Huffington Post

"The Lesser of Two Evils" & Why Progressives Lose

[My latest for The Huffington Post]

There comes a time during just about every general election cycle when a faction of progressive Democratic voters begin to harrumph and gripe about the two party system. Specifically, the following remark jumps back into popular discourse: "we're choosing between the lesser of two evils."

The off-handed rejection of the Democrats as "less evil" rapidly descends into hectoring and in-fighting on the left about either supporting a third party or drafting a primary challenger to oppose the Democratic nominee, presidential or otherwise. In fact, this time around, some progressives are even considering a vote for Ron Paul, the most conservative member of Congress in the last 75 years, even though his positions on a variety of issues, namely civil rights and reproductive rights, are indefensible.

Naturally, much of this point of view can be attributed to generalized frustration with the two party system and the ugliness of electoral politics. But there's a trend among influential progressives that's almost as frustrating as the system itself. Whenever the Republicans are in charge, progressives unite to defeat and replace the Republican leadership with Democrats. But when the Democrats are in charge, progressives have a tendency to hypnotically lapse into contrarian, too-hip-for-the-room ambivalence, apathy and an "everyone is evil" defeatism. Thus, support for Democratic Leader X is weakened -- often with disastrous consequences, the least tragic of which being a reemergence of the previously ousted Republican leadership.

In 2000, this attitude won enough progressive votes for Ralph Nader to literally change the course of history. Widespread voter fraud aside, Nader achieved 97,488 votes in Florida. If just 538 of those votes for Nader had been for Al Gore instead, the history of the last 10 years might have been significantly different. But Nader's involvement, along with high profile endorsements from progressive heroes like Michael Moore, delivered an election-altering percentage of votes to Nader.

The word on the street was the familiar and laughable notion that Gore and Bush were basically the same person. Both candidates and both parties were painted as equally crooked and corrupt, and the system was irrevocably stacked against the people. So otherwise smart progressives backed Nader as an antidote to the crippled system -- a truly "progressive" antidote, unlike Gore.

Knowing what we know now, how seriously naive was that?

Even though he ran a flawed campaign, Gore would have been a vastly different president than George W. Bush in almost every respect. Of course he might have been impeached by the Republicans after 9/11, but I don't want to skew too deeply into an alternate timeline. The point is that Nader has since disintegrated into a careerist troll and Al Gore has become a progressive lion.

Now imagine this 2000 era "lesser of two evils" defeatism on the left occurring with the assistance of our current Internet technology. We're hearing the same nonsense about President Obama and Mitt Romney today. They're the same, so why bother, etc... Unlike any other time in history, a few progressive voices can have significant influence over millions of progressive activists and voters with a single blog post or commentary, and when they crap all over the choices on the table they can indeed undermine the very ideals for which they claim to fight.

By the way, the same progressives who market in this ambivalence will also laugh off my Gore/Bush/Nader example and suggest with steaming buckets of snark that it's quaint and flawed. If that's the case, tell us again how Gore was "the lesser of two evils" to be somehow equated at all with Bush, and tell us again how our votes for Nader made a positive difference in either the course of national events or the implementation of progressive policy.

It's an empirical fact that, for all of its flaws, the Democratic Party platform is almost entirely in line with progressive values. Generally speaking, the Democratic Party and its slate of candidates stand for reproductive rights, civil rights, LGBT rights, scientific advancement, progressive taxation and an empowered middle class. It stands against the climate crisis; it stands against unnecessary wars; and it stands against unregulated corporate power. It stands for universal healthcare, a social safety net and the rights of the American worker. Yes, it also has its share of corruption, disorganization and miscellaneous crapola. But in terms of a policy agenda, this party is not "less evil" -- it's the best and most realistic platform progressives can hope for at this point. It goes without saying the Republican Party, on the other hand, has nothing in common with progressivism. And left-leaning third parties, while perhaps useful for introducing new ideas, are unelectable on the national level (the electoral college discourages third party presidential candidates).

Progressives don't have to be party shills or apologists to recognize that by voting and activating for Democrats, progressive values have the best chance of being codified into law. No, it doesn't help the progressive cause to stay home and let Republicans win. And no, it doesn't help the progressive cause to suggest the whole system needs to be dismantled and therefore we have to make electoral choices that facilitate the destruction and reconstruction of the American system. Anyone who tells you that it's possible to destroy a 225-year-old system without significant bloodshed and without the possibility of a completely anti-progressive form of government filling the vacuum is being totally disingenuous.

