The Forest and the Trees: How Extreme Ideologues Destroy the Left’s Unity

In a conflict between two opposing forces, it is crucial that each side shares a common goal and commitment that requires putting aside individual aspirations in favor of teamwork to achieve victory. Political contests are no different, and regardless what one thinks of Republicans, they rally around a cause with resolve that transcends disparate ideology and their success is irrefutable despite the rank and file supporting policies harmful to their own self-interests and individual ambitions . In their drive toward government by corporation, Republicans have marshaled racists, evangelical Christians, Catholics, Libertarians, pseudo-patriots, and conspiracy theorists to their cause with the common goal of defeating the policies of Democrats and President Obama. However, their greatest ally is not unrestricted corporate money or radical teabaggers intent on returning America to revolutionary sensibilities of defending liberty, but the recalcitrant left who are disorganized around disparate ideologies and fantasies that are immutable and unfortunately, giving conservatives the upper hand in their attempt to transform America into a nation ruled by religion and corporate fascism.


The 2008 general election was proof that when the left coalesces around a common goal, they are nearly unstoppable, and gaining control of both houses of Congress and the White House should have emboldened them to maintain the unity needed to save America from catastrophic conservative policies. However, the 2010 midterm elections revealed a persistent and dangerous disease eating away at the left and it is their tendency to splinter apart around idealistic and, frankly, unrealistic issues that are not only divisive, but play into the Republicans’ tactic of divide and conquer. The problem is not solely adherence to pie-in-the-sky dreams of a Utopian liberal society governed by progressive ideology, but many on the left’s misunderstanding of the American people and limitations of Presidential power.


When the right swept into power after the 2010 midterms, the stunning reversal toward extremism was aided by ideologues and left-leaning pundits who convinced Democrats that sitting out the election was fitting to show their discontent with President Obama for not acquiescing to their every whim and dream of unicorns and lollypops instead of pragmatism needed to govern a right-leaning centrist nation. Indeed, President Obama ran as a socially conscious Centrist and his appeal was working for the entire population and not just progressives or socialist-leaning Democrats. Still, despite fulfilling his campaign promises within the confines of the United States Constitution as head of the Executive Branch of government, different groups on the left followed the advice of media figures like Ed Schultz who advised Democrats to sit out the election to protest the President’s failure to rule by Liberal edict.


If it wasn’t media pundits protesting the President and Democrat’s failure to fulfill their dreams of a public option for healthcare, immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, and indefinite detention of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, it was a cadre of bloggers from the far-left who assailed the President for imagined sleights against all manner of EmoProg’s heroic figures. Firebaggers, EmoProgs, and their Brazilian champion assailed the President for torturing the troubled young man who stole and turned over sensitive defense department information to foreign entities, or the gay soldier who railed against Obama for not ending the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell legislation by executive decree. Apparently, those EmoProgs lack knowledge of the legislative process and executive power that they learned in high school, but that is the problem with ideologues; like Republicans and teabaggers, their conceptual understanding of the legislative process is driven by the fantasies in their make-believe, unrealistic world view of a Liberal dictator, and not a Centrist President and Constitutional expert.


The Republican assault on voting rights, unions, public employees, and government, although the purview of Republicans and corporate fascists, would not be on pace to transform America into a theocratic corporatocracy without the valuable assistance from the fragmented left. Indeed, Scott Walker survived a recall election in part because Democratic ideologues did not support the recall because it was over policy even though his policies assaulted public employees, unions, and collective bargaining. The recall was further stymied by young Democratic-leaning voters who just failed to show up at the ballot box out of disinterest and their inaction contributed to Walker’s victory. Democrats seriously need to take a lesson from Republicans and mobilize their voters around a specific agenda or this country, as it survived over 230 years, is finished. Last week, a forward thinking pragmatist and staunch defender of America related, for the first time, that it is questionable if America can be saved from the conservative rampage toward corporate fascism and theocracy. It was a stunning admission  that sent this author into a deep funk that unless the left abandons its fragmentation and ideological pet issues, America is doomed to repeat the 2010 midterm debacle that will give extremist patriots, racists, religious fanatics, and corporate fascists victory in November and be the end of America as we know it.


