Many families have long-standing traditions kept alive more out of habit than desire. Things you do because you’ve always done it, like your parents and grandparents before you. You know, stuff like Thanksgiving at Aunt Mary’s, naming sons after their fathers, and automatically voting for the same political party.
The latter is the star of our show today.
Meet the Legacy Democrat, whose family has always voted Democrat. Unthinkingly voted Democrat. For generations.
These aren’t the Vote-Blue-No-Matter-Who bunch. For the most part, they’re not heavily invested in politics. For that very reason (their lack of engagement), these auto-pilot voters can play a critical role in breaking the decades-old cycle of neoliberal dominance in the Democratic Party.
In their defense (kinda), many Legacy Democrats simply don’t see other alternatives. And even if they do, establishment hardliners admonish them that Progressive candidates are the lunatic fringe, adeptly setting them up for the neoliberal Lesser-Evilism trap. When that’s all ya got, ya gotta milk it.
Mainstream media and their own party remind them every day that the most they deserve is more of the same. Then they present it as the inevitable outcome—and most people believe it because they still have faith in our corrupt institutions. After all, they can’t lie on the news, right?
Since they’re repeatedly told that “anything is better than Trump” (The DNC really should just go ahead and make this the official party slogan) Legacy Dems will vote for whatever oligarch ass-kissing candidate the DNC throws their way. Some acquiesce to avoid the inevitable vote-shaming, but most comply purely out of long-standing habit.
Still others embrace Progressive candidates and their people-centered platforms only to be derided for championing their own party’s core values that got abandoned along the (third) way in the late 80s/early 90s.
It’s a horribly inconvenient time for the Democratic Party to be in a shambles, but their woes are self-inflicted. Unless they accept that solidarity and subjugation are not synonyms, they will continue to deliberately hamstring themselves in the name of “party unity.”
Let’s face it. If the Democrats truly wanted to defeat Trump, they have a clear path to victory via Bernie Sanders. But placating their corporate donors is their first priority, not carrying out the will of the people. As far as the DNC is concerned, it’s more important to squelch the Progressive wing of their own party than to oust the current administration.
But there is good news. Many of these Legacy Democrats are reachable and teachable, since casting a Vote-Blue-No-Matter-Who vote is, for a good number of them, more a matter of habit than true conviction. It’s not out of the question for Legacy Democrats to reconsider their position when presented with new information. I’ve seen it happen. For realsies.
You rarely run into true Legacy Dems on the Internet. Why? Because they simply don’t care enough about politics to “fight with strangers” about it. So try talking in person to your family, friends, and neighbors who are Legacy Democrats. Present them with facts, not rhetoric. With a little planning and patience, we can win many of these voters over.
It’s our job to make sure they get the information they need to make conscious, carefully considered decisions rather than just throwing on the Blue-Dog Dem autopilot. Assure them we’re not saying they have to leave their party. They don’t. There are plenty of Progressives running on their ticket (Sanders, Gabbard, and Gravel to be precise). It’s just a matter of presenting these candidates as the standard bearers of a Democratic philosophy the party left by the wayside during the Clinton years.
Which isn’t hard, because they are.
So what are you waiting for?