The rational and realistic way to reshape the system without triggering widespread awfulness is to change the system from within while relying upon a very long-term strategy -- almost painfully long-term. Instead of offering up futile primary challengers to presidents and senators, progressives would do well to start at the school board level and work upwards, and to change minds door-to-door. By influencing and convincing voters on the ground, it becomes politically safer for state and national leaders to champion a progressive policy agenda. Over time, the system will change, and without kneejerk self-defeating Nader-style tangents and misadventures.

It's unpopular to write this but, overall, the two party system works here, at least in terms of successfully preserving one form of government and subsequently maintaining continuity and consistency in a geographically massive representative democracy. Compare our history with the much smaller, multi-party nations of Europe. Since World War II, Italy has endured 61 different governments. This is partly due to an abundance of political diversity from one leader to the next, as well as a lack of a clear governing mandate.

I'm old enough to remember when Ross Perot challenged the two party system in 1992. With the popular vote split three ways, President Clinton only attained 43 percent of the popular vote, so he was initially crippled without a clear governing mandate and very little political capital with congressional Democrats. His legislative agenda failed and Republicans, under Newt Gingrich, took over Congress in 1994. Now imagine a president winning with only 15 percent of the vote, and the rest of the votes divided between an array of other candidates. Imagine on top of that staggering congressional gridlock with a Senate and House divided between eight or nine parties instead of just the two.

While it's an entertaining endeavor to occasionally fantasize what it might be like if we had a different electoral system and a different Constitution, we live in the real world, and we have what we have. Even with its historical ugliness, it has endured among a roster of modern nations that have been routinely upended in periods of turmoil.

For a progressive champion to suggest that the binary system is awful only tends to breed disillusionment among the left, especially when it comes from a progressive champion who has developed a stellar reputation and a significantly large following -- ironically, in most cases, by pushing a hard-left agenda. In other words, it's irresponsible to make your bones by playing the left/right game and then to suddenly throw up your hands and say it's all a sham as soon as we reach a moment when the nation appears to be moving slowly leftward following 30 years of right-wing Reaganomics. Consequently, progressive voters are led to the frustrated conclusion that everything and everyone sucks so we might as well engage in a futile, destructive protest vote or, worse, stay at home on election day.

It's more responsible, however, to endeavor to influence the party that's closer to progressivism and attempt to lobby that institution in ways that don't undermine the broader progressive effort. Unless, of course, you're a nihilist, in which case, good luck with that. Yes, it's OK to support the Democratic Party if it means moving the nation in a more leftward direction. It's not OK, however, to oppose the Democratic Party out of some kind of smug obstinance against being seen as someone prone to systemic allegiance.

Or to paraphrase a line from a famously Democratic movie, you can't save the village by burning it to the ground. If progressives are smart about this election and future elections, they will enjoy a greater influence in the system. If they're idiots about it, they'll walk away from the table, burn down the village and lose every time.

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  • john irby

    Wow Bob way to miss the mark. Sure there is an entitlement amongst the ‘left’ (which is never defined but seems to mean someone who believes in the Democratic Party’s Platform individually at the same time, funny) that somehow the world will change if you have a mathematical advantage in congress: OWS shows what MLK Jr. showed us already, that you have to be up and active.

    Obama has made some serious plunders and no one anywhere will acknowledge that.

    “He’s not perfect!” Well shit, that’s what my mother always said about herself during the destruction of my family, but that didn’t mean she was admitting to anything.

    Who did Obama bank with from 2008 to 2010? The Blue Dog caucus in the House and the conservadems in the Senate.

    Who got thrown out of Congress in 2010 Bob?


    Oh yeah it was that same caucus en mass!

    Why didn’t Obama pursue more radical policies? To save the Blue Dogs.

    Why did Obama want to save the Blue Dogs? To save the Democratic advantage in Congress.

    Well guess what: That was a big fucking failure. The Republicans at least have the balls to go it for broke the second they get into power. What do the Democrats care about? Well from the mouths of their own fucking operates they care about their jobs first and foremost.