The left needs to coalesce around one goal; defeating Republicans in November at all costs. There is already talk of various groups of ideologues on the left sitting out the election to teach Democrats a lesson that they failed to do obeisance to the whims and fantasy agenda of every progressive sycophant, as if a Republican controlled House, Senate, and White House is an attractive alternative. This election, especially for the presidency, will dictate the makeup of the Supreme Court for a generation, and if decisions on cases such as Citizens United are not frightening enough, imagine a 6-3  conservative court mandating prayer in schools, bans on contraception and homosexuality, and allegiance to Christianity as a requirement to cast a vote. And yet, there are the EmoProgs and unicorn set, assailing President Obama’s supporters as “Obamabots” and criticizing them for supporting the only hope to preserve America’s fragile democratic process and maintain government by the people and not corporate fascism and religious extremism.


Any kind of ideologue is dangerous, and those on the left who lack rudimentary understanding of the legislative process or presidential power are as hazardous to America as teabaggers, religious extremists, or the Koch brothers. Sitting out an election to protest a Centrist President who failed to provide multi-colored unicorns and everlasting lollypops for free is about as ignorant as voting to ban contraception or instituting mandatory membership in the KKK, or the Mormon Church. It sounds extreme, but not as extreme as sitting out an election to teach the President and Democrats a lesson, because losing an election, although painful for Democrats, will provide Republicans the means to transform America into a theocracy wholly funded and controlled by corporate fascists. The effects  on the people and democracy will be devastating and ideologues on the left will have played an important role in destroying America.

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22 Replies to “The Forest and the Trees: How Extreme Ideologues Destroy the Left’s Unity”

  1. This would be a better argument if indeed this were true: "…despite fulfilling his campaign promises within the confines of the United States Constitution as head of the Executive Branch of government…." The sad fact is that it isn't. What Mr. Obama has in fact done is not only to maintain the illegal, unconstitutional growth of Executive power; he has increased it to an even more dangerous degree. George W. Bush "only" illegally and unconstitutionally claimed the power to arrest, torture, and detain Americans indefinitely–people whom he deemed to be some sort of "threat." Mr. Obama has added to that his assumed "right" to kill them.
    The question, then, is if it is to be accepted that the Executive Branch of the Federal Government is to be sustained as it continues to morph into a full-blown dictatorship no matter which party wins the White House, does it really matter which one does?

  2. Sorry, but I think that your attitude is a perfect example of what the article talks about.  I think the Prez went through a lot of growing pains and learned some tough lessons…and yeah, he made some decisions that a lot of us were'nt happy with.  However, I believe he is much the wiser for it, and will navigate the political landscape far better  in a second term.  He now knows that today's republican party are a bunch of uncompromising  extemists that are unwilling to work with anybody.  Legacy is very important to this guy….he's already making some moves that are forshadowing what his second and last term are going to be like. 

  3. Sadly, you are incorrect. President Obama signed an executive order to close Gitmo, but congress refused to fund it. Their refusal to fund it was renewed this year and it was contained in the NDAA. The President's signing statement addressed that issue and his objections to it, in addtion to his interpretation of it not applying to US citizens.  However, he would be guilty of the sin you charge him with (expansion of executive office) if he overrode congress and their constitutional duty re budgets.
    Furthermore, the Preisdent does not have line item veto power. It's all, nothing, or signing statement to indicate how he will interpret the legisislation.
    The President does not make law. That is the job of Congress. The President uses the power of his office and political power (only given to him via approval by the people – see irony) to persuade Congress to fund his EO and go along with his agenda.
    If you object to Gitmo, NDAA, etc, (and who in their right mind doesn't), target those responsible. They can be found in the Senate Armed Services Committee, and futhermore in members of both parties in Congress who refused to fund the transfer of prisoners and refused to allow the prisoners to their districts.

  4. Mr. Schiele is simply one of those it’s-all-bullshit-anyway spoiled brats who doesn’t care if our next election is our last…which it may well be, if Republicans sweep.

  5. Thanks, Rmuse, for your thoughtful post.  As a pragmatic person and voter, I have always felt the same way that you do about the looney left and could not have said it any better than you did!
    If no one thinks the looney left can do no harm, just look at the consequences of their voting for Ralph Nader in the election of 2000.  It was the main reason that the Neo-cons were able to put Dubya in office.  Just look at how the Cons forced us into an unnecessary, expensive war in Iraq; how they also allowed Wall Street to gamble with our economy; how they gave oil companies free reign; and how they have stacked SCOTUS with partisan Republican "justices" who are puppets for the corporations (think Koch).
    The looney left helped all this to happen by hanging their votes on a pipedream — or by sitting home, immaturely pouting, and refusing to vote.

