The Democrats are Hemorrhaging Voters for the Same Reason You’re Still Single
A Meditation on Hard Truths Hurt People Never Learn
Do you know what the hardest thing to do in a relationship is?
The hardest part of any relationship is embracing total vulnerability.
Love isn’t empowering. It won’t give you strength. Love — real love — will blow you apart.
Because love is the absence of power. To be in love is to acquiesce control. To confess love is to say to another human being, “Here, take my heart. It’s yours now.” There’s no other way to love someone without abandoning yourself.
The tighter you cling to your self, your independence, your autonomy, the harder it will be for you to love. People can’t love you unless you give yourself away. Because love, real love, means accepting that independence doesn’t actually exist. We depend on each other and abandoning ourselves into this interdependence, we become whole.
The tricky part is that when you genuinely love someone, you have to relinquish control of the relationship. You know you can’t control how they feel about you. You can’t make them say the words you need to hear. You can’t make them think about you when you’re not in the room.
Of course, for most of us, this creates within us a great deal of anxiety. Who wants to rely on something they can’t guarantee? Who wants to be vulnerable? Isn’t that the definition of pathetic?
So do you want to be rational about this or do you want to be loved?
To really love someone, the skill you need to cultivate is selfless grace. Selfless because it can’t be about you. Love is, after all, about the relinquishing of self to something else. To do this with grace is to let go of our stories about who I am so that we become free to write new stories about who we’ll be going forward. There’s a truly awesome magnanimity to this process. In a word: grace.
We generally think parents have an easier time loving their children gracefully, but if this were true, there wouldn’t be millions of us in therapy spending money we don’t have trying to heal wounds caused by our parents' total inability to give us this love.
The truth is really everyone sucks at this.
The only people who have mastered grace in love are the monks and nuns who have in their years of practice evolved beyond ego, desire and need.
But if you want to love — really love — you have to start by letting go of yourself. You have to stop clinging to the fiction of your self-identity. You have to stop telling yourself this story of who you are because your story is not only inaccurate, your commitment to “I” is keeping you from committing to a “we.”
The Democrat story being told over and over again right now is that they are not the Republicans. They point to their enemies and say that is not me. They tell their voters, “Vote for me because we are not them.”
The story the Democrats tell is ego-reinforcing. It leaves no room for the abandonment of fictive identities and closes off any chance of renewal in the love of the collective. It’s instead reactionary, negative and defensive. It is, ironically enough, exactly what the Republicans have always been doing. It may win elections, but it destroys the collectivity of the party.
The way to selfless grace is to fully listen to the vulnerability of those who come to you with their needs. You hear their pain first, then their words. The Democrats, with their new market-ready approach to electioneering, have effectively given up on listening in favor of vague policy statements that reach into the heart of exactly zero voters’ lives.
No where has this been more clear than in healthcare policy. For over two decades now, working Americans have been saying they cannot handle rising healthcare costs. The expense of a single surgery now wildly outstrips what most workers can afford to pay. With the majority of American workers earning less than $20 an hour, a $45,000 surgery is a one-way ticket to medical bankruptcy no matter how frugal and prudent you are with your money.
And yet, during this electoral year, Democrats demonstrated an indefensibly inhumane level of dismissal of this pain. Hillary Clinton would rabidly defend Obamacare as perfectly adequate, in need of only a few precious “tweaks.” During a public townhall, she insulted the intelligence of aggrieved voters everywhere by insisting that they should “just keep shopping” on the exchange and then maybe they’ll possibly land on a plan their family could afford.
Then, on cue, the Democratic pundits circled round and applauded what many of us thought was absurdly out-of-touch and condescending. Case in point:
This is exactly how it feels when you’re feeling hurt in a relationship and all you want, desperately, is for your partner to validate your feelings. You want them to hug you and tell you that even if they can’t fix the problem, they’re listening to your pain. But instead of validating your feelings, your asshole Democratic girlfriend dismisses your hurt and instead starts to question your capacity for reason. What happens then? That’s right! You start to wonder if they actually give a shit about you at all and you start making your way for the door.
When we don’t want to listen and own up to our share of accountability in the problems we cause in our relationships, we deflect blame. We lose out on love because we refuse to be vulnerable. We refuse to apologize for our role in obvious wrong. And so we let those who love us slip away in a futile attempt to protect our sense of self-righteousness.
This is exactly what the Democrats do, over and over again. Obamacare was a woefully inadequate policy. It was a policy concocted by the Heritage Foundation not to make care universally affordable but to make a specific form of financial insurance universally mandatory. It was never a policy that addressed the pain of vocally hurt citizens. It was always a policy aimed at milking the American people for medical profit. It was always a bad plan. It was always going to fail.
But we come back to this lesson of grace and what it means to lead with it. If loving with grace is to lose oneself to become whole, then to lead with grace is to let go of a failed identity so that the party might still be healed in the purifying power of collective vulnerability. We are all fucked. But we are fucked together.
Find grace in our collective unfucking.