    But regardless: Are you telling me the wall-to-wall coverage of the GOP debates and the GOP primary is good for the democratic party? Are you telling me that 5000 posts a day on Romney’s latest rhetorical fuckup is providing the Democrats with an advantage?

    It’s time to wake up bob: the People vote for what they want and they vote against what they don’t want, and low info or not they did not want the mandate, they did not want Gore’s smugness, and they did not want John Kerry’s ridiculous elitism.

    Did you forget that passing NAFTA played a big role in Democrats continuing to lose support amongst the white working class?

    Oh, but I forgot: it was hippies that made Gore five up the Presidency that he rightly won.


    • ranger11

      I hate myself and want to die……..the end.

    • schemata

      “Who got thrown out of Congress in 2010 Bob?”

      So, what you are saying is, that because the BDC wasn’t liberal enough, they were replaced with much, much more conservative reps? Because they weren’t liberal enough.

      You know what would have saved the left? MAOR FUCKING VOTES. But people stayed home. To ‘teach the president and blue dogs a lesson.’

      Yeah, fuck that.

      You know what else The People ‘did not want?’ Civil Rights. Somethimes The People have to be guided in the right direction.

      As to Al Gore’s smugness, well. I’m so glad that we avoided that. All it cost us was a few million jobs, a few trillion dollars and a few thousand lives.

  • villemar

    If you want to end up swinging from the rafters tonight, take a gander at the derptards commenting on the HP page. God these people are the most bilious, insufferable assholes that I’ve ever seen. In some respects they are worse that the teabaggers, because so-called progressives are ostensibly on our side of the issues, and you might say that the tabaggers are just stupid because of inbreeding, head injuries, dysfunctional childhood, inability to get laid etc.

    The worst is the revisionist bullshit about Gore, “Gore lost it for Gore because he sucked lolol” you know that fucktarded false argument. He won the popular vote. He won the electoral vote but had his FL electoral votes stolen from him Nader actually did flip New Hampshire’s 3 Eelctoral Votes to Bush, had that not happened Florida would have been moot. And Nader pushed Florda into the margin of theft.

    So all of the sudden these dipshit Naderites are now arguing that Gore sucked in 2000 because they bought the mass media of the time’s prognosis that he sucked. The Kool Kidz were mad because he wouldn’t party with them on the press plane like Bush did… I guess these nihilistic shithead Naderite Revisionists are all wine-soused MoDo gadflies now.

    They can all get fucked as far as I’m concerned.

    • ranger11

      I heard all their arguments back then and they haven’t changed a bit. A classic one was that Gore should have won Tennessee; his home state. Well Tennessee is now one of the more reddest of the red states and it was going in that direction before 2000. Clinton barely won it and Democrats haven’t come close since. They’ll believe what they want to believe. What I want to know is why does the “progressive” media cater to them so much when they’re such a small part of the overall Left in this country.

      • Bob Rutledge

        What I want to know is why does the “progressive” media cater to them so much when they’re such a small part of the overall Left in this country.

        I’m guessing that’s a rhetorical question, but if not…

        It’s because promoting them ramps up the conflict, which in turn ramps up viewer interest (because the corporate suit knows that to the rubes, the “News” is no different from “Survivor” or “Who Wants To Be Kicked In The Balls”, mainly because the “News” has taken itself down to that level, but whatever), which ramps up advertising fees, which pay for that 4th (10k sq.ft) mountain vacation ‘cabin’.

    • MarshallLucky

      Oh please. Gore was a weak candidate from the start. The point is that if he’d run a stronger campaign with an effective answer to Bush’s populist appeal it wouldn’t have had to come down to the wire in Florida. But he didn’t, he looked like an effete snob who was out of touch with the American electorate, and he gave Bush the chance to weasel his way into office. It doesn’t matter how much of that was mass media bull because in case you haven’t noticed mass media bull matters a hell of a lot more than reality on the campaign trail.

      This trend among some progressives toward blaming the voters for the failings of the candidates and the party is pretty disturbing, but not all that surprising. After all, we already demonize the other guys as subhuman intellectually challenged shitkickers, so it’s not a stretch that we’d start turning this unpleasant attitude on our own.

      • nicole

        You’re full of shit, Marshall. Nothing new there.

      • villemar

        Your indignation seems to be based on vapid, petty theater criticism, and as such I can’t take you any more seriously than those Beltway Kool Kid pundits from Election 2000.

