Progressives are told every election they must vote for the Democrat, regardless of what policies that Democrat supports. We are lectured, we are cajoled and we are scolded if we entertain the idea of voting for a third party candidate. Ralph Nadar is dubbed the 'great spoiler' because, so the logic goes, he single-handedly caused Gore and then Kerry to lose the Presidential elections of 2000 and 2004. The Green Party that has consistently promoted sustainable technologies and the preservation of our environment, two cornerstones of progressive thinking, is also considered a spoiler.
However, there is another truism that trumps the fallacious spoiler theory. It goes, "the definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting a different result." If progressives want fundamental change, they must consider making fundamental changes themselves. And the 'spoiler theory' is the first myth that must be changed.
There are many solid progressive Democratic Congresspersons, but a small group popularly called the "Blue Dogs," within the ranks of Democrats, renders their efforts wholly ineffective. Until recent years these traitors to the progressive agenda have flown under the radar, almost unnoticed. It was not until they repeatedly voted with Republicans on key issues throughout Bush's years in office that we began to see how Blue Dogs have compromised progressive ideas. Corporate lobbyists cleverly manipulated the Democratic Party to create this situation. They knew it would be difficult, if not impossible, to convince large numbers of progressive Democrat Congresspersons to vote against Americans' interests. They also realized it would be very expensive and unnecessary. Only a few million in well-placed campaign contributions were required to reap billions in corporate rewards. Only a small number of key Democrats were needed to sway the balance of power. On popular emotional issues, such as gay liberties and a mother's right to choose, Blue Dogs carefully contrive their speeches and votes to appear to be liberal. But when it comes to corporate friendly legislation, the oligarchs can count on their Blue lap dogs to vote for corporate welfare and removal of all forms of corporate regulation.
Examples of this phenomenon abound. Clinton signed NAFTA into law. The repeal of the Glass-Steagall act also occurred under his watch. Democrats voted for the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act and Bush appointees. Diane Feinstein even "sponsored" Condoleeza Rice for her appointment to Secretary of State. In 2006 the Democrats took control of Congress and failed to enact any meaningful progressive legislation. They knew it could damage their ability to raise money from the corporate lobbyists if they voted for any real progressive change. No longer able to use the excuse of being the minority party in Congress they invented new reasons to explain their spineless appearance. Suddenly bipartisanship became the Democratic talking point du jour.
Democratic Blue Dogs are worse than Republicans. At least most Republicans openly promote their cherished neo-conservative policies. But Blue Dogs promise change, gain their seat in Congress and proceed to concoct every possible reason for blocking such change. True wolves in sheep's clothing, Blue Dogs are the bane of the Democratic Party and have guaranteed their corporate sponsors that no progressive agenda will ever get past their vote.
In spite of this circumstance progressives continue to vote for Blue Dogs and so-called 'moderate' Democrats. Progressive Democrats take little effective action to isolate the traitors and remove them from office. Many Blue Dogs are deeply entrenched in Congress, serving multiple consecutive terms largely because of their ability to wage effective campaigns funded by large corporate donations. Max Baucus is only the latest Blue Dog to be exposed.
Why do progressives repeat this failed approach? Why do they place in office shills of corporate oligarchs whose only concern is accumulation of personal and corporate wealth and who have no care whatsoever for our nation, our people, and our Constitution? The answer is simple. Fear. Fear causes progressives to repeat the same actions each election cycle while hoping for a different result. It is a recipe for utter failure and decades of neo-conservative legislation are the evidence. What more do progressives need after witnessing Obama renege on his promise of change? The change we were promised is no more than the "new improved" detergent changed from the old and tired detergent. The direction of our nation has not changed one iota. Wars rage and expand in the Middle East. We support an extreme right wing element in Israeli politics. The DoJ is full of Bush appointees. Illegal eavesdropping persists without abatement. Bush's old ally, Gates, runs the Defense Department. Education, healthcare, civil liberties are no better off today than under the Bush Cheney regime. The environment continues to be under attack and no significant effort has been made towards promoting alternative sustainable technologies.
So who are we kidding? The "spoiler theory" has only succeeded in perpetuating politics as usual. There is no new direction our nation has taken. There is no change. The neo-conservative mantel has been changed for the neo-liberal version. The 'new improved' detergent come in a blue box instead of a red one.
Let's examine what really could happen if we vote for true progressives and reject the politics of the spoiler theory. Would we be any worse off? Not likely. Instead of second-degree burns over 95% of our body we would have third-degree burns over 70% of our body. Instead of destroying the environment in 25 years, we would destroy it in 20 years. The end result is the same. The direction of the Democratic Party is no different than the Republican Party, it is only a matter of degree. Can we honestly say that voting for a third party progressive candidate would really spoil anything?
What we need is real change. It is well within our power to achieve this goal. We who have been powerless for so long find it hard to believe that we can create real and fundamental change. But we can foster massive change in one short election cycle. We can change the face of US politics forever and change the direction of our nation, if only we can overcome the fear of standing up for our beliefs.
Let's imagine what would happen if we did. If large numbers of progressives voted for the candidates who represented their policies and agenda many Democrats might lose their seat in Congress. It could mean that by 2012 the Republicans control both branches of elected government again. However, it would send a message that no Democrat candidate could ever ignore again. Democrats would be shattered and their party in ruins. Heads would fly, careers would end and new ones begin. By the mid-term elections of 2014 we would begin to see real results. No Democrat would be able to coddle their right wing corporate sponsors and hope to survive. No longer would politics as usual govern over Washington.
We have to be careful in this undertaking to not eject true progressives from their office. We have to be careful not to create the appearance of a Republican victory by simply avoiding the polls due to our general disillusionment with the lack of Democratic Party accomplishments. We need to vote in large numbers, as we did for Obama in 2008, but we need to vote for progressive and third party candidates in every moderate and Blue Dog constituency. We need to clean house by unseating all those phony moderates and Blue Dogs who perpetuate the fallacy that we cannot change our nation. We need to act as one, get smart and make real changes in our own ranks before we can expect any real change in Washington.
Most of all we need to overcome the fear instilled by the notion that if we stand up for our beliefs and vote for progressive candidates that we are somehow playing into the hands of the Republicans. We need to bury the fallacious and self-destructive spoiler theory once and for all.
Our nation depends on us. If we fail, politics as usual will reign for decades to come. If we succeed, by the year 2016 we will have succeeded in freeing our nation from the grip of the corporate oligarchs who are heading us off a cliff. We may even still have time to overcome the environmental destruction that has given rise to climate change, poison oceans, poison air and a truly unsustainable society. As you contemplate next year's election have courage to stand up for your beliefs and values. Reject the fear that has kept us in chains for decades and vote for true progressives no matter in which party they belong. Do it for America, do it for your children, do it for the Earth.