Who's Driving and Why are We in North Dakota?
Retrospective/History of #ForceTheVote (FTV)
#ForceTheVote (FTV) was yet another round of debate on leftist Twitter that there was no escaping from. And yet outside of this bubble on Twitter, and a couple notable YouTube channels, it was barely a blip. Enough that I feel a history of it is necessary to include in the event this ends up in front of someone not on leftist Twitter.
FTV was, is, the latest incarnation of the ongoing struggle within the Democratic Party between the Progressive Faction, as currently represented by Bernie Sanders, and the Moderate Left faction, represented by Pelosi. But really you could run a line back from this particular skirmish back to the endless debates on whether or not Progressives would vote for Biden, or vote Green, or abstain. One could keep going back to Hillary versus Bernie, or arguments about how disappointed to be in Obama, or Bill Clinton. Probably various forms of the rift have shown up going back to Carter. It is about whether or not the Democratic party should embrace globalism and neoliberalism, or should it stick closer to the working class it was representative of in FDR’s time. Or perhaps that is what it is about for some, or used to be about, and now it is more a question of whether or not Progressives have a place in the Democratic Party at all. Which is what I’ll delve into in the 2nd half of this via a road trip analogy but first let’s catch up the more casual reader into the history of ForceTheVote.
The more cantankerous, or hostile segment of Progressives lead by a YouTuber, Jimmy Dore, called on the Progressive faction of the House, as represented by Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez, or the Justice Democrats, to use their respective numbers as leverage to force to the floor of the House a vote on Medicare for All (M4A). Such a move is as basic as it gets in politics. Refuse to vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker unless a floor vote is guaranteed. The idea was that having a floor vote on Single-payer during the Pandemic would be an opportunity to take note of who is ready to vote yes, versus who may only be there on paper, and perhaps, with the pressure of a pandemic, maybe even get it to pass the House.
The latter scenario was unlikely but if there was a groundswell of support with every congressional office buzzing with pressure, and a couple seats started flipping, next thing you know lukewarm politicians could have felt they needed to sign on or face issues come reelection. Single-payer was Bernie’s signature platform and holds sway over the younger half of the Democratic electorate. M4A has gone from barely being mentioned on mainstream media outlets in 2016 to being the starting position of many of the 2020 Presidential Candidates. It has become popular enough with the general public that Fox News is now starting to fear monger about it while conceding that even 49% of their own viewers are for Healthcare reform. It is amongst this surge with the public, during a Pandemic in which many have lost their coverage, that Dore pushed to have a vote for people to rally around.
Sam Seder, a notable YouTuber and political analyst for the show the Majority Report, usually hostile towards Jimmy Dore originally conceded that the political tactic of withholding a vote for Pelosi was a valid one. He added caveats that he thought perhaps it should be used on another issue, but as far as exercising the strength of the Progressive members, it was a worthwhile concept. Seder and Dore agreeing on something was as good as gospel for me personally. I was very much at that moment for FTV. It looked to be a chance for AOC to emerge a successor to Bernie Sanders, to re-galvanize his movement, and to press for M4A. At the very least it would take a now popular policy position and keep it in the conversation, whereas President Biden and Democratic leadership were content to move on to other issues.
Justin Jackson, an NFL Running Back for the Los Angeles Chargers, and incidentally a fan of the Jimmy Dore show acted as a Proxy and asked on Twitter if AOC would #ForceTheVote. AOC rebuffed the concept noting that the bill likely wouldn’t pass the house, and certainly not the senate. That there was a Bill in 2019 with a list of Sponsors and Co-sponsors that could be referenced as well as other Progressive initiatives in play such as the $15 minimum wage. Other analysts such as Ryan Grim, chimed in that there were important behind-the-scenes maneuvers to gain key committee chairs and adjustments to a policy called pay-go.
Jackson noted the $15 Minimum wage was already through the house along, etc.
If @AOC and the squad don’t do what @jimmy_dore has suggested and withhold their vote for Pelosi for speakership unless Med 4 All gets brought to the floor for a vote... they will be revealing themselves. Power concedes nothing without a demand.