    • nicole

      “God these people are the most bilious, insufferable assholes that I’ve ever seen. ”


      And some of them are the same delusional dopes who defend Ron Paul.

  • mrbrink

    I don’t think it’s inappropriately dramatic, or fundamentally inaccurate, to say that the Republican party’s coordinated, multi-state actions over the past two years amount to slashing and burning whole villages and communities to the ground. And as the right wing corporate redevelopment plan for democracy rolls along, we’re still infighting and picking up the pieces from the wrecking ball demolition because Gore and Kerry were “just like Bush, little better, or worse,” but while right wing fascists are fast-tracking the applicable contracts for the purpose of the state by state overthrow of Third world America, just to make way for a Walmart parking lot and the Ten Commandments, we should really be focused on NDAA and the Public Option.

    What else can we do? We have things like Anthony Weiner’s peter to argue over, while they’ve been carbon-copy-organized and aggressively going state by state like little tyrants and birthright lords of nobility on horseback tearing people and whole communities away in the name of their conquering masters, in some cases kicking and screaming, from access to even the most basic supplies– like food, healthcare, education… equal protection, and it’s still not enough. They’re sweeping through state legislatures and small body governments bought and paid for by the East India companies of the day and they are physically removing the people from our rights as workers; Separating us from our civil rights; purging and caging our vote; attacking women and children’s health and safety; Evicting the gay community from the premises of equality, protection, and social acceptance; Overrunning American democracy like brutal cowards in the night as the unsuspecting peasant village sleeps, or bickers to stalemate in what’s left of the public square.

    And while iconic billion dollar companies like Google and Facebook are selectively helpful in directing their resources and clout to flip national policy, or to determine for us what specific issues they’d like us to be hyper-active about, even while misrepresenting their own roles in promoting and protecting democratic values and privacy, there are some people who claim to be independent keepers of our gates. People who have much more colorful billboards in Leftist Times Square. People in trust who continue to go after the president and Democrats with NDAA and the Public Option as hard line betrayers of progressive values, and they do this while whole communities of people are being ripped away from their rights and minority protections, their social and economic liberty– and as our little villages are burned to the ground, it isn’t this president, or the principles of the Democratic party bearing torches on horseback.

    I really liked this one, though, Bob. You’re a giant at the gates.

  • Corebela

    Here in Canada we have 5 national parties. Conservative (right of center) Liberal (left of center) New Democratic (Far left) Bloc Quebecois (left) and Green party (environmental left) I can tell you more than 2 parties doesnt always work as in the election last May Conservative party got about 40% of the vote and yet they now have the majority and can do pretty well ANYTHING they want. The other 30 % voted for the NDP (most ever and quite historic first time as the opposition) and 18% for Liberal’s (lowest for them in many decades) then the bloc and then green got 1 seat in the house for the first time ever. So 60% of the people voted for the left parties and a big chunk of that was the farthest left party. Yes Harper the prime minister says he has a mandate from the people with only 40% of the fucking vote! He can do whatever the hell he wants now since it’s quite rare for a party member to break from the rest of the party!!! My point is that your right several parties does not help and has it’s own set of problems.

  • ranger11

    The question I have is who are they going to get for this year’s third party dream? They can’t resurrect Nader again…can they?

    • Corebela

      Lets hope Ron Paul doesn’t go independent and if he does lets hope way more republicans vote for him than so called progressives.

    • villemar

      Hey, fifth time’s a charm!

  • MrDHalen

    This is a great post Bob and I think you make a very important point that people don’t seem to understand; burning down our system of government in hopes of a progressive utopia rising from the ashes, doesn’t account for 80+ million Republicans who still live here with us. It’s a representative government and we don’t always get what we want, because there are a ton of Republican voters out there.

    It’s a mistake to believe that most Republican voters would immediately jump over to our side if we just explained “Louder”, how great progressivism is. Turning off Fox News will not solve this issue, because Fox is only feeding these people what they already believe. This doesn’t mean give up, but don’t discount the hard and often slow work involved in changing political views.

    At lease Republicans acknowledge that there is Democratic opposition to them in our government (not to mention what they would like to do with us), that dilute their agenda. What’s the emoprog’s excuse for their lack of vision?