  6. As mcuh as you want to whine about the left you do not like. the problems you cite are of the President's making. The American Taliban, aka the Republican party has no problem making an argument, usually on national security grounds, to rule by executive order. For example the President refused to make the argument that clsoing GITMO was a national security matter which as commander in chief is his to make and be carried out. He could have moved the prisioners to Leavenworth.
    The other thing you fail to realize is that the Dummycrat party, aka the Democratics have no internal discipline as a party period. Most of the legislators sit secure in their sinecures w/ no thought of endangering them. so if the wind blows they bow out. Nor as Wisconsin shows is the Party willing to risk money to make a stand.
    The last thing is that the triangualtion policy of the Clintons, i.e. the Dummycrats rely on  money from the financial sector as opposed to organize to keep unions strong, provide legisaltion that prevents the tax code from subsidizing the movements of jobs from the US to elsewhere for a start, means they have moved from being Democrats to Yankee Republicans, as opposed to cowboy Republicans,  such as Chuck Percy, Edward Brooke and Lincoln Chaffee. As such the Dummycrats have abandoned the lower and middle classes for a grab at the urban, highly  educated gentrifying clowns who make up the monied base of the party whom you describe as emo progs. The so called emo progs believe in liberalism and legisaltion and correctly see the fialure of the Obama adminstration to enforce its will through executive orders in the social arena that he has no problem w/ writing on national security issues which take away civil rights.
    Now my argument has come full cirlce describing the greiviously self inflicted wounds of the Obama administrtion and the Dummycrats so if you expect people to vote their self interest it would help if the people they were voting for would d their job.

  7. Republicans / conservatives make up history, because actual history deviates from their narrative.  Democrats / liberals on the other hand blithely disregard actual history, and act accordingly. 
    An example: the "betrayed" liberals' bemoaning President Obama's failure to act more like FDR and take this country to the hard left.  First, FDR didn't go to the hard left.  Second, he had the advantage of having many if not most of the liberals in Congress being Republicans (old Progressives / Bull Moosers).  Bipartisanship!  Third, FDR was a centrist, just like Obama.  His left flank constantly accused him placating his enemies and infuriating his friends.  (Ditto Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson)  Why?  Because they had to personally and politically transition to the left, as did the country.  The New Deal of blessed memory was a progrssion of social and political advances that occurred between 1933 and 1980.  The left forgets how much subsequent Democratic administrations contributed to those advances, and how frankly how much Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford contributed as well, beyond not dismantling what the Democrats had done.  It was all a process playing out over many years.
    TR, Wilson, FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ, Carter, Clinton, and Obama were all compromisers; they had to be to get things done.  There is a reason why no pure leftists have ever been elected president, while quite a few corprocrats / rightists (Taft, Harding, Coolidge, Reagan, Bush 2) have.  Fascists keep their eyes on the prize, march in lockstep, and can at least get things done; anarchists just blow things up.
    It's not that hard to figure out.  Without Democratic majorities, bad things will happen.  So grow up, left.  It's a process, a transition.  Get off your lazy, cynical, doctrinaire hind ends, work hard for your liberal candidates, but really work to get your Democrats elected.       

  8. I don't know, Shiva.  I'm a lefty, and over the past few years, MSNBC, liberal radio talkers, Huffington Post, etc. have too often been all betrayal, all the time.  Of course, there is always the question of how accurately those media outlets reflect the larger body of Democrats.  But to the extent that the whining and negativity dampens down the enthusiasm of the folks on our side of the argument, I can't see how that helps. 

  9. I am not sure why people think the Huffington Post has gone to the right wing nut jobs. The comment section are still vastly liberal and I think no matter how much they are perceived as going to the right wing it does not work for them. I think there is a difference between what little left-wing media there is and the right wing media. I think the left-wing media will say what it’s thinking in the right wing media will say what they need to say to keep whatever fallacy they are talking about going. MSNBC I have come to figure out is conservative in the morning and liberal in the afternoon. Which is okay with me. I have heard people like Chris Matthews say things that I didn’t agree with but for the most part I think many of these people are still on our side. I equate most liberal media to what Jeb Bush did the other day. He’s willing to slam his own party and I appreciate that

  10. As well as being a sterling example of the 'it's all about me' thinking that cripples progressive growth in America.

  11. Thank you my sister for clarifying to Mr. Schiele the limits of the Executive branch and who actually makes and funds laws. I remember clearly, all those years ago, my high school government teacher lecturing the specific points you made. It is always a wonder to me how so many Americans have forgotten those simple lessons that every applicant for American citizenship is required to learn.

