Several prominent progressive activists — particularly Hollywood types, including Alyssa Milano — have pledged not to speak ill of any presidential candidates during the 2020 campaign.
There's just one problem: they seem to have forgotten that President Donald Trump is, technically, a candidate for president in 2020.
The "pledge" trend took root on Saturday when another vocal progressive, former Star Trek star George Takei, tweeted a sample of his own oath to say nothing negative about anyone running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. The impetus behind Takei's pledge is, of course, that there's no need to give Trump or his team any further ammunition against Democrats by leveling pre-emptive campaigns against specific potential nominees.
"Will you join me in pledging not to speak negatively about any of our candidates? We don’t know who the nominee will be, but they need to be as strong as they can be going into the election against Trump," Takei wrote.
Milano took the pledge one step further, though perhaps not intentionally, tweeting that she, too, would be observing a pledge not to speak ill of any presidential candidates.
"#IPledge to not speak negatively about anyone running for President. Do you?" she asked.
Milano was quickly mocked for leaving out the key "Donald Trump" part of the pledge, and Twitter users pledged, themselves, to hold her to her commitment not to badmouth any — any — potential 2020 presidential candidate.
Donald Trump is running for President too, Alyssa. https://t.co/vZ7KOCMb7g— Carlton Hinds (@methuselaschild) April 29, 2019
But that's not where the story ends. Milano didn't just make a fool of herself in front of Republicans who are well aware that the actress has no plans to pull punches on Trump between now and November of 2020. Democrats — and even progressives — openly criticized Milano for pressuring them to forgo a civilized debate about their preferred candidates, especially since Milano is known to prefer former Vice President Joe Biden for the nomination, and has even defended Biden from critics who say Biden regularly acts inappropriately around women.
Most critics approached Milano with reasoned arguments, including that the primary season was precisely the right time to vet candidates so that the party can produce the strongest contender. "It's important to be critical of public servants. In fact, I'd argue that primary season is the most important time to assess the weaknesses, as well as strengths, of each candidate. 'No negativity!' is a rule you adopt for children, not politicians," noted one.
Um. No? It's important to be critical of public servants. In fact, I'd argue that primary season is the most important time to assess the weaknesses, as well as strengths, of each candidate. "No negativity!" is a rule you adopt for children, not politicians. https://t.co/bQdftIXuOD— Elizabeth May (@_ElizabethMay) April 27, 2019
This is a "movie star" encouraging you to not think critically about candidates; to accept everything they say at face value and not ask questions of anyone on the Blue Team. Ask a boss how it works out when they don't expect better from their employees after a mistake. #IPledge https://t.co/weKrPabVag— James Krotz (@KrotzOfKansas) April 28, 2019
So you pledge to NOT use your platform to speak out against the their bad behavior present or past, and insist they answer for the things they did/said?— Four Wheel Workout (@4WheelWorkOut) April 28, 2019
Wow, you are SUCH a great ally. https://t.co/HzcyqTIkDr
Others accused Milano of all manner of progressive sins, including "white privilege"...
What in the white privilege is this?— Maya Contreras (@mayatcontreras) April 28, 2019
You know what #IPledge?
To vet all of the candidates.
If a candidate gets out of pocket in how they discuss women or marginalized communities, I'm going to call them out.
I don't need anyone to police my tone or how I discuss the issues. https://t.co/F5YCfpu3Ww
...and of being a "fascist."
Wait is this real? People are actually doing this fascist shit? https://t.co/Kk0optGi70— Free Alabama Movement Told You (@jaybeware) April 28, 2019
The good news for objecting progressives: it's pretty clear Milano doesn't intend on keeping her pledge. Her Twitter timeline has a number of retweets openly criticizing Trump over his health care policy.