Young Turks' Cenk Uygur: The mythology of unity

Young Turks' Cenk Uygur: The mythology of unity
© CNN

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 BennetThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes The Hill's Morning Report - Trump searches for backstops amid recession worries Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report MORE (D-Colo.), Former Rep. John DelaneyJohn Kevin DelaneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump touts new immigration policy, backtracks on tax cuts Delaney: 'It feels like some Democrats are cheering on a recession' Delaney shakes up top campaign staff MORE (D-N.J.), former Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump touts new immigration policy, backtracks on tax cuts Hickenlooper announces Senate bid Inslee drops out of 2020 presidential race 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 ObamaTrump has 62 percent disapproval rating in new AP poll Rising Warren faces uphill climb with black voters Obama explains decision to get into movie business: 'We all have a sacred story' 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 BidenSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor Poll shows Biden, Warren tied with Trump in Arizona Giuliani says he discussed Biden with Ukrainian official 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 HarrisPoll shows Biden, Warren tied with Trump in Arizona Rising Warren faces uphill climb with black voters Inslee drops out of 2020 presidential race MORE (D-Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOvernight Defense: Two US service members killed in Afghanistan | Trump calls on other nations to take up fight against ISIS | Pentagon scraps billion-dollar missile defense program ABC unveils moderators for third Democratic debate Sanders targets gig economy as part of new labor plan 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 Sanders2020 candidates have the chance to embrace smarter education policies Bernie Sanders Adviser talks criminal justice reform proposal, 'Medicare for All' plan Poll shows Biden, Warren tied with Trump in Arizona 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 ScarboroughGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads Pelosi refers to McConnell as 'Moscow Mitch' Scarborough criticized for retweeting account claiming 'no way' Epstein's death was suicide 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 TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' 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.