Young Turks' Cenk Uygur: The mythology of unity

Young Turks' Cenk Uygur: The mythology of unity

Are the debates where Democrats attack each other bad for the Democratic Party? Everyone on television seems to think so. My God, they are discussing each other’s records, exposing the problems of the candidates and even at times criticizing their own party. This is sacrilege for Democrats. We must have unity.

Really? Let’s review. The Republicans had a vicious primary in 2016 where it got so ugly they started talking about the size of their genitalia — literally. They won. They had 17 candidates who shredded each other’s policies, past indiscretions and even family members — they called each other’s wives ugly. They won.

The Republican Party has been conducting heated primaries against each other at all levels of government for over a decade now. And what happened? They picked up a thousand seats across the nation in that time.


The idea that tough primaries are bad for political parties is a complete fabrication supported by no evidence at all. So, why does this myth even exist? Because in reality it is an establishment protection racket.  

Progressives don’t mind tough primaries because we’re attacked by fellow Democrats and the entirety of the media constantly anyway. For us, that’s called Tuesday. Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSanders urges impeachment trial 'quickly' in the Senate Obstacles remain for deal on surprise medical bills Key House and Senate health leaders reach deal to stop surprise medical bills MORE (D-Colo.), Former Rep. John DelaneyJohn Kevin DelaneyThe great AI debate: What candidates are (finally) saying about artificial intelligence Delaney to DNC: Open second debate stage for candidates who qualified for past events Krystal Ball: What Harris's exit means for the other 2020 candidates MORE (D-N.J.), former Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Impeachment enters new crucial phase Bullock drops White House bid, won't run for Senate 2020 hopes rise for gun control groups after Virginia elections MORE, et al. will cite a Koch Brothers funded study that "Medicare for all" cost $32 trillion without mentioning it saves $34 trillion, every time. That’s a right-wing smear. It’s done with such regularity that everyone assumes that’s normal. Of course you attack and lie about progressives. That’s a normal day in Washington.

But God forbid there should be a debate format where progressives get to fight back. Then, all of sudden, everyone catches feelings. Is this good for the party? They’re even questioning President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe mullahs seek to control uncontrolled chaos Poll: Majority of Democrats thinks Obama was better president than Washington Obama urges Americans to get health coverage in new holiday video MORE. This is heresy. Everyone get back in line. Unity.

No deal. The morning after each debate, there is shock and chagrin on the Morning Joe set — the epicenter of the establishment — that their beloved Joe BidenJoe BidenThe media have fallen out of love with Bernie, but have voters? Top Zelensky aide refutes Sondland testimony The great AI debate: What candidates are (finally) saying about artificial intelligence MORE has been criticized. My God the unity shield has been breached. They seem to be further hurt by the fact that it is other members of the establishment like Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe media have fallen out of love with Bernie, but have voters? Krystal Ball: Media turns on Buttigieg, will this end him? Senate Democrats demand Trump fire Stephen Miller MORE (D-Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSanders urges impeachment trial 'quickly' in the Senate Steyer rolls out 5B plan to invest in historically black colleges The great AI debate: What candidates are (finally) saying about artificial intelligence MORE (D-N.J.) who are doing it. What happened to the good old days when we would pick an anointed candidate ahead of time and all pile on the progressives together? To be fair to them, remember how well that worked in 2016? Oh right, they were all wrong — that didn’t work at all and they lost to Trump.

That’s the issue with television pundits —  it’s the one job in America where being consistently wrong gets you more job security, not less. How many people have jobs on television now if they warned that the Democratic establishment strategy in 2016 was wrong? I think there is one but I don’t want to out him for fear of costing him his job for being right. How many thought unity around an anointed candidate was good idea? I count about 150. They all still have their jobs despite that spectacular failure.


And they’re back making that same argument today: That we shouldn’t criticize the front-runners. Well, that’s not quite right, is it? They have never had an issue criticizing two out of the top three front-runners. Have you ever heard anyone on television ever say that Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders urges impeachment trial 'quickly' in the Senate The media have fallen out of love with Bernie, but have voters? Steyer rolls out 5B plan to invest in historically black colleges MORE shouldn’t be criticized? Did you just laugh out loud at that idea? Yet on Thursday morning, most of the pundits on television were howling at how poor Joe Biden had been criticized. 

That’s a bias so thick that they can’t even see it. They asked a fish “how’s the water?” and he asked “what water?” They asked Joe ScarboroughCharles (Joe) Joseph ScarboroughScarborough rips GOP over Ukraine conspiracy theories It's the aggressive progressives vs. the pragmatic moderates Scarborough: Trump is either 'an agent of Russia' or 'a useful idiot' MORE about his establishment bias and he asked “what bias?”

Let the candidates fight. Let them analyze each other’s records. Let them vet each other. Let them talk about past mistakes. Let them have a real exchange of ideas. And let the best person win. Then we will know who is a real fighter, who is battle tested, who has great ideas that the voters are willing to get behind and be excited about! Then we will have our champion.

Progressives are used to this and if the establishment candidates are so weak that they can’t stomach a punch, they have no business going up against Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders urges impeachment trial 'quickly' in the Senate US sending 20,000 troops to Europe for largest exercises since Cold War Barr criticizes FBI, says it's possible agents acted in 'bad faith' in Trump probe MORE. You might not be the right candidate if you have to go crying home to mommy or Morning Joe. 

Finally, do you know who should choose our candidate after this great and mighty battle? The voters. And after they have done that, they might genuinely be excited to get out there and fight for our candidate, organize for them and vote for them. Real unity comes from being tested and finding out what you stand for, it isn’t forced upon you by the party machinery and cable news. That’s obedience, not a shared vision. 

You know what happens when you have voters excited about a candidate they themselves picked: victory. 

Cenk Uygur is the CEO, founder and host of The Young Turks and co-founder of Justice Democrats.