated for a seat that Republicans literally stole from the Democrats.
Democrats must filibuster this nominee.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is leading the fight for exactly that. Good for him.
But other Democrats are already cracking. Jon Tester, Claire McCaskill, Joe Manchin, and Heidi Heitkamp have all said they will allow a straight-up vote—which is equivalent to saying that they will let Gorsuch pass, as Republicans will all vote for him. If just four more Democrats scatter, Gorsuch will be seated, and the Supreme Court will be scarred for decades.
What’s their excuse?
First, they fear that Republicans will loose the Nuclear Option and kill the filibuster.
Democrats were idiots for not killing the filibuster in 2009; they knew damned well that Republicans would use it endlessly, and that once they got the Congress and the White House, Republicans would probably kill it anyway. And now Trump and many Republicans are saying just that, making the Democrats cower in fear even more.
Second—and this is the big one—they are scared spitless of losing their seats. Some of the spineless Democrats are in precarious positions, so they weasel and crack.
That’s a huge mistake.
Something that has been proven by Republicans, and more recently by Bernie Sanders, is that you can be extreme and unconventional in your views, and you can still get major support, not just from independents but even from the other party as well.
The trick: be confident. Be forceful. Be authentic. Have a fire in your belly and never equivocate.
That’s what voters respond to, even more than policy. They respond to someone who won’t take any crap and will show them what-for. They vote for someone who has no end to conviction in their cause. Voters respect that. Voters come out in numbers to support that.
And that’s the lesson that too many Democrats fail to learn, again and again. They try to be “reasonable”—a fool’s errand when your opponent is a hard-set extremist dedicated to a scorched-earth policy. They try to equivocate, so they won’t offend anyone—a stupid move, when the only ones who would be offended are the ones who will never vote for you anyway. You don’t have to shout “I’m a liberal, vote for me!” You just have to voice liberal beliefs, which most voters agree with.
Most of all, they fear losing their seats, and voters can smell that—and they despise it. They see it for what it is: lack of conviction, lack of courage, lack of strength.
And that’s what’s killing the liberal cause: not the people who vote, but the politicians who lack what it takes to both get elected and then to do anything worth a damn: show and actually have confidence, conviction, and authenticity. Be forceful, courageous, and uncompromising in your beliefs.
There is another weakness as well: the party machinery. It’s what put the worst possible candidate as the Democratic nominee when Republicans voted for the easiest candidate ever to beat. The party hierarchy, authorities, and rules are the least liberal thing about the Democratic Party. They are more and more conservative, more and more dedicated to the money and the corporations. They are killing the liberal spirit, amputating our ability to do what we feel is necessary for the country.
So, what should liberals do?
We should follow a strategy from the Tea Party playbook: primary the weak-kneed ones right out of the party. Refuse to vote for anyone who fails to fight for the left. Nominate and vote, in strength, for candidates who show the same kind of fire, confidence, and conviction that Sanders did. Candidates who are smart and willing to fight. Candidates who are more willing to lose than they are to appease.
Make any Democrat fear losing in the primaries if they don’t show themselves as liberal firebrands, and proudly so.
Will we lose some elections? Sure. But we’ll win a lot more.
We’ll win because independents will respect the authenticity and conviction, and even many conservatives will as well. We’ll win because liberal issues are winners; they have lost not because they’re unpopular, but because Democratic politicians fail to fight for them.
We’ll win because we’ll be speaking—no, shouting—in defense of the working stiffs, the very people who fled to Trump because Democrats failed to back them, even if only in word but not deed. We’ll win because voters respect gumption, even if they don’t agree with the message.
We’ll win because American voters believe in people who fight, and hate those who cower.
That’s how Republicans have won in the legislatures, again and again, despite being bat-shit insane. They can deny facts, they can take the most extreme positions, they can lie their asses off, and they still win. Not because of what they believe or the lies they tell, but because of their convictions. Because they are forceful, show conviction, and demonstrate authenticity.
So, let’s do that—but with reason, compassion, fairness, and justice.
Women will come out in numbers for such candidates. Workers will come out in numbers for such candidates. Minorities will come out in numbers for such candidates. Anyone who joined the Occupy Wall Street or BLM will come out in numbers for such candidates.
These groups and movements have been powerful in voice and numbers, but fail to get even a fraction of the political action that their counterparts on the right get. that’s because they had no political group willing to take their cause to the government.
We must change that. We must vote for that. As a people, as a party, with unity.
We can win. We just have to do it right.