  • ArrogantDemon

    It seems these bitch made fuckers have been dropping their turd in the progressive punchbowl since FDR, or possibly, even earlier.

    These same pricks who fucked up shit in 68 and gave us Nixon, gave us Reagan and W, and now they want to go on their poutrage-gasm and do it again.

    No, not this time

    This must stop, the cycle must be broken.

    I am sick of these lazy anarchist who would literally shit bricks and cry in the fetal position if some real anarchy were to ever happen, they do not want it.

  • KQµårk™

    The worse part if you think about it not even counting Obama’s populist pivot, he is taking great risks in an election year for liberal and progressive causes.

    He is mandating that religious organizations as employers cover birth control.
    He pretty much ended Keystone XL.
    He is accelerating the end of the war in Afghanistan.
    He is cutting the military budget.

    These are all very bold moves in an election year but of course the lost left never gives him any credit.

  • Chris

    Great blog Bob. Although I disagree with your assesment about Gore and 9/11, in that you assume the attacks would have happened no matter who was president. The Bush administration’s gross incompetence of not taking the al Quada threats seriously led to what happened that day. I seriously doubt any of that were to have happen if Gore were president.

    • KQµårk™

      I agree. Gore would have kept the same focus on anti-terrorism instead of worrying about surrounding Russia with anti-ballistic missiles.

    • GrafZeppelin127

      To be fair, I think it was the discontinuity between the two administrations that caused it. Granted, that discontinuity was quite deliberate, as the incoming Bush administration openly and aggressively disavowed, dismantled and/or ignored everything the outgoing Clinton administration was doing at the end of 2000, including (but not limited to) the Clarke/Berger anti-terrorism plan.

      I think if there had been continuity from the outgoing Clinton administration to the incoming Gore administration, which there almost certainly would have been, the attacks would have been foiled. The new administration was so determined to distance itself from the old and focus on certain specific other things that they unwittingly took their eye off the ball.

      • KQµårk™

        I understand what you are saying and it’s true but it was Bush’s choice to do what he did. Unlike Obama who evaluated everything Bush did and made adjustments, some claim not enough but the point is Obama did not try to reinvent the national security wheel so to speak because stability is important.

  • JWheels

    I don’t have anything more to add at this point besides this is an excellent piece and I agree.

  • missliberties

    Imagine Romney’s appointments to the head of NLRB, and all the other vital federal agencies that have a huge amount of power and sway over our lives.

    To suggest that there is no difference between D and R is to be a complete fucking moron.

    The Obama head of the benefit guarantee program put a lien on American Airlines offshore assets to ensure that the pensions of the laid off employees are funded in full. Do you really think a Bain Capital head at the PBGF would do the same.

  • nicole


    Unlike any other time in history, a few progressive voices can have significant influence over millions of progressive activists and voters with a single blog post or commentary, and when they crap all over the choices on the table they can indeed undermine the very ideals for which they claim to fight.

    And this:

    Progressives don’t have to be party shills or apologists to recognize that by voting and activating for Democrats, progressive values have the best chance of being codified into law.

    So then, the question becomes, WHY do they do it?

    The answer needs clarity. I do not believe they do this because they believe it will work to create a more Progressive party or nation. They are not stupid.

    So where does this lead us?

    I don’t believe, as you now seemingly do, Bob, that these people, these influencers, do this reflexively or without knowing the consequences. Most of those whom I would currently consider to be “influencers”, and who are also disaffected Liberals, have been around the proverbial block more than a few times. They KNOW better.

    I believe, as I have since 2009, that it is opportunism that drives these people (and in this particular election cycle, I believe that left wing racism is a part of it). And until we expose this dichotomy, until we sufficiently shine the light on the roots of the behavior, it is going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to change.

    Adding……..just to be clear, I consider the influencers (those we’re talking about) to be primarily opportunists (Greenwald, Hamsher, et al).

    • KQµårk™

      Hey you. ;-) You are absolutely right. They do it to forward their own personal agenda and hero worship by their supporters is more important to them than what direction the country takes.

      • nicole

        Exactly, Quark! :)

  • KQµårk™

    Spot on analysis. Of course most of it is a moot point with the lost left who are about the most intellectually dishonest people I’ve encountered. They still decry things like single payer and the PO when Obama gave states the flexibility to implement them. It’s always a broken record of complaints with them but they never acknowledge the who truth behind Obama’s presidency the 111th congress.

