A rare moment of clarity on the left

I caught the tail-end of a conversation on Twitter yesterday about the presidential primaries in the US, and the mathematical impossibility of Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic nomination.

The case was being made (by New Zealanders, though I’m sure the same conversation was happening bigger and louder in the States) that given Bernie “cannot” win at this point, he should withdraw and instruct his supporters to back Clinton.

I don’t think it’s coincidence that the people saying this were Clinton supporters. And I doubt they’d be saying the same of her if the situation were reversed. And it’s possible this wouldn’t bug me as much if I weren’t a fan of Sanders myself.

But it does bug me. Not because I dislike Clinton and not (only) because I support Sanders: because it speaks to a ridiculous, undemocratic sense of entitlement from some people of the left which I’ve seen far too often.

I get where it comes from. We all fervently believe we’re on the side of good, we all have a firm conviction that if we ran the world things would be rainbows and sunshine every day. And god it’s frustrating to see things go bad because the other team are in power instead. It feels like if there were any justice in the world, our team would always win every election in a landslide.

But to be a real democrat, to believe that democracy is the best way to choose who leads our government, requires a degree of humility. Knowing that you have to put the work in. You have to convince others of the merits of your case. You don’t make the decision: they do. Sometimes it’s not the one you want.

It’s not just about the principle. When politicians start thinking they deserve votes – from women, or union members, or people of colour, or young people – when they take that support for granted, everyone suffers. When a progressive party starts to assume, e.g. “we’ve always been good for women”, and stops actually being good for women, women aren’t obliged to keep voting for a party that’s harming them. And they may find it insulting to be told, “don’t you understand we’re your only option, because back in the day we did good things for you?”

To be a real progressive is to understand progress requires momentum. We can’t rest on our laurels and expect people to ignore present-day oppression and focus on historic victories, unless we are actively building on those victories.

We are not entitled to anyone’s vote. And if we aren’t giving people a reason to vote for us, it’s not their fault. It’s ours. This applies as much to Hillary having to go into a contested convention as it does to the UK Labour Party’s routing in Scotland or the continued “missing million” thorn in the side of the New Zealand left or any number of other examples.

The left continue to blunder along assuming the voters are being fooled into supporting National, and once the truth comes out they will all see the error of their ways and rush back into the loving arms of Labour.


– Stephanie Rogers


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  • phronesis

    The lefts natural inclination is always to go for the moral high ground, whether it be over some opposing faction on their own side or over the Right. Those on the right are far more accepting of a market of ideas where people aren’t judged for having different preferences. In short, the left hate democracy.

    • STAG

      I disagree “The lefts natural inclination is always to go for the moral high ground,”

      The Lefts natural inclination is always to go after your money.

      We’re evil for having any, dangerously aspirational, cant be trusted to spend it appropriately and it should be confiscated for the moral good of the country.

      • phronesis

        Sure they go for the money but that doesn’t work when your trying to one up your fellow lefties. They want all your money too. That’s why the first instinct is always to go for the moral high ground and thus denounce everyone else as morally inferior.

  • Crowgirl

    This is the left’s biggest problem – they don’t give the voters enough credit for thinking for themselves, knowing what’s best for them and NOT being dissuaded from that course by media commentary and hyperbole from the other parties.

    At what point do people on the left think to themselves “everyone keeps voting for the other guy no matter what we do; maybe the other guy is not as bad as we think and we’re totally missing something here that everyone else is seeing”. At what point do they do that? With the left in NZ it seems the answer is “never”.

  • George Carter

    I occasionally venture to a rather left leaning site just to see what they’re ranting about. The one thing that remains constant is the disdain for the voting public just because the majority think differently to these leftists. Terms like sheeple are regularly used implying the voting public are idiots. To think they may convince me to change my vote by referring to me as an idiot takes an extraordinary amount of arrogance and in reality is guaranteed to have the opposite effect!

    • Left Right Out

      My all time fav leftist comment is…… “I don’t know anyone who voted for him….. how did he get in, it must be rigged”

      and to top it off, they believe what they write…. I guess it’s partly true… they don’t know anyone!

      • OneTrack

        They know everyone – at the Labour party branch meeting.

  • biscuit barrel

    And the ‘deal’ whereby nationals voters did what was required and voted for Seymour, what would you call that ?, could that be this ” instruct his supporters to back XXXX”

    And this from a public meeting:
    “You say people are free to vote for you in the electorate?”
    “Course,” Mr Goldsmith replied.
    “But you would rather that they didn’t?”
    “Well, yeah.”

    And from this talk about a poll
    “But asked to keep in mind the National-Act deal in Epsom, in which Mr Key has encouraged National voters to give their electorate tick to Mr Seymour, the Act candidate jumped to the lead at 45 per cent.”

    Its this an own goal ?

    • Crowgirl

      Encouraging is not the same as instructing. The writer is making the point that there is a sort of entitlement that Sanders supporters should automatically revert to Clinton as if they don’t or shouldn’t have a choice in the matter.

      National does a deal with Act where it is implied but not explicitly stated. What do you think all that “cup of tea” brouhaha is about? If they wanted to be direct, they could be more explicit than that.

    • Effluent

      You ignore the simple fact that for an Epsom voter, voting for David Seymour with the constituency vote, and National with the party vote is perfectly rational, if he does not wish to see a government made up of left wing factionalists. The National party go along with this because it suits them too.

      You might not like the smell of it, and nor do I, but voters are generally not stupid people, and will cast their vote where it has the greatest effect.

  • OneTrack

    We have seen where unlimited progressivism takes us to in Sweden which used to serve as the gold-standard of leftism. For some reason, the lefties have not mentioned it for some time.

    Swedistan will serve as an emergency wreck navigation mark to future generations. Whether they take the learnings on-board remains to be seen.

  • Keanne Lawrence

    Cue the FBI. When will Clinton get to the day of reckoning? Are the yanks really that dumb to put her in the Whitehouse?
    Today CNN featured some female convinced that Clinton needs to chase the female vote which caused the question “how did old Bill find her womanly ways?”

    • Toby

      I sense a bit of a setup here.
      Its gone quiet because the right want Hilliary to be nominated so they can take her down easily in the real race.

      There is a very good chance that Trump could get in this way, which personally I do find a little bit scary. Not that Cruz is any better.