Moderates Must Appeal to Progressives

Walter Rhein

Picture by Walter Rhein

Keep in mind this article is about facts. It’s not about how elections “should be” it’s about how elections are. The problem with moderates is that they get themselves worked up and frustrated when voters don’t do exactly as they are told.

Newsflash, it’s a lot easier to change the beliefs of the leaders of a political party than to demand the whole voting public conforms to how they think people should behave.

You can’t win an election by lecturing the voters in an attempt to bully them into voting for you. In fact, this attitude, whether conducted by the candidates themselves or the supporters, is likely to drive voters away.

Now, to be clear, moderates are the ones doing the lecturing. Sure, there are a few progressives that make inappropriate comments here and there (more on that later), but by and large it’s the fundamental philosophy of the moderates that’s likely to cost Democrats in future elections.

Instead of lecturing, you have to demonstrate why you are the better choice. You have to appeal to the voter base that can bring you the win. It doesn’t matter if your philosophy got 60% of the primary vote, if you don’t appeal to the progressives, you are going to lose. Appealing to progressives means adopting a large part of their platform.

Deal with it.

Persisting in an entitled attitude where you disparage the demands of a major group of voters is a blueprint to defeat. To believe otherwise is completely delusional.

Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. As we look at an increasingly partisan political landscape, it’s important that voters and establishment politicians implement a strategy that has a chance of success.

The focus of the Democratic establishment has largely been to slow or stop the progressive movement that has been steadily growing in strength for the last few election cycles. However, this strategy has put all Democrats in a difficult position.

Democrats cannot get anything done without progressive support.

Now is the time for the establishment to shift their focus and change their narrative. It is vital that they embrace progressive voters and assure them their needs will be represented. You can count me among the progressives that believes any Democratic politician is better than a Republican politican. However, it’s important to understand and accept that many progressives don’t feel that way.

It’s up to you to bring them into the fold, and being snarky is not going to get the job done.

Stop with the stupid memes!

The hostility between progressives and moderates has to end, and this will require compromise from the establishment. Here are some ways the DNC can take action to ensure they don’t lose the critical progressive vote.

Don’t Confuse a Criticism of Strategy With a Threat to Sit Out

Ever since Hillary Clinton’s campaign, there has been a tendency to berate voters when they point out a strategic flaw of the DNC. It’s not a threat to sit out the election when an individual engages in critical thinking. In fact, the people who are willing to sound alarms and speak out against the establishment are often the ones who are most committed to victory.

It is not a good look to throw a temper tantrum every time somebody questions your strategy. Instead, you have to listen to the needs of the voting public and earn their confidence that you are committed to representing the majority of the people. The DNC is not entitled to the progressive vote, and there is a very real danger that they will lose it.

Don't get mad about this, FIX IT!

Anyone who makes an observation or offers a criticism only represents one vote and does not speak for all moderates or progressives. Other voters have a radically different viewpoint than you, and if you try to bludgeon them to your way of thinking, you risk alienation.

When it’s pointed out that some progressives won’t see a candidate with seven sexual assault allegations as an improvement over a guy with fifty, you have to acknowledge the veracity of that opinion. You can’t tell these people to “get over it” like Hillary Clinton did. Instead, you have to acknowledge that is a problem, respect a woman’s right to be heard, and still work to build support for your candidate.

Telling voters to “grow up” is simply lazy politics. That some voters have a moral compass that compels them to sit out elections rather than vote for the lesser of two evils is actually a good thing. Our political establishments have to recognize they cannot change the thinking of this class of voter, and instead have to select a vetted candidate with greater appeal.

When generating support for your candidate, always keep the message positive and even recognize the frustrations you have with the individual. Show how you, personally, will work to embrace more important progressive ideals to demonstrate how the Democratic candidate is the best choice. Let progressives know how much they have to gain by joining with you.

Congratulate Bernie Sanders On His Continued Popularity

Bernie has done a remarkable thing over the last few years. He has shown the party how to mobilize an extremely successful grassroots movement, and he has increased the political participation of young people. These are tremendous achievements, and if they’re properly embraced by the DNC they provide a blueprint for victory in elections at all levels of government.

The DNC should not be attempting to dismantle what Bernie has achieved, they should be embracing it. The simple fact is that Bernie has earned a huge base of support and it demonstrates that his politics are very popular despite any narratives to the contrary.

Don’t Spread Fake News

We had enough fake news from the Trump administration and don’t need the DNC to create more. One narrative that the DNC has been pushing since 2016 is that Bernie did not do enough to support Clinton. The reality is that Sanders steadfastly advocated for Clinton once she earned the nomination.

Let’s face it, losing to a candidate as incompetent and corrupt as Donald Trump is probably the most humiliating defeat in the history of politics. But instead of examining what they did wrong, the DNC spent the next four years trying to scapegoat Bernie. Get it through your head, Trump became president because the Democratic party failed to earn enough votes to win.

At the end of the day, it's up to the candidate to generate the support he or she needs for victory.

Another lie that has been spread is that Bernie supporters or “Bernie Bros” act inappropriately online. With any group on the internet there is a percentage that is going to act inappropriately. To take the behavior of this naturally occurring percentage and attempt to invent a false history that the exception is indicative of the whole group is simply dishonest propaganda. Studies have shown that there is no statistical difference between the behavior of Bernie supporters and supporters of any other candidate.

Don’t Use the Phrase “Circular Firing Squad”

The phrase “Circular Firing Squad” is used every time anyone suggests the DNC could do something better. It’s another way of saying, “Just shut up and do as we tell you.” However, in the United States of America, people are allowed to voice their opinion, and they should be encouraged to do so. Dismissing valid concerns with the “Circular Firing Squad” argument is a path to defeat.

Don’t Say “You’re Part of the Problem”

This is another widely used phrase that is similar to plugging your fingers into your ears and refusing to engage in intelligent debate. The majority of progressives want to see Democrats retain power. The wondrous variety of our population is what makes America such an amazing country.

There is a platform that will guarantee a productive political system. You can’t decide what it is, you have to perceive the true will of the voting public. The Democratic party seems committed to ignoring the massive popularity their voter base has for progressive ideas. If they fail to adopt these ideals into their platform, they’re going to lose to Republicans in the very near future.

Repeat after me:

The DNC needs progressive support to win elections.

The DNC needs progressive support to win elections.

The DNC needs progressive support to win elections.

The sooner they accept this, the better chance the Democrats have of puting their policies into effect.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI

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