For a strategic betrayal of stated principles to be effective, there have to be some actual principles in the first place. One cannot make “pragmatic compromises” from the dithering, ‘go along to get along’ center. The betrayal (or compromise, if that’s less galling) requires something more than a heartfelt avowal, a heaved sigh of despair and the moral vanity of a crackpot capitulation. The world is littered with passively abjured asseverations, lapsed manifestos and broken commitments! They rustle around in the breezes created by the despairing sighs and dart vengefully past the bloated heads of self-styled realists. There’s no way to collateralize them into real principles.
The simplest, and often the easiest, way to uphold a principle is to refuse to obey orders, e.g. if your political leadership supports torture, war and immiseration, if it refuses to seriously address global warming, and you object to those things, stop heeding the calls to support that leadership. Outrage, demands, a determination to ask questions and so forth just don’t cut it.
What we need is a concerted campaign to demand of our Democratic “leaders” an answer to the question: “What is the real reason you are so cowardly and unwilling to hold this administration to account and stop the bleeding?” What is the real reason that “impeachment is off the table”? What is the real reason why you keep passing bills that make America into a dictatorship, continue the disastrous occupation of Iraq, and piss off the whole country?
Lesser evilism, buying time and triangulations have reached their natural conclusion: enthusiastically cooperative evil. That’s the “real reason”. The moral Ponzi Schemes have collapsed. The people doing those things think they’re being reasonable and realistic. They’re annoyed by the idiot liberal complaints they receive. A million concerted question campaigns aren’t going to change that. It’s time to start saying no.
The authoritarian right made the salacious Meese Commission Report into a bestseller. Oh, the howls of outrage! followed by stealthy trips to the red light districts, lasting prurient interest and dozens of niche markets for soft core leavened with sanctimony. The report at least had the pathetic rationale of providing libidinous release for the dangerously repressed. These occasional, Progressive, forays into toothless demands for accountability are an echo of the reactionaries’ outrage, fully in tune with their very creepy consumer sensibility — and orders of magnitude more harmful.