When I say over and over and over that they are "extremist" issues, "Progressives" immediately assume that I am against gay marriage and the right of a woman to have an abortion. The truth is that I personally do not care if two human beings want to marry or if a woman chooses to have an abortion for any significant reason. No, what makes them so "extreme" is the huge political capital wasted on these issues and the truly ugly consequences of a legitimate political ideology with no discipline. By throwing so much weight into two issues with viable compromise available in the form of civil unions and the debate on abortion still to be decided given the current Supreme Court and the certainty of new obstetrical breakthroughs, Progressives bared their souls and now stand naked while Emperor Trump changes into equally invisible clothes at the whim of a few lunatic Fox News salespersons.
Ironically, Progressives did not win the issue of gay marriage at the polls or in the legislature, losing in state after state in which they could have won on the issue of civil unions. In the end, California's intellectually lightweight Republican Party inadvertently admitted gays could marry by acknowledging the "right" of which they were attempting to deprive them in their bill. The court had no choice but to allow gay marriage! Talk about dumb luck! Meanwhile, Roe vs. Wade gives women almost unfettered access to end a pregnancy at any stage for virtually any reason. How long do you think that will last given the Trump Court. In both cases, progressives felt that they should throw their full weight behind "extreme" versions of these issues despite more moderate alternatives available, ignoring all warnings that wasting all that political capital would lead to political disaster.
The real question: What was the cost? The answer: It has cost immigrants, especially the "Dreamers" dearly. It has cost us two seats on the Supreme Court so far, seats filled with elitist snobs, neither apparently possessing a conscience. It has cost us trillions of dollars in increased national debt with not a penny of benefit to the average citizen. It has cost us our stock market and the trust of virtually every one of our international allies. It has emboldened dictators like Putin and Xi to accelerate offensive military activities and it has severely weakened NATO. I can understand the recurrent "one shot wonders" like Stein and Nader, believing that their singular issues are more important than the greater good, but not those unsatisfied Progressives who, like pouting children, decided to "take their ball home" and not vote at all, turning the game over to thugs like Trump and the Freedom Carcass.
Meanwhile, for some reason, Progressives seem to have paid virtually no attention for the last ten years to the single most important issue of all: The protection of the right to vote as speech under the First Amendment. Let me ask you- how far have we come in assuring every U.S. citizen the right to vote? Do we still have gerrymandering in dozens of states? Do people in the inner cities have reasonable access to voter I.D.s if they don't drive? Does one Republican state after another interfere with early voting, voting by mail, voter registration and maliciously purge selected voters? Are voting hours and polling places still purposely decreased in selected districts by partisan state governments? Do you see a remedy in the Trump Supreme Court to all of these blatantly illegal activities? Ironically, I haven't met anyone, liberal or conservative who doesn't believe that voting is a form of speech! However, throughout the entire Obama era and over the last two years the issue has not been pursued with any enthusiasm at all. No attempt has been made to throw the issue back into the Supreme Court where it belongs! The warped windbag, Antonin Scalia is no longer there to dismiss voting as a "symbolic act of pushing a button," which incidentally reduces his own Supreme Court's decisions to "symbolic," meaningless acts as well! Try denying that and as a licensed physician I'll show you the difference between your mouth and your other end free of charge!
I think it is time for Progressives to stop acting like snobs and realize that the goals of more moderate Democrats are the very same goals as their own. The secret to success, is seldom in the ultimate goals, some that may never even be achieved. The secret is that you are defined by how you go about trying to achieve those goals. Progressives need to take a step back for a moment and assess the huge amount of political capital we Democrats possess and reassess the failed, undisciplined strategies which we have employed in recent years in wasting that capital. We need progressive ideas, but not candidates trying to force the ideas, right or wrong, on a public that is neither informed nor prepared for those ideas. Bernie Sanders needs to stop talking about extending an almost fatally diseased Medicare system on "all" until he tells us how to disinfect it of the parasitic lobbies and legislators of both parties that are destroying it. Environmentalists need to stress the Obama programs that were meant to create new jobs for coal miners and other ideas conveniently ignored by Republicans. We need to stress to voters that our concerns about the environment are not more important than the welfare of their families (Message to some of the Green Party elitists) and that it is our responsibility to not merely make them victims of some "greater good." Our candidates must be far more than "left wing nuts," rather they must be disciplined students of the voters on both sides of the aisle, candidates who sincerely wish to bring the country together, not simply win an election.
Al Finkelstein, 12/23/18