Pragmatism v Petulance

Call me a pragmatic, liberal Democrat. I never saw the need to repackage myself as a “Progressive” — even at the height of Conservative sneering at the older appellation.

For me, it went further than pride in Old School posturing. Because being a “Progressive” mostly obligates those who embrace the label to accept a fully formed ideology. And if there are two things I don’t do, they’re ideology and religion (probably for interrelated reasons). I don’t buy into unquestionable poltical/social assumptions and purity tests any more than I believe in a Big Sky Mommy or Daddy.

From my perspective, the political Left and the Right are mirror images of each other: identical structures upon which are hung opposing conceptual assumptions, obligations and demands. Put another way, they’re identically configured plumbing systems dispensing two different kinds of Kool Aid.

I thus observe both the Left and the Right with almost anthropological interest — I’m fascinated by their tribal rituals and, more importantly, the kinds of sacrifices they choose to make to their ideological gods.

During last night’s Democratic debate, I kept one eye on Twitter, monitoring real-time reactions to the broadcast. What most intrigued me was the amount of vitriol toward Clinton from the Left, driven in most part by Clinton’s perceived ideological impurity. I was prepared for their boosterism of Bernie Sanders, but the Left-Wing accusations were bitter enough to suggest that they won’t be voting for Clinton in fairly certain Bernie-less post-primary circumstances.

(The reason Sanders won’t win the primary was on ample display in last night’s debate — much like Joe Biden’s classic put-down of Rudy Giuliani, all Bernie needs to make a sentence is a noun, a verb and “Criminal Wall Street.” It’s not that I disagree with him about either Wall Street or the top one percent of wealth holders — it’s his reduction of complex, nuanced governing to this single injustice that convinces me he’s not Presidental material. If I wanted a one-hit wonder as POTUS, I’d vote for Thomas Dolby.)

This is my question to the Left: What happens post-primary, when Bernie Sanders isn’t the Democratic candidate and Hillary Clinton is? What precisely is your next step in the wake of all the vitriol, garment-rending and accusations that Clinton isn’t ideologially pure enough?

Are you voting for Trump or Carson? Or even Bush? I’m thinking no, and feeling confident in this assumption. Which leaves us with you staying home on Election Day 2016. Because ideology. Because purity. Because grand gesture. Which, of course, will simply be a passive/aggressive way of de facto voting for Trump/Carson/Bush because it will ensure that one of them wins. This isn’t a rhetorical question — I only wish it was. No, really — what precisely are you going to do if Clinton is the Democratic presidential nominee?

I’m asking because I’ll stay drunk in a Guyanese rainforest before living in One Nation Under Trump or Carson, and I’d like a heads-up to more effectively plan my US exit.

And should Sanders somehow win the Democratic primary, it seems only fair to lay my own cards on the table: I’ll be voting for him in the general election. Voting for him although he’s not my first choice; voting for him even although I had imagined better; voting for him because I’m a pragmatic, liberal Democrat and that’s how pragmatism rolls. Pragmatism in this case is the exact opposite of electorial petulance

It’s called compromise, and sometimes it does business as cost/benefit assessment or half-a-loaf-better-than-none. And yeah, this makes me a sell-out, ideologically impure and certainly not a progressive. But it’s also my way of helping ensure that there’s a Democrat in the White House for — fingers crossed — the next eight years. And someone on the Left needs to explain to me why this would not be better — however nominally in their opinion — than all three branches of government being in the hands of the TeaOP.

My friends on the Left, you have a little over a year to ponder what you’ll be doing in a general election not featuring Bernie Sanders. I’m hoping that you’ll show up; that you’ll hold your ideological noses and pull the Democratic lever — mainly because I’m not looking forward to Guyana; I’m just not a rainforest kind of guy.