I’ll work with Glenn Beck in order to stop Donald Trump. And so should you.
I jumped into a discussion on Twitter earlier today between Media Matters’ Oliver Willis and an editor of the conservative Red State blog, Ben Howe.
Oliver and Ben were arguing over whether people opposing Trump should embrace Glenn Beck, the longtime conservative conspiracist and newfound Trump opponent. Ben said yes, Oliver said no, and I agree with Ben. And here’s why.
There is no harm, and a lot of good, to be made forging alliances across party lines order to stop Trumpism at home and across the sea. Let me walk you through the argument. (And use Glenn Beck as a stand-in for any conservative/Republican/other who say they want to help).
1. What’s the harm?
I hear a lot of people talking about how Beck can’t be trusted. And to that I say: So what? How will it retroactively undercut our work over the next year or four if Glenn Beck helps us build a movement to undermine Trump, only to eventually change his mind and support Trump? It won’t.
In order to argue that we shouldn’t work with Beck, or any conservative, you have to tell me why. And by “why,” I mean: “How will it set our movement back working with Beck (or any other conservative)?” If you can’t tell me how we will be worse off working with Beck, then we should.
2. Purity politics are for winners, not losers.
I’ve never been a big fan of purity politics; the notion that if you don’t agree with me 100%, you’re evil and must be destroyed. There’s a lot of that going around of late on the left and right (on the left, we saw it during the primaries and even during the election itself).
But I’d go even further, I don’t care if you disagree with me 99% of the time. If you agree with me 1% of the time, and it’s an important issue, like the survival of our democracy, I’ll consider working with you. And that’s the way it should be. You do your issues, and our democracy, no favors by steadfastly refusing to compromise on your principles while Rome is burning.
And Rome is definitely burning, baby. Not only is Donald Trump dangerous as hell on the issues and of temperament, but we don’t control the White House, the Congress or the Supreme Court. When you’re about as powerless as it gets, and the survival of the country is at stake, you make other arrangements, including working with some B-list demons if need be.
3. It’s not as if we haven’t worked with the devil before.
During World War II, we worked with the Soviets, for God’s sake. They were truly awful people — like David Duke awful, on steroids. And lo and behold, the Sovs screwed us after the war by grabbing half of Europe, and then getting us into a 46 year Cold War that cost a lot of money, and a lot of lives. But it was still worthwhile joining together if only to stop the Nazis from world domination. Just because coalitions might be temporary, doesn’t make them any less useful.
4. Even Ted Kennedy reached across the aisle.
I worked as a fellow in Senator Edward Kennedy’s office back in the early 1990s, and two things impressed me the most: Kennedy’s willingness to think big (he’d pull a $5 billion amendment out of his hate without giving it a second thought; and his willingness to reach across the aisle and work with Republicans when their interests coincided. Not only did Kennedy work with Utah Republican Orrin Hatch on AIDS issues, but even Jesse Helms’ staff would occasionally help Kennedy’s staff out on LGBT rights issues, of all things. Kennedy’s staff had established a relationship with Helms’ staff, and from time to time, Helms’ staff would throw them a very helpful legislative bone. And if Kennedy could work with Orrin Hatch, and his staff could maintain a useful relationship with Jesse Helms (who was also incredibly helpful on international AIDS issues), then I can work with Glenn Beck.
In the end, it’s not about whether you trust someone or what his motivations are. It’s about what they can do for you. I don’t care about Glenn Beck’s motivations any more than I care what motivates my Cuisinart. I care about its utility, I care about whether I’ll be better off for using it. And it is helpful to our cause to have Republicans — especially the “crazy” ones with an audience — jump ship and join forces with us to stand up to Trumpism.
If we want to take down, or at least neuter, Trump, we need to stymie him. And we need people with a voice, an audience, reach. We need to find people who are able to help us turn the public and the Congress against Trump’s un-American agenda. And some of those, maybe a lot of those, people are going to be Republicans. And that’s fine with me, because I’m here to win.
Why are you here?