    I’ve come to the conclusion like you that many of these folks are just nihilists. They are much happier complaining and just wish the whole system would come down some day. Fortunately most of these people don’t even bother to vote so little will be lost this election. 2000 was an anomaly because times looked much better than they actually were so the protest vote seemed to be safe for many on the left. The worst are people that can’t to this day see that protest vote was an abject failure for this country.

    Nihilistic progressives make a huge miscalculation if they think the whole system crashing will result in a progressive Utopia because they forget the other side has all the gold and guns in this country.

  • torque_dwf

    My Sentiments Exactly

  • OsborneInk

    AMEN. Third party progressives: either run for dog catcher or STFU!

  • Louis N. Proyect

    In 2000, this attitude won enough progressive votes for Ralph Nader to literally change the course of history. Widespread voter fraud aside, Nader achieved 97,488 votes in Florida. If just 538 of those votes for Nader had been for Al Gore instead, the history of the last 10 years might have been significantly different.

    Don’t blame the left for Gore’s loss. It was his own crappy politics to blame. Frankly, we would be lucky to have someone like Gore running in 2012 rather than Obromney. Obama has deported twice as many “illegals” as Bush, appointed a guy to head the National Intelligence Agency who claimed that WMD’s were smuggled out of Iraq, backed “fracking”, opposed single-payer, killed between 4 to 800 noncombantants in Pakistan with drones, pushed through the NDAA, catered to Goldman-Sachs, ad nauseum. People like Bob Cesca continue to stump for the Democrats because they have a vested interest in the status quo even though he has convinced himself that he is some kind of “progressive”. Self-deception of this sort is rampant among professional liberals.

    • GrafZeppelin127

      I beg your pardon, but if anyone is engaged in self-deception….

      Your choice of verbs is either deliberately misleading or indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of what has actually happened. At best, the words you’ve chosen are imprecise, enough to distort the meaning if not necessarily amount to active dishonesty.

      Obama did not “back” fracking.
      Obama did not “oppose” single-payer.
      Obama did not “kill” 800 noncombatants.
      Obama did not “push through” the NDAA.
      Obama did not “cater to” Goldman Sachs.

      There’s no need to explain what you mean by any of these; I already know.

      I can tell you as a former English teacher, the verb is the most important and critical word of any sentence, followed by the subject. Of nearly equal importance is the act indicated by the verb, and the actor indicated by the nominative subject. More important still is the confluence of subject and verb, actor and act. In analyzing the structure and meaning of a sentence, you need to first match the verb with the subject, match the act with the actor, and then ask yourself: do they actually match? Can the actor actually do the act? And if so, does the statement that the actor did (or does) the act properly and accurately indicate the thing being conveyed?

      In each of these cases, they don’t. The verbs you have chosen, the acts that you’ve attributed to the actor, simply do not indicate the truth of what the president has (or has not) done. No matter how badly you want to believe these things, they are empirically false statements.

      English is a wonderful language, but it must be employed and deployed with precision. Language is thought. Limited language is both a cause and an effect of limited thinking; imprecise language is both a cause and an effect of imprecise thinking; inaccurate language is both a cause and an effect of inaccurate or incomplete understanding; and deceptive language is both a cause and an effect of self-deception.

      • Dessalines

        Dammit. I love this analysis. Your words have compelled me to dust off some English books.

      • KQµårk™

        Excellent retort to the aforementioned lame response. The key giveaway to their absurdity is resorting to group think memes like the GS thing and name calling. It’s easy to put a list of things that are happening that you don’t like and assign it to the party in power. I mean did the right call Bush the Food Stamp or abortion president when they actually peaked in his term even though he was against both.

        Bob Cesca nailed the absolutely nihilistic attitudes of these people and it obviously hurt them to hear it.

      • Bob Rutledge

        Graf, would you mind if I quote you?

        • GrafZeppelin127

          Not at all. In what forum?

          • Bob Rutledge


      • muselet

        Damn. That is a thing of beauty, Graf.


      • MarshallLucky

        Redefining smug, substance-free condescension for the new year.

        • JackDaniel07

          Its February motherfucker, get on board for November or get the hell outta the way

          How was that?

    • KQµårk™

      Explain how he catered to GS. That’s a lovely meme but there is not proof to it.

