They Won’t Listen Unless You Vote

An adviser to Rahm Emmanuel demonstrates his disdain for the Democratic base:

Unless they get the crazy lefty money machine going nationally, it’s not going to matter that there’s a resurgent left,” said an adviser to Mr. Emanuel who did not want to speak publicly about strategy. “The liberals at Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park can think great thoughts and read poetry for Chuy, but nothing else will happen.”

This is why liberals who refuse to participate in politics and vote consistently are one of the biggest impediments to creating change. The angry conservative base doesn’t just have good funding from billionaires. That helps, but only to amplify their message. The angry conservative base votes. Conservative politicians know that they can count on their base to turn out to the polls and elect their people. That’s how the Eric Cantors of the world fall.

Too many progressives, on the other hand, see an imperfect Democratic Party and decide that politics is for the birds–as if there were some other alternative that will fix the system. There isn’t. Major changes won’t take place until and unless enough politicians fear the retribution of progressive voters at the ballot box.

So Rahm’s arrogantly smug adviser is right. It won’t matter, not because there aren’t enough progressives, but because not enough of them vote–and far fewer still engage in the tough work of dragging likeminded others out to the polls as well.

There’s no substitute for it. Not angry posts on social media, or marches in the street. It’s the votes that really count.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.