Bill Maher is fucking up

When I think of Bill Maher, two things come to mind:

  1. I have enjoyed his show, Real Time with Bill Maher, for as long as I can remember. Even before I had any clue about politics, I thought he was a funny guy.
  2. It was on his show that I first heard Bernie Sanders speak.

It’s easy to forget that Maher actually endorsed Bernie during the 2016 Democratic Primary, for whatever that’s worth. Since his show came back on the air in January — un-ironically the day Trump, a guy he constantly rails against, took office — it has been one week after another filled with corporate Democrats and Trump-hating Republicans on his panel. To my knowledge, having watched every single episode this season, the only Progressives he has carried are Senator Elizabeth Warren, hip-hop artist Killer Mike, and Dr. Cornell West. That’s all.

So what effect has that had?

For starters, Maher’s show has devolved into what you would typically see in mainstream media. A constant theme on Real Time has been Russia, and Russian hysteria, which is a loser issue for Democrats and a story which to this point has yet to yield any hard evidence. Trump and Putin and Russia have been jacked up at high volume, drowning out any serious conversation about what went wrong for liberals and what can be done to fix the very real issues they are currently faced with.

The overwhelming majority of people on his show represent the center, be it Clinton Democrats or traditional, anti-Trump Republicans. It’s like a big party where everyone confirms their own biases. They recycle the same blame game: it was Russia’s fault; it was James Comey; it was Bernie Sanders; it was people who voted for Jill Stein; it was racism; it was sexism; according to them all of these items were to blame for the Democrats losing.

The one thing it wasn’t, of course, was Hillary Clinton’s own fault for running a terrible campaign.

The problem is there hasn’t been enough pushback from the other side. No, I’m not talking about the pro-Trump people. Maher is more than comfortable bringing on Roger Stone, Milo Yiannopoulos, Jeffrey Lorde, and the editor of Breitbart — people who shouldn’t have the platform to be normalized. I’m saying there have not been enough Progressive voices to call bullshit, to admit that a Progressive absolutely would have defeated Donald Trump. That Progressive policies are the future of America.

Fortunately you don’t have to take my word for it. Las Vegas sports books already know the answers to the questions of 2017. According to Bovada, there are five favorites to win the 2020 presidency:

Donald Trump: +250
Elizabeth Warren: +700
Bernie Sanders: +1200
Mike Pence: +1200
Joe Biden: +1800

This list should make alarm bells ring in the heads of the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. The two candidates directly behind Donald Trump are each Progressive, as opposed to, say, Kamala Harris or Cory Booker, who are at 20-to-1 and 25-to-1, respectively.

It sends a clear signal that Vegas, who is usually pretty fucking spot on when predicting futures bets, believes that either Warren or Sanders — whomever decides to run — will win the Democratic Primary in 2020.

Which leads me back to Maher. He has been vocal in criticizing those who voted for Jill Stein, and of those Bernie Sanders supporters who refuse to unify behind the Democrats. He thinks they should simply unite in opposition to Trump, as if that is priority number one in people’s lives.

Progressives want the same thing as Bill Maher: they want to win. They want to take back the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. But there is only one way that can be accomplished, and it isn’t by blindly following the same losing horse from 2016. Americans already rejected that.

The way to attract voters is to offer them policies that help their lives. I’ve said before and I’ll say again that the only thing Democrats have to do to win back seats in the Senate and House in 2018 is to run on Medicare For All. That’s it. I can shelf free college and Social Security expansion and an increase in minimum wage for another day. Just give us something.

The fear is, if the Democratic Party does nothing and continues to gamble on their We’re Not Trump messaging, or their Russia fear mongering, that Republicans will lose no ground in 2018. Dems will be wiped out yet again, which would arguably be more embarrassing than losing to Trump in the first place.

If you care about winning, then you should care about the base of the party. The real lefties. If you care about winning, then you should care that the base of the party is on the verge of taking its talents elsewhere, a thought that should make the establishment shit their pants.

That makes this equation fairly simple. If you believe that Bill Maher is right, then you probably think Progressives are being selfish and irresponsible. If you agree with me, then you probably think the Democrats don’t deserve our votes.

Politicians are supposed to represent the people, not the other way around. If you want me to vote for you, then you need to come get my vote. It is not my responsibility, and certain not my fault, if you lose. Your job as someone running for public office is to campaign for votes. So either give the voters what they want and win, or refuse the will of the people and lose. It’s really fucking basic.

Millennials now represent the largest voting block in the United States, and we have shown ourselves to be a pretty dangerous beast. As a group of voters — roughly from age-18 to age-40 — we have proven to be both (a) significantly more left-leaning than our parents, and (b) more idealistic than any generation in history. We believe in science. We believe in equality, whether it’s social, sexual, or economic. We believe god doesn’t exist more than any generation. These are not radical positions.

This is a problem for both Democrats and Republicans, because neither party represents our interests. In a way it has created this large and confusing pool of political free agents, which is the only way a 75 year-old Socialist Jew from Vermont could ever get so popular. Millennials don’t care what Bernie Sanders is as a personality figure. They care about his policy ideas.

I once went to Bill Maher as a refreshment from the nothingness of mainstream news. As I keep coming back, week after week, I realize he is not the contrarian I always looked at him to be. He is more or less what is expected of someone on TV, willing to capitalize on the low-hanging fruit that Donald Trump presents him, as well as punching down at the voters who couldn’t stomach eight more years of fake liberalism.

What I used to like about Maher is that he wasn’t afraid to defend minority positions if he thought they were right. Now he seems more focused on shitting on Donald Trump, at least when he isn’t attacking Trump and Sanders supporters.

Yet, I keep coming back every week with the hope that Bill Maher can move past this losing strategy. I hope that he would trust his original instinct with Bernie and the promise of a new deal for Americans. After all, he and the Democrats will need our support if they want to win in 2018 and 2020.

I shouldn’t have to tell you what’s going to happen if Democrats continue with this false narrative, that Stein voters were the problem, or that Bernie supporters are the problem. It did not work in 2016, nor did it work during the several special elections that Republicans have won.

But you know what they say: if something doesn’t work, keep doing it and expect different results