Liberals: The Veruca Salts of US Politics

By Paul Thomas Zenki

Give it to me, I want it now! …

It absolutely breaks my heart to watch American liberals committing suicide like they’re doing. Especially when you consider it’s the GOP, currently in the process of going full-bore goose-stepping fascist, who’s going to be dancing on their graves. And chucking democracy into the hole right after them.

One thing about American conservatives, they’re loyal. Couldn’t care less if you’re a liar, con artist, pedophile, thief, tax cheat, traitor, certifiable idiot, openly insane, or all of the above  —  if you’re on their side they will stick by you like dog mess in a boot tread.

But liberals? Hoo boy. Soon as they elect a person, the chair isn’t even warm before they unsheathe the knives and get busy carving the poor soul to pieces.

Nothing is ever good enough for American liberals these days. They want it all and by God they want it now, if not sooner. Anything less and they’ll turn on you like a honey badger with a scrotal rash.

There’s not a day goes by, it seems, that I don’t read something by an American liberal trashing the Democrats for failing to deliver exactly whatever it is they want, and threatening to stop voting for them. Well hell, if you’re not getting what you want now, do you really think handing elections to the Republicans is going to get it to you any faster? Because make no mistake, without liberals coming out in force to support some viable party that at least gives them some of what they want, the conservative minority is going to be back in power and before you can wipe your glasses they’ll be pulling up the drawbridge behind them.

Just look at what they’re doing as we speak:

  • Passing voter restriction laws all across the country;
  • Gerrymandering Democratic districts back to the Stone Age;
  • Putting “Big Lie” Trumpists, including January 6th insurrectionists, into local and state offices in control of elections, from county boards to secretaries of state;
  • Scheming to throw a wrench into the electoral process if they don’t win in 2024 and pass the whole thing over to the House, selecting the president on a one-vote-per-state basis.

These are people who no longer believe in democracy, have no further use for it, and are ready to kick it to the curb. Sure, their heads are filled with all sorts of wrong notions about history, governance, and law, but they’ve grasped the fact that laws don’t enforce themselves and all that really matters is what you can get away with, what the other side can’t stop you from doing.

Meanwhile, their leadership is both profoundly corrupt and thoroughly incompetent. God help us if the party that refused to convict Trump twice and who are actively sweeping an attempted coup under the rug (while methodically laying the groundwork for a successful one) manages to get hold of Congress and the White House.

And I hate to break this to all y’all, but right now the Democratic Party is the only party in the US with any chance whatsoever of keeping the GOP from gaining complete control of the machinery of governance.

Don’t like it? Neither do I. But hey, I also don’t like my ears constantly ringing or my spine slowly dissolving (thanks, Dad!) but I can’t opt out of that, either. What I can do is face facts, play the hand I’ve got, and deal with it, not pretend I can somehow take my ball and go home.

Look, I get it, the situation stinks right now. Climate change is bearing down on us like a freight train. Wealth disparity is grinding regular people into the gravel while billionaires buy tickets to space. White supremacists have crawled back out of the woodwork and are flying their banners like it was 1939. A tiny group of multinational corporations are increasingly controlling what the majority of people can see, read, hear, and buy. And agents of chaos are getting fat by keeping our lives as insecure and fearful as possible.

But at least there are people on the Democratic side who want to do something about all that. The Republicans, on the other hand, are doing everything they can to oust anyone who so much as admits any of that stuff is going on, and they’ve damn near succeeded.

I am represented by two Democrats, Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff, who aren’t perfect but they’re decent people who are honestly trying to improve others’ lives. On the Republican side? Well, I’ve got Jody Hice, a man who actively supported Don Trump’s effort to steal the last presidential election and who, despite having served on committee with VP Harris for years, pretended not to know how to pronounce “Kamala” so his audience could guffaw at “those people” with their funny-ass names.

And that, my friends, is par for the course. Let’s not pretend it ain’t.

I want just as much change, just as fast, as any other liberal out there. But like my father used to say, wish in one hand, $#!+ in the other, see which one fills up first.

Nobody likes to feel like they’re not in control, like they’re being handed a choice between bad and worse, take it or go to hell. But we all do find ourselves in that situation at times. I’ve voted third party before, voted independent and Republican before, I’m even a member of a third party, but this is 2022. And it does no good to make believe I’ve got options I don’t actually have. In the real world, my choice is between one of two parties. One is having a hard time getting the right thing done. The other is cheering a treasonous grifter and playing footsie with neo-Nazis.

Look, if you want the Democrats to do more for you, don’t opt out, and for heaven’s sake don’t vote against them, work to give them a bigger majority and more progressive membership. You’re not punishing them or “sending a message” by withdrawing your support. Not the way things stand right now, anyway. All you’re doing is sealing your own fate while the people who openly say they want to “own” you are laughing at you for helping them do it.

Now before anybody accuses me of hypocrisy for criticizing liberals for criticizing liberals, let me get one thing straight. I’m not saying liberals shouldn’t disagree, debate, even argue. What I am saying is that it’s political suicide to carry water for those who are champing at the bit to disempower you, permanently, by publicly trashing the party that’s your only real-world hope of getting what you want, simply because you feel like they’re not delivering the goods fast enough.

Let’s have debate about policy. Let’s push the Democrats to be as progressive as the electorate will allow. But let’s do it without trashing the party that’s standing between us and catastrophe, without fueling the narrative that Biden is “failing and flailing” (which he isn’t), without encouraging liberal voters to give up and stay home, so that we can actually increase Democratic majorities and take veto power away from the likes of Sinema and Manchin. God forbid we should elect the kinds of criminals and fools being voted in by the right, but once we have someone in office who’s at least trying, let’s stand firmly behind them instead of tearing them down because they’re not our personal Santa Claus. If they don’t measure up, we can pick someone else in the next election.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go cry in my beer while American liberalism tap dances its way to the incinerator chute.

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Header image by Lee Murry

Paul Thomas Zenki is an essayist, ghostwriter, copywriter, marketer, songwriter, and consultant living in Athens, GA.