  12. Well, in Florida they haven't taught civics in a long time (from what I've heard/read).  Possibly they stopped teaching it about the time that the FCAT was pushed on the schools.
    Civics isn't one of the "three R's", so it's not as important.

  13. I for one would love evidence that the president has extended executive power.  In the early days the White House carried existing court cases once defended by Bush on all manner of executive power.  These were in play, and moving forward since they WERE the administration, they carried them to the federal district courts were all but one was shot down.  That decisively ENDED Executive Privilege on detention, torture, etc. Those same courts under Bush had slapped him down and restored habeus corpus and other detainee rights.  So – where is your evidence that these powers were extended?  Under existing treaties we had the right to take non-war actions in Libya to abet the democracy movement.  The assault on an American citizen working to kill people here is not at all different from tracking and killing an armed suspect who has committed murder – police may kill him to protect others, and that is without a trial so long as there is sufficient clarity that he is armed and dangerous to others.  Happened a few weeks ago right here in CA.
    As for NDAA I've written until I'm blue in the face that, as Kate Martin, THE expert on civil rights with respect to national security at the Center for National Security Studies, has herself written, NONE of the EmoProg hysteria about NDAA scrapping our rights is at all true.  Not one thing.  It started out as a perfectly horrific bill thanks to Lindsay Graham, but Dianne Feinstein and others made sure theat civil liberties remained intact, presidential power was curtailed, and that the GOP-driven desire to make the US a police state was stopped dead in its tracks. 
    So rather than employing the Clinton-era GOP meme of "well, it COULD be true" as they fantasized all manner of horrors from Clinton, please give us facts, tell us how you are better informed than Kate Martin, and how you are qualified to be a Constitutional expert seeing all the "legal irregularities" our president has supposedly overlooked or abused.  I have yet to get a single fact out of the Tea Party on "taking away our freedoms" or a single fact from EmoProgs on exactly the same thing.
    Until you can clarify the LAW you think is abused, please don't tell all of us we're idiots.  We read policy, court cases, etc.  The FACTS do not support your contention.

  14. “Hey, you socialists, stop wanting to elect those who actually hold to your ideology! Just think, a Republican can win!”

    Both mainstream Republicans and Democrats are capitalist. Further, that article plays upon fear, which seems to be the only argument anyone can have in electing a Democrat. Fear. You play upon the fears of the working class, keeping them from moving towards socialism.

  15. Socialism? yeah like the military.

    I think socialism is about the least of our fears.

    Your take is valid

  16. One of our biggest problems as Americans is our penchant for instant gratification, even when it comes to solving long-standing and seeminly intractable problems in our society. That’s one of the reasons for blaming the president for the fact that not more progress is made, along with turning a blind eye to the obstructionist Republicans in Congress. That’s why it makes absolutely NO sense to vote for a president like Barack Obama on one hand, but on the other vote for GOP governors like John Kasich, Scott Walker, Rick Snyder, or Rick Scott, or Congressmembers like John Boehner, Rick Cantor, or Michele Bachmann. Their destructive policies have a more immediate and direct impact on their citizens. Just the other day, a man from Silver Spring, Maryland, posted a letter in the Washington Post specifically referring to the published complaint in that paper on Sunday, June 10, that the president has not done enough to address the problems of racial and economic inequities. IMHO, the Silver Spring responder nailed it exactly when he not only cited the American trait of desire for instant gratification. He also said it is “childish and injurious” to the well-being of this country because no one person can unilaterally address the long-standing racial inequities or the irresponsible and reckless “leadership” of the 8 years of GW’s administration. He also mentioned the necessity of strategic voting, which would have ruled out voting in a president with one set of goals and a Congress with a reactionary party dominating one Congressional house and a dominant party in the other which doesn’t often have the 60 votes necessary to overrule the reactionaries in that house.
    In a nutshell, his statement amounted to a warning for Americans to “grow up.” That political silliness and immaturity among too many of us is what the likes of the Koch brothers and their ilk exploit to their advantage and to the disadvantage of those of us not among the 1%. I can only imagine how chaotic it would be if we ran our personal lives that way.

  17. I dare say that if you(we) vote the gop in, it will be the last election that the dems as victors see possibly for a very long time.

  18. Discouraged from Wisconsin. Let me just say, we have a bigger issue than the ideology. The only votes that will be counted in this election will be the right ones.

    When folks are still waiting in line to vote and the Dem concedes the election, there is something wrong with the election process.

    This is more disruptive to people who want to vote than any ideology talk.

    Money wins, my friend.

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