Even without the influence of corporate money, there’s something about running for office, becoming THE dominant person …[that] . . . leads many to opportunist compromises . . .
Maybe we should assume that opportunist compromises tend to come not by magic, but by the persuasion of the powerful. Ted Glick presents us with no examples of campaign promises broken apart from such influence. But, to be honest, it seems unfair to ask. How could he or anyone else outside of a brokered deal vet such an example, particularly an example of innocence? Innocence of intention is at best an untestable hypothesis, and lying politicians might not be the best place to look.
I am willing enough to conclude that we ought to participate in elections, even bad elections. Up to some considerable point of corruption, we ought even to participate in sham elections. I find all sorts of advantages in convincing rulers that they are better off obtaining some scraps of consent from the governed. They have a history of being fairly willing to do without.
But that does not mean that we should imagine that elections and politicians work differently than they do or are valid or wholesome in ways that they are not. So the following statement does not work:
However, it’s essential that progressive candidates and elected progressives are pushed, if necessary, by their supporters to take steps to ensure that they are continually in contact with the people they are representing . . .
What’s wrong is not that candidates should not be “pushed.” in some sense. What is wrong, or part of it, is the idea that a candidate not operating in a progressive manner is somehow a progressive candidate. This creates the notion that the candidate must be at once supported and somehow chided, and we are left with vacuous metaphors like pushed.
No, people who promise one thing and deliberately deliver something opposed are liars. It’s possible to attempt something and fail; it is possible to offer compromise and deliver compromise: these are different cases. But if someone claims to uphold policies and makes no attempt to do so, that person is whoever he or she is, not who he or she claims to be.
The electorate needs teeth: withhold support where it is not due.