In the wake of a closer-than-expected loss in a special House election in Kansas, the whining on the left commenced afresh.
The complaint this time: the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) failed to pour millions of dollars into a race that would determine exactly 1/435 of the composition of the U.S. House of Representatives, in a district where Democrats are about as common as unicorns.
Sure, the Democrat in the race did vastly better than a Democrat would normally do, and this was a good sign for the party’s prospects in 2018. But there are hundreds of districts in America that are not nearly as Republican-heavy as Kansas 4. And that is why spending a ton of money on this race would have been the wrong move.
If you take the long view, the Democratic Party’s decision was understandable. Democrats are a year out from a national campaign involving hundreds of U.S. House seats, thousands of state legislative seats, the majority of governorships, and upwards of a dozen vulnerable Democratic Senators, many of them in heavily Republican states. The Democratic Party has a lot of fish to fry in 2018 and needs to use its resources wisely. It can’t go blowing vast sums on a single House race in a special election that the party probably wouldn’t have won regardless and likely wouldn’t have been able to hold in a year’s time, anyway.
But don’t tell any of that to the armchair quarterbacks who began raining down complaints before the voting even began. If you try, you’ll upset them, and they’ll whine some more. It’s what they do. They can’t always be bothered to vote or to participate in the process in any meaningful way—but boy oh boy, they can whine.
This culture of complaint, unfortunately, has become typical of the left. Whenever something doesn’t go the way we would like, a bunch of us start whining. (And no, it isn’t that progressives have a monopoly on whining; after witnessing the pathetic backlash of petty griping that spanned eight years of the Obama presidency, it is hard to argue that conservatives aren’t a whiny bunch, either. In fact, America generally is getting pretty damn whiny, and it needs to stop.) But far too many progressives seem to think that whining loudly enough and long enough will make a difference; that if we just keep pestering the people who are in charge, they’ll change their ways and do what we want.
It’s a toddler’s strategy. It doesn’t work, and nobody (except the whiners) is impressed with it. It’s driven by the same impetus that fuels every useless petition drive and all the phone calls to elected officials who don’t give a rip about the “voice of the people,” unless that voice is raised against them at the voting booth. That’s when they care. Unless and until their jobs are threatened, it doesn’t matter if you’re unhappy.
(As an aside, here’s a newsflash: whenever you see a call from some politician or political party on social media asking you to sign a petition, it isn’t because they think the petition will make any difference; they know it won’t. It’s because they want your e-mail address and phone number so they can pester you endlessly for donations. Don’t fall for it.)
Progressives also continue to demonstrate an over-reliance on appeals to institutions to do things for us rather than organizing and doing the job ourselves. The continued appeals to (and denunciations of) the DNC are a case in point. If you weren’t happy about the DNC’s decision not to invest large sums of money in an un-winnable race that wouldn’t have made any difference whatsoever to the current balance of power, you were perfectly at liberty to donate your own money or time and organize like-minded progressives for the cause. (To its credit, the Daily Kos did exactly that.) With the Internet and social media, it has never been easier for an individual or small number of individuals to do big things. Yet you keep waiting for somebody else to do it and complaining if they don’t.
If you don’t like the DNC’s decision-making process, then get involved in the party and help elect DNC members who are more to your liking. And if you don’t like the results of the last presidential election any more than I do, make sure you vote in every election and convince as many like-minded people as possible to do the same. But please, stop with the whining and the pleading. It doesn’t help, and it makes persuadable independents think we’re weaklings.
Nobody wants to be associated with people who look weak, and that’s exactly how we look if we continue to plead from a position of powerlessness. The left in particular cloaks itself in the affectations of powerless victimhood and impotent grievances (although, as noted earlier, conservatives in recent years have given us a run for our money in this regard).
It is time to adopt a more active stance and get away from the litany of passive complaints. Stop whining and start organizing. Would you rather be the loud minority—or the silent majority?
Cliston Brown is a communications executive and political analyst in the San Francisco Bay Area who previously served as director of communications to a longtime Democratic Representative in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter (@ClistonBrown) and visit his website at ClistonBrown.com.