      If you believe that progressives like Bob Cesca and other people believe in the status quo you are the one inferring intent which is the ultimate sin.

      Obama supporters can all write a list of things we don’t like about Obama but people like you are the really intellectually dishonest ones because you never accept the positive change Dems brought.

    • Bob Rutledge

      People like Bob Cesca continue to stump for the Democrats because they have a vested interest in the status quo even though he has convinced himself that he is some kind of “progressive”. Self-deception of this sort is rampant among professional liberals.

      Even if this were true, which, like the rest of your comment, it’s not, how would you… wait.

      You know what? If you believe this shit, there’s no hope for you. Why don’t you just go back to whacking off to your autographed photo of Jane Hamsher. There’s no point in me wasting my time trying to get you to see reality.

      • KQµårk™

        You are right to call it “shit”. The worse part is how this shit develops. It’s all freakin’ group think. One person on the pro left says it and they all repeat it like mindless parrots. So their arguments all sound the same. Conversely I see arguments for Obama and the Dems come from all quarters expressed using various unique perspectives like this piece and Andrew Sullivan’s ‘long game’ defense of the Obama presidency. Face it these people are just lazicrats and outsource their brains to the hip new anti-Obama meme.

    • Robert Scalzi

      Not much to say here but a big WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, You are so full of shit it’s coming out of your mouth, the only thing to say to morons like you is FUCK YOU, I will NEVER forgive shitlickers like you EVER

    • i_a_c

      Nobody’s blaming “the left,” they’re blaming the self-proclaimed True Progressives who bought the Nader snake oil instead of recognizing the political reality of binary elections. Voting for Nader is essentially a half-vote for the Republicans. Period.

      Also, “Obromney?” Are you actually Tim Pawlenty?

      • nicole

        “Also, “Obromney?” Are you actually Tim Pawlenty? ”

        HA! :)

        Nah, he’s just another moron drinking the Pro Lefty coolaide.

    • villemar

      Listen, ratfucker, how about you go eat a 15 pound bag of dicks in a 10 pound bag, then go find a fire to die in. We will roll right over ivory-tower, nihilistic hipster shithead pissbabies like you like a fucking steamroller in November. Get used to feeling the steely boot of pragmatic progressivism on your face, forever. Don’t like it? Move to Somalia or commit ritual seppoku in protest. And don’t forget to yell out “Take that, OHitlermba!” right before you do either, because that’ll teach us.

  • GrafZeppelin127

    Good stuff, Bob. Of course you realize you’re inviting another fusillade of disappointed EmoProgs over on HuffPo, ready to cream themselves over florid expressions of personal betrayal, once they get through wringing out their shirts from the tears they weep for themselves. Libertarians and progressives have that in common, I think.

    I think this article touches on a couple of grotesque over-simplifications that I’ve written about here before. The first is the idea that governing consists of two, exactly two, and only two, steps: (1) the President decides to “do” something, and (2) Congress votes (once) on whether to “do” it or not. The end. The second, more germane to your points, is that voting (or withholding one’s vote) is the limit of both one’s ability to participate and responsibility for participating in the political/governing process.

    What both of these have in common is binary thinking. Either the President “does” something or he doesn’t (or, the passive alternative, either it “gets done” or it doesn’t); either you vote for him or you don’t. One of the biggest challenges I faced as a high school English teacher was to dispel my teenaged students of binary thinking when it came to writing and literature (viz., to not think in terms of whether their writing was “right or wrong,” “good or bad,” whether you “can” say [X] or you can’t; whether you “understand” a literary text or you don’t).

    Binary thinking is no more useful in the political/governance context. Unfortunately voting is a binary act, but understanding is not, and neither necessarily is “support.”

    If the presidency of George W. Bush, as a direct result of those 538 votes that went to Nader instead of Gore in 2000, was not enough to teach progressives that emotionally-blackmailing Democrats by electing Republicans is not the best way to achieve progressive policy goals (or any one particular pet-favorite thereof), then nothing will be. This is one of the two main reasons I’m preparing to start or join a hate group after President Romney’s inauguration next year. :-p

    • Scopedog

      “Of course you realize you’re inviting another fusillade of disappointed EmoProgs over on HuffPo, ready to cream themselves over florid expressions personal betrayal, once they get through wringing out their shirts from the tears they weep for themselves.”

