This primary and this election are not about "the heart and soul of the Democratic Party". It is about the heart and soul of America, and the future of the progressive movement.
If you like torture, keep fighting against your fellow Democrats.
If you like incompetent government, keep fighting against the candidates that you haven't embraced.
If you want to fuck over your fellow Americans as much as possible, keep fighting against our best chance at actually turning the wheel on this ship.
Some of us would like to think that the progressive movement, and our little website here, is much bigger than it really is, but I have no illusions. I live in the middle of one of the reddest cities in one of the reddest states, so I can confidently tell you that we haven't gotten our message out, and getting your message out is the only way to build the tide of public outrage that so many of us crave. Of the few people in my city who know what Daily Kos is, most probably think it's a joke. It isn't that there aren't progressives here - I'm willing to bet most of my college professors could be considered Kossack-like progressives - but that they don't know this place exists and aren't connected to a worldwide network of progressives as Kossacks are. How do you build a movement when you don't have a solid base? How do you claim that your views should dominate a national party (one of only two options, I might add) when huge sections of the country barely even know you exist?
Don't get me wrong, Daily Kos is a valuable tool for progressives (or it was, before the fucking primary wars). Here, we have information, a shared vision, and a place to relax and heal from the wounds of daily battle. Or had, I should say. But I guess some people think we are a lot more than we really are. You know what we call those people in real life? Prima donnas. But no one likes a person who thinks they're more important than they really are, and uses that delusion to justify throwing fits or commandeering a group that is much bigger than they are.
When we claim that we're doing this because we somehow deserve to be the ones who decide what the Democratic Party looks like even though the Democratic Party consists of a lot more people than just Kossacks, we're being prima donnas. It's not that I don't want the party to look like us; it's that a couple thousand people does not a movement make, and that we all need to do a hell of a lot more work before we can truly say that we should have such a huge stake in a national party. Until that time comes - until there are enough of us to truly make a difference - let's stop pretending that we're anything more than some people on a website who talk about politics, laugh and cry together a little, and are effecting change mostly on a very small scale.
If we really want to make a difference, if we really want change, the first thing we have to do is simply elect a Democrat this year. Yes, any Democrat, because Clinton, Obama, and Edwards would all be better than a Republican; because any one of them would stop the torture, stop the incompetence, and do their best to move us in a better direction. None of them will make things perfect and utopian, but they'll at least get us headed in the right direction. Do you really think that a Republican can be trusted to do the same?
And after the election, we can't sit on our laurels and depend on the sainted candidate to fix everything, as so many here seem ready to do. We have to take it upon ourselves to talk to our fellow countrymen, rather than sneering at them, and convince them that the progressive movement is in their favor and interested in embracing them. We have to make each person feel important and empowered; we have to talk to them on their level, hear their concerns, and inspire them. We have to really build a movement, not just sit here typing nasty words at each other and the rest of the world because we didn't get what we want. We have to grow up and start building institutions and networks that will help people, that will show them that we care about them more than we care about power or our own egos. We have to remind ourselves why we are progressives and show that to the world, unswervingly and without foot-stamping. We have to practice what we preach, and follow in the footsteps of amazing leaders like Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr., rather than mope and lash out.
But we haven't done that yet. Right now, the best we can do is make sure that we actually have a candidate who will be on our side. Maybe (probably) s/he won't be able to check everything off our lists, but they'll certainly do more than a Republican would. Even a Democrat will have a lot of major battles to wage, but at least a Democrat will attempt to. Seeing another Republican elected - no matter which Republican - will only add more to those lists, and you're lying to yourself if you don't think that's true.
But electing another Democrat at least gives us the possibility of accomplishing something, and of providing ourselves with the much-needed sustenance of hope. I don't know about you, but I don't know how much longer I can go on without any light at the end of this goddamned tunnel, let alone if I can manage to actually try to build a movement in the wake of another defeat like 2004. If America is still torturing people, if we're still bombarded everyday with news about our incompetent government being run by predatory appointed officials, still watching the little people be crushed and/or being crushed ourselves by comfy, laughing aristocrats - who give away rights and contracts like they're peanut brittle and think we deserve it simply because we aren't one of them - for the next 4 years, I don't think I'll be able to tell myself anymore that I should even care. And I certainly won't think that the progressive movement is a viable alternative if it can't pull its head out of its ass and support the party that will actually try to make this country better again.
We haven't figured out yet how to effectively amplify our message, so that our current claims to greatness are merely echoing back to us in a pathetic display of chest puffing. But I believe that we can one day lay claim to the heart of the Democratic Party, that we can nourish this movement into an effective tool for the betterment of our country. We just haven't gotten there yet. In the meantime, we need to elect a Democrat. Period.
Oh, I know, so many of you will say that we really are that important right now, that we already work in our communities and inspire people, or that such-and-such candidate is not really going to make things better. But those of us who are staying out of these ridiculous primary wars know the truth: this election is not about the Democratic Party, it's about our country, and our country is going to be fucked if it has to endure four more years of Republicanism.