— Justin Jackson (@J_ManPrime21) December 12, 2020
The rhetoric escalated as Jimmy Dore turned into a flamethrower. He took the tactical disagreement as a form of being blown off (which maybe he was, keep in mind AOC did not engage with him directly) and projected malice onto AOC and those chiming in. That this was perhaps the beginning of AOC selling out to the same powers-to-be that hold sway over the Democratic Party. That despite not taking corporate donor money, in playing the game of politics to make gains within the ranks of the Democrats, AOC was selling out her voters. The language and tone in some snippets of Dore’s show are scathing. (AOC would even call it a form of violence -sighs) None the less I'm not one for presuming the motivation of your opponent when you can’t know it for sure and the anger escalated too quickly. Then again, I'm not someone with medical issues who have been placated for decades. Perhaps this flamethrowing is justified and even needed, but unfortunately because of this Dore became radioactive to many, and that helped seal the fate of FTV
Given how heated this FTV fallout was, I originally hoped to dial down the temperature. To take a dry dispassionate look at the basic mechanics of Political Parties and their respective roles in society. People want to dismiss Dore, and his rhetoric as an irrational, frustration-fueled tantrum that is only counterproductive to his end goal of pushing forward Single-payer. But this isn’t true. Dore’s anger, this hostility of a faction of the Progressive left, is counterproductive to transforming and winning over the Democratic party, but it's absolutely necessary to launch a 3rd Party to the left of the Democrats. And there's the rub, therein lies the conflict. There are two distinctly different destinations of how Single-payer passes:
Progressives transform the Democratic Party into what it once was, a party that puts the working class first. (Seder, TYT, Grim, & Co.)
A Viable 3rd Party Emerges, or is threatening enough to emerge the Democratic party is forced to co-opt it by turning back into the part it once was that put the working class first. (Dore, Kulinski, Joy, West)
What is a Political Party?
A political party is an organized group of people or bodies who seek to capture political power through an election in order to run the affairs of a country. But I rather think about it as the classic American Cross Country Road Trip.
Let’s think of the Democratic Party as a group of people who realized they had the same destination and decided to pile into a car to split costs on the gas. (Dorky environmentalists and their carpooling) It is an arrangement people make all the time and most of the time it works. But complications can arise. Disagreements will happen. One thing we know for sure, from movies, is there will certainly be an amusing disagreement about the radio. Perhaps not everybody will be happy with where they are sitting. Eventually, someone in the backseat will break wind. (sorry but once you start on the formula you are not allowed to diverge (safety)).
All these are petty obstacles inevitably to be overcome as our characters grow as individuals, become friends, and actually feel sad when they successfully arrive at their final destination as now it’s time to part ways. But that is only the ending when the trip succeeds. What happens when it doesn’t. When the final destination isn’t reached? Well, we know from the classic National Lampoons Vacation that when the final destination doesn’t live up to expectation some men may go haywire and turn into a manic criminal, which is still funny because his general incompetence disarms any sense of real threat. Underscoring it correctly helps as well. It’s not funny if the mental breakdown leads to real harm. But the empathy towards the protagonist remains, the frustration and anger of not being where you set out to go despite giving it more effort than you ever intended to.
One could say the years after Obama’s election were like what happens after the closing credits on the dramatic version of this story. But for our purposes, we’re not there yet. We’re in North Dakota. The problem is we were on our way to San Diego. For the Progressive character in our story, Jimmy Dore, getting to San Deigo is important because he has a broken back and is slated to see a specialist there to get treated for it. Unfortunately, he’s not driving, bad back and all. Unfortunately, he is the only one noticing we’re in North Dakota while the rest of the characters are fast becoming friends.
While our rightfully concerned passenger is confronting the driver and navigator about the fact it looks like we’re going the wrong way, everybody else is looking at him like he’s still upset about the radio, or over the minor scenic detour versus the freeway. See they are under the impression that there still going to end up in San Diego. They aren’t. They also think the guy driving is in charge...he’s not.
You see what happened is, as we were heading out, the driver’s preppy cousin decided to come along as well. It turns out the driver didn’t have enough money for the trip, so his cousin is going to float him the money. Thing is, while he’s heading West like us, his final destination is actually Seattle, notably not San Diego. Little known fact, San Diego was “discovered by the Germans in 1904, who named it San Diego, which of course in German means a whale’s vagina” per Ron Burgundy.
So here we are at a gas station in North Dakota and we’re having this conversation out loud. To those more worried about the damned radio we’re getting awful testy. I mean the weather is finally clearing up, we’re stretching our legs. Shoot, we may be able to take the top down once this last little bit of drizzle passes. But to Dore, broken back and all, realizing we’re in North Dakota instead of Texas this isn’t a laughing matter. He’s realizing he may need to hitchhike and the sooner he does so the better he may be for it Even if it means he’s not driving west for a couple of hours, even if it means risking getting into a car with a serial killer (Here’s looking at you Boogaloo). It may be his only option...and it doesn’t help that this Seattle destined cousin is a huge, huge, huge tool.
As crazy as it may be to get out of a west-bound car it is the most rational action the San Diego-bound traveler can take. Clearly, ideally, he’d have his own car (3rd party), but he doesn’t, there is no way to get one at the moment either.
And that is where we are. With Progressives standing on the side of the road with their thumb out being mocked for it by people who don’t know they’re on their way to Seattle. Except for the pair of rich cousins in the front seats, driving and riding shotgun.
Don’t worry too much about Jimmy he’s reveling in last laughs. But do worry about any and every Progressive initiative.
Finally, I have a Virtual Voting feature to let you submit your own position on Single-payer. It only takes a few minutes to fill out. You can include your location information or opt not to.