Divided by the politics of purity: Why bickering among progressives is pushing democracy into the abyss

It should be easy. We have just endured the most corrupt, inept, and relentlessly predatory presidential administration in our history. We have witnessed a deliberately and tragically mismanaged public health crisis and a coordinated insurgency designed to overthrow an election and install a despot.

We have seen an extremist minority take over our nation’s highest court and stage an unprecedented abrogation of women’s rights, environmental protections, the right to vote.

The next election should be the slam dunk of the century, but it’s not. We should easily coalesce around our collective values, but we don’t. We should stand up together to eradicate this fascism en masse – but we are not.

It’s because the left has a purity problem and if we don’t overcome it, it will destroy us.

Republican leaders across the country are declaring an open war on diversity, on education, on the legitimacy of our elections. Our checks and balances are not working, our protection systems have been compromised and we are at war with each other.

Our daily newsfeeds are littered with knee-jerk liberal objections to mainstream candidates and vice-versa: questionable past behavior, one-off verbal gaffes, or past policy positions we’ve decided on are some deal-breakers. We immediately disqualify potential allies in the name of our personal values ​​or religious beliefs, allowing no gray areas of compromise, no personal growth for people, and no possibility of future alignment with them. We passionately associate ourselves with the work of our adversaries.

Worse still, we easily find ourselves fighting viciously with each other over matters that are actually insignificant compared to all that is at stake. other Democrats on semantics and thoroughness, I realize that we are not paying attention to our recent history at all.

Meanwhile, the other side simply circles the wagons, makes concessions, consolidates power and gains ground – spirituality, morality and virtue be damned. That is why we are here today.

Despite all their preaching and fussing, the Conservatives have never allowed their personal morality to stand in the way of political victory. We saw it during the 2016 presidential campaign. Before Donald Trump announced his candidacy, any self-respecting evangelical would have declared a serial adulterer married three times with multiple bankruptcies and a history of racist statements and predatory business practices – the complete antithesis of Jesus. What a difference a few months made.

As Trump’s political stock grew, their religious beliefs began to miraculously evaporate in light of the political opportunities. Famous evangelists who previously claimed to abhor everything he stood for, suddenly and willingly praised their mega-church pulpits, social media platforms, and early stages of Christian University.

It turns out that when the devil actually takes you to the top of the mountain and shows you what you get in exchange for your soul, your rock solid theology is much more like jelly.

Politicians like Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio – who first launched vehement and impassioned attacks on Trump’s character, intellect and leadership – found themselves falling on top of each other for bowing at his feet and kissing his ring – willingly throwing away their prior disgust and willingly auctioning their souls for space in the bed of a powerful man they are willing to sleep with for the shiny trinkets of power, position and the opportunities it gives them.

Professed Christians who have spent their entire lives brandishing their family values, their devotion to God and their unwavering commitment to the ways of Jesus – have proven they are able to put it all in a closet, hold your nose and play dumb.

This has been the story for several years of this American history: millions of people on the right are exchanging their personal and religious values ​​for the advent of a kleptocratic kingdom from which they will all benefit. They sacrificed their individual beliefs on the altar of the greatest victory – or at least, what seems like a victory in the moment.

I am not asking moderates, progressives, liberals and left-wing believers to do this. I am not suggesting that we collectively sell our souls as our counterparts have done.

We are different from our political and religious adversaries precisely because we are more attached to our personal convictions than to buying influence. We stand for something bigger than the pounding of an empty pulpit and false public stories about Christianity under attack or reverting to the present day or former supremacist glory.

We are driven by moral and spiritual promptings that refuse to align themselves with monsters or horder a devouring power that will corrupt us. We are not fueled by a contempt that would snap the finger and annihilate everyone else.

But if we can’t give up our all-or-nothing purity, my candidate or no candidate, and set aside our shrill virtue to face a formidable threat, we’ll soon be left with no voice.

Grassroots Democrats, it’s bigger than you. Frustrated progressives, it’s bigger than you. Defiant Third Party holdouts is bigger than you. Exhausted abstainers, it’s bigger than you. Moderate ambivalents of all parties, it’s bigger than you.

We all need to understand how urgent these times are. We must stop killing our allies with friendly fire and we must give up battles of preference without consequence so that we can win the singularly vital war from which we will all prosper.

When our republic is secure and our essential freedoms are restored, then we can begin the necessary and very achievable work of navigating our differences to renovate America into something we can all be proud of.

But if we fail to confront this existential threat because we are distracted and divided by moral litmus tests, lazy bickering, and a politics of performative purity, we will all have wasted the moment before us.

We must win together because when we win, so does life, the planet and the future. It’s time for us to pull ourselves together.