      Yup. They certainly did start up with the fusillade of bullshit, ranging from the “personal betrayal” to–you guessed it–the “there’s no difference between the two parties” meme.

  • Scopedog

    Bob, fantastic post.

    I wonder what some of the Huff-Po comments will be. I guess I should prepare to see logic twisted into shapes that would make a pretzel jealous.

    To think that some of those who claimed that there wasn’t a difference back in 2000 are spouting the same nonsense again….Christ, it’s fucking frustrating.

  • captnkurt

    Great column, Bob, but when you said “widespread voter fraud aside”, did you perhaps mean “widespread election fraud aside”?

    • Bob Cesca

      Isn’t that the same thing?

      • OsborneInk

        Actually, isn’t it “vote fraud”? Because “voter fraud” involves fraudulent voters, whereas “vote fraud” involves Diebold.

      • Brutlyhonest

        I don’t think voter and election fraud are the same thing – even if both result in the same outcome.

        One is perpetrated by individuals the other by those responsible for counting the votes/certifying the elections.

        Also, too: If there is widespread voter fraud then the wingnuts are correct to pursue laws to stop it.

  • bphoon

    Bullseye. The only thing I would add is a question I continuously ask when I see some blog post from the left pillaging the president: If President Obama is so horrible, who’s your alternative? So far, I haven’t heard an answer to that…

    • eljefejeff

      I ask. And I get what I assume are serious replies of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Alan Grayson, Robert Reich, etc. I do like these people, but they are not going to unseat Obama as the nominee and only Clinton could actually win the presidency but she’s obviously done. Total fantasy world

  • MorganleFay

    I agree 100%, but I would add the fact that even as we on the left, bash our guys while they are in office, we love them when we are gone, for example FDR was pummeled by his left, and then we saw the Draft Al Gore campaign in 2004, (would have been easier to have voted for him in the first place), and now the recalls after 2010, again, would have been easier to have voted in the first place.

    The right on the other hand LOVES their guys while in office, then tiptoes backwards out of the room, claiming, “He was not a REAL conservative!! We never liked him!! WE’RE Tea Partiers!”…. after the damage has been done.

    I for one am sick to death of my fellow liberals telling me how disheartened and disappointed I am.

    I basically just tune them out, do what I need to do via donations, and volunteering.. Oh yeah, and voting!

    • GrafZeppelin127

      Nailed it, basically. Liberals/progressives really get off on feeling betrayed and disappointed and taken for granted by elected Democrats, just as much if not more than “conservatives” get off on feeling victimized and oppressed by elected Democrats.

      I had a Jewish father and an Italian mother; I know all about emotional blackmail. My mother once sent me to the store to buy stack chairs, and when I came home without them because they were out of stock, she didn’t speak to me for days because I “didn’t look hard enough.” Some liberals/progressives remind me of my mother, they really do. They really subscribe to the that’ll-show-them school of political thought; the idea that the best way to achieve their pet policy desires is to punish Democrats for not achieving them by electing people who not only have no desire or intention to achieve them, but who have worked and will work to prevent them from ever happening. The idea, I suppose, is to make Democrats feel really, really bad about not pursuing those particular policies, so the next time they get elected they’ll apologize and repent by making it happen, by, I don’t know, “trying harder” and yelling louder on the floor of Congress?

      You’re also entirely right about how “conservatives” treat their candidates/officeholders. Unequivocal, unqualified, uncritical, unconditional support for the people and all of their actions while in office; retroactive disavowal, of the people, the actions and the disastrous results thereof, afterward.

    • Brutlyhonest

      Big exception is the myth of Saint Ronnie the Raygun. If a Democratic President had pulled any of the shenanigans his administration did, he/she/it would have been impeached and executed for treason.

      How ironic would it be of the Iranians attacked the USS Ronald Reagan with weapons he sold them?

  • ranger11

    The application of no difference between Obama and Romney is twenty times more asinine than it was twelve years ago. I can’t believe that they would make the same argument again. Come up with a new argument muthafuckas! Evolve already!

    • missliberties

      I honestly think that some of those who ‘progressives’ who keep pretending to be, are Lyndon LaRouche fans. They are useless fools who believe in anarchy for the sake of getting attention to a totally lost cause.