Are You A Real Progressive Or A Fauxgressive?
Like it or not, there's a great divide in America's political left, and you're either on one side or the other.
A great divide was exposed on America’s political left this past election cycle. We haven’t quite figured out how to talk about it yet, but it’s there. Now that Clinton and Sanders are out of the election picture it won’t make much sense going forward to talk about it in terms of the Hillary camp vs. the Bernie camp, and framing it as progressives vs. liberals doesn’t really work either since people get pedantic about the word “liberal” and a lot of the most adamant Hillary supporters identified strongly as progressives. Lately I’ve taken to labelling the divide as being between actual progressives fighting for an actual progressive agenda, and “fauxgressives” who, for whatever reason, are content to support political power structures that hold a public position of progressivism in order to secure support for their private position of rampant corporatism.
Please don’t come kvetching to me about the “need for unity” and “divisive rhetoric”; the divide is unquestionably there, and no amount of denial or compartmentalization is going to make it go away. If you belong to the political left, you are either on one side of this divide or the other. Here are a few pointers for figuring out which side you’re on:
1. Progressivism benefits the people; fauxgressivism benefits the oligarchy.
The Democrats had taken a severe beating starting with the neoliberal establishment’s evisceration of Jimmy Carter back in the late seventies and early eighties, but Bill Clinton figured out that you can still rake in big bucks from the donor class and give them everything they want in exchange as long as you pay lip service to the things the political left cares about. Under Slick Willy’s leadership, the so-called New Democrats took on the mantra of “fiscally conservative, socially liberal,” which was another way of saying they don’t care what you do in your bedroom or what color your skin is, as long as you help them crush you to death with the Walmart economy and sell your life blood to Wall Street.
“Socially liberal” looks a lot different in 2017 than it did in 1992, but the model remains exactly the same; Hillary Clinton making promises to Goldman Sachs executives to lie to the American people for them and gearing up for a military seizure of Syria for the benefit of multinational corporations and banks, while waving a rainbow flag and talking about a woman’s right to choose. Obama maintained a highly progressive platform from his first presidential campaign to the end of his second term while doing nothing but tightening the screws of corporatism, increasing wealth inequality, and expanding all of Bush’s most pernicious policies. The oligarchs win, the people lose, but nobody notices what just happened. If you think Obama did a phenomenal job and think Hillary would have made a great President, the fact that you’re ignoring their warmongering and corporate cronyism because of their pretense of progressivism means that you are surely a fauxgressive. Speaking of which:
2. Progressives look at the whole picture; fauxgressives focus on identity politics.
I’ll put this bluntly: the plutocrats who rule over us do not care if two gay people want to get married. They do not care if you think black lives matter, they do not care if you smoke pot, they do not care if you get an abortion, and, since they are in no way limited by national borders, they do not care about immigrants or their rights. They also don’t care how many bullets you put in your gun or what religion you practice, contrary to the mirror image of this delusion on the political right. They do not care about any of these things, at all. As long as we keep turning the gears of the machine that gives them their immense power, they’re happy to keep us distracted debating these issues until the end of time. That’s really the only reason you see guys like George Soros funneling money into these debates; as long as the oligarchs can keep people focusing on superficial issues and ignoring the source of the disease, they can keep tricking you into voting for corporate cronies who will keep reinforcing your cage walls as long as they call Caitlyn Jenner by the correct pronouns.
The oligarchy does not care about these things, but both progressives and fauxgressives do. The difference is that, while progressives are rightly uncompromising on issues of equal rights and social justice, they also insist on aggressive opposition to corporatism, warmongering, war profiteering, income and wealth inequality, money in politics, ecocide, government opacity, and predatory trade deals. Fauxgressives do not; as long as you give their little pet social justice issues a stroke now and then, you can drone bomb whomever you please and they’ll still think you’re awesome. Which segues nicely into our next pointer:
3. Progressives oppose war; fauxgressives only oppose it when a Republican does it.
Fauxgressives are bidding a tearful hero’s farewell to the first person to ever serve every single day of a full two terms as a wartime President. Obama’s corporatist military aggression and interventionism created a failed state in Libya causing unfathomable death, suffering, displacement and terrorism, gave thousands of tons of weapons to terrorist factions in Syria to facilitate another corporatist regime change, greatly expanded the drone program, committed a trillion dollars to increased nuclear weapons spending and dropped hundreds of thousands of bombs on seven countries. Fauxgressives also tried to elect a woman who was pledging with uncharacteristic consistency to set up a no-fly zone in Syria, which top US military officials attested would necessitate wars with both Syria and Russia, since it would mean shooting down the military planes of those countries as a matter of policy. Many fauxgressives were seen weeping and displaying tremendous grief that the woman who wanted to unleash these evils upon the world was not elected.
Now that Trump is poised to take the wheel, however, we’re suddenly seeing the reemergence of the anti-war Democrat after eight years of hibernation. Anything Trump does from here on out that looks the slightest bit hawkish will be met with outrage and condemnation; even his accepting a phone call from Taiwan was loudly decried by the political left because it could increase tensions with China.
Progressives realize that this brand of war opposition is worthless, since establishment warmongering will continue unfettered whenever the warmongering Republicans are chased out of office. This results in zero total reduction in bombs dropped and bullets fired; all a fauxgressive Democrat has to do is keep talking about diversity and equality in order to keep dropping bombs for their military industrial complex donors and plutocrats who want to install banks and prop up the US petrodollar. Progressives refuse to sign on for the bloodshed of America’s soldiers or anyone overseas unless it is an absolute necessity done in self defense. Progressives realize that war is the worst thing in the world and the least sustainable thing that our species does, while fauxgressives are fine with it as long as it happens overseas under a President with a (D) next to their name.
4. Progressives care about morals; fauxgressives care about political parties.
A progressive doesn’t care what letter you’ve got next to your name; the success or failure of a politician is measured by the extent to which they succeed or fail to forward the progressive agenda. A bunch of my readers jumped down my throat yesterday for being too forgiving of Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of the Russian hacking narrative, and that’s a good thing; even the number one face of the American progressive movement is subject to harsh criticism and ridicule the instant he fails progressivism in any area. That’s as it should be. Leaders should be judged by their actions and supported or condemned based on whether those actions benefit the people or the oligarchy.
Fauxgressives, as we’ve discussed, will let a leader get away with any evil as long as they’re loyal to the tribe. Democratic party loyalist Peter Daou recently tweeted “I now live in an America where liberals defend our intelligence agencies and conservatives question them (in favor of Russia). #BizarroWorld.” Yeah, Pete, we noticed. While liberals have become everything they used to hate, the real progressives held to their morals. That’s why we haven’t gotten lost in this shifting political landscape while the neoliberals paced the Dems into becoming neocons; we ignore the letters after the names and hold to our actual core values.
Hope that clears things up. Let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading, progressives and fauxgressives alike. If you enjoyed our lovely romp here, please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following me on Twitter, or even tossing me some money on Patreon so I can keep calling it like I see it here.