NPR and MSNBC want you to believe that it doesn’t matter who the party nominee for president of the United Stated is. Tow the line anyway. The person, the character of the nominee is irrelevant. Party politics is the important thing. Stick with your party. Fox News wants you to believe the same thing. They are all wrong.
I have noticed a trend in social media and in conversations that I have heard among my friends who are part of the Democratic Party. The trending conversation goes basically like this: “Support the Democrat! It doesn’t matter who is the nominee! We have to have a Democrat in the White House! Even better – in Congress!” I am thankful to the media, both the liberal media and the conservative media, for shaking me loose of this kind of indoctrinated thinking. I feel that, because the media is so blatantly party focused and candidate-centered, I have been freed from this kind of party dogma.
I identify as a pragmatic progressive, someone who is willing, and often eager, to examine the status quo for weaknesses and opportunities to improve; to progress; to get better, even at the expense of our traditions. I like that I have friends wiling to challenge me on this, willing to say “Bryan, maybe tradition is a kind of binding that we need in our lives. Maybe the change you want is not the change we need. Slow down, turbo, we have more work to do on this.” I see these as my well grounded conservative friends, who I often classify as unwilling to change because they don’t want to be cast off from the traditions and norms that ground them in life. I like to challenge them , and they like to challenge me. In this challenge, we grow together toward a brighter future that honors our past and our heritage as well as taking the time to enjoy the moment. That is true politics, true cultural interaction, the true power of social networks.
Here is my beef with the current refrain from my Democratic friends: Hillary is not a progressive. She is no more the progressive candidate than Donald Trump is the conservative candidate. They are not interested in social and political discourse. They are opportunists. I hear that anxiety from my conservative friends these days. I hear many of them saying that Donald Trump is not their man, that their values and traditions have been hijacked by an opportunist. I appreciate that, because I think that they are right. And then I hear the Democrats saying “Vote for Hillary anyway! She is better than Trump!” So I am hearing struggle and reason and anxiety from many of my conservative friends, and my Democratic friends want to tow the party line, to vote for the establishment no matter the cost. We need a Democrat to pick the Supreme Court! We need Democrat to be in the White House to defend Obamacare! We need Hillary because she will take up where Obama left off!
Well here is the thing, America. The very nature of being progressive suggests that you shouldn’t want the new person to be just like the old person. I like our President, I don’t hate him like half of the rest of America does. I also don’t think he was all that progressive. He was effective in some things, ineffective in others, and in some ways he managed some party policy that hasn’t been able to get accomplished since Lyndon Johnson, but that doesn’t make him our perfect progressive president. In that same sense, Donald Trump will destroy the traditions of America just to get his name on the front of a two dollar bill. Following that, Hillary will tell me whatever progressive nonsense I want to hear so that I will be more afraid of Trump than of her. That is not a person that inspires confidence in me. That is not a person that I would vote for on principle.
A true conservative; one who honors our country’s tradition of overcoming problems with innovation and resilience, one who believes that the American dream is that we can make a better life for our kids than we had for ourselves; that conservative would never vote for Donald Trump.
A true progressive; one that believes that our country’s tradition, founded on innovation, is available to everyone who wants to achieve it regardless of race, color, sexual orientation, religion, or otherwise, and one who believes that the life that we leave for our children is better off when poverty is addressed and engaged as a real issue and that collectively we can do better things than if we all work alone; that progressive does not vote for Hillary Clinton.
And that hardest part about that reality is that they (the establishment) will make it happen. At the expense of John Kasich, who was the only reasonable person on the Republican stage, and Ben Carson, who I fundamentally disagree with but am convinced that he and I could disagree all day over a bag of Cheetos and a milk shake. And at the expense of Bernie Sanders, who is the only person in the entire political spectrum today who stands on his own two feet, saying what he believes to be true, and doing his absolute best to do what is right for the American People. (full disclosure, I caucused for Bernie. #feelthebern.)
And – in the end, we all lose.
…Well, not all of us. No matter how this shakes down, both Hillary and the Donald will have both made more money on this political disgrace of an election cycle than any of us will ever see in a lifetime.