There Are Lessons Here, Part Two

Last time, I made the point that the Democratic platform is remarkably goal oriented and detail-focused. And the Republican message is negative and angry and very dour.

It’s something that people have noticed and commented on. And then, somehow, forgot.

Meanwhile, the internet and media wait anxiously for the daily barrage of tweets from Trump that just reinforce how totally unfiltered he is. And I understand that his lack of a filter is a big selling point to those who support him, but really, turn it around for a minute, people: do you really want people to express their opinions about you without a filter? No. The answer is simply no. So doing it to someone else is just rude. And stupid. Because regardless of whether the opinion is right or wrong, being insensitive and unfiltered on a scale like what is given to the President of the United States is reckless and puts the nation in more danger than it may or may not be.

Which brings me back to a central question: to those who have pushed so hard for the political outsiders (you hard-core Sanders supporters, and the Trump-supporting elements of the right), why have you given up on pragmatism? The Republicans have staked everything this cycle on one unstable man who clearly can’t stay on message, doesn’t understand the difference between respectful debate and name-calling, and who is as far removed from the middle class as just about anyone in this nation can be. They’ve opted for a platform that realistically only appeals to a very small group of people–a group, by the way, which is remarkably white, Christian, and quite probably male; and any female and racially diverse groups who happen to latch on are the extremely rare cases. In the end, this rush to the far right, to a stance that abhors cooperation and compromise, that insists on absolutes and a refusal to budge from a world view that is myopic at best, could prove deadly to the party and even extremely detrimental to their own cause. Why be willing to commit political suicide and risk everything to make a point?

(And there’s a valid point there, though the Sanders campaign expressed it much more intelligently than the right: politics have gone off the rails and are allowing small groups and the wealthy and an entrenched political elite to steer the nation. These groups have historically given up enough power to keep the masses happy while still holding on to their control. But over the last 4 years, the Republican congress demonstrated that the idealogues had wrested enough power to actually freeze the legislative branch in its tracks. I blame the Republican party for this inaction, because they couldn’t manage to forge any agreements in their own caucus to break the many impasses. So once the far right saw what power they could wield, of course they’re going to go for the brass ring.)

But it still raises the question: why play this as an all-or-nothing battle? Which is still a very real possibility–though the Democrats are being ham-handed about how they’re playing the local races across the country and aren’t focusing their message as strongly as the Republicans. Is the end goal not the influence to actually form our national policy, but instead to destroy the party system? If it’s the latter, then it’s a risky game, because it’s a tense time in the world to pull this kind of destabilizing bullshit.

But here’s an even deeper and almost more troubling thought: if your values and beliefs are unimportant enough that you’re willing to blow up your own party and give up any political influence you have, how is anyone to accept that you really believe in them? I’ve got to admit that this is the one that troubles me a lot. Because I understand the anger. And I understand the mistrust. And I appreciate the passion with which many of you argue your points. But if in the end, destroying the Republican party and removing RINOs from power (Republicans In Name Only–basically, people who aren’t conservative enough) is the ultimate goal, then your values and platform is merely a tool.

In short, you’re playing a game of politics, too. A very shrewd game that doesn’t respect the ordinary people who support some of the same things you do. A game that supposedly you’re fighting against.

Need more convincing? Take a look at Sanders supporters who are considering voting Libertarian. Or Socialist. I’m not going to say you’re throwing away your vote, because it’s important to participate and vote. But just think about the ramifications if the race were tied between Clinton and Trump. And let’s say that there are 10% of the voters undecided. You need to consider pragmatism here. If you’re a Sanders supporter, and Clinton and the Democratic platform reflects 75% of his platform (which it does), then voting for Clinton gives you a better chance at having 75% of what you want. Voting for Trump or any of the other candidates (or no one) is necessarily a vote against Clinton. And none of the other candidates represents that same 75% of Sanders’ platform. You can send the message to Clinton and the Democrats that you’re tired of their games and vote against them and hope they lose, but remember this one point: it’s extremely difficult to get into the political game as an independent or a third party from the outside than it is to work within the inside. If you help elect your party and continue to be engaged in the political process, you can force change within your party much more easily than trying to influence it from the outside.

So what’s important here? The politics? Or the platform? That’s what I’m anxious to see.